Meet Your Enemy
Its proper names are Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra, but you know it better as black mold, or, as it is sometimes called, toxic black mold…and if you don’t know it, you should, although let’s hope you never meet it face-to-face.
Actually you may have black mold spores in your house right now, but chances are that if your house is properly dry, the black mold spores aren’t growing. The problem normally arises after water damage occurs. When the air quality indoors is poor, such as after a flood, water leak, or other water damage, the spores of S. chartarum—black mold—can grow and multiply and release their toxins. Water-damaged building materials are among black mold’s favorite hosts—that is, environments in which to grow. They latch on to these surfaces and proliferate.
The effects on you range from mild to horrific. People with allergies are more inclined to react badly to exposure to black mold. Another determining factor is the length of the exposure and the number of spores that enter the body, whether through the nose or through the mouth (that is, by swallowing, rather than by breathing) or through the skin.
Black mold’s effects on the human body are wide-ranging, and may include chronic fatigue, headaches, fever, irritation to the eyes, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat, sneezing, rashes, chronic coughing, nausea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, bleeding in the lungs and nose. The list does not end there, either. Allergic reactions, fungal infections, and poisoning by mold’s mycotoxins add to but far from complete the list. (A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by a mold.)