Toxic black mold in housing supplied by the U.S. government along with other health related issues has led to the current health emergency on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
“Black Mold” is a term commonly used to describe a slimy, greenish-black substance which can result in serious health risk. This infamous mold is also known as Strachybotrys chartarum and more often as Strachybotrys atra. It has been closely linked to the death of babies from respiratory bleeding, and as a contributing factor to illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. According to the CDC(Center of Disease Control), this mold is responsible for over “100 cases of lung disorders”.
Virtually everyone has one type or another of mold somewhere in their home. Although not all types are toxic, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish types without lab testing. Thus it is imperative to treat and remove all molds as if they’re potentially harmful. Regardless of the type of mold found, a home containing mold is not essentially a healthy home.
Mold spores are very easily transported to different areas by attaching themselves to various hosts. These hosts would include people, animals, shoes and they even enter through open windows and doors. The spores then thrive and grow where it is damp and moist. Very toxic molds can develop from water seepage, and while black mold is “less common than other mold species it is not rare”.
Areas and substances where black mold can be found include water soaked wood, ceiling tiles, wall paneling, cardboard, even items made of cotton. Black mold can grow on drywall and insulation and can infest areas in the floors, walls and ceilings.
Moisture is essential to the growth of black mold, and when it is wet it is shiny in appearance. If you were to physically touch a spot of black mold, it would feel slimy and would smear on the area.
When you are contemplating clean up of black mold, you need to verify the extent of the problem. Many of the infested areas will be relatively small and be a result of small leaks or plumbing problems. After discovering the root of the problem and rectifying it, you can disinfect the area with bleach. A mixture of one cup bleach to a gallon of water is sufficient to disinfect the area. Apparently adding a touch of dish soap to the mixture will also aid in dissolving accumulated grease and dirt in the area.
You are to apply the bleach mixture to the moldy area and leave it to saturate the area for approximately fifteen minutes. After this you must take care to thoroughly dry the cleaned area.
Spores from dried mold are very dangerous and should be cleaned with caution. You should never scrape or scratch at dried mold as the spores would then be released into the air and pose an inhalation risk. A respiratory mask and eye protection are necessary and adequate clothing to prevent skin contact is recommended.
If the problem is more internal such as on insulation or throughout a carpet, the only solution is to remove and replace the items. As well an infested area of over 2ft is considered a “heavily infested” area and professional help should be consulted. Mold problems resulting from flooding should also be managed professionally to avoid possible health risk.
According to the CDC, there are some preventative measures you can personally take to battle black mold. The following are some of their suggestions; keep the humidity of the house down, make sure there is adequate ventilation inside the home(especially in the kitchen and bathroom), add mold inhibitors to new paint before painting, use mold killing products to clean and do not use carpet in the bathroom.
Black mold issues are something everyone should be aware of and know how to combat. Search through any news source and you will see that toxic mold is a common cause for school closings. If the school board will go through such measures to eradicate the problem then we should be just as cautious. It is also important to remember that like all other types of fungus, there are some people who may be more sensitive to the effects of black mold. People who have allergies, respiratory disease or any type of immune suppressing disease should be especially wary of this toxic mold.