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White Mold vs Black Mold

Mold Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

What is Mold?

Molds are fungi that live both outdoors and indoors. Indoor molds include Aspergillus, Alternaria, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum varieties. Except for 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. Understanding the difference between white and black mold and the danger each poses to your health is important.

What Is White Mold?

Though it's called "mold," white mold is a different fungus species from all other molds. It's a powdery fungus that can grow in different colors like green or grey, but most commonly, white. White mold typically appears in familiar places where other molds thrive, like high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and showers, basements, and crawl spaces. However, it can also grow in regions subject to flooding or water damage, such as kitchens or basements. It's a powdery, filmy substance that makes it challenging 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 that aren'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 many fungi and species, making identifying them correctly tricky. However, no matter what type it is—black or white—mold is dangerous and can cause adverse health effects. Exposure to white mold can cause issues including allergies, headaches, respiratory infections or distress, dizziness, and nausea. More prolonged exposure poses a more severe risk with issues that may involve depression, memory loss, and anxiety. While considered less dangerous than black mold, an expert should remediate it quickly. Not only does white mold pose a health risk, but 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.

What Is Black Mold?

The most common black mold is Stachybotrys Chartarum, often referred to as toxic mold; however, not all black mold is Stachybotrys chartarum. Black mold is typically green to black, thrives on material with high cellulose content, like paper or fiberboard, and requires high moisture content. Growth occurs when moisture is 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 the most toxic of all molds and can cause severe mental and physical health issues. Toxic black mold is neurotoxic, which can kill neurons in the brain and cause nerve disorders and mood swings. Common neurological symptoms caused by black mold include:

  • Headaches: Some individuals have reported experiencing headaches or migraines as a result of mold exposure.
  • Fatigue: Mold exposure, particularly in cases of prolonged or significant exposure, has been associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy.
  • Brain Fog and Difficulty Concentrating: Some individuals have described experiencing cognitive difficulties such as difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and a feeling of mental fogginess.
  • Mood Swings and Irritability: Mold exposure may contribute to changes in mood, including mood swings, irritability, and feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • Sensory Disturbances: In rare cases, individuals have reported sensory disturbances, such as tingling sensations, numbness, or a heightened sensitivity to stimuli.

Not only does black mold affect mental health and cause nervous disorders, but it may also affect your respiratory system. Respiratory symptoms caused by black mold include:

  • Coughing: Mold spores, when inhaled, can irritate the respiratory system and trigger coughing. This can be a persistent or recurrent symptom.
  • Wheezing: Mold exposure can lead to inflammation in the airways, causing constriction and narrowing, which may result in wheezing sounds during breathing.
  • Shortness of Breath: Some individuals may experience difficulty breathing or a sensation of breathlessness, particularly if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Sore Throat: Mold spores in the air can cause irritation to the throat, resulting in a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Nasal Congestion: Inhaling mold spores can lead to nasal inflammation and congestion, causing a stuffy or blocked nose.
  • Runny Nose: Mold exposure can also trigger an increase in nasal secretions, leading to a runny or drippy 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 needs to be removed from your home. Only an expert will know how to find black mold in your home, what it looks like, and the appropriate steps to remove it from your property safely.

Difference Between White Mold and Black Mold

While white mold and black mold are fungi that thrive on damp surfaces, there are significant 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:

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.

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.

Mold Remediation Is Important for Your Property

All molds, including white 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, and 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. Contact the experts at ServiceMaster Restore by calling 1-800-RESPOND for help with mold remediation for your home or business.

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