From: pautrey on
Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum and Other Molds
http://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm


•I heard about "toxic molds" that grow in homes and other buildings..
Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?
•How common is mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by
its synonym Stachybotrys atra) in buildings?
•How do molds get in the indoor environment and how do they grow?
•What is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra)?
•Are there any circumstances where people should vacate a home or
other building because of mold?
•Who are the people who are most at risk for health problems
associated with exposure to mold?
•How do you know if you have a mold problem?
•Does Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) cause acute
idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants?
•What if my child has acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage?
•What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?
•How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools,
and places of employment?
•What should people to do if they determine they have Stachybotrys
chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) in their buildings or homes?
•How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?
•I found mold growing in my home; how do I test the mold?
•A qualified environmental lab took samples of the mold in my home and
gave me the results. Can CDC interpret these results?
•Summary

I heard about "toxic molds" that grow in homes and other buildings.
Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?
The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are
toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins),
the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by
molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as
other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a
little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are
very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause
unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or
memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between
the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been
proven.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient
evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract
symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma
symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis
in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM
also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure
and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the
World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO
Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.52 MB].

A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination
existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from
molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals
with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary
disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals
with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from
molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a
qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and
treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to
prevent mold growth in the home.


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How common is mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by
its synonym Stachybotrys atra) in buildings?
Molds are very common in buildings and homes and will grow anywhere
indoors where there is moisture. The most common indoor molds are
Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. We do not have
precise information about how often Stachybotrys chartarum is found in
buildings and homes. While it is less common than other mold species,
it is not rare.


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How do molds get in the indoor environment and how do they grow?
Mold spores occur in the indoor and outdoor environments. Mold spores
may enter your house from the outside through open doorways, windows,
and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor
air intakes. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to
people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient
vehicles for carrying mold indoors.

When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture,
such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant
pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building
materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet
cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard,
ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for
the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints,
wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and
upholstery, commonly support mold growth.


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What is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra)?
Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra)
is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high
cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board,
paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water
damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water
infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its
growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold
you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to
potential health risks and removal.


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Are there any circumstances where people should vacate a home or other
building because of mold?
These decisions have to be made individually. If you believe you are
ill because of exposure to mold in a building, you should consult your
physician to determine the appropriate action to take.


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Who are the people who are most at risk for health problems associated
with exposure to mold?
People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with
immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to
fungal infections.


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How do you know if you have a mold problem?
Large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled.


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Does Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) cause acute idiopathic
pulmonary hemorrhage among infants?
To date, a possible association between acute idiopathic pulmonary
hemorrhage among infants and Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys
atra) has not been proved. Further studies are needed to determine
what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage.


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What if my child has acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage?
Parents should ensure that their children get proper medical
treatment.


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What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?
Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors.
However some people are sensitive to molds. These people may
experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation,
wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may
have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among
workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings,
such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include
fever and shortness of breath. Immunocompromised persons and persons
with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for
opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their
lungs.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient
evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract
symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma
symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis
in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM
also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure
and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.


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How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools,
and places of employment?
In most cases mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough
cleaning with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach
solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
Absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet
may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. If you have an
extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the
cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has
experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes. It is important to
properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic
reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if
there is still a source of moisture.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

•Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing
bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous,
toxic fumes.
•Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
•Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
•If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold
Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on
schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other
building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at
http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.
•Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or
any other cleaning product.

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What should people to do if they determine they have Stachybotrys
chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) in their buildings or homes?
Mold growing in homes and buildings, whether it is Stachybotrys
chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds, indicates that there is
a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem that needs
to be addressed. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with
commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more
than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Mold in or under carpets
typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once mold starts to
grow in insulation or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem
is by removal and replacement. We do not believe that one needs to
take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum
(Stachybotrys atra), than with other molds. In areas where flooding
has occurred, prompt drying out of materials and cleaning of walls and
other flood-damaged items with commercial products, soap and water, or
a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water
is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia or
other household cleaners. If a home has been flooded, it also may be
contaminated with sewage. (See: After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of
Flood Water) Moldy items should be removed from living areas.


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How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?
As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected
for evidence of water damage and visible mold. The conditions causing
mold (such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding)
should be corrected to prevent mold from growing.

Specific Recommendations:

•Keep humidity level in house between 40% and 60%.
•Use air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
•Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in
kitchen and bathrooms.
•Use mold inhibitors which can be added to paints.
•Clean bathroom with mold-killing products.
•Do not carpet bathrooms.
•Remove and replace flooded carpets.

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I found mold growing in my home; how do I test the mold?
Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing
in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds.
Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases
most often associated with molds. Since the reaction of individuals
can vary greatly either because of the person’s susceptibility or type
and amount of mold present, sampling and culturing are not reliable in
determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold
is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no
matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its
removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and
standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or
tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.


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A qualified environmental lab took samples of the mold in my home and
gave me the results. Can CDC interpret these results?
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal
quantity of mold have not been established. If you do decide to pay
for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you
should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria
for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance
what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the
sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique
situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the
contaminated area or without considering the building’s
characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.


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Summary
In summary, Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and other molds
may cause health symptoms that are nonspecific. At present there is no
test that proves an association between Stachybotrys chartarum
(Stachybotrys atra) and particular health symptoms. Individuals with
persistent symptoms should see their physician. However, if
Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds are found in
a building, prudent practice recommends that they be removed.


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•Links to non-federal organizations are provided solely as a service
to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these
organizations or their programs by CDC or the federal government, and
none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the
individual organization Web pages found at these links.
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reviewed: July 13, 2009
Page last updated: February 8, 2010
Content source: National Center for Environmental Health
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http://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm