Can Black Mold Kill You? Exposure, Symptoms, Prevention

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Can Black Mold Kill You? Exposure, Symptoms, Prevention

Your home should keep you comfortable and safe. But sometimes, it can harbor hidden dangers.

One such danger is black mold, which can grow unnoticed in damp, humid, and dark places. Black mold (formally known as Stachybotrys chartarum) is a type of fungus that produces toxic spores, which can cause health problems if inhaled or ingested.

The thought of having a potentially harmful substance growing in your home can be scary, but just how dangerous is black mold? Can it actually kill you?

Read on to learn more about the potential risks of black mold exposure, its symptoms, and how you can prevent it from growing in your home.

Identifying Mold Growth in Homes

Black Mold On Walls

Before discussing the potential risks of black mold, it’s important to know how you can identify mold in your home. 

Mold refers to a type of fungus that often grows in dark, damp places. It may appear as slimy or fuzzy spots of black, brown, green, yellow, or red and smell musty or foul.

Sometimes, you will clearly see the mold on your ceiling or walls. But, other times, it will hide inside walls, cupboards, carpets, or other hard-to-spot spaces throughout the home.

When mold grows throughout the home, it can cause a series of health problems. This makes it important to hire a certified professional to conduct a mold inspection after floods, leaks, broken pipes, or any other incident that dampens the home. They will help detect and address mold growth before it becomes a major concern.

Health Risks of Black Mold Exposure

While all types of mold can cause health problems, black mold is particularly dangerous. 

Just last year, actress Tori Spelling claimed that her family was “poisoned” by black mold in their home. This led her and her family to experience breathing problems, migraines, and even multiple hospitalizations.

Tori Spelling
Image source: torispelling/iinstagram

While some may argue that her case was extreme, it does raise the question of how dangerous black mold can be.

Exposure to black mold can cause a variety of symptoms, including: 

1. Skin Irritation

Those sensitive to mold may develop unsightly skin irritations when exposed in the home. They may come and go periodically.

Skin rashes caused by mold often feel dry and itch intensely. They may appear as pink or brown patches on any part of the skin.

2. Mold Allergies

When your body hyperreacts to a foreign antigen, you suffer from allergies. Molds are one of the common culprits.

Mold allergies can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Itchy and/or watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Headaches

While this seems similar to seasonal allergies, these symptoms will remain year-round as long as mold remains in your home.

3. Asthma Attack

Mold spores can penetrate the lungs and trigger attacks in people who suffer from asthma.

Signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightening of the throat and chest
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

As the airway narrows during this sudden flare-up, blood oxygen levels may drop, and the person may become hypoxic. If the person already suffers from asthma and keeps a rescue inhaler, then you can potentially treat this at home. But asthma can quickly turn into a medical emergency and require a trip to the hospital.

Can Black Mold Kill You? Exposure, Symptoms, Prevention 1

4. Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

Why eliminate mold? When you smell the foul scent of mold in your home, you actually breathe in tiny fungal particles. In some people, this can trigger a rare but serious immune response called hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

This immune system disorder affects the lungs by creating acute or chronic inflammation in the interstitium. The inflammation affects lung function and can make it difficult to catch your breath fully.

You may also notice symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint Pain
  • Cough
  • Rales
  • Fatigue

If you catch it promptly and eliminate the source of mold, then your symptoms will disappear within a couple of days, and you may completely recover after one to two weeks. But, in chronic cases, you will notice significant weight loss as the disorder destroys your appetite and creates permanent scarring that damages your lungs.

5. Aspergillosis

One common fungus that can grow in the home is Aspergillus. Though many people can breathe in this mold, respiratory problems can occur in people with weakened immune systems or lung disease, leading to this infection.

With Aspergillosis, tiny pockets in the lungs will accumulate spores, white blood cells, and possibly even deadly blood clots. In less severe cases, people may not show any symptoms of the disease, but this buildup still impairs the lungs.

