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Mold Monsters: Identifying “Scary” Household Mold

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“People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer…”  Andrew Smith

Most people do not know the different species of mold in homes, let alone which ones are dangerous. We’re here to change that.

Breaking Down the Mold

There are two common forms of indoor mold, airborne spores which are invisible to the eye, and physical mold growth – the blue, white, even black spotting seen on food, drywall, wood framing, subflooring, debris, etc. Most airborne mold spores are harmless, but those emitted from dangerous molds may be toxic, causing breathing problems or worse. Let’s identify the stuff you’ve been afraid of.

The “Monsters” in Your Home:

Cladosporium  

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(microscopic view)

Mostly found outside of the house on porous, damp areas such as textiles and wood. This type of mold will travel through your HVAC system or through other means of airflow. May cause allergic reactions if left untreated.

Alternaria

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Most commonly known as the plant spot, it is found in plant soils, carpets, textiles, dust, and damp areas. May lead to possible asthma and upper respiratory tract infections.

Penicillium

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Mostly found on wallpaper and decaying fabrics in areas with water damage, but also the blue-ish mold that grows on food. May cause allergies, hay fever and asthma. On a positive note, it is used in the antibiotic penicillin to fight certain bacteria inside the body.

Aspergillus

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(enlarged fiber view)

Found in warmer climates where water damage might exist, as well as in house dust. 16 of its total 160 species produce airborne toxins called mycotoxins that are associated with certain human diseases.

Stachybotrys

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Nicknamed black mold; Stachybotrys is slimy in texture and found in areas of excessive moisture. Highly toxic, it produces mycotoxins that can cause breathing difficulties, memory loss, eye irritation, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, and possible bleeding in the lungs. Certain species of this mold are considered deadly, fortunately, those species are rarely found in households.

Better Safe Than Sorry

It’s important to know the different species of mold in your household and to take precaution when necessary. Contact a professional to identify and test the mold colonies found within your home rather than self-assessing, especially if any household members have preexisting allergies. A professional can direct you in the steps to take to secure your home from mold outbreaks and prevent the possibility of toxic airborne mold.

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