Black mould. Misunderstood organism. Home invading villain.

Author Irina Filatova
Category Town
Date July 14 2023
Reading Time 5 min.

Black mould. Misunderstood organism. Home invading villain.

Although beautiful on the closer look. And very important in the wild. Stachybotrys chartarum, like other moulds, plays an important role in the environment by breaking down dead organic material. Mould and fungi found in your garden are an important component of healthy soil and plant growth. Beneath layers of dead leaves, grass, and straw lie miles and miles of mycelial colonies in the soil. Often appearing as fuzzy, white, web-like structures weaving their way through the soil, this mould stays busy at work breaking down and decomposing organic matter. The nutrients it consumes are returned to the soil creating a rich, organic compost. All living things; humans, animals, and plants alike, will, in death, be consumed and returned to the earth by fungi.

It’s only when it finds its way into human habitation and starts growing in large amounts that it can cause problems, such as health issues or damage to buildings.
This tenacious squatter can set up camp in all sorts of places, but its favourite spots are those enriched with high cellulose content. It’s attracted to the charm of materials such as drywall sheetrock, straw, paper, dust, and wood. Add a splash of water damage and you’ve set the perfect stage for this mould to thrive and spread.

Have you ever wondered why mould is such a ubiquitous issue for homeowners? Is it the fault of poor workmanship or inaccurate structural construction? Or could it be something else entirely? Or is there more to this mouldy enigma?

Mould, that persistent troublemaker, thrives in damp environments and can find its way into even the most well-constructed homes. While it’s easy to point fingers at the structural integrity or workmanship of a building, mould growth can often be attributed to a combination of factors.

As a knowledgeable builder with years of experience under my belt, I’m here to tell you that mould, while a common annoyance, isn’t a foregone conclusion. Indeed, improper construction techniques can set the stage for mould.

One of the key contributors to mould growth is excess moisture. Improper moisture management, be it from leaks, inadequate ventilation, or high humidity levels, creates the perfect breeding ground for mould. Water intrusion due to faulty construction or aging infrastructure can exacerbate the problem, but it’s not always the sole cause.

Here are some examples of improper construction that can create perfect conditions for mould.
• Poor ventilation. Homes that lack sufficient ventilation can trap moisture, leading to damp conditions. Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are particularly susceptible as they generate a lot of humidity.

• Inadequate insulation. Missing air gaps between wall and insulation, improper roof insulation allowing moisture getting trapped and providing a breeding ground for mould. Insulation is critical in all homes, regardless of when they were built, but it’s important to recognise that not all insulation methods are created equal, especially when considering homes from different eras. Victorian homes, for example, were constructed with materials and techniques that inherently allowed for more breathability; their thick, solid walls often provide some insulation naturally. But, using modern insulation techniques in these old beauties can sometimes lead to trapped moisture, which could invite damp and mould.

Modern homes, on the other hand, are built with energy efficiency in mind. They’re designed for modern insulation materials and techniques, with effective moisture barriers and proper ventilation. The materials used, such as drywall and treated lumber, pair well with contemporary insulation methods.

• Lack of moisture barriers. Moisture barriers are crucial in preventing water and damp from infiltrating the walls, floors, and ceilings of a house. If these barriers are absent, improperly installed, or if they deteriorate over time, water can seep into the house, creating a favourable environment for mould.

• Poor drainage. If the ground around a home is not properly graded to direct water away from the structure, or if gutters and downspouts are not adequately maintained, water can pool around the foundations, potentially leading to dampness and mould growth.

• Low quality building materials/improper use of materials. Some materials are more prone to absorbing and retaining moisture. Using such materials without appropriate safeguards can increase the risk of mould.

While mould can find its way into homes through various avenues, the role of a knowledgeable builder cannot be understated. A skilled professional will employ sound construction practices that minimise the risk of moisture intrusion and create an environment less favourable for mould growth.

But what is the quick solution for mould? The first step is to identify and stop the moisture source. Clean up small mould spots, discard porous materials. Call mould removing companies. They remove mould and treat the whole house for mould spores. Such companies are usually dewpoint-accredited and can remove all traces of surface and airborne mould from the property. If not treated professionally, the mould particles will continue to spread and can lead to a range of health complications.

Want to banish mould for good? The secret is in managing moisture. It’s crucial to identify and rectify the source of the water infiltrating the area. Unless you do this, the mould will keep returning, whether it’s on your walls, window sills, carpets, or drywalls.
A competent builder understands the intricacies of moisture control and employs techniques that prevent water penetration. From effective insulation and vapor barriers to proper drainage systems and ventilation, their expertise ensures your home remains resistant to moisture-related issues.

Did you know that:

1. In the realm of mycotoxins, T-2 trichothecene toxins indeed have a notorious reputation. These toxins have been investigated for their potential use in biological warfare due to their harmful effects on human health. Alarmingly, the same class of mycotoxins is found in black mould (Stachybotrys chartarum).

2. It seems mould isn’t just an earthbound nuisance; it’s even managed to hitch a ride to the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts are spending valuable time scrubbing and disinfecting surfaces to keep it at bay.

A study presented at the Astrobiology Science Conference in 2019 confirmed mould’s interstellar presence, finding mould happily sprouting on the walls of the ISS. This revelation emphasises the hardiness of mould, demonstrating its ability to adapt and thrive even in the most unexpected and harsh environments.

The implications of these findings have sparked serious concerns among researchers. There’s a genuine worry that these tenacious spores, if resistant to space radiation, could end up hitching rides on our spacecrafts to foreign planets. The result? Unintentional contamination during exploration and colonisation missions.

3. Not all moulds are harmful to human health? In fact, some moulds have been instrumental in significant medical advancements. A prime example of this is the mould Penicillium.

This blue-green mould was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 in his laboratory. Fleming observed that a Petri dish, which had been unintentionally contaminated with the Penicillium mould, showed a clear area where the bacteria Staphylococcus had been killed off.

This accidental discovery led to a monumental breakthrough in medical science – the development of the first antibiotic, penicillin. Since then, penicillin has been used widely to treat various bacterial infections, dramatically decreasing the mortality rate associated with these illnesses. So, while we often consider mould to be an unwelcome guest, in the case of Penicillium, it has proven to be a lifesaver.