Black mold is a type of fungus that produces its conidia in sliver-like slime chunks known as mycotoxins. It can be found in dry soil and compost, but generally, the black mold is most commonly detected in damp or moist building materials from flooded or water-ruined buildings. There are many different kinds of fungi that cause black mold – some are more toxic than others and in some cases, they allergenously produce mycotoxins that can seriously contaminate a place or even an entire building. As a result, careful attention must be paid to the kind of mold that is present in a certain location and the level of contamination.
Black mold’s mycotoxins usually occur on cold surfaces such as concrete walls, basement floors, and ceilings. Although it can also occur on fresh supplies or on objects stored in a fridge, it is more likely to occur on damp, humid, or wet surfaces. Black mold can be a huge health problem because it is extremely dangerous: it is the primary cause of asthma attacks and other respiratory conditions and it is especially dangerous for young children and the elderly. In addition, the mycotoxins produced by black mould tend to trigger allergies, cause headaches, and aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.
It is easy to know if you have black mould because it tends to release the mycotoxins into the air during mild weather events such as spring or autumn when heating systems are not operating. For example, take a look at what happens to your freshly cleaned kitchen walls during the winter – moisture seeps in and causes the wall to swell. This is because the wall is exposed to increasing temperatures from the heaters in the kitchen. If this happened every time the internal temperature of the house is increasing, then you would have a very high risk of developing pneumonia or other respiratory conditions that are caused by inhaling spores.
In most cases, however, the only way to spot the presence of black mould is to have a sample tested for it using a microscope. The most common mycotoxins produced by black mould are polyethylene fumigation spores and photosensitivity. A high number of mycotoxins are produced during recycling when manufacturers dispose of lumber and other raw materials. The mycotoxins are released during this process because the recycled materials are no longer chemically stable. Many of these products contain toxins and allergens that are released into the air during the chemical separation.
The most common symptoms associated with allergic exposure to mycotoxins include itchy eyes, nose, throat, and nosebleeds, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting. In addition, it has been found that people suffering from asthma and allergy attacks are at an increased risk of developing infections due to water damaged buildings that have a high concentration of mycotoxins. In fact, studies have shown that up to half of the people living in homes that have been damaged by water or sewage leaks are at risk of developing some form of illness due to the mycotoxins in the air or in the water. One in twenty houses has a high concentration of toxins and allergens in the air, according to the EPA. In the home, these toxins can lead to allergic reactions, sinusitis, and asthma attacks. Even if a house is not currently contaminated with toxic molds, a high concentration of moisture in the air can produce these allergy-causing airborne particles.
Mold allergy symptoms usually manifest in the form of nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and nosebleeds. In some cases, they may also cause swelling of the throat or difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, headaches, loss of appetite, and depression. Trichotillomania, a condition characterized by uncontrollable hair pulling and hair scratching, is often a symptom of black mould exposure. While these symptoms are relatively mild, serious health problems such as chronic sinusitis, lung infections, anaphylactic shock, and asthma can develop if the spores are inhaled or ingested.
Since the molds are actually microscopic, it is very difficult to keep them from growing. For this reason, it is particularly important to regularly check for dampness, excess moisture, or signs of toxic fungus in homes that are prone to leaks and water damage. If you find any signs of black mould, it is important to get the problem repaired as soon as possible, since the toxins can easily be released into the environment if they are not quickly removed.
It’s possible to identify toxic mould using a microscope, but it is more effective to obtain samples from areas that are not contaminated. For this reason, it is not uncommon for doctors to order laboratory tests in order to confirm whether or not a patient is suffering from a toxic mould problem. While a simple microscope cannot distinguish between the various types of toxic mould, an electron microscope can. This type of microscope can easily detect small amounts of toxic mould on a tiny piece of paper. Because it is easier to identify the various colours of the toxic mould, doctors often use a combination of two or three different types of microscopes in order to make sure that they do not miss anything.