How can I tell if I have "Black Mold" or "Toxic Mold"?

When the media use the terms "Black Mold" or "Toxic Mold" they are usually referring to Stachbotrys. Both media terms are misleading, because many molds are black and many molds produce toxins. Further, Stachbotrys is not always black, but is sometime green, gray, or brown, depending upon its food source. In order to determine the species of a particular mold, it is necessary for a qualified technician to either grow it in a lab culture or look at it under a microscope.

Do you have to remove mold even it if it’s not a "toxic" one?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that any visible mold inside a home or building be removed, regardless of the type of mold. Many molds that are not dangerous to the general population can cause uncomfortable and even serious symptoms in sensitive individuals.

How dangerous is Mold?

That literally depends on who you are. Health effects range from mildly allergenic to virulently pathogenic. The dangers posed by mold exposure vary according to several factors:

1. The sensitivity of the individual exposed;
2. The concentration of the contaminant;
3. The route and time length of the exposure; and
4. The type of mold

But haven't some medical associations published data proving that mold is not dangerous?

The Texas Medical Association (TMA), as well as an independent review board of a 1993 Centers for Disease Control study, have issued statements to the effect that there is no conclusive evidence that mold causes TOXIC health effects in humans in non-industrial environments. The media has misconstrued this to mean that there are no HEALTH effects. Mold has well-documented and long-known irritant, allergenic, and pathogenic effects.

This means molds are known to cause irritation, such as breathing discomfort, eye irritation, etc. Many molds are known to cause allergic effects ranging from sneezing, coughing, stuffy, runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, and skin rashes. It is also known that many molds cause infection and disease which can be serious and even fatal, especially in people with compromised immune systems. Mold's toxic effects are still under review by many scientists and physicians.

Can't you just bleach it? Why hire an expensive professional?

Mold affects air quality in many ways. Mold gives off microscopic spores (a seed-like structure used in reproduction), Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs which are gases and vapors which are a product of the mold life cycle), and Mycotoxins (toxic substances released by molds). All three can be breathed, ingested, and/or absorbed, causing potential health effects. When mold is disturbed (i.e., sprayed with bleach, scraped, cut, etc.) it immediately goes into reproductive mode, giving off millions of spores. This microbial amplification can cause a limited mold growth to spread throughout a larger area. It is not possible for a disinfectant to kill all of the spores, and even non-viable (dead) mold can give off VOCs and mycotoxins. Therefore, the goal of a professional remediation is to get rid of the mold, not to kill it. A professional will seal off and ventilate the affected area so that spores are effectively contained and disposed of.

Don't most insurance policies exclude mold coverage?

Mold caused by normal wear and tear, slow leaks, maintenance issues, and other non-covered losses are usually not covered under insurance; however mold which is the result of any covered water loss is generally covered as a by-product of that loss. For example, smoke in itself is not a generally a covered item, but damage to items caused by smoke is generally covered. Some policies that do provide mold coverage may limit the dollar amount they will pay so if it is a covered loss it is best to catch and correct all mold issues as soon as possible and check with your insurance carrier for your specific limits and coverage.

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