What Are the Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure?
Black mold is a hazard that many people have heard about, but few know how to prevent. All that most people know is the name makes it sound scary and toxic — something they never want to deal with. While it is great to try to prevent black mold, it’s also important to remember it’s not uncommon, particularly in places like Portland, Oregon where the weather is frequently damp.
To better understand what black mold is and how to prevent its growth in your home or office, we’ve put together a quick guide for you.
What Is Black Mold?
Black mold is merely a type of fungus. There are several different species of fungus that are called black mold, but the most common is stachybotrys chartum. As it’s more common name would suggest, black mold is usually a very dark green or black color when it shows up.
Interestingly, black mold itself is not harmful at all. However, the toxins released into the air from the mold do cause harmful symptoms that can last quite a while.
Black mold usually grows on surfaces that contain a lot of cellulose, especially if they’re found in damp, warm environments. Materials like fiberboard, wood, gypsum board and paper all contain high amounts of cellulose, which is why black mold tends to show up in Portland buildings.
If black mold is growing in your home or office, you’ll usually see it in humid areas like the bathroom, laundry room and showers. But, it can also hide in places like the basement, between walls or underneath your floorboards and carpet.
Where Does Black Mold Come From?
Humidity is the biggest factor in black mold growth. Something as simple as drying your clothes on a rack in a small, warm room can be enough to trigger mold growth. Most likely, though, black mold will start with a leak. A leaky pipe or water that drips into your interior walls from rain can create the perfect conditions for black mold, especially in dark places.
In the Portland summers, when the humidity peaks, make sure to ventilate your home and office properly to avoid black mold exposure. The air flow helps regulate humidity. Because it can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for black mold to grow, make sure to check areas that are particularly humid a couple times to make sure no growth is happening.
Black mold can be a recurring issue, so making small changes to prevent the perfect conditions for growth is a helpful step.
What Are the Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure?
Black mold growth doesn’t always mean health problems, but there are symptoms to keep an eye on if you’re worried about mold exposure. Most often, after black mold exposure, you’ll start to experience:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Red eyes
- Itchy skin or eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Nose bleeds
These symptoms resemble those of a common cold, so make sure to check your home for black mold if your family experiences any of these in the humid summer months. Remember to check between walls and in your basement to be sure. Even if you can’t easily see these areas, you’ll be able to smell the musty odor of black mold. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the signs because long term black mold exposure can lead to much more serious consequences.
Long Term Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure
Although rare, long term mold exposure does happen. While the symptoms of short-term exposure are relatively mild, they get progressively worse the longer you don’t remediate the mold growth. Symptoms include:
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Light sensitivity
- General pain and cramps
- Nerve issues
An important note about mold exposure is that it is most impactful on people with existing respiratory issues. People with asthma, for example, are vulnerable to symptoms right away. They will also see additional symptoms such as:
- Frequent chest colds
- Allergic reactions
- Inflamed sinuses
- General lethargy
If someone in your home or one of your employees suffers from a respiratory problem, make sure to stay diligent about mold removal.
How to Remove Black Mold
Mold removal in Portland is best done by experts. With so many factors, including the weather, primed to create mold, you want to make sure you remove all of it as soon as it shows up.
The first step to mold removal is testing. If the black mold is visible, there’s no need for testing. But tight or dark places that are hard to see, an Alpha Environmental expert will test the air quality to determine whether mold is growing.
If so, the first step is to remove all visible mold from the surface. One of our experts will scrape the entire area, being careful not to leave anything behind. Next, we will chemically treat the area to help prevent against regrowth. Different surfaces require different treatments, which is why DIY mold removal is less effective. Certain materials, like wood beams, are very porous, which means it’s easy for the black mold to bury itself deep inside. An interior wall, on the other hand, isn’t as porus, but still requires a treatment to make sure the problem doesn’t come back.
Finally, the Alpha Environmental experts will work on mold remediation, which includes sealing off any leaks and make them water resistant.
How Can I Prevent Black Mold?
As we mentioned before, the easiest way to prevent black mold is to regulate the humidity in your home or office. It could be as simple as keeping your windows open, or you might need to buy a dehumidifier for certain areas. If a room is prone to mold, though, it might be best to buy a dehumidifier.
Keeping your rooms clean is also a helpful step to prevent black mold. The bathroom, in particular, needs special attention. As you get out of the shower, notice whether or not the walls are damp in your bathroom. Make a habit of drying the walls if you think they are especially damp. Also, be sure to clean the surfaces of your bathroom often. The bacteria that accumulates in a bathroom can help encourage black mold growth.
Finally, regularly check your pipes, gutters and air conditioners for leaks. If you don’t know what to look for, call an expert. Fixing any water leak is the best way to ensure black mold doesn’t grow around you.
If you have more questions about black mold or mold remediation in Portland, feel free to contact us. Our expert team is ready to help you however we can.