Black mold: What are the detrimental effects?

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Black mold is a form of fungus that generates a fluffy or powder-like growth on surfaces. It can thrive on several household surfaces including cloth, carpets, insulation, wood and even food. Being exposed to black mold can trigger various health issues that vary based on the mode of contact. The signs of mold exposure can be categorized into four groups – allergies, irritation, infection and toxicity.

Allergies due to black mold

An allergic reaction is the usual sign if exposed to the mold. Those who are highly sensitive to the mold might suffer from watery eyes, sneezing, skin redness and itchiness as well as a headache.


The irritation triggered by exposure to the mold arises if the fungus deteriorates substances to thrive and releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The VOCs generates the mold or mildew-like smell linked with the presence of mold.

Those who are highly sensitive to the mold might suffer from watery eyes, sneezing, skin redness and itchiness as well as a headache.

Being exposed to the VOCs can trigger irritation of the mucous membranes and the central nervous system. The signs linked with this form of exposure might include coughing up blackish sputum, nosebleeds, dizziness, constant headaches, reduced attention span and concentration difficulties.


An infection after exposure to the mold is considered rare, but can occur. Those who have weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS might be at higher risk for infection due to black mold.


Black mold might also release mycotoxins which are poisonous substances. The mold produces most mycotoxins in areas that are continuously damp such as in ceilings, behind wall panels or under carpeting.

Toxicity might occur if exposed to these mycotoxins via skin contact or ingestion. The toxicity can result to life-altering or dangerous health conditions. Take note that toxicity from black mold exposure is rare and the severity varies for everyone.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on the detrimental effects of black mold is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs of black mold exposure by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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