One of the most common dangers we face in our own homes—especially in older buildings or places prone to high humidity—is the presence of toxic mold (also known as “black mold”). The presence of mold can cause a wide range of health issues when you breathe it in, significantly lessening your quality of life and sometimes even destroying your personal property. But what, exactly, makes mold dangerous to us, and what can we do to protect ourselves? Let’s take a look at the basic biology of toxic mold and how it can affect us.
What Is Toxic Mold?
Black mold, also called toxic mold, refers to several species of mold known for their greenish-black coloring, the most common of which is Stachybotrys chartarum. Like all other mold types, black mold is a form of fungus which reproduces asexually by releasing tiny spores. These spores are carried through the air until they land on surfaces with the right conditions for them to take hold and grow.
How Does Mold Grow?
Mold requires a constantly moist environment in which to grow, and while it can grow either indoors or outdoors, black mold particularly likes dark, moist places where it can be undisturbed—and many of those places can be found indoors. Thus, the best places to find black mold are on surfaces that are either exposed to constant moisture or can absorb moisture—for example, moist drywall, wood, cardboard, ceiling tiles, pipes, etc.
How Does Toxic Mold Make Us Sick?
The spores of black mold are what tend to make us sick—specifically when we breathe them in. While black mold spores can be dangerous, the term “toxic mold” is actually a bit of a misnomer because the spores themselves aren’t inherently poisonous—they are only “toxic” to certain people. These spores mainly affect people who are sensitive in some way, whether through allergies, respiratory issues, a weakened immune system, or even a genetic vulnerability. (This is why you can have two people breathing the same moldy air, and one gets sick and the other doesn’t.)
What Are the Symptoms of Toxic Mold Syndrome?
For those who are sensitive, black mold can produce a wide range of symptoms. Usually, these occur in the respiratory tract and may include watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, running nose, scratchy throat, etc. For those who have asthma, it can make their asthma worse or even provoke a full-on asthma attack. There is even evidence that black mold can cause psychiatric issues in some people, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, inattentiveness, and general brain fog.
If you live in a building that has toxic mold growth, you may be experiencing some of these symptoms. If the presence of mold is due to negligence by the landlord, property manager, or building owner, you may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment, property damage, and even reduced quality of life. At Campson & Campson, our attorneys are highly knowledgeable and experienced in the issues of toxic mold, which occurs quite frequently in the older buildings of New York City. Give us a call to schedule an appointment and explore your options.