Molds: More dangerous than you think?

What should people to do if they determine they have Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) in their buildings or homes?

Mold growing in homes and buildings, whether it is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds, indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem that needs to be addressed.

Mold can be cleaned off surfaces with a weak bleach solution. Mold under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once mold starts to grow in insulation or wallboard the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement.

We do not believe that one needs to take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), than with other molds.

In areas where flooding has occurred, prompt cleaning of walls and other flood-damaged items with water mixed with chlorine bleach, diluted 10 parts water to 1 part bleach, is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia. Moldy items should be discarded.


How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?

As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold.

The conditions causing mold (such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) should be corrected to prevent mold from growing.

Specific Recommendations:

  • Keep humidity level in house below 50 percent.
  • Use air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
  • Be sure home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Use mold inhibitors which can be added to paints.
  • Clean bathroom with mold killing products.
  • Do not carpet bathrooms.
  • Remove and replace flooded carpets.

In summary, Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and other molds may cause health symptoms that are nonspecific.

At present there is no test that proves an association between Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and particular health symptoms. Individuals with persistent symptoms should see their physician. However, if Stachybotrys chartarum (stachybotrys atra) or other molds are found in a building, prudent practice recommends that they be removed. Use the simplest and most expedient method that properly and safely removes mold.

March 10, 2000 : MMWR Update: Pulmonary Hemorrhage/Hemosiderosis Among Infants ---
Cleveland, Ohio, 1993-1996 

Report to the CDC Working Group on Pulmonary Hemorrhage/Hemosiderosis - June 17, 1999


Some additional information on fungi and fungal diseases at the CDC Web site:

CDC/NCID Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases: Fungal Diseases

NIOSH publication: HISTOPLASMOSIS: Protecting Workers at Risk

Emerging Infectious Diseases article: "Emerging Disease Issues and Fungal Pathogens Associated with HIV Infection" by Neil M. Ampel, M.D. University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Emerging Infectious Diseases article: "Coccidioidomycosis: A Reemerging Infectious Disease" by Theo N. Kirkland, M.D., and Joshua Fierer, M.D., Departments of Pathology and Medicine, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, California, USA

California Department of Health Services 
Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet
Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?  March 1998

For more information, questions, or comments, please email the National Center for Environmental Health at

Article reprinted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health

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