(atras) is a greenish-black fungus that is
found throughout the world and is typically wet and slimy to the
touch. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 different
species that grow in surroundings where the humidity exceeds 50%.
Stachybotrys Chartarum thrives on materials high in cellulose
and low in nitrogen content. Examples include wet leaves, straw,
carpet, wallpaper, thermal insulation, fiberboard, dry wall, gypsum
board, paper, dust, and hay. What these examples have in common
is their propensity to become chronically moist or water logged
due to excessive humidity, water leaks, flooding, etc. It is not
found on materials such as plastic, vinyl, or ceramic tiles, nor
is it the green mold in bread or between shower tiles. Since homes
and buildings are not typically tested for it, it is difficult to
say how prevalent this mold is.
Dangers of Stachybotrys Mold
Stachybotrys chartarum (SC) is dangerous
to humans because it can, given the proper environmental conditions,
create multiple toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These toxic byproducts
exist in the spores of the mold, as well as in the tiny fragments
that can become airborne. Luckily, these spores and fragments are
often unable to become airborne because they are part of the slimy
mold cluster. However, once the mold dries up, there is a much greater
possibility that the spores or fragments can become airborne and
come into contact with humans. Of particular concern is the threat
that humans will inhale and ingest these toxic spores.
Characteristics of Stachybotrys
- Stachybotrys atra produces
toxigenic spores that are potentially dangerous to humans, especially
if they enter an air-conveyance system.
- The EPA has set no strict regulations
or guidelines for determining the health risks associated with
- Experts can only estimate how
prevalent the incidence of indoor Stachybotrys atra is.
- Collected mold cultures of Stachybotrys
atra can be tricky due to the existence of other types of
fungi in the same area.
- Removing cultures of Stachybotrys
atra must be undertaken with great care to contain the spread
of dangerous spores.
Stachybotrys atra (S. atra)
has been linked by the Center for Disease and Control to 10 cases
of lung disorder in infants and 100 other cases. In 1993, there
were a number of cases of acute pulmonary hemorrhage in nearly 30
infants after homes were flooded. The CDC does not completely know
the specific cause of these deaths. However, they eventually concluded
that significant exposure to S. atra, in addition to other
hydrophilic molds, played a significant role in the development
of this severe and fatal lung disease.
Stachybotrys Chartarum first
came into the spotlight when it caused disease-like symptoms in
Russian and Eastern European. Agricultural and farm workers who
handled moist, wet hay experienced symptoms not unlike those that
were affecting nearby animals. Individuals who ate grain from the
contaminated hay experienced symptoms such as burning sensations
in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Stachybotrys Chartarum occurs
more frequently in animals than in humans. However, if spores are
released into the air, humans certainly can come into contact with
them and develop symptoms that include coughing, wheezing, runny
nose, irritation to the eyes or throat, skin rash, and diarrhea.
Many of these symptoms are commonly associated with allergies. In
fact, some theories hold that the symptoms are an allergic reaction
to the mold or from toxic byproducts from the mold. There also seems
to be an association between trichothecenes (the mycotoxin produced
when SC interacts with certain other molds) and certain human diseases.
Prevention of Stachybotrys Mold
The most important consideration
to keep in mind is that mold needs a moist, wet, or damp environment
in order to thrive. By maintaining a clean, dry home or workplace,
dangerous mold species cannot begin to grow. Sources in and around
homes that can create a dangerous environment include leaky or broken
pipes, windows or older doors that lack good seals, roofs that leak,
and any cracks or holes in the building. If flooding has occurred,
it is extremely important to make sure that the water is thoroughly
dried up to avoid festering water or dampness.
All buildings should undergo scheduled
maintenance that includes inspection for water leaks, problem seals
around windows and doors, as well as checks for visible mold in
moist or damp parts of the building. Any conditions that could be
a possible cause of mold or fungi growth should be corrected to
prevent possible problems in the future.
Removing Stachybotrys Mold
Stachybotrys is often hidden within walls, in the insulation, or
under floorboards, etc. This can make detection very tricky. It
is therefore very important to be aware of the possible symptoms
and monitor loved ones for any signs that may indicate any sort
of danger. Removing Stachybotrys is usually accomplished
fairly easily by thoroughly cleaning the mold with a solution of
bleach and water. Extensive infestations (as with flooding) may
demand hiring a professional cleaning service that has extensive
knowledge of ridding mold from homes and office buildings.
If you or someone you care about
has experienced serious health problems that may have been caused
by Toxic Mold, you're entitled to know your legal rights.
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