About Toxic Mold
Television Toxic Mold
Almost all TV mold stories feature black-toxic, "Burn-Down-The-House," "Killer Toxic Mold".
Contrary to the TV News Specials, which have focused on the worst cases (these have been dangerous, extreme cases) – If you find black mold it is NOT time to flee your home, call a lawyer or call your insurance agent – it is time to become quickly informed — Before your wet spot starts to grow a variety of molds, some of which may be toxic mold.
Do you suspect you have a toxic mold in your house, school or office:
The most frequently reported variety of "toxic mold" in homes, schools, libraries, hotels, or work places has been the toxic mold Stachybotrys Chartarum. However, the New York City mold clean-up guidelines identify several other types of molds which can also produce toxins, i.e., Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Trichoderma and Memnoniella.
These molds prefer to grow on very moist natural fibers or products with a high cellulose content. They develop their toxic mold chemicals by digesting the cellulose and glues, which make up the paper facing on wallboard and many other wood and paper faced building materials and cardboard products.
Toxic Mold Color
No one is quite sure how many types of molds there are, but the estimates are 100,000 or more. Tens of thousands of these different molds will be black molds, but so far, only a few are known to be truly toxic molds. Almost all molds found on today’s building materials have a dominant olive / grey / black mold color to some degree. How many shades of grey, blue-green, gray-green and black molds are there? Thousands! Most molds found on bathroom showers, windows and walls look black, most mold on sheetrock (wallboard) walls, beams and stored boxes display black as the dominant color – but – black mold does not mean toxic mold – but if not toxic mold, it is probably a very irritating mold to someone in your household or workplace.
Irritating Molds – Non Toxic Molds
Somewhere between many and most mold spores, when sniffed up the noses of most humans in large doses, cause irritation and allergic-type reactions – even if you are not truly allergic.
A Mayo Clinic Study has recently shown (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, September 1999, Vol. 74) that 96% of all patients coming in for chronic sinusitis surgery had a fungus (mold) infection not a bacterial infection. This was not due to a TOXIC mold it was due to generic environmental mold inflammation and disease. Did these patients also have a source of mold contamination at home or work? We don’t know.
A wide variety of common molds can cause allergies and irritation and inflammation in humans and animals, if they infest wet building materials and their spores get trapped indoors in large numbers.
Toxic Mold Smell and Taste
There is no known documented smell or taste associated with toxic molds.
Molds are associated with a musty or earthy (soil and dead vegetation) odor. The odor comes from the mold’s spores and off-gases and will likely be dependent on the type of mold as well as the type of "food" it is digesting i.e., your walls, wallpaper, wood, rugs, glues, paint, wicker furniture, etc.
Molds (and bacteria) digest dead organic matter. They help in the ecology of decomposition and putrefaction – that is, they help dissolve dead plants and animals and wet manmade materials into a fragile or putrid slime. They are most often associated with decay.
Taste — Except for a very few cheeses and other limited foods, the reaction to biting into moldy food is to spit, gag or vomit. Most molds give off tastes that are repulsive or irritating.
Humans have a biological aversion to mold touching or entering our bodies. These aversion responses are most likely primordial, hard-wired biological responses by our body as it tries to protect us from irritants, allergens, toxins and rotten food. Many or most molds, not just the "black molds" or "toxic molds," tend to irritate our mucosal linings – our eyes, nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, lungs, stomach and intestines. This type of chronic, daily irritation can make you feel lethargic, dizzy, irritable, itchy or otherwise ill — like you have a low-grade cold or flu.
Toxic Mold Diseases
At the present time there are no medically accepted direct links between the toxic mold Stachybotrys and a specific disease. A mold toxin acts like a temporary nerve poison — The more you ingest, or inhale, the worse you feel. When you get away from the toxin "poison", the better you feel. The toxic mold itself does not take root inside you and grow in you.
Ongoing research is trying to determine if long-term exposure to high doses of this mold will cause permanent nerve damage.
There are other non-toxic molds which can infect humans and cause tissue damage to lungs, finger nails and skin.
The Toxic Mold Defense – Nature’s Poisons
Some toxic molds such as Stachybotrys Chartarum have developed what scientists believe are either offensive or defensive mold toxins called Mycotoxins. Some scientists theorize that the offensive toxin is used by the toxic mold to kill other nearby molds and bacteria so the toxic mold can digest the food source without competition. Other theories are that the toxic mold gives off its poisons so that other organisms or animals will not eat it. Certain toxic molds such as Stachybotrys chartarum (one black mold of recent media reporting) will kill an adult horse that eats the wet hay on which the mold is growing. In one case in 2010, 200 dairy cows died from eating fungus infected sweet potatos.
Toxic Mold Seeding — The Farmers Field Analogy
If a farmer plows a field and then abandons it, mother nature will blow all kinds of weed seeds onto the various types of soils and wet spots and dry spots.
Seeds will grow or die or lie dormant based on the type of soil they prefer and whether it is very wet, just damp or dry.
The exact same preferential selection process applies to mold spores (seeds) coming in on building materials or blowing in and landing on building materials. Your building is already seeded.
Building materials, stored goods and living spaces contain many dormant background mold spores. When a leak occurs, some walls, floors, ceilings, attics, books and boxes, shoes, etc. get wetter than others. Each material is like a different soil with a different degree of moisture. And so different molds which came in on the building materials (in the walls and ceilings and under the rugs, etc.) or were carried in on shoes, clothes and boxes or through open windows etc. begin to grow.
Different molds preferentially grow on different materials and different molds may grow on the same material with different degrees of wetness – and they could all be black and some may be toxic and some not. Therefore, when you discover mold don’t spend a fortune on consultants – clean it up and dry it out.