We recently did an inspection of a house that had seen water intrusion from multiple leaks that had gone without repair for several weeks. The tenant was concerned about potential mold growth and requested that we take samples and evaluate the situation. After collecting a sample and having it analyzed by a biologist we found multiple species of mold, some toxigenic, growing in multiple areas of the house.
The landlord had insisted that the growth was harmless and “not even enough to test”, despite the tenant’s insistence that they felt ill, could smell strong moldy odors, and could see visible water damage. The tenant had been suffering from extreme headaches, feeling tired, and her children’s friends refused to come over anymore because the house “made them feel sick”.
This kind of situation unfortunately happens frequently. Molds spread by releasing spores into the air. These spores, even if not toxigenic, can cause allergies, infections, and other respiratory illnesses. Toxigenic molds pose additional health risks by producing mycotoxins that infect the body. These mycotoxin producing molds are commonly referred to by the media as ‘black mold’. While the term ‘black mold’ is misleading, as most molds turn black as they die, these toxigenic molds are often black throughout their growth cycle.
One mold commonly associated with ‘black mold’ is Stachybotrys. It is hydrophilic, meaning that it is water loving. This mold is commonly found in situations with significant water intrusion. This includes slow leaks over long periods of time and bursts leading to flooding and water damage. It is toxigenic, producing mycotoxins at various stages of its life-cycle.
Although mold is always present even in the cleanest of indoor and outdoor environments, elevated mold levels can pose a serious health concern. If you have a situation where you are unsure of whether or not you need professional remediation, it is always recommended that a certified professional evaluate the situation.
Mold can be a serious problem, and can cause many legitimate stress and health concerns. Taking proper preventive measures and treating mold according to protocol will help alleviate these problems and keep the issue from getting out of hand.