Black mold removal basics

photo of black mold

Black mold under microscope

We deal with mold all the time.  It appears in our bathrooms and kitchens, and is for the most part, a minor inconvenience that is easily removed using any number of store bought mold removers.  In the event of water damage, however, mold can become somewhat more nefarious, growing in large enough concentrations that it becomes dangerous to your health.  This stage also requires some far more serious measures to be taken in order to remove it.

But there is another kind of mold out there, the one that most people tend to think of, the real Grade-B horror movie type known as Black Mold, which has all the characteristics of every other kind of mold coupled with the fact that exposure to it virtually guarantees some kind of undesirable health issue. 

Black mold is more commonly known as Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra, and usually presents itself as a fuzzy, greenish-black growth on walls or pipes.  Exposure to black mold growth may cause any number of physical problems, from headaches, to coughing, sneezing, dizziness, memory loss, asthma, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, the list goes on.  Black mold has also been identified as the culprit in more than 100 different types of lung conditions, including respiratory bleeding, which can be fatal in infants.

Black mold growing on walls image

Water damage resulting in black mold

Black mold occurs wherever there is sufficient humidity to allow for growth, but it is also much more likely to occur in a flooding or water damage scenario involving sewage or other contamination.  Usually by the time a water damaged area is dried out, the fungus has already established itself and the damage has been done.

Black mold is usually accompanied by a noxious odor, meaning that you will most likely discover the problem through smell as opposed to sight.  Of course the discovery of the mold growth is only the beginning of the problem.  The actual removal and treatment is a whole ‘nother story altogether.

When dealing with any kind of mold, it is always recommended to wear protective clothing, but this is especially important when dealing with black or toxic mold.  Long sleeves and pants prevent exposure to mold through the skin.  Eyewear is also recommended, and not the glasses type or anything with openings.  Eye protection should completely cover and seal off the eyes, which are easy targets for airborne mold spores.   Spores may also be inhaled, so a filtration mask (or better yet a respirator) is recommended.

Black mold removal is always best left to professionals.  This is because far too many homeowners make the mistake of believing that simply removing the mold will solve the problem.  It will not.  Like some refugee from the Grade-B horror flick referenced earlier, it will keep popping up and growing back unless the affected area is properly treated in order to make it inhospitable for mold growth.  This entails removing the growth, then properly cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing the area, as well as improving lighting and ventilation and bringing humidity levels down below 40%.  Only then can you be assured that the problem will not reappear.

Call your local IICRC certified water damage professional to handle all of your mold and other related problems.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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