For anyone that has seen articles or news reports about mold contamination they have likely heard the terms Black Mold or Toxic Mold. These terms are often used by people with little or no expertise in mold issues.
Media reports often refer to a type of mold known as Stachybotrys chartarum (also sometimes called Stachybotrys atra) as black mold or toxic mold. The CDC reports it can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration or flooding. While the media often fixates on Stachybotrys, the CDC states that all molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks. In other words, just because a mold problem in a building does not involve Stachybotrys, does not mean there might not be a problem and potential health concerns.
Another thing to keep in mind is that for some types of mold, depending on its food source and other environmental conditions, could appear black, green or other colors. The color of the mold does not necessarily indicate if it is a potential health threat or if it is toxic.
Some types of mold associated with water damaged buildings, such as Stachybotrys and numerous others, can produce toxins, known as mycotoxins. However, just because a mold that can produce mycotoxins is present does not mean people are being exposed to mycotoxins. Environmental conditions, such as competition from other microbial organisms, can impact whether a mold produces mycotoxins or not. The only way to know for sure if mycotoxins are present is to test specifically for them.
Exposure to any type of mold at elevated levels in the air people breathe or come in contact with could act as an allergen, respiratory irritant or even an asthma trigger in some people. Indoor environmental testing determines what types of mold are present and at what concentrations.