Are There Different Types of Black Mold?

Jennifer Groepl

Many mold species appear black in color, and thousands of molds have not even been named or classified. The black mold with the worst reputation is the toxicogenic Stachybotrys atra or S. atra. Health professionals categorize molds as allergenic, pathogenic or toxigenic based on how they affect humans. Toxicogenic molds pose the greatest health danger.

Stachybotrys Atra

Are There Different Types of Black Mold?

When people refer to "black mold", they are usually referring to Strachybotrys atra or S. atra. This mold produces chemical toxins called mycotoxins. Released into the air within mold spores, this toxic mold results in symptoms such as dermatitis, cough, nose bleeds, cold and flu symptoms and general malaise if inhaled, ingested or sometimes when touching the skin. The slow-growing fungi grows on high-cellulose building materials.

Toxicogenic Molds

Toxicogenic mold may irritate the lungs.

Toxicogenic molds negatively affect all humans, not just specific susceptible groups. They release mycotoxins that travel within the mold spores in the air which are then inhaled. Effects of the mycotoxins range from minor tissue irritations to cancer depending on the type of mold and length of exposure. Finding toxicogenic mold within the home or workplace poses a significant health risk and requires intervention. A common toxicogenic mold is S. atra.

Black Molds

Many mold species appear black, and not all black molds are toxicogenic. In additiona to S. atra, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Trichoderma and Memnoniella may produce mycotoxins. Penicillium is commonly found indoors and creates a problem if spore counts indoors are higher than those outdoors. Buildings infiltrated by specific species of Aspergillus pose a significant health risk, one being the infectious disease aspergillosis.

Mold Removal

Wear gloves, goggles, and N-95 respirators for mold cleanup.

For small areas of mold on hard surfaces, clean with detergent and water but be sure to dry surfaces completely. If the mold has infiltrated porous surfaces like rugs or ceiling tiles, you may have to throw them out or hire a cleaning service. Call the professionals for larger-scale mold problems. Ask for references to ensure experience and expertise in removing mold completely.