How to identify toxic black mold in your home [with images]

In this blog, we will cover the questions: What does black mold look like? How do you identify black mold? We'll also discuss the many other types of toxic molds. Mold in your home might be a significant problem. Once it's been noticed, it's likely to have been growing for some time, and the issue may be bigger than you realize. Mold comes in many forms, but one group stands out above the rest: toxic mold and toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum).

In this blog, we will cover the questions: What does black mold look like? How do you identify black mold? We'll also discuss the many other types of toxic molds. Mold in your home might be a significant problem. Once it's been noticed, it's likely to have been growing for some time, and the issue may be bigger than you realize. Mold comes in many forms, but one group stands out above the rest: toxic mold and toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum).

Toxic black mold is dangerous and should be remediated by a professional. Call Engage Mold Solutions of Florida at (813) 575-4224  for a free consultation with our licensed mold removal expert.

There's a lot of incorrect information about toxic mold, what it is and how it affects you. Some individuals may believe that all molds are toxic, while others may not be aware of the difference between hazardous and non-toxic mold.

There are actually several varieties of mold and several ways to identify them. Furthermore, even some toxic molds aren't harmful to people with healthy immune systems. Nonetheless, many molds can produce unpleasant symptoms if exposed to them for a long period, which is one reason why it's critical to address mold in your house as soon as possible.

So, where do you begin? Your next question is undoubtedly how to tell what kind of mold it is and whether or not it's harmful. Then there's the issue of what to do about it next. If you're concerned about identifying and dealing with your mold problem, this brief guide might be of help.

Don't be afraid to call a professional if you discover mold, no matter what kind it is. Even if you're determined to get rid of the mold on your own, consulting with your local contractor for a professional mold inspection for assistance may be very beneficial.

Related: 15 Telltale Signs of Mold in Your Florida Home

What is Black Mold?

As you may know, black mold is a type of fungus. Mold begins as a tiny microorganism known as a spore, which is carried via the air and blown in the wind. Mold spores have been discovered in virtually every environment studied, according to numerous studies. At any moment, you're probably breathing in mold particles; however, this small number is usually innocuous and won't result in negative effects for most people.

Related: Does Mold Dry Up and Die Over Time?

How do you identify black mold?

There are three ways to classify mold: allergenic, pathogenic, and toxigenic.

  • Allergenic molds are the gentlest of all types. This type is the least harmful to the human body, although it may trigger mild allergic responses in people susceptible. Allergenic molds generally cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, sneezing, a runny nose, itchy throat, and watery eyes.
  • Pathogenic molds are typically not very harmful; however, they can infect people with weakened immune systems. The good news is that most of these infections are curable with medication. A few examples include aspergillosis, farmer's lung, and mucormycosis.
  • Toxigenic molds are the most dangerous. The chemicals produced by these molds are not particularly harmful in and of themselves, but they do release mycotoxins, which can cause more serious responses, especially in immunocompromised individuals. Stachybotrys chartarum, often known as "black mold," is the most well-known example of toxigenic mold.

Because there are so many different types of mold, it can be difficult to identify which category a particular colony belongs to just by looking at it. The best way to start is by identifying the species of mold, and then you can figure out which category it falls into.

Related: Signs of Mold Everyone Should Be Aware Of

What does toxic black mold look like?

There are many types of mold, and they can be difficult to tell apart. Here are a few key indicators of toxic mold:

Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum)

Identify toxic black mold, Engage Mold Solutions of Florida


Stachybotrys chartarum typically appears black or very dark gray. This mold has speckled splotches that are usually round. You frequently see darker mold layers covering lighter ones.

Because damp locations attract mold, keep an eye on your kitchen, bathroom, and basement. This type of mold is probable to be found around plumbing fixtures, beneath sinks, around bathtubs and toilets, in crawlspaces or attics, and around leaky windowsills like this one.

As pictured above, black mold may have a slightly greenish color. It's not very textured, so you might mistake it for a stain at first glance. Keep in mind that mold doesn't stain; if you've already removed mold from an area but see dark spots or discoloration, there is still toxic mold present.

A simple test for toxigenic molds is to swab your mold with a simple bleach solution. Take a cotton swab or rag and dip it in undiluted bleach before lightly dabbing the mold colony. If the mold seems to vanish but quickly returns, you're probably dealing with toxigenic mold.

The toxic mold will come back because potent molds can respond to harsh chemicals by moving deeper into the porous surfaces they grow on. Even after you’ve completely cleared a surface with bleach, those hidden spores can resurface and colonize all over again.

Related: How much do Mold Inspections Cost?

What do other types of toxic molds look like?

Black mold is the most infamous toxic mold. But, do you know how to identify other toxic molds? Here are a few examples and photos of other toxic molds you may find in and around your home or business. Knowing how to identify toxic molds could be critical to your health or the health of loved ones.


Acremonium toxic mold Engage Mold Solutions of Florida

Another toxic mold that may be found growing alongside black mold is Acremonium. The danger with Acremonium is that its appearance evolves, making it difficult to identify if left unchecked for too long. This mold generally starts as small colonies that appear to be wet, but eventually dry up and turn powdery. Acremonium can be white, gray, beige, pink, or orange.


Chaetomium is a type of mold commonly found in water-damaged or damp homes. Chaetomium is often confused with toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, by concerned homeowners.

This mold can be found on wallpaper, drywall, door trim, window trim, paper and paper products, baseboards, carpets, cardboard, and anything made out of cotton. Chaetomium is also commonly found on food, particularly whole foods rich in fiber, such as whole-grain breads, pastas, quinoa, and brown rice. It can also be found growing outdoors on decaying plant matter, in soil, or on animal dung. This mold is most commonly found indoors, often as a result of water damage.


