I have to be honest with you. Before I started writing blogs for people, I didn’t really know much about mold – and certainly didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the mold I had in my own home. When I had my daughter (now almost-4); the roof above where she was sleeping had black patches – and to be honest I never thought anything of it. My husband would mention that it was mold, and it could be contributing to why she wasn’t sleeping very well or was having lots of health problems; but we never did anything more until we moved out of the house when she was 8 months old.
It was another year or two after that when I started to research mold more for my work, and actually found out how dangerous it can be – especially for a newborn! I’m pretty certain I’m not alone when it comes to being clueless about the dangers of mold, or even what to look for! Now that I’m more experienced in it, I’ve written about it a few times now, and I’m more wary of the health effects it can have on people; I pay more attention. The other day, I am ashamed to say I found some black mold in our ensuite sink. But I cleaned it right away and hopefully it hasn’t done any harm.
What to look for
It’s about knowing what to look for. So, if you’re like me and you’re concerned about the health of your family, but you’re not sure what you need to look for – here is some information about the types of mold you might find lurking in your home or yard.
When it comes to the mold inside your home affecting the quality of your indoor air, there are a few different types that are more common to find.
The bad news is: there are actually more than 10,000 species. However, these fit into three main categories. Allergenc mold, Pathogenic mold and Toxigenic mold. While Toxigenic molds are the worst, producing mycotoxins which make people sick and can even cause cancer.
Allergenic mold can be a problem if you’ve already got asthma or problems with allergies. It particularly affects children. Allergenic mold doesn’t usually cause too much harm if it’s in small amounts, but large amounts can cause a range of allergic reactions. For example, Cladosporium sp., Alternaria sp., Penicillium sp. and Aspergillus sp. can all lead to asthma, and are found in buildings that have a problem with moisture.
Pathogenic can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is a bacterial infection that is similar to pneumonia. It is particularly dangerous for people who have lower immune systems; and it is a fungus that actually grows ON or IN human and other animal tissue.
If you find either of the above, you can call in a professional cleaner, or try out some of the DIY tricks and tips you’ll find online. There are plenty of natural mold cleaners that won’t harm the air quality in your home. Can’t hurt to try (in fact, it’s likely to hurt more if you don’t).
If you’re concerned that you might have toxic black mold in the home, here are some of the things you need to look out for. Firstly, it is usually dark black or a dark green; and slimy. It can also smell really bad. You’re more likely to find it in your basement or attic – that musty smell when you walk into the basement after a few months above the ground – that’s probably a sign of toxic mold. If you don’t do anything about it, you could start to feel pretty sick – with early symptoms of exposure including dizziness or headaches, even vomiting. You definitely don’t want to be living in a home where black mold is prevalent, so if you have any concerns, get a professional cleaner in. Don’t risk your own health by trying to clean it up yourself.
Although it might be tempting to do the cleaning yourself, when it comes to toxic mold, you’re better off going straight for a professional mold cleaner. They will be able to get rid of any problems you’re having, with the right gear on, so you know you and your family are going to be protected from any allergens that might be floating around in the air during the cleaning process.
Different colors of mold
As we’ve mentioned above, toxic mold is usually black, or black-green in color. Here’s what the other colors mean:
Green: not generally considered to be too harmful.
Olive, Brown, Grey: linked to skin, eye and sinus issues.
Blue, white, green: Penicillium – usually on your food and will only affect you if you have bad allergies already.
Yellow, green or black: Aspergillus mold that can cause problems for weakened immune systems.
Pink: if you see pink in your bathroom, don’t stress. It’s not actually mold. It is a form of bacteria, and should certainly be cleaned, but it isn’t dangerous.
No matter the color, or type of mold you think you might have, if someone in your home has health issues, it’s worth considering. And when it comes to mold affecting the indoor air quality in your home, you don’t want to take any risks so get a professional in to help!