Are You Living with Black Mold?

Have you ever had a leak under the sink, a pipe that always drips, or maybe you live in a flood zone and sometimes water creeps into your house? If so, you could be living with Black Mold. At the Residence Inn, fourteen hotel suites are currently occupied by families forced out of their home because of Black Mold.

Around dinner time, dozens of people just hang out in the lobby at the Residence Inn, but many of these people have something in common, Black Mold has infested their home. Joyce Manning and her husband Dan are two of those people. "My husband and I are here in the Residence Inn because we were told in Dallas on December 6th, you cen never go back in your house again", Joyce said.

Joyce and her husband Dan lived in this Lubbock home for 35 years, a few months ago doctors found Stackybotrys, or Black Mold, in her husbands lungs. "We were beginning to get suspicious that something was going on in the house because both of us got very sick a year ago and we were in and out of the hospital." Joyce says what started with flu-like symptoms grew to be much more serious. "Because I had the open trac it had an open place to get in my system and last week I got the results back and I do have mold in my bronchial area", Joyce said. Microscopic spores from the mold spread through the air in your home right into your lungs, aggravating allergies, and weakening your immune system.

Dr. David Straus, a professor of Microbiology at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center says there are ways to prevent the molds from growing. "What causes any mold to grow in a house is water intrusion, it can be a pipe leak, a roof leak or a flood. If you keep your house clean then dry mold will not grow in it but if the house becomes wetted it's almost guaranteed that mold will grow", Straus says.

Danny Cooley is an air surveyor for Assured Indoor Air Quality and he says you have to take action once you find the mold in your home. "Once you find you do have a water intrusion or potential mold growth that has to be tore out of your house, the products have to be removed, your leak has to be repaired and the house has to be dried out", Cooley said.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Buckling Tiles
  • Leaky Pipes, Loose Wallpaper
  • Discolored spots on the ceiling anywhere that water may getting in your home like through the roof, or an attic or basement.

If you find these wet spots they have to be removed completely or the mold will grow again.

The repercussions can vary, from flu like symptoms, to skin irritations, breathing problems and allergies; however, black mold can turn deadly.

Black Mold

Some molds produce extremely potent toxins called mycotoxins. Large amounts of mycotoxins in air can cause serious illnesses like toxicosis (invasive infection). Some are carcinogenic and cause, for example, kidney cancer.

Toxic "black molds" in homes and schools have caused public alarm. Some schools and many private homes had to be evacuated. Homeowners have lost their homes, because insurance companies normally do not cover this misfortune. There is actually a number of mold types that are black in color or produce black pigments. Such mold growths are common in houses, particularly in bathrooms and basements.

The black molds known to produce mycotoxins include Stachybotrys and Memnoniella. Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that grows on materials with a high cellulose content, such as drywall sheetrock, dropped ceiling tiles, and wood that become chronically moist, due to excessive humidity, water leaks, or flooding. Stachybotrys can cause nervous system symptoms such as personality changes, sleep disorders, and memory loss. It has been linked to fatal bleeding in the lungs of infants, but this is very rare.

Stachybotrys has been found in 2% to 3% of homes. If black mold is growing on materials containing cellulose it is prudent not to disturb them until they are shown not to contain toxic mold. Samples can be taken with transparent sticky tape and analyzed by microscopic exam in a laboratory providing microbiological analytical services.