Black Mold Treatment and Cleaning
If you think you have found toxic black mold growing in your home but are unsure then you should have it professionally tested. This is so you can be certain that it is actually mycotoxin-producing toxic mold (eg Stachybotrys or some other toxic mold species).
Once you've confirmed the mold is toxic you should talk to a professional mold removal service as soon as possible. If the mold is not toxic then you can remove it yourself if you wish.
Toxic Black Mold Inspection
If you think you might have toxic black mold in your home but haven't found the toxic black mold colony then you may want to have a toxic black mold inspection performed. Some reasons to think you could have a toxic black mold problem are described in the next section. Of course it's best to hire a professional mold inspector to perform the toxic black mold inspection for you.
Mold inspectors use both their experience and sophisticated equipment to find any and all hidden mold, with minimal disturbance to your home. This way you can be sure that if there is mold in your home it will be found. If you choose to do the inspection yourself you need to look into hidden areas like inside of wall cavities. Toxic black mold needs a lot of water to grow so especially check spots where there could have been water leaks.
Signs of Toxic Black Mold
One of the best clues you could have toxic black mold is if you are suffering toxic symptoms. The symptoms from toxic black mold are much more severe than the ALLERGIC REACTIONS caused by common non-toxic mold. Toxic black mold also needs materials to be very wet for at least a week before it can begin to grow. So if you've had a flood or a large water leak that went unnoticed then there is an increased likelihood that toxic black mold could be in your home.
Mycotoxins are toxins produced by some species of mold (myco means fungal). These mycotoxins are some of the most toxic substances in existence.
- Some of the different types of mycotoxins are:
- AFLATOXINS (produced by ASPERGILLUS) - includes Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, G2, M1 and M2
- Ochratoxin - includes Ochratoxin A, B, and C
- TRICHOTHECENE (produced by STACKYBOTRYS) - includes Satratoxin-H, Vomitoxin and T-2 mycotoxins
- Fumonisins - includes Fumonisin B1 and B2
Mycotoxins aren't actually alive like mold spores. So when we talk about "killing mycotoxins" it really means breaking down mycotoxins and their toxicity so they are no longer dangerous to humans. Bleach with 5% sodium hypochlorite kills trichothecene mycotoxins as well as other mycotoxins including aflatoxin. It takes fire at 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius) for half an hour or fire at 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius) for 10 minutes to destroy trichothecene mycotoxins.
Ozone is supposed to kill most or all mycotoxins. However the level of ozone you need to kill mycotoxins is not safe for humans. So if you use an ozone generator there must be no one in the house. HEPA air filters are not effective at removing mycotoxins. Activated carbon filters can remove mycotoxins from the air however. Mycotoxins do eventually break down and lose their toxicity after some time. Some types of mycotoxins can take several years though, for example trichothecene mycotoxins which are among the most resilient.
How Small are Mycotoxins?
Like mold spores, mycotoxins are too small for us to see with the naked eye. Mycotoxins are as small as 0.1 microns. Mold spores are between 1 and 20 microns. Human hair, for comparison, is about 100 microns thick. How do Mycotoxins Enter the Human Body?
When people are around toxic mold they are usually exposed to airborne mycotoxins by breathing them in. These mycotoxins end up in the lungs and cause breathing problems and other severe symptoms. Mycotoxins in the air can also enter through a person's eyes. Trichothecene mycotoxins can be absorbed through the skin as well. Another way mycotoxins get into a person's body is by the person eating food with mycotoxins in it. This can happen if toxic mold has been growing on crops. Many mycotoxins, for example trichothecene, remain toxic even after being cooked.
This is one reason why mycotoxins are a big problem in agriculture. A binding agent is used on crops such as grain after harvesting to remove mycotoxins. During 2004 in Kenya, 125 people died after eating maize contaminated with aflatoxin mycotoxins. There have been many cases of pets dying from eating pet food with mycotoxins in it as well.
How Long are Mycotoxins Toxic?
According to experts, trichothecene mycotoxins can remain toxic for several years. Trichothecenes are probably the most long lasting mycotoxin. Things like ultraviolet light or freezing temperatures do not have much effect on trichothecene mycotoxins. Stephen Vesper of the Environmental Protection Agency says: "The trichothecene toxins are very stable. Again the environment matters, if stored dry, there is little loss of activity for a year."
