Why black mould is dangerous [Checklist]

Choosi interviewed mould expert Michael Nguyen on the dangers of black mould.

Black mould isn’t your typical household pest. It's a silent intruder that can wreak havoc on your health and home. Worst of all, it can easily go unnoticed until its effects become impossible to ignore. Here’s what you need to know about its dangers – and how to get rid of it.

What is black mould?

Black mould is a type of fungus that thrives in damp and humid conditions. It’s mostly recognisable by its slimy, greenish-black or grey appearance and it tends to have a musty odour, but experts say you need to leave it to the professionals to make an official determination.

“All mould types can cause irritable symptoms to humans, and it all depends on our individual genetic markers,” says Michael Nguyen of AAA Mould Removal. “You should be calling a mould expert if you are concerned about any type of mould. Or seek professional advice from a medical professional if you have any abnormal symptoms.”

As much as one quarter of Australian households are estimated to have mould in their homes, and emerging research shows that there is likely also a high prevalence of cold housing across the temperate climates. As of late, this has also targeted flood-affected areas in Queensland and New South Wales which are highly vulnerable to mould growth due to damp conditions.

To grow, black mould needs very high moisture levels. This can often be as a result of flooding, leaking roofs, plumbing issues or poor building maintenance. Black mould typically grows in materials such as timber, plasterboard, wood framing, composite wood flooring, carpets and carpet underlay.

While black mould is one of many that can invade your living areas, it's known for being particularly hazardous due to the mycotoxins it produces. When they are released into the air, they can potentially cause serious health issues when a human inhales or touches them – and can be potentially dangerous for people with existing health conditions.

Health risks associated with black mould: Protecting yourself and your loved ones

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the most vulnerable are people suffering from allergies, an existing respiratory problem, or a weakened immune system.

Overall, the signs of black mould illness can include flu-like symptoms such as coughing, dry skin, itchy eyes, nose and throat, or just a runny nose and sneezing.

Here's what you need to look out for if you come into contact with black mould – whether you know it’s in your house or not:

  • Respiratory issues: Inhaling airborne mould spores can trigger respiratory problems – everything from coughing and wheezing to sinus congestion. If you already suffer from allergies or asthma, these symptoms will likely be exacerbated.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people get allergic reactions, resulting in itchy eyes or skin rashes, and other flu-like symptoms.
  • Mycotoxin exposure: Prolonged exposure can result in mycotoxin poisoning, which can cause short-term symptoms like fatigue, headaches and memory loss, as well as more severe long-term issues like immune deficiency and even cancer.
  • Weakened immune system: It can also compromise your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections and disease.

Download the Dangers of black mould: What to look out for [Checklist]