Learn More About Toxic Mold

If you are a fan of those popular home buying or renovation shows on television, you have undoubtedly seen at least a case or two of what was described as toxic mold. As the CDC explains on their website, the name isn't the most accurate way to describe the substance as the substance itself isn't toxic, although some strains can produce toxins. Mycotoxin-producing varieties are the ones in question, namely Stachbotrys chartarum. Despite the recent uptick in media publicity, the CDC claims there are very few cases of destructive cases found in homes and there hasn't been definitive proof that it caused any of the symptoms such as coughing and wheezing that were attributed to it. That said, some studies have linked exposure to the development of asthma in children that are "genetically susceptible" to it, according to the CDC.

So What is the Danger Involved?

Even if Stachbotrys chartarum is determined not to be toxic, it is obviously an undesirable thing to have growing inside your home. If your immune system is compromised or you have children, removal should be a high priority. So how exactly does this substance get into your home? Mold spores are everywhere so it is inevitable that they will enter your residence at some point or another. The spores can become attached to your clothing, pets or shopping bags while you are outside and brought inside relatively easily. When materials such as cardboard or fabric get wet, they are susceptible to the growth of mold. The ideal substance is one that is cellulose and features low nitrogen content. USA Today reports there are 100,000 different types, although only a few dozen are classified as toxic or detrimental to health. Insurers have felt the effects of a recent rise in cases. Farmers Insurance had to pay out approximately $85 million in related claims in Texas alone a couple years ago, leading them to cease offering coverage in over 30 states. The majority of cases were found in California, Texas and Florida where heat and humidity can promote the growth. Homeowners are left with the choice to purchase a rider that provides extra coverage or do without help from the insurer. Additionally, the providers that offer additional protection may cap the coverage at a low level, such as $25,000. This does little to satisfy most homeowners as the cost to rid their houses of the substance can easily average $10,000 more than this limit. Thankfully, there are things you can do as a homeowner to limit the chances you will be adversely affected by this.

Action You Can Take

First, you will want to address any water leakage or damage in your home immediately. Don't put this off as mold can form within a day. Pay attention to musty, damp smells or particles in your home as these can be telltale signs something is growing. Try to keep drainage and landscaping away from the foundation of your house to minimize water contact. Finally, you can look into installing a basic leak-detection system for less than $50 to keep track of any rising water.

It should go without saying that you should clean off any mold immediately. Use a bucket of water with detergent and do a thorough job to ensure it won't grow back easily. Make sure to dry the area afterwards.