Mycotoxin Treatment & Decontamination
Bioterrorism experts advise that a person exposed to mycotoxins should shower for a long period of time, washing himself thoroughly with soap and water. The person should also shampoo their hair as often as possible since hair can hold a large amount of mycotoxins. Ideally the person should cut their hair, the shorter the better.Of course before you do these things you need to remove yourself from the environment where you were exposed to mycotoxins (eg. move from the house where toxic black mold is growing) and not return unless the problem has been remediated.
What are Safe Levels of Mycotoxins?
In the United States the government has not yet set maximum levels for mycotoxins in the air of buildings, however some European countries have set limits. Also the health issues that mold and toxic molds can cause are not yet officially recognized everywhere medically and many doctors are unaware of the symptoms mold can cause. However the Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that mold growing in homes is harmful to humans and that it should be removed.
Removing Mycotoxins from Carpet
Most mycotoxins from toxic mold in houses usually end up embedded in the carpet. When you walk on the carpet you stir up many of the mycotoxin particles into the air, along with other spores and allergens. There is no way to remove all mycotoxins from carpet and the only option is for the carpet to be removed and replaced. Vacuuming the carpet, even with a HEPA filtered vacuum, will not suck up all of the mycotoxins embedded in the carpet.
And even though HEPA vacuum cleaners can trap mold spores, the smaller mycotoxins will pass through the vacuum cleaner and out the exhaust, increasing the amount of mycotoxins in the air and hence worsening your toxic reaction. Central vacuuming systems may help to remove some mycotoxins if the air from the vacuum is exhausted outside the home, but again it will still not be able to pick up all the mycotoxins embedded in the carpet.
Trichothecene is a type of MYCOTOXIN produced by toxic molds. Trichothecene is one of the most notorious mycotoxins because trichothecenes are extremely toxic and because they are so difficult to destroy. Trichothecene and Toxic Mold
One reason why trichothecene is such a well known mycotoxin is because it is produced by (STACHYBOTRYS CHARTARUM) (also called toxic black mold or just black mold). This species of toxic mold has caused many problems in homes and has frequently been mentioned in the media.The toxic mold Fusarium also produces trichothecenes. People can end up ingesting trichothecene mycotoxins when Fusarium grows on grains such as maize, oats and wheat. The toxic molds Verticimonosporium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium and Myrothecium also produce trichothecene mycotoxins.
There are 60 known types of trichothecene mycotoxins. Some of them are:
- HT-2 mycotoxins
- T-2 mycotoxins
- Verrucarin A
- Trichothecene Mycotoxin Symptoms
- Exposure to trichothecene mycotoxins can cause these symptoms in people:
- Dry eyes
- Tiredness, fatigue
- General discomfort
- Abdominal pain
- Mental impairment
Trichothecene is amongst the most toxic types of mycotoxins. The LD50 rate (the dosage level that caused 50% of the group to die) for laboratory mice given trichothecene mycotoxins is between 1 and 7 mg/kg depending on the specific type of trichothecene and the method of exposure.
Destroying Trichothecene Mycotoxins
Trichothecene mycotoxins can remain toxic for years in a normal environment. Ultraviolet light does not destroy trichothecenes and they are not soluble in water. Trichothecenes can also withstand freezing. Temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes is needed to destroy them. A solution of 5% sodium hydrochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach, can destroy trichothecene mycotoxins
T-2 Trichothecene Mycotoxins in Biological Warfare
T-2 trichothecene mycotoxins are the only mycotoxins that have been used in biological weapons. These trichothecene mycotoxins have the advantages of being highly stable in the air, not degrading under ultraviolet light and being able to withstand heat. They are also used because they can be produced relatively easily and cheaply and they are extremely toxic with no antidote or vaccine available. T-2 mycotoxins are also the only substances used in biological warfare that can be absorbed through a person's skin.