Toxic mold Fusarium Engage Mold Solutions of Florida

Unlike some of the other molds in this article, Fusarium is both toxigenic and allergenic. That means it can produce both mycotoxins and cause allergic reactions. Fusarium should be considered toxigenic. This particular type of mold is usually found on decaying foods, but can just as easily spread to other surfaces. It's recognizable by its white, pink, and red colors, as well as its fluffy texture.


alternaria toxic mold Engage Mold Solutions of Florida

Image credit:

A surprisingly common type of outdoor mold, Alternaria is closely related to allergenic molds like Cladosporium and Penicillium. Alternaria is an extremely prevalent type of outdoor mold. It is closely associated with allergenic molds like Cladosporium and Penicillium. The spores of the Alternaria fungus are most often found outdoors in the spring and summer, where they float along in the wind until they find a place to land. Once inside your home, these spores can release mycotoxins and continue spreading into colonies. This mold is characterized by its white, gray, and brown hues and has a layered look.


toxic mold Trichoderma, Engage Mold Solutions of Florida

Trichoderma is a fungus that grows on wood, paper, and dirt. As a result, it is most frequently found in forests throughout the world. It can also grow on drywall, painted surfaces, wallpaper, and wood. It's easily identified by its many shades of green - most often light green - and its fuzzy, mossy appearance. It might appear white and foamy, and there may be a white border around the colony's edge. This is a very textured mold that may be seen from every angle.


Apophysomyces culture

Image credit: University of Adelaide, School of Biological Sciences

Apophysomyces is a thermotolerant species. It is a specific genus of mold in the Mucor family, and while its cousins are comparatively harmless, this particular type of mold can release mycotoxins that can cause a serious, but rare fungal infection called Mucormycosis.

Mucor molds thrive on rotting food, so keep an eye out for any perishables in your home and dispose of them immediately if they show any signs of mold growth. Apophysomyces can also be found living in soil and decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, and rotting wood.

toxic mucor molds

Image credit:

Mucor molds like Apophysomyces are often fuzzy or fluffy, with a variety of white and gray tones, some with hints of green or black specks. According to a medical journal published in 2020 by the National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information, the most common aetiological agents of mucormycosis are Rhizopus, Mucor, Apophysomyces and Lichtheimia. Apophysomyces is comparatively rare, as it has been reported in less than 3% of mucormycosis cases. The genus Apophysomyces includes six species, and only A. elegans, A. mexicanus, A. variabilis and A. ossiformis have been reported to cause infections in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients.

Related: Why and When are Mold Inspections Important?

Is Black Mold Dangerous?

Toxic black mold is dangerous and should be remediated by a professional. Call Engage Mold Solutions of Florida at (813) 575-4224  for a free consultation with our licensed mold removal expert.

Over the last two decades, toxigenic (toxic) mold has gained a negative reputation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study in the 1990s on several young infants who had contracted a severe lung illness. Sadly, one of the children died, while the others were treated. All of the children in the study were living in homes with large amounts of Toxic Black Mold, or Stachybotrys Chartarum, though CDC officials couldn't find a definite connection between the mold and the outbreak of lung disease.

Even though no clear evidence existed, the general public concluded that the children became sick from being exposed to toxic mold for long periods. This tragedy had a major influence on the public's perception of mold, prompting fear in families across the nation.

In light of these studies and other information collected over the years, the CDC states that toxic mold poses generally the same health risks as any other mold. The CDC also concluded that although black mold may produce adverse symptoms and sometimes result in infections for people with a weakened immune system, it is highly improbable that exposure to black mold would be fatal for most healthy individuals.

With that said, prolonged mold exposure only increases the chance of negative effects on your health.

If you discover or suspect mold growth in your home, it’s important to take action right away. If the outbreak is too large to handle on your own, contact a local professional for help.

Related: Answering the Top 17 Most Common Questions About Mold

What Happens When You Breathe In Mold?

Tiny mold spores are continuously floating through the air, seeking out any warm, moist place to settle and grow.

When you breathe these spores in, they don't usually remain long within your body. They may adhere to the delicate linings of your nose, mouth, throat, or eyes and cause discomfort, but your immune system can generally eliminate them. When you're exposed to mold for too long, your body reacts by making you cough, sneeze, or get a rash. Watery eyes and a runny nose are also common ways that your body tries to push out the irritant.

In extremely rare circumstances, mold spores might be able to enter your lungs directly through the trachea and establish a colony. The most common cases of mold growth in the lungs are found in people with damaged lungs or who have just undergone lung operations and have plenty of space inside their chests for the fungus to develop. Mold growth in the lungs is typically treated with oral medicines. In certain severe situations, surgical removal may be required; but this isn't always the case.

Mold has a variety of names and appearances, but all it takes is a few basic approaches to tackle it: Keep an eye on high-risk locations in your home where moisture and heat are common, pay close attention to mold colonies' appearance, and act quickly if you detect any concerns.

If you find mold in any area of your home, it's critical to contact a professional right away to minimize your risk of exposure. Above all, the greatest medicine is prevention. Make sure your house has adequate ventilation and that your plumbing system is in good working order before any leaks cause water damage.

Getting black mold, or toxic mold, identified by a professional in the Tampa, Florida area

If you suspect a mold issue in the Tampa Bay, Florida area or any of the surrounding communities, reach out to Engage Mold Solutions today to request mold inspection, mold remediation, or air quality testing service.

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