Black mold, or Stachybotrys, is greenish-black, filamentous and reproduces asexually. Black mold prefers substrates that are high in cellulose and often inhabits damp building materials.
The genus Stachybotrys contains around 50 species of fungus, with Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata being the species commonly known as black mold. Stachybotrys requires cellulose and moisture to thrive and commonly inhabits wet drywall, ceiling tiles and wood. If the material dries out the fungus dies, but the residue left behind becomes airborne upon disturbance of the area and can travel through air ducts or blowers.
Black mold causes a number of health problems for humans, including respiratory and contact allergies, conjunctivitis and exacerbation of asthma symptoms. If the fungus irritates mucous membranes it can cause chronic sneezing and coughing. Severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting and bleeding in the respiratory system. Bleeding in the lungs of very young infants can be severe and life-threatening.
Removing mold requires a mixture of one part bleach to ten parts water. The addition of soap is a good way to remove any residue that harbors mold. Repairing leaks and drips is essential in keeping the area dry and preventing further mold infestation. Professional assistance may be necessary if the fungus inhabits an area larger than 10 square feet.