Black mold, often called toxic black mold, is unsightly, but it can be more dangerous than it is unattractive. Because your baby spends between 75 and 90 percent of her time in your home, it's crucial to take steps to prevent mold from growing and spreading. You especially need to be on the lookout for the growth of black mold. While there is always some mold in homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of it isn't harmful. If you notice black mold, however, take immediate steps to remove it so your baby's health and isn't in danger.
Definition and Growth Habits
Black mold, scientific name Stachybotrys chartarum, flourishes on damp or moist surfaces, such as drywall, carpet and cement. While the mold itself isn't poisonous, it does give off toxins, called mycotoxins, which are poisonous and can be harmful to all humans, especially babies and small children, according to the CDC. When the mold is left untreated, it thrives and reproduces, which means it spreads across surfaces, sometimes covering entire walls or ceilings.
Dangers to Babies
The mycotoxins emitted by black mold are absorbed into the skin, airways and intestines, according to a 1998 article published in Pediatrics. The CDC reports that otherwise healthy individuals, including babies, are at a higher risk for coughing, wheezing and upper respiratory symptoms when they're exposed to indoor mold, such as black mold. Babies are at a higher risk for developing asthma, as well, according to the CDC. Acute pulmonary hemorrhage has also been associated with indoor mold exposure, Pediatrics reports. Further, if the infant is also exposed to cigarette smoke in the home, her risk of acute pulmonary hemorrhage is increased.
Getting Rid of It
The first step in eliminating black mold from your home is to identify where the moisture is coming from and have it fixed. If you have leaky pipes or windows that aren't airtight, hire a reputable company to repair them for you. Once the source of moisture is eliminated, the mold can be cleaned up. Remove and throw away moldy items, such as carpets and furniture, as well. If you have a large infestation of black mold, consult a professional cleaning agency to help you clean it up. If the growth is small, the CDC recommends scrubbing it with a solution of 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water. Wear gloves and a surgical mask to reduce your exposure to the mold.
If you believe that your baby is getting sick because of exposure to black mold, consider staying at a hotel or with family members until you can get it cleaned out of your home. Also, seek medical attention immediately for any symptoms your baby develops that might be associated with exposure to black mold. The CDC also recommends that you read the U.S. Environmental Protection Association mold remediation guide for further information and guidance in ridding your home of black mold.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Facts about Stachybotrys Chartarum and Other Molds
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Mold Resources
- Mycologia: Molecular and Phenotypic Descriptions of Stachybotrys Chlorohalonata sp. nov. and Two Chemotypes of Stachybotrys Chartarum Found in Water-Damaged Buildings
- National Toxicology Program: Stachybotrys chartarum (or S. Atra or S. Alternans): Review of Toxicological Literature
- Pediatrics: Toxic Effects of Indoor Mold
- Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Mold Exposure During Infancy as a Predictor of Potential Asthma Development
- U.S. Environmental Protection Association: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
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