How to Recognize Black Mold

Black mold is a kind of fungus best described as a slimy substance black and green in color. More formally known as Strachybotrys atra, black mold grows in humid (or damp) conditions that are shaded from light and have moderate temperatures. Black mold can grow on just about anything. It is important to detect black mold early because it can be a health hazard. There are a variety of ways to recognize black mold.

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Signs of Mold

Look for patches that have a greenish or blackish color and are located in items such as furniture, clothes, food, walls and floors. The patches are definite signs of mold growth. Look for stains that have a yellowish tint. Yellowish stains come from moisture. The yellowish stains could mean the mold has already begun to form.

Check for musty or mildewy smells. These are also signs of mold formation. Check for signs of mold if you smell these odors. Be aware if you smell musty odors only when the heating or air conditioning units are running. It's possible mold growth has formed in these systems if the odor is only evident when they are in operation.

Be aware if anyone develops respiratory or allergy problems while they are in the building. These can be other signs of mold growth. Ask the person if they have these symptoms when they are not in the building.

Look for signs of mold poisoning. Black mold produces volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as it degrades a substance. Exposure to the VOCs can cause poisoning. Signs of poisoning include respiratory problems, coughing, headaches, nausea, dizziness and skin rashes.

Black mold also thrives outside. Look for signs of green and black circular patches in a lawn.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check for moisture on the surfaces of items such as furniture, clothes, food and walls. Moisture means the mold may very well have begun to grow.


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