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White Mold vs Black Mold

Mold Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

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.

Black mold is considered to be one of the most toxic types of molds. However, all indoor molds—including white mold—present a health risk and should be removed from the home as quickly as possible. It’s important to understand the difference between white mold and black mold and the danger each pose to your health.

What is White Mold?

Though it's referred to as “mold,” white mold is a different fungus species from other molds. In fact, it’s a powdery fungus that can grow in different colors like green or grey, but most commonly, white. White mold typically appears in common places where other molds thrive, like high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and showers, basements, and crawl spaces. However, it can also grow in areas that have been subject to flooding or water damage, such as kitchens or basements. It’s a powdery, filmy substance that makes it difficult to identify from mildew or efflorescence.

How Does White Mold Differ to Efflorescence?

White mold shouldn't be confused with efflorescence, a build-up of salt deposits, which isn’t harmful and can be dissolved in water. 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.

Is White Mold Dangerous?

White mold encompasses a wide range of fungus and mold species, making it tough to properly identify. However, no matter what type it is—black or white—mold is dangerous and can cause negative health effects. Exposure to white mold can cause issues including allergies, headaches, respiratory infections or distress, dizziness, and nausea. Longer exposure poses a more serious risk with issues that may involve depression, memory loss, and anxiety. While considered less dangerous than black mold, it should be remediated as quickly as possible by an expert.

Not only does white mold pose a health risk, it can also make your home less safe from a structural standpoint. As it eats away, the structural integrity of your home suffers. Failing to remove white mold from your home can lead to costlier problems down the line.

What is Black Mold?

The most common black mold is Stachybotrys chartarum and is often referred to as toxic mold; however, not all mold that is black in color is Stachybotrys chartarum. Black mold is typically green to black in color and thrives on material that has a high cellulose content, like paper or fiberboard and requires high moisture content. Growth occurs when there is moisture present, which is why it’s often found in bathrooms and basements. Moisture from water damage or leaks, condensation, and flooding can all help to feed black mold.

Is Black Mold Dangerous?

All mold is dangerous. However, black mold is considered to be the most toxic of all molds and can cause serious health issues—mental and physical. Toxic black mold is neurotoxic, which means that it can kill neurons in the brain and can cause nerve disorders and mood swings.

Common neurological symptoms caused by black mold include:

  • Confusion
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Trembling

Not only does black mold affect mental health and cause nervous disorders, it may also affect your respiratory system, as well.

Respiratory symptoms caused by black mold include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Runny nose

Toxic black mold can also affect your circulatory system and cause heart palpitations, low blood pressure, heart damage, and more. Additionally, it can affect vision, skin, and immune system responses. The bottom line is that black mold is dangerous, and it needs to be removed from your home. Only an expert will know how to best find black mold in your home, what it looks like, and the appropriate steps to safely remove it from your property.

Difference Between White Mold and Black Mold

While white mold and black mold are fungi that thrive on damp surfaces, there are major differences between the two. We described some of the differences between white mold vs. black mold above but here are some quick points to keep in mind:

Black mold:

  • Is harder to remove.
  • Penetrates beneath surfaces.
  • Produces mycotoxins that can cause serious health issues.
  • Can be dark green to black and irregularly grow.

White mold:

  • Grows on surfaces and can easily be removed.
  • Is powdery or fluffy in appearance and texture.
  • May cause health issues in humans.
  • Can also affect plants and crops.

Mold Remediation Is Important For Your Property

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 ductwork.

White mold, black mold, or any type of mold can be harmful to your home and family. If you have recently dealt with water damage to your home, you may be at risk of mold growth. Reach out to the experts at ServiceMaster Restore by calling 1-800-RESPOND for help with mold remediation for your home or business.

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