Black Mold: What You Should Know

Learn about and view pictures of black mold to help you identify and prevent toxic black mold.
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By: Sean McEvoy

Sinister-sounding and potentially dangerous, toxic black mold can strike fear in the heart of any homeowner. But by being able to identify black mold and understand how to prevent and control its growth, you can help to keep your home free of toxic black mold.

Going Green: Eco-Friendly Home Improvement and Building Products

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Composite Decking

Because it is made from a combination of a wood waste and recycled plastic, composite decking yields superior strength, longevity and dimensional stability. It won’t warp, crack, splinter or rot like wood.

Paper-Based Countertops

Made of tree pulp taken from strictly managed sustainable forests, paper-based countertops are a great alternative to stone and plastic surfaces. They come in a variety of colors and are mostly stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant.

Bamboo Plywood

Bamboo is a sustainable wood because it grows rapidly and reaches maturity in just four years. The plywood is laminated together using a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) adhesive. Bamboo is great for bathrooms because it stands up well in a moist climate. In this remodel, the bamboo vanity is topped off with a bamboo sink.

Rubber Mulch

Made from 100-percent recycled tires, rubber mulch is suitable to use on most landscapes. It has several benefits: a safe play surface for children, prevents weeds, does not attract insects and water and air can easily flow through it.

Lumber From Sustainable Forests

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization that sets standards for responsible management of the world’s forests. These shelves and cabinet were made from FSC-certified oak plywood with a soy-based adhesive.

Synthetic Grass

This yard’s centerpiece is the plush green lawn. The best part about it: it's totally maintenance free. Eco-friendly synthetic grass requires no water, no mowing and stays green for years.

Natural Linoleum Flooring

The perfect choice for this retro-style kitchen, natural linoleum has been popular for over 100 years. It is made from all raw materials, including linseed oil, resins and wood flour. Natural linoleum is often used in hospitals because its bactericidal properties stop microorganisms from multiplying and it is easy to clean.

Soy Concrete Stain

The surface of this beautiful patio was finished in soy concrete stain. Made with eco-friendly, rapidly renewable materials, soy stain is acid-free and contains no hazardous materials. It's also great for indoor use.

Recycled-Plastic Carpet

Plastic beverage bottles are sorted, ground into fine chips, cleaned, melted, extruded into a fiber and then spun into plush carpet yarn. Even the bottle caps and labels are used to create the cores on which the yarn is spun around.

Repurposed Furniture

Be eco-friendly by repurposing old furniture instead of throwing it away. It diverts waste from landfills and prevents the harvesting of new trees. In this project, an old armoire was turned into a drop-down game table and storage console.

Eco-Friendly Carpet Tiles

Quick and easy to install, these carpet tiles are made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled poly fiber. They are stain-repellent and won’t trap dirt like traditional carpets, thereby reducing allergens in the air. But, if the squares do become dirty, you can just replace the individual squares and not the entire carpet.

Recycled Glass Countertops

Windshields, stemware and beverage bottles are bound together with concrete and fly ash (a waste by-product of coal-burning power plants) as opposed to a petroleum-based resin binder. The countertops are comparable to granite in terms of strength, scratch resistance, heat resistance and maintenance.

Wood From Sorghum Plants

Kirei board is made from sorghum stalks, which are typically burned or thrown into landfills after the edible portion is harvested. Kirei wood is made with non-toxic adhesive that does not emit formaldehyde.

Cork Flooring

To make this flooring, about one third of the cork-oak tree's trunk is stripped — the tree is left undamaged and quickly regenerates new bark. Cork flooring is durable, yet it is much softer than standard hardwood flooring and it's easy to install with a tongue-and-grove locking system. In this kitchen, two colors of cork are used to create a unique pattern.

Bamboo Butcher Block

Formaldehyde-free bamboo is ideal for kitchens because it's food safe and doesn't emit harmful toxins. Bamboo grows rapidly and reaches maturity in just four years. Harvesting is done by hand in closely managed forests, minimizing any harmful impact on the environment.

Biodegradable Hemp and Wool Carpet

This carpet is completely biodegradable since it’s made with 100-percent natural, raw materials. Hemp is nature’s strongest and most durable fiber. The carpet is naturally pigmented, rather than dyed with harsh chemicals. The adhesive used is made from natural rubber and the backing is made from jute, both of which are robust and biodegradable.

Black mold is most likely to appear in areas of the home that are particularly warm, humid and damp. Basements or crawlspaces that may have leaks or other sources of moisture are often susceptible to toxic black mold growth. Black mold is readily identifiable by its color. Whereas most other molds are green or gray in color, toxic black mold is a dark black.

Black mold can cause an array of allergic reactions and health problems. In most cases, depending on the length of exposure and the number of spores inhaled, symptoms can include chronic fatigue or headaches, fever, irritation to the eyes, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat, sneezing, rashes, and chronic coughing. In cases of prolonged or severe exposure, or cases exacerbated by an allergic reaction, more extreme symptoms can present, including nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose

To guard against the health risks associated with black mold, preventing and controlling mold growth in the home is the best defense. Treating areas of existing mold growth should always be done while wearing a respirator or mask rated for work with mold spores, and arms, legs and hands should be covered to prevent an allergic reaction.

Toxic black mold can cause health problems and damage to homes, but understanding how to prevent, identify and eradicate black mold will give you the tools to keep your home free of this toxic species of mold.

Dos and Don'ts for a Healthy Home

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