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Signs and Symptoms of Black Mold Poisoning

By Elizabeth Chaplin, eHow Contributing Writer

Toxic black mold, also referred to as mildew or mold, can cause
several different health effects in humans, ranging from mild to
severe. Mold is the most common fungus in the world, able to grow
indoors and at high altitudes. Black mold typically grows in moist
conditions and can be found on sheet rock, drywall, insulation, carpet
or wood. Following is a discussion of black mold signs, prevention and
removal as well as its effect on human health.

Toxic black mold, or stachybotrys chartarum, grows in a powdery or
feathery formation in areas of humidity and moderate temperatures. One
of the most common causes of black mold growth in homes is when a
leak, flood or excessive condensation occurs in the house. Black mold
has also been known to grow inside air conditioning units and HVAC
systems. Due to the fact that mold can grow in both well-lit areas as
well as complete darkness, homes are a breeding ground for this
dangerous fungus.

As discussed previously, humid temperatures are a main factor in the
growth of black mold. Any area that has a relative humidity greater
than 55 percent, both inside and outside of the home, is at risk for
black mold growth. Pipe leaks and flooding are often guilty of causing
black mold and fungus growth, since the mold thrives in moist
conditions. Another sign of black mold growth is a musty smell,
usually occurring when air conditioning or HVAC systems are activated.
Other signs include water-stained walls, rusting, moist crawlspaces,
warped wood and a black growth in bathroom floor tiles.

Health Effects
Toxic black mold is known to increase allergy symptoms and respiratory
problems. Ninety-six percent of chronic allergy symptoms have been
attributed to black mold. Black mold poisoning can become very serious
if not treated properly or removed from the home. Symptoms of black
mold poisoning include trouble breathing, itchy eyes, hives on the
skin, headaches, nausea, dizziness, sinus congestion and coughing.
More serious conditions include bleeding in the lungs, memory loss,
irregular blood pressure, urinary tract infections, liver pain and
possibly infertility in some women.

The best treatment for black mold poisoning is to prevent mold growth
from occurring in the home. According to the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, "the way to control indoor mold growth is to
control moisture." Controlling the humidity level in your home and
using dehumidifiers in damp environments is a good way to prevent
black mold poisoning. Monitoring the relative humidity in your home
with a hygrometer, or moisture meter, is important as well. Upkeep of
the home and regular roof inspections to check for leaks is vital.
Other preventative measures are removal of moldy shower curtains, good
ventilation and regular duct work inspections.

When removing black mold from the home, it is important that you seal
off each room before cleaning them. This is because the disruption of
the mold can cause spores to escape into other parts of your house,
causing more growth in more areas. You can seal rooms using plastic
sheeting and duct tape. Wearing protective clothing and a face mask is
crucial to avoid irritation. For moldy areas that are dry, moisten
them with water using a spray bottle; this helps keep the mold from
spreading spores. Continue cleaning with regular soap or dish soap,
then disinfect the area with alcohol, bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
Place the removed mold into a thick plastic garbage bag and place it
outside through a window in the house--this will minimize further
contamination of other rooms.

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