Black Mold vs Aspergillus, Which is More Harmful?

indoor air quality

Black mold vs aspergillus, which is more harmful?  This is a question that my husband and I frequently go back and forth on during long road trips.  A tad bit dorky for a conversation, but what can I say except we love what we do and are proud of it. 

Often called “Black Mold, Stachybotrys Chartarum is one of the most talked about and most feared species of mold by many homeowners.  On a weekly, if not daily basis, we have homeowners call to report that they “have seen black mold” and need someone out to the home as soon as possible!!!

First, the color of mold to the human eye should rarely be used to dicate the species as mold can be any color of the rainbow depending on what it is feeding off of.  I will never forget my first job site that I arrived with mold from ceiling to floor, in amazing wave-like patterns that were purple, yellow, and every color is known to mankind.  I was so excited I started testing each and every area at my own expense just to find that “rare mythical species”. I sent all samples off to the lab and was sitting by my computer with excitement waiting on the return of the results.  When they came in I learned a very valuable lesson……I had just wasted a good deal of money to find out it was all Aspergillus/Penicillium. While I was devastated, to say the least, there is a moral to this story, color does not always dictate species and therefore please do not jump to the conclusion that if you see something black, it is “black mold”

Back to the point of this article and now that we have established its color, let’s talk about its health effects.  Yes, Stachybotrys can possibly affect your health in many negative ways, however, it is not a mold that is as others common, and therefore in my eyes, not as harmful as Aspergillus which is found everywhere and is one of the more common molds. Stachybotrys itself is a very heavy sticky species that does not tend to go airborne unit the material it is growing on is altered and therefore is more of a risk to a remediation company than the homeowner. Stachybotrys is water damage indicator mold, and therefore, if you have not had water damage, you should really not worry about having it.  If you do have water damage, it should be dried or remediated immediately regardless of the species of growth and therefore is a mute point. 

It is my side of this debate with my husband that rather than “black mold” or Stachybotrys being the worst, it is rather species such as Aspergillus and Penicillium that are truly the ones to worry about as they are found in the majority of the homes that I test with elevated fungal ecology levels.  Unlike Stachybotrys, these species are light, easily travel, and are usually caused by moisture in any form, even something as simple as high relative humidity. In addition to this is, Aspergillus spores are tiny at 2 to 3.5 microns which can easily travel into our respiratory tract and cause infections as they are thermophilic and our body temperature happens to be exactly what they love.  

Perhaps I am so passionate about this argument with my husband and spreading public awareness of mold because I am allergic to certain species myself of which you guessed it, are Aspergillus and Penicillium.  I hear my customers complain over and over again of stuffy noses, allergy-like symptoms and headaches and get it. While I always have to rule out other causes, I truly understand not only the side effects of this species, but the prevalence as to which elevated levels of it occur. 

In closing all species of growth should be treated with the same respect regarding potential health risks and removal, however hopefully by reading this, you have realized that there is an entire world of molds out there that should not be made assumptions about.  The media is great at making some things seem worse than the other, and simply glossing over other potential important risk factors. The moral being, don’t use google, don’t assume the worst, and if you have questions, ask The Mold Girl at 843-765-2812