Too many homeowners are familiar with the heartbreak of descending into their basements after a storm only to encounter murky water, ruined clothes and the dank, musty odor of mildew. These problems should not be taken lightly as dangers to your family may exist when certain types of mold aren’t treated and mold spores are inhaled.
One particular type of mold that can result in poisoning is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that is sometimes found in soil and grain, but most often grows on materials with high cellulose content likedrywall, wood, paper, and ceiling tiles that are chronically wet or moist. Stachybotrys is one of several molds that can produce mycotoxins. Myctoxins or toxic chemicals produced by moldand whether inhaled or ingested, can result in poisoning.
The connection between mold and human illnesses first made headlines in 1993, when 10 cases of bleeding lung syndrome in infants in Cleveland were linked by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Stachybotrys atra, a toxic mold that had bred in flood water left standing in homes.
Despite the rarity of poisonous molds, scientists don’t suggest complacency: they recommend that homeowners act quickly after floods and pipe or roof leaks.
The key, experts say, is the size of the infestation. If it is toxic, a black mass on walls or boxes of more than one to two square feet could pose health problems.
Remember, exposure to mold and mildew is not always a health risk but because of difficulty telling one mold from another, experts agree the problem should be assessed immediately by a mold remediation professional.
”The main thing is to clean up the source of the moisture and do it quickly,” said Dr. Bruce Jarvis, a chemist and mold expert at the University of Maryland at College Park who was quoted in a New York Times article on mold. ”If it is not dried up, the mold will come back again and again, and may get inside walls.”