Stachybotrys is often called black mold. Neither plant, nor animal, nor bacteria, mold is a fungus. It consists of dense networks of cell branches all comprising a single creature. While mold exists all around us on surfaces and in the air, specific types and concentrations can prove dangerous to humans and must be remediated. Stachybotrys is one of the most notorious types of mold because it may grow in a house and is very hazardous to humans. This type of mold is known as a toxic mold.

According to Dr. Berlin Nelson, professor of Plant Pathology at North Dakota State University, scientists first studied Stachybotrys in the midst of an outbreak of disease among horses and livestock in Eastern Europe. The horses suffered from irritation of the mouth, throat, and nose in addition to more serious symptoms like nervous disorders and death. Russian scientists eventually determined the disease originated with Stachybotrys growing in the straw and grains fed to the animals. In the following years, similar symptoms were seen in farmers handling infested straw. In the second half of the 20th century, numerous studies took place investigating Stachybotrys in homes and buildings in North America. To this day, scientists have much to explore about the effects of toxic mold, but the data suggests its presence in many cases of illness.

What Does Stachybotrys Look Like?

Stachybotrys is a gelatinous mold that is greenish-black in color. It is often slimy because it has a layer on top that is wet. However, if the water source for the mold runs out it may appear powdery and dry. There are a few types of mold that can resemble black mold. The only way to know for sure if you have Stachybotrys is to have it examined under a microscope by a mold expert.

Symptoms of Toxic Black Mold

Despite the high prevalence of what the scientific community terms Damp Building-Related Illnesses (or Sick Building Syndrome), scientists are only now beginning to understand the connections between the mold that inhabits the dampness and its health effects. According to a 2008 article published in the peer-reviewed Toxicological Sciences journal, the link may lie in the production of mycotoxins. Mold like Stachybotrys produces these chemicals, which can provoke allergies, inflammation, and other toxic effects.

The mycotoxins formed from toxic black mold can cause people to have many symptoms. General symptoms that are caused by this type of mold might include:

  • Internal organ damage
  • Mucous membrane irritation
  • Hemorrhage
  • Skin inflammation
  • Respiratory problems
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Mental impairment

Exposure to Stachybotrys can cause serious and permanent health damage. In some extreme cases it can lead to death. Since it can cause serious health effects, if you find this type of mold in your business or your home you will need to take the appropriate steps to have it immediately removed. The longer that you are around this type of mold the more damage to your health it can cause.

If you suspect that you have a mold infestation you should call in a professional to test the mold and to remove it as necessary. Removing toxic mold yourself is not recommended as you want to make sure that you get rid of it entirely.

What causes Stachybotrys?

Stachybotrys needs two main ingredients to thrive: a high-cellulose surface, and a near-constant water supply. Cellulose is a fiber found in the cell walls of plants and especially concentrated in processed, plant-derived building materials. Paper, drywall (which is coated with paper), and fiberboard are especially high in cellulose and make great locations for Stachybotrys to thrive.

The second ingredient, a constant water source, can result from a myriad of causes. One-time issues like water damage and flooding can provide ideal conditions for toxic mold. Continuous issues can prove especially troublesome, since they supply a consistent source of water that facilitates mold growth. Homeowners should always look out for water leaks or infiltration. Leaky plumbing is often the culprit of mold growth, as is groundwater infiltrating through the foundation. Groundwater infiltration frequently signals other serious problems, like water drainage issues and foundation problems. Whatever the water source, the first step in preventing and remedying mold is always stopping the delivery of water to mold-prone areas.

What Does Stachybotrys Eat?

Stachybotrys appears on high-cellulose surfaces because these materials comprise its diet. Unlike animals, mold does not ingest its food, rather, it secretes enzymes and digests externally. After the enzymes break down the food, the mold absorbs the resulting nutrients by surrounding the food source in long strands. These strands can grow extremely quickly, up to 0.6 miles in 24 hours, according to Sacramento State University. After the eating stage, the body “fruits” to reproduce itself. The fruiting mold produces spores similar to seeds that it sends into the air to create new colonies. These spores are mold’s toxic components that can cause the aforementioned health problems.

How is Stachybotrys Detected?

Homeowners should call a professional if they have concerns about mold. Environments fostering mold growth, like water damage and flooding, should be closely monitored. Smell can also be a giveaway–be attentive to any stale or musty smells, as these frequently signal Stachybotrys. Detection by smell can be especially important in cases where mold hides out of sight in walls, crawl spaces or ducts. Finally, certain health symptoms may point to the presence of mold. Symptoms of allergic reaction like itchiness and inflammation of the eyes, nose and/or throat could be related to Stachybotrys, as could more serious respiratory infections. If someone in the household suffers from these symptoms, it may be time to call a mold inspector.

These professionals will often provide a visual inspection as well as collect samples to test offsite. Generally, inspectors favor surface samples as opposed to airborne ones, since Stachybotrys spores proliferate the air in lower levels. Mold inspectors will use special kits to collect samples to send to a lab for processing. EPS does not conduct mold testing as it represents a conflict of interest for remediation firms.

How Do We Get Rid of It?

Mold is a stubborn critter. It permeates deep into surfaces, frequently resists remediation attempts, and quickly spreads to new areas. Mold remediation requires special safety gear in addition to specific equipment, chemicals, and training. These reasons make it critical to not only contact a mold remediation specialist, but one with the necessary certifications and experience to do the job right.

Environmental Protective Solutions has all the important certifications and licenses for mold remediation, in addition to technicians with decades of experience in the field. Our approach is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, minimizes disruption, and provides a complete solution to the problem.

With a strong commitment to our customers to see the process through, we help you rebuild and restore your home to a finished, liveable state. We stand by our work with warranties and excellent customer service. If you are not happy with the job the following year, we will return and tackle the issue for free. 100% customer satisfaction is always our aim and our customers consistently recommend our technicians for their quality and service.

Environmental Protective Solutions: Your Mold Remediation Partner

Stachybotrys and other toxic molds can be hazardous to your health, invite destruction to your home and continue to spread until the problem is contained. The potential health effects can range from allergic reactions to more serious illnesses that compromise the body’s major organs. Tackling mold can prove especially tricky given its resilience and ability to penetrate surfaces. This makes it critical to call the proper experts to deal with the problem fully, safely, and cost-effectively.

Environmental Protective Solutions has the tools, certifications, and decades of experience to handle most any project, home or business. We work specifically with forensic building scientists to track down the sources of mold and cut them off before they cause further damage. Our high-quality equipment makes sure that the remaining mold is fully destroyed and prevented from returning. Contact us today to get started towards a mold-free home.