The United States military is reportedly doing 90% of its current biological weapons research in T-2 mycotoxins. The Yellow Rain biological attacks used in Vietnam and Afghanistan were concentrated T-2 mycotoxins and Gulf War syndrome is believed to be caused by American soldiers' exposure to T-2 mycotoxins during biological attacks in Desert Storm.
Toxic Black Mold Spores and Mycotoxins
Like other molds, toxic black mold (STACHYBOTRYS CHARTARUM)reproduces by spreading its spores. And also like other mold, the spores of toxic black mold are allergenic. Unlike most mold spores though, Stachybotrys spores are also toxic since they carry mycotoxins.
Toxic Black Mold Spores
In a toxic black mold colony the spores are kept within a slimy, gelatinous mass. Toxic black mold spores are a brownish color although they can't be seen with the naked eye of course. Under the microscope toxic black mold spores that are still attached to the mold colony look similar to a dandelion with clusters of spores growing at the end of a "stem" called hyphae.
How Toxic Black Mold Spores Spread
The wet coating of a toxic black mold colony usually prevents its spores from becoming airborne. If its moisture source runs out though, a toxic black mold colony can dry out and release many of its spores into the air. When toxic black mold is dry it looks gray and powdery. Other things like changes in humidity can also trigger the release of toxic black mold spores. Disturbing toxic black mold can also cause a lot of toxic spores to enter the air. This is why you should never disturb or try to remove toxic black mold if you find it in your home.
Removing toxic black mold is much more dangerous than removing ordinary mold and it should only be done by a professional. Toxic black mold spores are heavy compared to other mold spores and so they do not remain in the air for very long. If toxic black spores do not land on a suitable surface to grow on then they die soon after being released. The dead spores are still just as toxic to humans though.
Toxic Black Mold Mycotoxins
It is the mycotoxins that make toxic black mold and its spores toxic to humans. These mycotoxins can be found throughout all parts of toxic black mold.
Toxic black mold produces a group of mycotoxins called trichothecenes. Trichothecene mycotoxins are extremely toxic. The trichothecene types below are found in toxic black mold: < /p>
- Roridin E
- Satratoxin F, G and H (the most abundant type of trichothecene)
- Sporidesmin G
- Verrucarin J
Toxic Black Mold Mycotoxin Production
Although toxic black mold can produce mycotoxins it doesn't do so all the time. Factors affecting whether toxic black mold produces mycotoxins include the material toxic black mold is growing on, temperature, humidity and perhaps other unknown conditions. Environmental conditions which are suitable for toxic black mold to produce mycotoxins are 55% or higher humidity along with fluctuating temperatures. Stress may also cause toxic black mold to produce mycotoxins. When it is growing on certain materials toxic black mold might not produce mycotoxins.
Toxic Black Mold Mycotoxin Exposure
A person might suffer toxic symptoms from toxic black mold mycotoxin exposure by ingestion of mycotoxin contaminated food. Toxic black mold can contaminate crops such as grains and can survive cooking. However crops are treated to remove mycotoxins after harvest. Besides through ingestion, people can also be poisoned by toxic black mold mycotoxins through inhalation. In tests on animals toxic black mold mycotoxins have been found to be 40 times more toxic when inhaled compared to when ingested.
A person might suffer toxic symptoms by breathing in airborne toxic black mold spores which contain mycotoxins or breathing in fragments of the mold which can also become airborne and also contain mycotoxins. When toxic black mold is growing inside houses the occupants are of course affected primarily through breathing in the mycotoxins. Toxic black mold mycotoxins can also enter into a person's body through the skin.
Toxic Black Mold Mycotoxins in Agriculture
Besides in buildings, toxic black mold mycotoxins have also been a problem outdoors in agriculture. In the 1930s and 40s there was an outbreak of stachybotryotoxicosis in farm animals in Eastern Europe. Since then much of the toxicity and effects of ingesting toxic black mold mycotoxins have been observed in animals. Horses in particular are affected by mycotoxins and reportedly a horse will die from ingesting as little as 1mg of trichothecene mycotoxins.
Toxic black mold mycotoxins contaminating harvests such as grains, corn, coffee and soy are also a problem for agriculture. However crops are treated after harvest to remove mycotoxins and minimize human mycotoxin exposure through ingestion.
