Black Mold and Stachybotrys Exposure Guide

Black Mold is among the most toxic of all mycotoxins. Since these are low Molecular Weight molecules, they can easily float around in the air on particles such as fungal debris or dust particles, and be inhaled by inhabitants of the dwelling. It has also been demonstrated in animal models that other than direct injection into the brain, inhalation of Trichothecenes is the most lethal mode of exposure.

What are Black Mold and Stachybotrys?

Black Mold is the colloquial name given to the toxic mold Stachybotrys chartarum. Its nickname stems from its physical appearance: black splotches or smears on an infected surface. Although some folks erroneously use the phrase “black mold” as shorthand to refer to any kind of dangerous, household mold, S. chartarum is in a league of its own when it comes to health hazards. If a person finds black mold in their home, a simple scrub down with soap and water is usually NOT sufficient to fix the problem. And, in many cases, professional mold remediation is required to truly remove the threat.

Testing for Black Mold and Stachybotrys

Mold Mycotoxin test

Because black mold can wreak havoc on the indoor air quality of your home, it’s critical to opt for professional mold testing as soon as you have reason to believe that fungus has taken up residence on your walls or in your floors. During a mold test, a professional environmental inspector or mold remediator will use special sampling kits to check the air (and certain surfaces) in your home for traces of mycotoxins or mold spores. 

If they find bits of black mold (or if their mold inspection reveals signs of any other kinds of toxic mold), they’ll be able to offer expert advice for removing the stuff—and getting your family tested for mold-related illnesses. Black Mold and Stachybotrys tests can be conducted through Real Time Labs in home urine tests.

Symptoms of Black Mold Expoure

S. chartarum can cause a variety of negative health effects in humans (and pets). Short-term exposure to black mold often leads to respiratory distress (e.g., coughing, sneezing, and wheezing), irritation of the eyes and mucus membranes, and skin rashes. People with seasonal allergies, mold allergies, asthma, certain pulmonary diseases (including COPD and cystic fibrosis) and compromised immune systems may also experience chronic fatigue, persistent headaches, and nausea and vomiting.

Long-term exposure to black mold has been linked to the following conditions in previously healthy individuals: cognitive difficulties (like confusion or “brain fog”), anxiety and depression, and stomach and muscle cramps.

Health Effects: Macrocyclic trichothecenes are known to be highly cytotoxic and are potent inhibitors of protein synthesis. This can affect almost all cells in the body. The health effects of trichothecenes are known, as cancer patients were administered a trichothecene called anguidine in a 1978 and 1979 clinical study in the hope that its inhibition of protein synthesis would selectively kill the faster multiplying cancer cells. The study was terminated due to the severe symptoms/side effects of anguidine which included: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, burning erythema, ataxia, chills, fever, hypotension, hair loss and confusion. These side effects were very similar to the symptoms described by individuals living or working inside Stachybotrys infested homes and buildings.

Most Common Growth Areas

Mold can technically take root in any room of a house, and it’s not uncommon for a mold problem in one space to travel to another within the same building. With that said, some areas are more likely to harbor mold than others. Common infestation sites include:
  • Bathrooms. Mold needs moisture to thrive, and the bathroom generally sees more moisture and humidity than any other room in the house. Mold likes darkness, too, and people tend to leave the light turned off in their bathrooms unless they’re “taking care of business.” Both factors combine to create a veritable breeding ground for all types of mold.
  • Basements and attics. Again, these rooms tend to see a lot of moisture (from leaks and drips) and darkness. There’s also the fact that most people don’t spend a lot of time in their home’s attic or basement, which enables mold to grow unchecked for days (or weeks) at a time.
  • Vents and air conditioning units. Not only do these systems see a large amount of darkness and moisture, but they’re typically hidden from view, and they frequently come into contact with foreign substances as they circulate air throughout the home. If an air conditioner or heater is contaminated with mold, it can easily circulate spores throughout the home, as well!

How to Prevent Mold Growth

The bad news is that mold growth can happen in even the most well-maintained, meticulously cleaned homes. The good news, however, is that there are certain things that homeowners can do to lower their risk of having to deal with black mold. Keep the following tips in mind to arm yourself against this nasty fungus:

  • Keep wall-to-wall carpeting out of your bathroom.
  • Clean up standing water as soon as possible, especially after a flood.
  • Throw away items (furniture, children’s toys, personal belongings) that have visible signs of water damage, unless they can be professionally deep-cleaned.
  • Keep an eye out for mold during your normal house cleaning regimen. If you see a small patch of mold, DON’T ignore it—clean it using bleach and water or a commercial cleaner specifically designed to kill mold and mildew.
  • Consult with a mold removal specialist immediately if you discover a patch of mold that is more than 10 square feet in size or concentrated in a hard-to-reach area. Generally speaking, a job of that caliber should be handled by a trained professional.

Stachybotrys Chartarum and Mycotoxins

Like nearly all kinds of toxic mold, S. chartarum is dangerous primarily because it produces mycotoxins—in this case, a class known as Trichothecenes. Specific mycotoxins produced by black mold include Satratoxin G, Satratoxin H, Isosatratoxin F, Roridin A, Roridin E, Roridin H, Roridin L-2, Verrucarin A and Verrucarin J. Collectively, Trichothecenes are some of the most dangerous mold-related pathogens known to medical science.

The bad news is that mold growth can happen in even the most well-maintained, meticulously cleaned homes. The good news, however, is that there are certain things that homeowners can do to lower their risk of having to deal with black mold. Keep the following tips in mind to arm yourself against this nasty fungus:

  • Keep wall-to-wall carpeting out of your bathroom.
  • Clean up standing water as soon as possible, especially after a flood.
  • Throw away items (furniture, children’s toys, personal belongings) that have visible signs of water damage, unless they can be professionally deep-cleaned.
  • Keep an eye out for mold during your normal house cleaning regimen. If you see a small patch of mold, DON’T ignore it—clean it using bleach and water or a commercial cleaner specifically designed to kill mold and mildew.
  • Consult with a mold removal specialist immediately if you discover a patch of mold that is more than 10 square feet in size or concentrated in a hard-to-reach area. Generally speaking, a job of that caliber should be handled by a trained professional.

Mycotoxin: Stachybotrys has been demonstrated to produce a number of Macrocyclic Trichothecene mycotoxins including Satratoxin G, Satratoxin H, Isosatratoxin F, Roridin A, Roridin E, Roridin H, Roridin L-2, Verrucarin A and Verrucarin J.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if I have black mold?
Sometimes, folks who have black mold in their house actually see the tell-tale black patches on their walls or flooring. Other times, though, the mold “hides” from view. In the latter case, people often begin to suspect that they have black mold when they suffer from allergic reactions or other chronic health issues with no relief in sight. The most reliable way to determine whether or not you’re dealing with black mold is to have your home looked at by a professional environmental inspector or mold remediator.

What does black mold do to you?
Black mold can cause a variety of health problems that range in severity from coughing and sneezing to chronic fatigue and clinical depression. If you have reason to believe that there is black mold in your home, don’t delay—have the place professionally tested immediately!

How do you know if mold is making you sick?
Mycotoxin-based illnesses can be tricky to diagnose because their symptoms frequently mimic those of other conditions. Human mold test kits, which analyze your urine for traces of mold and mycotoxins, can help shed light on the situation. If your urine tests positive for these foreign substances, then there’s a good chance that household mold is to blame for your poor health.

Last Updated on by Dr. Hooper