My personal story of living (and nearly dying) with black mold in the house is not a pretty one but I want to share it in hopes others will learn from it and take black mold seriously.
I was experiencing classic black mold symptoms without realizing it. They can be acute or come on gradually without you noticing them. So educate yourself to the risks and symptoms of mold exposure and don’t take this lightly because this stuff can not only make you sick but can actually kill you.
Black Mold Guide was put together after many hours of research and years of personal experience dealing with black mold.
The scientific name for this fungus is Stachybotrys Chartarum and although there are other types of toxic mold, the toxins Stachybotrys gives off are the most damaging.
Stachybotrys chartarum is a fungus that has become notorious as a mycotoxin producer that can cause animal and human mycotoxicosis. http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/Stachybotrys.aspx
So here’s a bit of background:
I worked for a company called Dri-Eaz. Their specialty was manufacturing water damage restoration equipment. The area in Western Washington where I live experiences frequent flooding and Dri-Eaz was started by Claude Blackburn who was a local carpet cleaner. He was looking for a way to deal with water damage and the mold growth that soon followed.
He found if you could get a house dry fast enough after flooding, mold wouldn’t have a chance to grow. He literally wrote the book on water damage restoration. Flood clean up was not the worst problem though, that’s just messy, hard work. The black mold that began growing afterwards was, because it made people sick and continued making them sick long after the flood waters were gone. So coming from that background I definitely knew a few things about mold and the black mold removal process.
But all that knowledge went out the door when I decided I would buy a house in 2005. I did not have a lot of money so I bought a fixer upper. Housing was just starting to soar and I couldn’t be too fussy. It was a neat little house built before 1900 but it almost became my coffin.
The house was a rental and there were far too many brothers, nephews and cousins living in too small a space. It was hard to really inspect the home very thoroughly with so many people in the house. I did happen to notice some black on the wall just above the couch but I dismissed it, thinking it was from kids dirty hands. Boy was I ever wrong. I was about to buy black mold central.
Black Mold In The House
After finally getting the occupants out I was ready to move in, or so I thought. It’s funny how a room looks different when it’s empty. The black by the couch was black mold and it covered most of the wall behind it. The 2-year-old, once royal blue rug the owners had put in was black. The bathroom had a leak under the sink no one had ever bothered to fix or tell the landlord about. Ditto for the floor in the utility room behind where the washer was. I knew I was buying a fixer upper but with so much mold in the house it was really beginning to look like I’d bought a tearer downer.
I decided to try to clean the carpet and rented a cleaner. Another big mistake. Not only did it not clean the carpet but the moisture kicked up the mold. I can not describe the stench that greeted me and a friend when I returned home several hours later. But I can say that when I opened the front door it nearly knocked us both over.
Black Mold Removal For Dummies
Well the rug had to go so I rolled it up and took it to the dump. Although the rug was gone the stench lingered in my vehicle several weeks afterward. I knew how to dry a house down fast and prevent mold from growing but once it was there was another story.
I figured the best thing to do was bleach everything. Since I wasn’t moved in yet I had access to everything. I grabbed a garden sprayer and mixed a super strong bleach solution. I sprayed every nook and cranny down with bleach, even opening kitchen drawers and cabinets. The solution was so strong I had to go out for air several times.
Does Bleach Kill Black Mold?
You may have heard bleach kills mold. Does bleach kill mold? The answer is yes and no. It did kill all the surface mold. The house looked nice and clean and the walls were the whitest they had been in a long time.
Foolishly I moved in to my house. I had a nice clear tight fir floor that was hiding under the carpet. Easy to clean and mold free. But this was an old uninsulated house with wood sheathing on both the inside and outside. They had pasted some kind of heavy paper backing over it and then wallpapered the inside. Can you say condensation?
There would have been no way to get inside the walls without gutting the house and damaging its structural integrity. All I had done was kill what was on the outside. What was in the walls was happily growing away.
There was no way I was ever going to be able to get rid of mold in that house without undertaking a full scale mold remediation project. No matter how much I swept, vacuumed and aired that place out there was always a gray layer of dust. It must have been coming out of the woodwork. At first I though it was from my little gray cat shedding. But there is no way 10 gray cats could make that much fluff.
That house had been overcrowded and poorly ventilated and had stayed humid for a long time. The renters, I was told, never opened any windows, although half were painted shut anyway. They did not thoroughly heat the home with the gas heater but instead used the oven in the electric range, at least until it burned out.
I met someone who had lived in that house years before and they told me the roof leaked, especially in the kitchen. I noticed someone had slapped particle board over the old floor and covered it with vinyl. I never got far enough to see what was underneath, but it wasn’t really any mystery at this point. Over the course of time that old house had seen plenty of moisture from leaks and had a constantly high humidity with poor ventilation. So now that everything was finally drying out it was becoming airborne.
Black Mold Symptoms
The danger is that mold symptoms may not show up immediately but that doesn’t mean that black mold is not slowly undermining your health. I am a pretty tough cookie and I didn’t notice any health effects. But my friends would come over and within minutes one would start sneezing and getting a runny nose and the other would have his eyes start bothering him after he was there for a while.
I was just fine except for a hacking cough I developed after 2 years of breathing in that black mold all the time. I thought it was because I was a smoker but that wasn’t what it was. Well in an environment like that there’s black mold everywhere. You breathe it and you eat it.
Black mold exposure has a variety of effects. I had dark circles under my eyes, was fatigued a lot, but wrote it off as working too hard. But it also has effects on your nervous system. I was having a hard time concentrating and was starting to make dumb mistakes at work.
Black mold can also cause digestive problems. After 3 years in that house I developed diverticulitis. It got worse over time and caused me to miss work. Combine that with lack of focus on a production job and eventually I was let go. I am adaptable and found work where I would always be near a bathroom if I needed it.
But things were about to get much worse. In July 2009 I was hospitalized. The diverticulitis had created a blockage and my colon ruptured. I was unconscious for a month and not expected to live. But I guess it wasn’t my time. I spent a month learning how to walk again after that. My job was gone and I was disabled. With no job and no money coming in that house went to foreclosure.
But losing that house was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I am thoroughly convinced black mold exposure was responsible. If it wasn’t the direct cause it certainly was a contributing factor. Surprisingly within 2 weeks of moving into a new apartment my cough was gone. Can black mold kill you? I would have to say yes. This is not something to mess around with.
Black Mold Guide Was Born From This
I have lived with and survived the health effects of black mold. Others are not so lucky. I want to provide accurate and useful information about black mold removal and the health risks of mold exposure here on Black Mold Guide. A lot of time and research went into this project. I wish I had known what I was up against back then, but I know more now, especially with hindsight.
If you think black mold might be affecting your health don’t avoid dealing with the problem or apply half-assed solutions like I did. Do your research and get rid of black mold before it gets rid of you.