Mold issues come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and yes – colors. But there’s a lot more to a mold issue than that…
How much mold growth is there? How active is the mold colony? Where is the mold growth hiding? What type of mold is it?
While the type of mold doesn’t impact the Mold Remediation process – all mold issues are destructive and need to be resolved properly, it may impact the short-term and long-term health of you and your family! While there are more than 100,000 different mold strains around the world, here are 5 mold strains that we commonly see in Northeastern Pennsylvania homes.
Commonly found in cases of “sick building syndrome”, Stachybotrys mold is a mold strain that is often found in homes and businesses following water damage. A mold that does produce mycotoxins (toxic compounds produced by some molds), building occupants and visitors may experience a reaction to the mold spore or the mycotoxins it produces.
What color is it: Like most molds, the color of Stachybotrys is affected by the environment and the material that it’s growing on. Most commonly, Stachybotrys is a green, dark green, or green-black color.
Common health effects: Individuals exposed to Stachybotrys mold may experience chronic respiratory issues, coughing, sneezing, post nasal drip, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, rashes, headache, irritability, lightheadedness, sleeping difficulty, concentration problems, and mental fatigue.
Where it’s commonly found: Stachybotrys mold is very commonly found in wet or damp areas of your home such as your attic or basement, or as a result of pipe leaks or overflows that can occur in kitchens and bathrooms.
One of the primary molds that contaminate food, Aspergillus is likely already in your fridge… A known mycotoxin-producing mold strain, the real problem begins when the risk of environmental exposure increases as a result of Aspergillus mold growth within your home. This most often occurs as a result of roof leaks and pipe breaks that are not addressed right away.
What color is it: Aspergillus can be a variety of colors including white, yellow, and black.
Common health effects: Exposure to Aspergillus mold can cause Aspergillosis, a potentially severe illness that results in wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, fever, nasal congestion, headache, reduced ability to smell, cough (including severe cases where you may cough up blood), fatigue, and chest pain.
Where it’s commonly found: Most commonly found growing on plants, Aspergillus can be found indoors growing on organic material such as wood framing, paper facing on drywall, etc. In cases where a moisture issue has occurred, Aspergillus mold spores can find a hospitable environment and food source in wall cavities, above ceilings, or in other damp areas.
While Cladosporium does not produce mycotoxins, as far as we know (science continues to learn more about different mold strains), it is a common allergen that has also been linked to the development of asthma in children. A mold strain that really likes humid environments, we routinely find Cladosporium in basements, bathrooms, and attics.
What color is it: Cladosporium can be many different colors, including green, blue, brown, gray, and black.
Common health effects: Runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, increased allergy symptoms, dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, allergic fungal sinusitis, development of asthma in children, fungal lung infections, and chronic fatigue.
Where it’s commonly found: Most commonly found in consistently damp areas like bathrooms, basements, and improperly vented attics, Cladosporium can be seen on basement ceilings and rafters, around windows, or on bathroom ceilings.
One of the most well known mold strains, largely because it’s where we get the antibiotic penicillin, the penicillium mold can commonly be found growing on food that you may have forgotten in your fridge. A mold that does produce mycotoxins, Penicillium is primarily an allergen, but high concentrations or extended exposure can lead to more serious health issues.
What color is it: Penicillium is generally green or blue, however can range from almost a turquoise color to dark green or green-blue.
Common health effects: Most often, Penicillium mold causes mild allergic reactions such as fatigue, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, coughing, and sneezing, but in extreme situations has been linked to serious infections that affect the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and liver. Studies have shown Penicillium creates mycotoxins, along with as many as 30 other toxic compounds.
Where it’s commonly found: Penicillium is common in damp areas, preferring darker environments like wall cavities and ductwork. We often find Penicillium mold growing behind walls in finished basements, were a little moisture inside the wall cavity can support growth over an extended period of time without the property owner realizing there’s an issue.
While it hasn’t received the media attention that some other mold strains have, Chaetomium is an extremely common mold found in properties, and one that has been linked to health effects commonly associated with mold exposure, including skin and nail infections. Chaetomium does produce mycotoxins, which contribute to the health effects attributed to exposure.
What color is it: Chaetomium can be white, olive-green, tan / brown, or black in color depending on the environment and food source.
Common health effects: Allergic reactions and respiratory infections are common as a result of Chaetomium mold exposure, as are skin and nail infections. More severe conditions, such as internal infections, are rare but do occur.
Where it’s commonly found: Chaetomium mold is common following water damage such as roof leaks, broken pipes, and drain overflows, particularly where moisture may have been trapped in building materials or not dried properly by a professional.
What should you do if you discover mold in your home?
Whether you discovered visible mold growth somewhere in your home, or you noticed a musty odor, it’s important to prevent the issue from getting any worse. Here are a few tips:
Don’t try to clean it up yourself: Something as simple as spraying mold with a cleaning product can cause it to release thousands of mold spores into the air, where it’s able to contaminate other parts of your home. Due to the risk of contaminating other parts of your property, it’s extremely important to have mold issues addressed properly.
If in doubt, have mold testing performed: An air quality test can give you a great picture of what mold issues may be hiding inside walls or above ceilings. If you notice a musty odor, or suspect there may be an issue, air quality testing is a great option that can answer some of those questions.
Have mold issues addressed by professionals: Regardless of the color, or strain, of mold discovered in your home, mold is extremely destructive and will only get worse over time. For this reason, mold issues should always be addressed properly by qualified professionals right away.
Don’t ignore your ductwork: Your HVAC System is like the lungs of your home, so anything that gets into the air (like mold spores) can collect inside your ductwork. Even worse, your ductwork can even allow mold issues to spread to other parts of your house! Potential mold contamination that may be inside your ductwork should be addressed as part of the mold remediation process.
With 70% of homes estimated to have mold problems, it’s likely that you’ll have a mold issue in your home at some point. This is why it’s so important to know what to look for, what health symptoms may indicate a mold issue, and what you should do to properly address mold issues!
If you ever discover a mold problem in your home, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices. We’re always happy to help!
About Disaster Blaster
Disaster Blaster is an indoor environmental firm serving the Northeastern PA Area. We have been providing our local area with unparalleled mold remediation, water damage mitigation, basement waterproofing, basement waterproofing, asbestos abatement, radon mitigation, and fire / smoke restoration services for decades, and are proud to have been named The World’s Greatest Indoor Environmental Firm. For more about Disaster Blaster, as well as more helpful tips, please visit our website at: www.disasterblaster.com or call our office at (570) 963-1123.