Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that is often known as “toxic mold,” or “black mold.” This type of mold is often more dangerous than other white molds, such as food mold. Highly dangerous toxins are released into the air by Stachybotrys, and breathing anywhere around the infestation of mold can cause serious health risks. There are also other dangers of living with this toxic mold, including damage to the home that can be costly to its overall value. Below is a short discussion of some of the many dangers Stachybotrys can bring to your home.
STACHYBOTRYS SPECIES – This organism is rarely found in outdoor samples. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it is physically disturbed because the spores are in a gelatinous mass. It grows well on wet media, preferably containing cellulose. It proliferates in the indoor environment, growing on wallpaper, gypsum board, and textiles. It has worldwide distribution and has been reported to cause dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, and headache, although no definitive reports of human infections have been verified. It has the ability to cause type I hypersensitivity and some species produce the following mycotoxins: satratoxin, verrucarins and roridins. As a general rule air cultures for Stachybotrys yields unpredictable results, mainly due to the fact that this fungus is usually accompanied by other fungi such as Aspergillus and Penicillium that normally are better aerosolized than Stachybotrys. Several strains of this fungus (S. atra, S. chartarum and S. alternans are synonymous) may produce a trichothecene mycotoxin- Satratoxin H – which is poisonous by inhalation. The toxins are present on the fungal spores. This is a slow growing fungus on media. It does not compete well with other rapidly growing fungi. The dark colored fungi grows on building material with high cellulose content and low nitrogen content. Areas with relative humidity above 55% and are subject to temperature fluctuations are ideal for toxin production. Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, and generalized malaise. The toxins produced by this fungus will suppress the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow. Animals injected with the toxin from this fungus exhibited the following symptoms: necrosis and hemorrhage within the brain, thymus, spleen, intestine, lung, heart, lymph node, liver, and kidney. The mycotoxin is also reported to be a liver and kidney carcinogen. Affects by absorption of the toxin in the human lung are known as pneumomycosis. Appropriate media for the growth of this organism will have high cellulose content and low nitrogen content. The spores will die readily after release. The dead spores are still allergenic and toxigenic. Percutaneous absorption has caused mild symptoms.
Health problems: Stachybotrys can be responsible for a large variety of health and upper respiratory-related problems. Among these are allergies, asthma, and other breathing difficulties. Some studies have shown that mold can increase a child’s chances of developing asthma by double. Other symptoms related to mold exposure include headaches, unusual skin rashes, nosebleeds, itchy or burning eyes, or any other allergy or cold-related symptoms. Memory problems, and even death, have been reported by those exposed to Stachybotrys.
Decreased home value: A home’s value will greatly decrease depending on the type and scope of the mold infestation. Stachybotrys can cause extensive damage within the home, and may do damage that the current homeowner can’t afford to repair. Getting out from under a house in this situation is sure to bring a significant decrease in the sale price, as the new homeowner will be left with much renovating to complete.
Expensive clean up: This black type of toxic mold is well known for its ability to extensively damage homes. We’ve all seen the news footage of camera crews filming the interior homes ravaged by flooding due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The mold grows fast, and it grows tough to clean as well. Stachybotrys is not the kind of mold most homeowners will want to clean up themselves. A good, reliable mold remediator will be needed for most clean-ups, and depending on the damage, it could be very costly for them to complete the job.
Structural damage: When mold grows in certain situations, such as during natural disasters, it will grow fast due to the excess moisture that cannot be removed. Even when cleaning crews are finally able to enter the homes and remove the moldy flooring and furnishings, often times too much damage has already been done. Sometimes, the best way to make sure mold is fully eradicated is to forgo killing and scraping it, and completely remove it by removing all the surfaces with which it has come into contact. This can be dry walls, wood structures, flooring, and even the roof. The damage can be extensive.
Since a house doesn’t have to be subject to a natural disaster for Stachybotrys to grow, it is important for all homeowners to know the dangers of this toxic mold, so that if they suspect their house is affected, it can be dealt with immediately. Preventing mold is the best thing a homeowner can do, and leaving a known patch to grow beyond contamination is only asking for one or more of these dangers to knock on the door of your home.