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Stachybotrys Mold 
   [Also known as the "Toxic mold" and "Black mold"]

Stachybotrys mold growing on drywall.

[Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University]


   
Several strains of Stachybotrys mold [nickname: Stachy] produce spores with poisonous toxins. Chronic exposure to Stachybotrys has caused cold and flu symptoms, fatigue, diarrhea, headaches, sore throat, hair loss, immune system suppression, memory loss, and severe brain damage. Whereas most mold spores can begin growing after just 24 hours of wetness, Stachybotrys mold spores take at least 48 hours of wetness to begin growth. Stachybotrys survives and grows best in a continually wet environment like a slow water leak in a wall. Stachybotrys spores are rarely airborne.

   
Stachybotrys toxic mold is best detected by a careful physical examination of a building. Stachy is usually identified by direct swabs or lift tape  or bulk samples of the mold itself with laboratory analysis. When active and growing in a wet environment, the mold can look black, shiny, and slimy. 


    Please visit the Stachybotrys mold website.

Questions and Answers About Stachybotrys Mold

         
Q.
I was curious about whether or not you were familiar with health effects from stachybotrys. I need to find some information about who I need to go see regarding exposure/contamination because I have been very VERY sick and has happened recently.

          A. Be sure to read our Stachybotrys report in the mold species pages of Mold. Although Stachy can cause severe respiratory problems and overall health damage to your body, Stachybotrys is most famous for its destruction of brain tissue. If someone starts developing memory problem, starts to lose the ability to think logically, and feels disconnected from the world around him or her, those are possible symptoms of both Stachybotrys and of Alzheimer's disease. The first step should be the thorough inspection and mold testing of both one's home and work place by a Certified Mold Inspector. If the problem is solely the infestation of the toxic black mold Stachybotrys, that problem is much easier to fix than having incurable Alzheimer's Disease. The second step would be to have a complete physical exam by a pulmonary specialist [lung medical doctor] to detect signs or proof of lung disease [a frequent medical problem caused by not only Stachybotrys, but by other types of molds]. The lung specialist can do a lung biopsy to check for lung tissue damage, and conduct a mold antibody blood test to see if there has been mold interacting with one's body. Another type of useful physician is a neurologist to check for possible brain damage caused by either Stachy or by Alzheimer's. The next step would be to live somewhere else in a mold safe place during mold inspection, testing, and remediation of your home or workplace to stop possible mold worsening of your health.

          Q. What are the health signs to look for caused by black mold? What are some of the treatments? Are there cures for black mold? and can it show up in the lungs and on the liver?

           
A. If you mean Stachybotrys mold when you use the Stachy mold nickname of black mold,
here are some thoughts. The most tell-tale sign of a human being affected by Stachybotrys mold infestation is loss of brain functions, such as having trouble thinking and remembering, and of feeling distance or disconnected from the world around oneself.  The health symptoms of Stachybotrys mold are very similar to Alzheimer's disease.  In fact, if someone is starting to shown signs of Alzheimer's disease, the first step would be to thoroughly mold test the person's home and work environment for the presence of Stachybotrys. Because Stachy is rarely airborne, you need to do a very thorough physical inspection, including INSIDE hvac, walls, ceilings, floors, attics, crawl spaces, and basements to locate mold deposits that should be directly sampled for laboraory mold analysis by the Mold Inspector Laboratory.  If a person is experiencing possible health effects from Stachybotrys mold, the first step for that person and all other residents is to leave the home or workplace until thorough mold inspection and mold testing has been completed. If Stachy causes brain damage, the brain damage is usually permanent and irreparable.

         
Q. My husband has been working in a science building which had a bad problem with stachybotrys mold due to an air conditioning and condensation problem.  We also found out that the building had zero air pressure for years, because the hoods were not open.  You can imagine a building like that with mold, chemicals, and animal dander from the various rooms and labs.  He has a very bad allergy to mold.  For years, he doctored for joint/muscle pain (fibromyalgia), sleep apnea, and then pulmonary problems with resulting low lung function.  Memory loss and loss of being able to think logically and stay focused, along with personality changes have also resulted in the past two years.  He has been doctoring recently with a pulmonologist, neurologist, and neuropsychologist who are now monitoring his condition.  He has had 3 MRI scans of the brain.  The first showed an injury, and the second a year later showed numerous spots located in front, back and both sides of the brain.  His most recent MRI showed no change.  He was ordered out of the building for 2 years now by the pulmonologist, until the renovation on the air system is completed.  His pulmonary function has been become quite a bit better.  My real concern is to the brain injuries that have occurred.  Do you have any knowledge of this kind of problem?  Is there any hope of these brain injuries getting better or is this what we will need to live with, or maybe get worse?   Can anything else develop in the brain at these sites of the injuries in the future?  My husband was always a very quick thinking and quick learning individual who has a doctorate in biology.  This has been extremely difficult for him and our family.  I would appreciate any info and referrals to information on this subject that you can give to me.  Thank you very much. 