Depending on how and where the fungus forms, you may experience symptoms similar to a sinus infection or those more closely related to allergies. It may also cause coughing, wheezing, and symptoms of a serious respiratory infection.

6. Pulmonary Hemorrhage

Acute bleeding in the lungs can occur when mold fibers accumulate in the lungs, causing inflammation and tissue damage. This bleeding will cause a productive cough with bloody sputum.

A bloody cough is a serious cause for concern. The blood covers the surface area where oxygen transfer occurs, leading to lower blood oxygen levels and, eventually, cyanosis.

Not everyone will experience these symptoms from black mold exposure, as each person’s reaction can vary based on factors such as the amount of exposure and individual sensitivities. However, it is crucial to take black mold seriously and address any potential sources of exposure in order to prevent these health effects. 

Symptoms of Toxic Mold Syndrome

Numbness Vertigo Tremor Due To Mold

Black mold produces mycotoxins as the spores eat, grow, and colonize with others. This can cause toxic mold syndrome in humans.

Symptoms of toxic mold syndrome may vary, so often, it goes undiagnosed for long periods of time. It also only affects about 25% of the population, so in a family of 4, only one might develop the syndrome.

Some people may present with psychiatric symptoms, such as:

  • Sleep Difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Problems concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty with word recollection
  • Metallic taste
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Vertigo
  • Tremors

This illness may also cause the same physical health problems caused by mold, as seen above. It can also cause neurological symptoms like headaches, light sensitivity, ice-pick pain, and blurred vision.

Doctors can treat this condition and cure it over a long period of time. But it requires removing all black mold from the home.

Prevention of Mold Growth in Homes

Preventing black mold from growing in homes is crucial to preventing the negative health effects mentioned above. Here are some ways to prevent mold growth in your home:

  • Keep humidity levels between 30% and 60%.
  • Fix any water leaks immediately.
  • Properly ventilate areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Clean and dry any wet or damp areas within 48 hours.
  • Regularly inspect and clean gutters to prevent water buildup. 
  • Replace any moldy or water-damaged materials in your home, such as carpets or drywall.
  • Contact a professional for mold removal if necessary.

By following these prevention methods, you can greatly reduce the risk of black mold growth in your home and protect yourself and your family from potential health issues. 

Mold Inspection and Detection in Homes

Professional Mold Inspection

Professional mold inspection and detection is essential for identifying and addressing potential mold problems in homes. Experts use specialized equipment to detect the presence of mold, such as moisture meters, infrared cameras, and air quality tests. They will also thoroughly inspect your home for any visible signs of mold growth or water damage.

If you suspect that your home may have a black mold problem, it is crucial to contact a certified professional for inspection and detection. They can help identify the source of the mold and create an effective plan for remediation.

Long-Term Effects of Mold Exposure on Health

Exposure to black mold can have serious long-term effects on a person’s health. The toxins produced by mold can cause respiratory issues, allergies, and even neurological problems. Prolonged exposure to mold can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.

In addition, some people may be more sensitive to mold than others, such as those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Again, it’s crucial to address mold issues in your home promptly to avoid any potential health risks.

So, Can Black Mold Make Kill You?

While black mold can be harmful to your health, it is highly unlikely that it will directly cause death. However, prolonged exposure to mold can weaken the immune system and make individuals more susceptible to other illnesses.

Call for Home Mold Testing Today

Whether your home endured water damage, you smell something off, your family keeps getting sick, or it’s simply been a while, mold testing will put your mind at ease. Professionals know all of the signs and can search in spots you cannot see into.

Mold testing will not only save you money in the long run by preventing further damage to your home. It will protect your family’s health. Your safety is important to us. Contact us today to set up your inspection.

Published on: April 20, 2020

Updated on: March 14, 2024

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Joseph Gutierrez

Mr. Gutierrez is a highly certified Environmental Hygienist and Property Inspector. He is well known and respected for his knowledge of the industry, work ethics, and superb customer service.