The toxic black mold that you’re used to hearing about actually refers specifically to the “Stachybotrys” bacteria. Black mold is easily confused with many other types of mold that can appear in dark, damp areas. While all mold is harmful to human health, black mold is often thought of as one of the worst. All buildings and commercial properties should be inspected for black mold regularly. Though the EPA has no federal guidelines on how often you should check for mold, your insurance company will likely require testing for any suspicious-looking dark spots. For health and safety reasons, you should always get laboratory testing done if you suspect black mold on the property.
Property owners and managers have a certain responsibility to ensure that their property is mold-free. Tenants, employees, and any other individuals on the property may hold you liable if they develop respiratory conditions because of mold-infested air. Stachybotrys can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild lung irritation to brain and nerve damage, and is considered deadly to children and pets.
How to Identify Black Mold
If anyone notices a mold spot in the building or area, it’s vital to get a proper sample and begin lab tests immediately. Here are a few tips for identifying black mold spots:
- Black mold has a distinct smell. Some describe the smell as mildewy, while others cite the aroma of dirt or rotting leaves. If a building, room, or hallway has this stale smell, you may be able to follow the odor to the source – a black mold spot.
- There are a number of different molds. Black mold is black in color (as you can tell by the name), but this can easily be mistaken for green or other dark-colored molds. Avoid touching mold spots with your bare hands.
- Black mold is slimy and damp in texture. Use a glove to run your finger across the mold spot and observe if the glove has signs of wetness or sliminess. Other molds may feel fuzzy in comparison.
- Seek out mold in damp locations. Mold appears anywhere where it is damn. Check bathrooms, boiler rooms, and anywhere that has had any type of water damage. Kitchens, garages, and basements are all common places to find black mold.
- Inspect leaks closely. Leaks often leave brown-ish water damage, but within that spot, you may find traces of black mold bacteria. Leaky pipes or HVAC units may develop black mold if not properly ventilated and maintained.
- Check any porous materials. Certain construction materials, like grout, that are porous are prone to developing black mold problems. Check in between tiles or panels in kitchens and bathrooms for signs. Sealants also have this problem, like caulk. Check any recently caulked or sealed areas for black mold growth.
- Hire a professional. It’s best not to take any chances. You can have an expert come in to look at the suspicious black spot and see if it’s necessary to do further testing.
Any signs of black mold should always be taken seriously. Growth spreads quickly and can create costly property damage if not dealt with early on. In many cases, mold that was ignored and allowed to spread can damage entire floors, ceilings, walls, and building materials. It’s easier to get a few spots abated than to replace an entire wall.
If you suspect black mold and require the proper sampling tools, call SanAir Technologies Laboratory at 888-895-1177. At SanAir, our experts know exactly what you’ll need to conduct a thorough examination of any suspicious-looking mold. Materials and samples are sent overnight and immediately examined through direct microscopy analysis. You’ll know exactly what kind of mold is plaguing your property, down to the genus and species. The process is quick and simple, and our friendly staff will be happy to walk you through the process of sample collection.