Media sensationalism has caused a great deal of fear about black mold. But not all black molds are toxic, and not all toxic molds are black. For example, the black slimy stuff that commonly grows on the grout in bathrooms is probably not the dreaded kind known as Stachybotrys (pronounced Stacky-Boatris), but you will want to test to be sure. Make sure you wear protective clothing and equipment when you do so. Removing Stachybotrys should always be done by a professional.
Black Mold, also known as Stachybotrys Chartarum is a toxic greenish black fungus found worldwide that colonizes particularly well in high-cellulose material, such as straw, hay, wet leaves, dry wall, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation, etc. Before it dries, this fungus is wet and slightly slimy to touch.
"Stachy" is cosmopolitan and grows naturally on straw and other cellulose containing materials in soil. In the indoor environment, this black mold is commonly found together with Stachybotrys Chlorohalonata on cellulose containing materials including paper, canvas and jute which are wetted to a water activity > 0.98.
In a study conducted in Denmark, Stachybotrys Chartarum was found to produce a number of mycotoxins including macrocyclic trichothecenes, satratoxins and roridins when growing on building materials. However, only 35% of the isolates from buildings produced the extremely cytotoxic mycotoxins, the satratoxins. This led to the conclusion that idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis in infants is possibly not caused by satratoxins but by other S. Chartarum mycotoxins.
The optimum temperature for growth for Stachybotrys Chartarum is 73°F (23°C) with a minimum and maximum temperature of 35°F (2° C) and 99°F (37°C) respectively.
Stachybotrys produces a mycotoxin that causes animal and human mycotoxicosis. This type of black mold is thought to be a possible cause of the "sick building syndrome".
In May 1997, the Journal of the American Medical Association carried a news article titled "Floods carry potential for toxic mold disease".
Children's exposure to air-borne Stachybotrys spores is thought most likely to cause pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs). Please be aware that there is no threshold dangerous spore exposure level by the U.S. EPA or any other health administrations. There are ongoing new epidemiology studies being conducted. There is reference information related to a 1994 incident in Cleveland, Ohio where 45 cases of pulmonary hemorrhage in young infants occurred. Sixteen of the infants died. In addition, many states' departments of health administrations as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the following as symptoms associated with exposure to Stachybotrys mold spores:
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