What are molds?
Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. They serve an important, positive role by helping to decompose organic matter. It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 species of mold. At least 1,000 species are common in the U.S.
Where are molds found?
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected year round both indoors and outdoors. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. They can be found outdoors in shady, damp areas or places of decomposing vegetation. Indoors, mold can be found where there is sufficient moisture or where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.
What are the potential health effects of mold?
The most common types of mold are generally not hazardous to healthy individuals. People who have asthma, hay fever or other allergies or who have weakened immune systems are more likely to react to mold. Common symptoms include runny nose, eye irritations, skin rash, cough, congestion and aggravation of asthma or allergies. Symptoms should stop when mold is removed.
How do you know if you have a mold problem?
Large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled.
What do you do if mold is present in your home?
The most effective way to treat mold is to first correct underlying water problems or water damage. The area affected with mold should then be properly and thoroughly cleaned. If you feel you need assistance, contact a professional with experience in removing and cleaning mold from buildings.
How can you keep mold out of your home?
Homes should be routinely inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold. The conditions causing mold, water leaks, condensation, infiltration or flooding, should be corrected to prevent and control future mold growth.
What Is Stachybotrys chartarum (pronounced Stack-ee-BOT-ris; also known as Stachybotrys atra)?
This is the "black mold" that you hear and read about. Stachybotrys chartarum (SC) is one mold that is associated with health effects in people. SC is a greenish-black mold that can grow on materials with a high cellulose content (drywall, dropped ceiling tiles, wood) that are chronically moist or water damaged as a result of high humidity, water leaks, condensation or flooding. SC is a relatively uncommon mold. SC spores do not become easily airborne and therefore contamination of indoor air by SC is unusual.
How can you tell if Stachybotrys chartarum is present in your home?
Many molds are black in appearance but are not Stachybotrys chartarum. For example, the black mold commonly found between bathroom tiles is not SC. Stachybotrys chartarum can only be positively identified through microscopic exam or by specially trained professionals.
Should I have my home tested for mold?
Trained professionals can test for mold. However, these tests can be expensive and are usually considered unnecessary. Testing results will always be positive, since mold occurs everywhere. Additionally, there are no standards for safe or unsafe levels of mold.
Preventive action is best.
Whenever you see or smell mold, assume there is a problem and take measures to reduce the presence of mold in your home or building.
What should you do if you have mold in your home?
Indoor mold growth indicates a problem with water or moisture. You should not need to take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum than with other molds.
Refer to "Other Resources" below for additional information on mold. The web sites listed can provide detailed information on proper cleaning of mold.
Things you should know about mold
If you have any questions, call us at 586-469-5236, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or E-mail us now.
Center for Disease Control
Environmental Protection Agency
Michigan Department of Community Health