Monday, July 27, 2009

Identifying Black Mold

By Matt Armstrong

If your home has had a problem with dampness, and If you are experiencing symptoms such as chronic fatigue, irritation of the eyes or mouth, sneezing, rashes or continuous coughing, there is a great chance that you are being exposed to black mold in your home. In people with allergies to black mold, symptoms can become extreme and they may experience reactions such as bleeding in the lungs, diarrhea, far worse.

The first thing you should do to determine if your home has black mold, is to simply look for it. You can identify black mold by looking for a greenish black smear that can grow on things such as carpets, walls, insulation, and shower curtains. This mold, which is known as Strachybotrys chartarum, or Strachybotrys atra, is said to be the cause of forty different kinds of lung disorders.

Mold simply just occurs in the home. One cannot completely sterilize their home, and trying to do so, may cause far worse issues than the black mold. Keep in mind that most black molds are benign. However do not let them live in your home, but deal with them when you see them, and look for them if you experience symptoms associated with black mold.

Black mold requires a moisture-rich environment, and food to live. What this means is that black mold can occur where there is damp wood, carpets, and even beneath wallpaper. It can also appear in wall paneling, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and anything else that is not glass, ceramic, or metal.

Once you find the culprit, you need to figure out how extensive it is. If it's something you can throw away, chuck it. It's not worth the problem. If you can't throw it away, use a solution of about one cup of bleach to a gallon of water, and a tablespoon of dish soap or baking soda. Slosh the mixture over the mold, let it saturate for about 15 minutes, and then wipe it up. Then thoroughly dry the area, and if possible, use a dehumidifier.

Once you've dealt with a spot of black mold, take the usual precautions: Keep humidity down, keep the bathroom and kitchen (the primary source of moisture) well ventilated, and clean thoroughly with a bleach solution in those areas.

Sadly, black mold in carpeting or in the insulation on walls is not remedied with bleach, and usually requires you to throw it out and replace it. If the black mold is reoccurring, the best idea is to call a building inspector, and have them advise you on cleaning contractors or building contractors.

Black mold in the home can potentially be a big problem. Households with children and elderly people with asthma and people with weak immune systems are typically prone to experiencing the most severe reactions.

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