Aflatoxin is a type of mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus molds. Aflatoxin is probably the most well known mycotoxin, besides trichothecene, and the most researched. This is because aflatoxins are very toxic and highly carcinogenic.
Aflatoxin Symptoms. How badly a person is affected by aflatoxin mycotoxins depends on things like the person's age, gender, level of exposure, duration of exposure, health, strength of their immune system, diet and environmental factors. There are two main ways people are usually exposed to aflatoxins. The first is when someone takes in a high amount of aflatoxins in a very short time. This can cause:
- Liver damage
- Liver cancer
- Mental impairment
- Abdominal Pain
- Pulmonary Edema
- Disruption of food digestion, absorption or metabolism
The other way people suffer aflatoxin poisoning is by taking in small amounts of aflatoxins at a time, but over a long period. This might happen if a person's diet has a small amount of aflatoxins, for example. When this happens it can cause:
- Growth and development impairment
- Liver cancer due to DNA mutation caused by aflatoxins
Aflatoxin mycotoxins are toxic to humans and even more toxic to animals. They also cause cancer in humans and animals.It is believed that eating vegetables like carrots and celery reduces the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxins. The aflatoxin LD50 rate (the dosage level that causes 50% of a group to die) for animals is between 0.5 and 10 mg/kg of the animal's weight
Aflatoxicosis - Aflatoxin Poisoning
The technical term for poisoning by aflatoxin mycotoxins is aflatoxicosis. This usually occurs from eating food contaminated with aflatoxin mycotoxins. Aflatoxicosis is not contagious and drugs and antibiotics do little to help. Aflatoxicosis damages the liver more than any other organ. Aflatoxin mycotoxins also suppress the immune system.
There are three main types of aflatoxin mycotoxins:
- Aflatoxin B: This group includes aflatoxin B1 and B2. Aflatoxin B1 is the most common aflatoxin, as well as the most toxic and carcinogenic.
- Aflatoxin G: This group includes aflatoxin G1 and aflatoxin G2
- Aflatoxin M: This group includes aflatoxins M1 and M2. These aflatoxins are metabolic products which are found in the urine and milk produced by animals which have been given feed with aflatoxins in it.
Aspergillus & Aflatoxin Production
Aflatoxin mycotoxins are produced by the Aspergillus species of molds. Aspergillus molds grow mostly on crops, such as grains and nuts. Under the right conditions, Aspergillus often grows on grain before it is harvested. But it can also grow on harvested grain if the grain is stored damp. Aspergillus also grows on substances like soil, hay and decaying vegetation. The best conditions for Aspergillus to grow on organic materials is when the temperature is warm and when the material has a high level of moisture (7% or more).
Aflatoxin in Food
The American Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 25% of the food crops in the world are affected by mycotoxins. Of these mycotoxins, aflatoxins are the biggest problem. Corn, cottonseed and peanuts are the crops most at risk of being contaminated by aflatoxins. Aspergillus also commonly grows on beans, rice, tree nuts and wheat. It grows less often on other grains and nuts.
If animals are given feed contaminated with aflatoxins then aflatoxin mycotoxins can end up in milk, eggs and meat. Aflatoxin M1 and M, which are often found in cow's milk, are metabolites produced by animals which have eaten Aflatoxins.
Aflatoxin Levels in Food
Aflatoxins are found all over the world. However they are much more of a problem in undeveloped or developing nations than they are in developed countries. Developed countries prohibit high levels of aflatoxin mycotoxins in foods. For example, the United States limits the level of Aflatoxins to under 20 parts per billion in food and specifies that the aflatoxins M must be below 0.5 parts per billion in milk. Chemical processes are used to remove Aflatoxins in foods such as nuts, corn, grains and milk. Most foods do still contain very small amounts of Aflatoxins though. Although the aflatoxin levels are usually far below the safety limits, this has raised concern about the effects on humans of the long term intake of small amounts of Aflatoxins.
Aflatoxin in Pet Food
Pets have died from eating pet foods contaminated with aflatoxin mycotoxins. Between late 2005 and early 2006, 23 or more dogs died from eating Diamond Pet Foods dog food contaminated with aflatoxins. Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys) History