Mold grows anywhere there is water, and homes that sustain flood damage are likely to face substantial mold remediation issues. One type of mold commonly present where homes have been water damaged is Stachybotrys chartarum.
Black mold is the common name for the fungal genus Stachybotrys, species chartarum. Stachybotrys chartarum is also known as Stachybotrys atra. It is a greenish-black mold that needs moisture to grow. If airborne black mold spores land on a wet, porous surface, they will grow and release more spores. Black mold can grow in your home after water damage occurs, such as excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. It’s a greenish-black mold that grows on fiberboard, gypsum board and other materials used in home construction.
The spores that molds release for reproduction have the potential to cause health issues. Mold spores can act as allergens, causing allergic reactions. In addition to spores, some molds produce mycotoxins (myco- is a prefix that means fungal). Mycotoxins cause a toxic response in humans and animals, even in small amounts. There are over 400 known mycotoxins and almost all of them suppress the immune system. S. chartarum (black mold) is a mold that creates and releases mycotoxins.
The suppression of your immune system increases your risk of acquiring an infectious disease and reduces your body’s ability to fend off other contaminants. There is also evidence that mycotoxins can make you more susceptible to cancer. Symptoms that S. chartarum can cause include headache, cough, runny nose and can trigger asthma symptoms. It has also been connected to asthma in children exposed at schools.
Black mold grows on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content, including paper, dust, and lint. This includes some materials used in home construction, such as:
The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. Begin cleaning up and drying out your home as soon as possible, ideally within 24 - 48 hours.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that although Indoor Air Quality may not seem like the most important problem during flood cleanup, standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria and mold. Ensure your health safety by making it a priority. For more details and advice on dealing with mold and flood cleanup, visit epa.gov/mold.
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