Black Mold Will Be The Dark Legacy Left Behind by Katrina and Rita

Oct 22 11:01 2005 George McKenzie Print This Article

The flood waters have receded and residents of the US Gulf Coast have begun returning to their homes. But even if the debris is cleared and people have rebuilt their lives, a lingering and expensive problem could remain for years to come: black mold.

Black mold has been getting more and more news coverage since hurricanes caused flooding in the Gulf Coast of the US recently. But black mold caused plenty of health and financial distress for thousands of people long before the storms hit.

Black mold is also called toxic mold. Its scientific name is stachybotrys chartarum. Once black mold begins growing in a home,Guest Posting it's hard to stop.

Black mold has even caused some homeowners to move out and never return. There have been news stories about people who have burned their homes to the ground because they believed it was the only way to stop black mold. Juries have awarded huge sums of money to homeowners who sued their insurance companies because they wouldn't pay for preventive repairs once black mold set in. Some home builders also had to pay large amounts when juries felt that shoddy worksmanship contributed to the mold.

Most homeowner policies address the black mold issue. Some pay for black mold-related repairs, but others set a limit on how much they'll cover when black mold appears. While black mold is a problem, in most instances its growth can be prevented or stopped before it causes excessive damage.

What is Black Mold?

You've undoubtedly heard the phrase, "There's a fungus among us." As funny as that line sounds, it's no laughmatter to anyone who's had to deal with a black mold problem. Here are the basic facts about black mold. Black mold is a fungus that breaks down organic matter in its environment.

Black mold is actually greenish-black in color. Black mold grows on moisture-laden materials that contain cellulose: wood, paper, drywall, and other similar products. It thrives in damp humid conditions, like bathrooms and basements. Black mold does not grow on tile or cement. Black mold spores can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested on our food. Black mold produces hazardous byproducts, called mycotoxins. These toxins are believed to be linked to memory loss and to severe lung problems in infants and the elderly. Some people are more susceptible to black mold than others.

One person may become debilitated by exposure to black mold, while another person sharing the same environment is essentially unaffected. People with asthma are especially susceptible to black mold problems. Floating black mold particles are invisible to the naked eye, so it's impossible to see where they might have landed -- until they start growing.

Causes of Black Mold

  • Black mold usually begins to grow because of:
  • Leaky water pipes.
  • Roof leaks.
  • Clothes dryers and exhaust fans that vent under the house or back into the room. Vent them to the outside.
  •  Flood damage. Houses that have been flooded are at serious

risk for black mold, especially in areas when are high humidity and temperatures provide the mold with the perfect place to reproduce before cleanup begins. Flooded homes -- especially those that sit in water a long time (as they did in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) are likely to suffer extreme damage from mold.

  • Ways to Discourage Black Mold from Growing:
  • Install a dehumidifier in chronically moist rooms.
  • Don't carpet rooms that stay damp.
  • Insulate pipes and other cold surfaces to discourage condensation.
  • Install storm windows to eliminate condensation on glass.
  • Cover crawlspace dirt with plastic and ensure that the area is well ventilated.

How to Clean Black Mold

Make sure the room is well ventilated before you begin. If the mold covers a small surface area it isn't too hard to clean it with detergent and water. Allow the space to dry, then apply a solution of 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water to help kill the remaining spores.

Never combine bleach and ammonia because the mixture produces a toxic gas

There are products available that are designed specifically for mold. But keep in mind: black mold will probably return unless you elminate the underlying problems that caused it in the first place.

Professional Mold Removal

Severe black mold problems usually require professional treatment by a company that provides black mold remediation.

Beware When Buying a Home

Have an air quality test performed before you buy a home. In the past, air quality testing was ordered primarily to detect radon gas, but tests for mold spore are becoming more common. Some home inspectors offer mold tests, but they can probably help you find someone who does. Mold testing can cost $300-$800 depending on where you live.

If mold detected, find out where it's coming from. Mold should be removed and repairs should be made to ensure it won't come back. Talk to your real estate agent or to an attorney to determine if a special contingency should be inserted in the contract that will allow you to back out of the deal if toxic mold or other molds are detected. Many standard forms used by real estate agents include "mold contingencies."

For more tips on dealing with black mold visit

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About Article Author

George McKenzie
George McKenzie

George McKenzie is a freelance writer and CEO of Mastermind
Learning Systems He's a
former TV news anchor and radio talk show host.

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