A common homeowner misconception is that any fuzz on an interior wall is toxic black mold. The truth is there are 12 types of mold that can grow in your home and knowing the difference can save you a significant amount of cash — not to mention worry. While all mold is a fungus, and some mold does cause serious health problems, there are clear signs that you have one type of mold over another.
If you are trying to discern mildew vs. mold, you should know straight away that mildew is in an entirely different category. While mildew can be spotted and cleaned up in a jiffy, most molds are harder to identify and harder to eliminate. Read on for more information about the mold in your home, including what it’s doing to your health and how you can get rid of it quickly.
Pink, grey, orange or white, Acremonium has a fine, powdery texture and typically grows as close as possible to moist household systems, like humidifiers and fridge cooling coils. This mold is toxigenic, meaning exposure to it can lead to health problems, specifically bone marrow diseases and problems with your immune system.
Among the most common molds in the world, Alternaria is merely allergenic, meaning it produces allergic responses in the upper respiratory tract. This mold has a velvety texture with green or brown hairs, causing many homeowners to confuse it with more dangerous molds. You can find Alternaria in your bathroom or anywhere there is water damage.
The most common mold in American households, Aspergillus forms in thick, flask-like chains of spores. In truth, Aspergillus is a huge mold type, with more than 185 species; thus, it can come in many colors and many toxicity levels. Usually, an Aspergillus attack will begin with allergenic responses, but it can become more dangerous with frequent exposure.
Starting as a light pink and growing darker brown and black as it ages, Aureobasidium grows behind wallpaper or on painted or wooden surfaces. Aureobasidium is allergenic at worst, but you should try to avoid physical contact with the mold. Touching this mold with bare skin will result in infections of the skin and nails.
Chaetomium typically only grows in homes that are rather severely water damaged, which means you might have worse than mold to worry about. If you can’t be sure about the water damage, look for a cotton-like texture and shifting color from gray to black. Chaetomium is most dangerous to immune-compromised people, such as those enduring chemo treatments, but even healthy people can have skin infections from the stuff.
Unique among molds, Cladosporium can grow in both warm and cold environments, so everyone everywhere should beware. This mold has a suede-like texture in olive green or brown, making it hard to notice on some of the fabrics where it prefers to live. Cladosporium is another allergenic mold, this one causing skin rashes and lesions as well as asthma and sinusitis.
Fusarium prefers cold temperatures and water damage, meaning northern homeowners should pay attention. Both allergenic and toxigenic, Fusarium starts by causing a sore throat that worsens into bone infections, brain abscesses and internal hemorrhages. Worse still, Fusarium spreads quickly from room to room, so you need to act fast to kill it. Look for pink or reddish mold growing on fabrics or on food products/compost.
White or grayish and growing quickly in thick patches, Mucor loves the spaces near HVAC systems, which have the right airflow and humidity. In most cases, exposure to Mucor results in asthma or flu-like symptoms — but some people can develop mucormycosis, a fungal infection hat causes extreme damages to several body systems, including the brain, the lungs and the kidneys.
Yes, the same stuff that cures your UTI can also grow in your home. Penicillin is a velvety mold growing in gorgeous blues and greens, typically on fabrics like mattresses and carpets. Unfortunately, penicillin exposure isn’t beneficial; it can cause chronic sinusitis and worse health complications in the immune-compromised.
Stachybotrys is the big bad of molds — it’s what you know as “black mold,” though it actually grows more often in a dark green hue with a slimy texture. This mold can only grow in enclosed, dark areas that maintain high humidity for weeks. It prefers to grow on cellulose, meaning woods and paper materials, including your walls.
Stachybotrys is called toxic because it emits mycotoxins that result in severe health problems. These problems include difficulty breathing, fatigue and even depression. It’s common for those exposed to complain of dull aches and pains as well as a burning sensation in the airways, fever and headaches. Children exposed to Stachybotrys have it worse, developing neurological problems and pulmonary bleeding.
Only growing on wet surfaces, Trichoderma isn’t close to the most dangerous mold in your home. Still, you should be on the lookout for wooly patches of white and green. Trichoderma is non-pathogenic and typically only causes minor allergic reactions. However, lung and liver infections have been linked to this mold, so you shouldn’t dally in eradicating it.
Last but not least, Ulocladium is a black mold that often grows alongside other molds in homes with serious water damage. There are two subspecies of Ulocladium, and both are relatively benign — but because Ulocladium looks so similar to (and can grow in conjunction with) molds like Stachybotrys, it’s best to call a professional when you suspect this mold in your home.
In truth, no mold is good mold, and even fungus like mildew looks gross and causes unsightly stains on paint and wallpaper. It’s best to get an expert to identify and eliminate the molds in your home, so you can continue living a stress- and mold-free life.