Toxic And Deadly: Why Black Mold Is A Dangerous Neighbor

Toxic black mold

The most dangerous enemy is the one you can’t see. One of the best example of such an enemy is toxic black mold. It can remain hidden away from plain sight. You can live with it side by side for years and never know. Even with thorough mold testing it can be difficult to locate if the mold is growing inside the wall or under floor boards. Sometimes the only sign of mold exposure is a growing feeling of discomfort and trying to treat diseases that don’t exist.

Is Black Mold Really Toxic?

There are two sides to every coin. Nowadays, it’s very popular to debunk various myths. However, debunking the black mold myth can lead to unfortunate negligence. Let’s take a look at the latest debunking efforts:

  • Not all black mold is toxic – this is absolutely true. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t face toxic black mold in your home.
  • Not all toxic mold is black – this is true as well. The toxic mold comes in a variety of colors so when you see a mold of a different color, it doesn’t mean you should disregard it.

Toxic mold does exist. It’s not always black. However, it may live in your home without you knowing or worrying about it.

What does black mold look like?

One of the first questions people have is how to identify black mold? Well, it’s sadly not as easy as saying ‘because it’s black!’

As black mould (Stachybotrys chartarum) thrives off moisture more than most other moulds, It can often look wet and slimy. Whilst it’s usually black as it’s name suggests, it can sometimes appear to have a dark greenish tint to it. In fact, if you do happen to see mold growth in your home that has this tell tell greenish tint, it is almost certainly the dreaded black variety as no other fungus shares this trait.

However, you should look into buying a test kit to determine the true identity of any molds or mildews growing in your home.

The one positive of black mold is due to it’s excessive moisture requirement, it’s spores are dampened down and so less likely to be whipped up in the air to spread around your home like other fungi – so contamination is less likely to spread.

What does Black Mold smell like?

The smell of black mold is a little more difficult to pinpoint than the look. Like most molds, you need to get up close and have a good sniff, which for obvious reasons is not advisable.

For those of you with a stronger sense of smell, you might be able to detect a musty odor from a safe distance,  however most fungi share this same smell, so it’s not really possible to detect from smell alone.

Can Black Mold kill you?

Inhaling toxic mold spores on a daily basis will eventually lead to respiratory problems. If the source of the problem is not discovered and the person continues inhaling the spores, it can lead to irreversible consequences and eventual death.

Some people are more affected by toxic mold than others. For example, children, pregnant women, and elderly, whose immune system is not as strong as an average adult’s, feel the effect of black mold spores faster and suffer the most. The same is true for people with existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Basically, if you are prone to respiratory problems, the mold spores will take full advantage of this lack of defense.

Black Mold Death Cases

death from black mold - Britanny Murphy

In 1997, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Cleveland found that one out of every thousand children in Cleveland were developing cases of bleeding lungs (usually only one in every million suffers from such a problem). The research was conducted to show that the cause often hid inside water damaged homes, which created excellent conditions for the toxic mold to grow. It took the scientists two years to discover the reason. Several children died before the cause was finally found.

In 2008, a 47-year-old British man started having respiratory problems. Doctors diagnosed pneumonia. While he was being treated for pneumonia, the symptoms were getting worse. By the time the doctors discovered that the reason for his breathing problems was black mold, he passed away. When the man’s case was studied, researchers found out that he was constantly exposed to toxic mold while gardening. Turns out, it’s not solely an indoor problem.

In 2008, in the United States, a man lost consciousness at the gym and died before the paramedics could help him. It was later discovered that he was constantly exposed to the toxic mold spores at the athletic club. Gyms are often an excellent environment for mold growth. Moisture coupled with bacteria and bad ventilation allows all types of mold to thrive.

In 2009, the famous actress Brittany Murphy died of pneumonia. Five months later the same happened to her husband Simon Monjack. While a variety of rumors revolved around their deaths, including heart failure and drug overdose, some experts believed that the cause was mold exposure. Murphy’s and Monjack’s home stands at the bottom of a hill, where it’s highly exposed to flooding. Such homes are often infested with various types of mold.

What Are Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure?

If you have a strong immune system and no preexisting respiratory problems, your body can do a great job fighting the toxic mold. However, even the slightest cold can weaken your immune system and allow the toxins to do their job. The most common symptoms of black mold exposure are:



  • Breathing problems
  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Headaches
  • Unreasonable fatigue
  • Skin rashes

All of the above may be an indication of other health conditions. It’s important to contact your doctor if you have one or several of the above-listed symptoms.

When Should You Check Your Home For Black Mold?

In order to prevent the unfortunate consequences described above, it’s vital to check your home for mold and listen to your body closely. You should check for mold if:

  • You experience frequent respiratory problems or your existing condition has worsened.
  • You feel a musty odor in the basement or attic.
  • Your home has recently been flooded.
  • You are planning to sell your home or purchase a new one.

Being alert to toxic mold symptoms and manifestations can help you stay healthy and keep your home toxin free.

If you do discover any type of mold in your home, do your best to locate and wipe clean any surface where it might be breeding. For more information check out our guide on how to clean up mold problems.

Also published on Medium.

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