Molds are fungi that live both outdoors and indoors. Indoor molds vary and include varieties such as aspergillus, alternaria, cladosporium, penicillium and Stachybotrys chartarum. With the exception of Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as “black mold”), indoor molds can range in color from white to white-green, gray-green, green and shades of brown. All indoor molds, including both white and black molds, do present a health risk and should be removed from the home.
What is White Mold?
White mold shouldn't be confused with efflorescence. Efflorescence, a crystalline growth, has a white, almost fluffy appearance and often is mistaken for white mold. It typically grows on brick, concrete and stucco and is caused by salt deposits. Efflorescence does not pose the same health threats as mold. It usually takes a mold specialist to determine the difference between efflorescence and white mold.
White Mold vs Black Mold
White mold sometimes is considered mildew, although mildew typically is powdery and actually is an early stage of mold. Black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum often is referred to as toxic mold; however, not all mold that is black in color is Stachybotrys chartarum.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the term "toxic mold" is inaccurate. The CDC states, "While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous."
The media has reported on a few cases where toxigenic molds have caused health effects such as memory loss or pulmonary hemorrhage. "These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven," reports the CDC.
Anyone with a mold allergy may suffer common allergy symptoms such as sinusitis, itchy eyes, headache and fever when exposed to indoor molds. For some individuals, the allergic reaction caused by mold exposure is more severe. The Mayo Clinic states the following conditions may develop in certain people after mold exposure:
- Mold-induced asthma (specifically anyone already suffering from asthma or severe allergies)
- Allergic fungal sinusitis
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (danger for those with asthma or cystic fibrosis)
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
All molds, including both white mold and black mold should be considered a potential health risk and removed from the home. A team of professionals like the mold experts at ServiceMaster Restore can assess the situation, identify the mold, its origins and customize a comprehensive plan to remove the mold. Mold requires moisture to grow, so any type of water damage can lead to a mold growth problem. If the water damage is ignored, the mold will continue to grow and spread. It can damage your belongings, destroy drywall and insulation and even make its way into the HVAC duct work.