Mold & Mildew Guide


Mold & Mildew Basic Training:

Mold comes in many forms – try more than 100,000 types. Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium are the types of mold commonly found in homes. Black mold (also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, Stachybotrys atra, or SC) is a hazardous house mold that made headlines when a school was shut down and an unusual number of babies in Cleveland suffering from pulmonary hemorrhage were found to be living in homes hosting SC.

Although known as black mold, stachybotrys may also be white or greenish-black. It grows on material with a high cellulose content (drywall, cardboard, wood, paper, drop-ceiling tiles) that has been wet for several days. Sometimes, Stachybotrys, like other molds, can produce chemicals called mycotoxins (myco from the Greek for fungus) that may cause asthma and lung diseases.

Here’s a rundown on common household molds, where to look for them, and the ill effects they bring...

Alternaria

A large spore mold that can deposit in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract causing an allergic response. Indoors, it is often found in carpets, textiles, house dust and potentially damp areas like window frames and showers. It can also be found in plant soil.

Aspergillus

Usually found in warmer climates in areas of water damage or extreme dampness. Aspergillus species are also commonly found in house dust. Many species produce mycotoxins which may be associated with disease in humans and some animals. Also found in building materials and in fall leaves and other decomposing matter like compost piles.

Cladosporium

The most commonly identified outdoor fungus, but it can easily enter into the house through the HVAC and other airflow entryways. Cladosporium also has an indoor species that grows on textiles, wood and other porous, damp areas. Both indoor and outdoor species are triggers for hay fever and asthma symptoms.

Penicillium

A very common mold known to cause allergies, hay fever and asthma. Species may be found growing on wallpaper, wallpaper glue and decaying fabrics in water-damaged buildings or homes. It is also found in carpet and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Some species can produce mycotoxins.

Stachybotrys

Pronounced (stack-ee-BOT-ris), this is an especially toxic black mold that produces airborne toxins (mycotoxins) that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu-like symptoms and bleeding in the lungs. Stachybotrys requires excessive moisture to thrive (usually running water) and is a slimy black mold. Fortunately, stachybotrys is not found in homes as often as the other molds listed above.

It is important to remember that not all black molds are SC and that SC does not always produce mycotoxins. While alive, SC is slimy and does not release many spores. Exposure is greatest when SC dries and spores or bits of the mold growth are released into the air.

Resources & Links:

Mold Basics - Environmental Protection Agency
Mold List - Mold Bacteria & Consulting Laboratories

Mold - Center for Disease Control
Indoor Mold - California Dept of Health Services

Flood Support & Information:

FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency
Flood Safety - American Red Cross
Disaster Assistance Programs - Farm Service Agency

Cleaning & Prevention:

Mold Guide: A brief guide to Mold in your home - Environmental Protection Agency
Fact Sheet: Mold Cleanup after a flood - Environmental Protection Agency
Flood Cleanup Guide - Center for Healthy Housing
Controlling Mold Growth in your Home - Kansas State University

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