         
A. First, may I express my sadness and sympathy to you and your husband because of the severe health problem that has been caused by Stachybotrys to your husband. Second, the information that I have read and heard about Stachy-caused brain damage is that it is permanent. Second, the most important safeguard you can take is to make sure that your husband is not experienced to any other mold-contamination of any kind anywhere. For example, a large number of hotel and motel rooms are mold-contaminated, including some of the more expensive facilities. I would suggest that you avoid staying in hoels and motels during any travel, if that is possible; otherwise, before renting a particular room, you alone should carefully inspect the proposed motel/hotel room with your eyes and ears for mold mold problems. Third, if you have not already done so, install very strong ultraviolet light lamps in both the supply and return side of your heating and air conditioning system in your home to kill all mold spores and other germs in your household air. Fourth, have your home tested for mold including inside hvac (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) equipment and ducts, inside walls, above ceilings, below floors, and in attic, basement, and crawl space areas.

          Q. Just exactly how dangerous is black mold; how many kinds of mold are there; what would lead a person to suspect they have mold? Is mold and/or mildew one and the same? What do you suppose the reason is that mold has just become a concern in the last couple of years, at least here in Texas? Due to the extremely high cost of mold insurance, if a house is reasonably sound, how much mold insurance would be prudent?

         
A. If you mean the toxic mold Stachybotrys, it can cause numerous health problems including permanent brain damage with symptoms very similar to having Alzheimer's Disease [cannot remember well, difficulty in thinking, feeling "disconnected" from the world around oneself]. If someone in your family is starting to show Alzehimer-type of health symptoms, the first thing to do is to do complete mold testing of their home and workplace environments to identify any dangerous molds present in elevated levels. Mildew [part of mold family] is a less risky form of mold in terms of health effects. The reason that mold is so prominent in the Texas news media and in higher Texas homeowner's insurance rates is the much greater awareness today of the serious health consequences of living or working in a sick environment such as mold infestation.

          Q.
Please explain just what "Black Mold" looks like and where would be the most likely places to find it within an office setting.

         
A. Tens of thousands of mold species are black in color. One of them is the famous toxic mold Stachybotrys [nickname: black mold]. Stachybotrys [another nickname: Stachy] is usually found by direct sampling rather than by air testing. When having access to water and growing, Stachy can be wet-looking, glistening, shiny, and shimmering [jello-like]. The best places to locate not only Stachybotrys black toxic mold but also other molds in the office are molds hidden: (1) inside hvac equipment and ducts; (2) above ceilings; (3) inside walls; (4) beneath floors; (5) in crawl spaces, attics, and basements; and (6) wherever they have been roof leaks and other water leaks. A good way to know if there is mold contamination in an office is to do mold testing in each area of the office, as well as testing air flowing through the hvac ducts. See: Mold Testing.

          Q.
I recently bought a home that was built in the 30's and is built from sawmill lumber. There where no sheetrock walls, all where solid wood with old wallpaper with the cloth paper behind it. When I took down most of it, it had black dust everywhere, some I left up and sheetrocked over. We have sheetrocked the whole house now. There were spots on the walls and ceiling that had a lot of crystallized places on the wood, now covered. There were places in the floor that were rotted and we cut out the rot only and replaced, but some of the black was still there. We covered with thin paneling in the kitchen, and plywood in the bedrooms. Can this still leak out from the walls? This house was very musty when we got it, had no idea about mold at the time. I am remodeling the house, since i started living in it as i work on it , I have started noticing that  I can't stay interested in the same project very long, had headaches, nosebleeds, a lot of mood swings, a lot of forgetfulness, my joints all over hurt, and very unrestful at night and during the day. I usually am constantly working on anything, but fill lightheaded a lot. When I leave and go visit  friends for two - five days ,  I always feel better there. By covering all that black dust up, how can I test for mold now. I know that there was a lot of it. Could it of been mold dust , I know it wasn't just dirt. And will my insurance pay if the house was like that to begin with? Please advise before i sink more money, which I've already have, into it to finish. [March 31, 2002]

         
A. Move yourself and your family out of this mold hell immediately. Don't take anything with you so you don't cross-contaminate your temporary living quarters.Don't spend any more time in your contaminated home without wearing personal protective gear such as one-piece, 3M brand face shield with breathing respirators [from Home Depot], rubber gloves [paint dept., Home Depot], and complete body Tyvek suit [available from Mold Inspector]. Some of your mold health symptoms [can't stay interested in the same project very long, headaches, mood swings, forgetfulness] are a strong indication that the hidden mold might be the deadly toxic mold Stachybotrys that destroys brain tissue. You need to have the covered up mold tested by fiber optics inspection and inside wall direct mold sampling and air mold testing, plus air mold testing of the various rooms of your home. To find a Certified Mold Inspector in your area, please visit the website: Certified Mold Inspector. If mold testing confirms that you have covered up mold growth in the wood, all of your new wall coverings will have to be removed to facilitate mold remediation. The steps involved in effective and safe mold removal are explained at Mold Removal. You also need to have your body tested for the presence of mold growth in your body. The best type of medical doctor to visit [for blood testing for mold antibodies and lung biopsy for mold growing in your lungs] is a pulmonary [lung] specialist.


  Stachybotrys chartarum under the
  microscope. From the book 
  The Fifth Kingdom

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