If you find black mold growing indoors, how worried do you need to be?

All mold—not just black mold—needs to be taken seriously and removed from indoor spaces, said Tony Verner, the owner of Essex-based Mold Remediation and Construction Services Inc.

Verner, who said about 20 percent of people can’t process the toxins in mold, has gotten sick from the mold himself.

“The health component of mold and toxic exposure is all genetically driven,” he said.

He urges home buyers—especially those buying foreclosed properties or damaged properties—to have a detailed mold evaluation done before closing. If the home were previously flooded, that’s cause for concern– mold grows in damp places.

“Especially if you have any health issue,” Verner said.

With mold an ongoing problem in Howard County Public Schools, many parents have questions about its dangers.

Here are some facts.

Is mold toxic?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the term toxic mold isn’t accurate.

“While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous,” a fact sheet from the CDC states. “Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house.”

What is black mold?

Black mold– stachybotrys chartarum– can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint, the CDC says.

But because black mold can be wet and sticky, it won’t always release its spores into the air and thus, can’t be necessarily picked up with an air test.

“It just depends on the moisture,” Verner said.

Is this kind of mold more dangerous than other types?

The CDC says all molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.

“We do not believe that one needs to take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), than with other molds,” according to the CDC’s fact sheet.

“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,” the CDC says.

There are thousands of different types of mold, Verner said.

And you could have a bad reaction to any of them.

Does black mold cause sickness among infants?

The CDC says a possible association between acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants and black mold has also not been proven. The illness often presents itself as blood in the nose and airways.

How do you know if you have a mold allergy?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says the symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, nasal discharge, congestion and dry, scaling skin. Mold spores can deposit on the lining of the nose and cause hay fever symptoms. They also can reach the lungs, cause asthma or another serious illness called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.