While you may not have heard of Stachybotrys chartarum, you are probably familiar with its common name, black mold, or as it is sometimes called, toxic black mold. The “toxic” comes from the mycotoxins it produces, and those toxins can cause a number of health concerns in those who inhale or ingest them. In particular, people with a high degree of exposure either through having black mold in their home or working around black mold (such as farmers exposed to moldy hay) can develop significant health problems.

Making the Mold Connection

If you experience any of the following symptoms and you don’t feel they can be attributed to other causes, you may want to investigate whether you are living or working in close proximity to toxic black mold.

Respiratory issues

The most common reaction to black mold exposure is breathing-related symptoms including chronic sneezing and coughing, shortness of breath, and sinus congestion. All of these can be an indication that the body is trying to protect itself from an unseen airborne substance.


Skin tenderness, hives, itching, and rash are common symptoms of mold exposure. They are sometimes accompanied by tingling or numbness of the skin. While there are ointments that can help control them, these symptoms will likely continue to return until the exposure is reduced or eliminated.

Irritation or mucous membranes

Toxic black mold can cause pain and redness of the eyes, sore throat, irritated and runny nose, and other issues related to the mucous membranes.

Persistent headaches and fatigue

Dull headaches that don’t go away or that occur frequently are known to be a sign of mold exposure. In some cases they come with sensitivity to light, and they frequently are experienced along with persistent fatigue.

Nausea and vomiting

With excessive, ongoing exposure to toxic black mold, some people experience upset stomach to the point of vomiting.

Next Steps

If you suspect you are being exposed to toxic black mold, the next step is to look for signs that it is present. You can perform this inspection yourself, but a trained inspector has tools and techniques that can determine conclusively whether you have a mold problem.

If black mold (or any mold) is discovered, you must remove it. Here again, you can perform the remediation yourself if the infestation is small enough. If you do, be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. For larger infestations, you will want to have professional assistance. And as part of your cleaning process, you will definitely want to remedy the conditions that allowed the mold to form in the first place.

With the right inspection and remediation, a toxic black mold problem can be corrected, removing the threat to your home and your health.