Difference Between Mold and Black Mold

Main Difference – Mold vs Black Mold

Mold and black mold are two types of fungi, consisting of filamentous hyphae. Both mold and black mold grow on the surface of household, organic matter. Black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is one of the five types of molds. The other types of molds are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. Black molds are somewhat significant due to their black color among other types of molds. The main difference between mold and black mold is that black molds may cause severe health problems due to their mycotoxins whereas exposure to mold may produce less severe health problems.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Mold
      – Definition, Features, Health Problems
2. What is Black Mold
      – Definition, Features, Health Problems
3. What are the Similarities Between Mold and Black Mold
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Mold and Black Mold
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Black Mold, Cladosporium, Mold, Mycotoxins, Penicillium

Difference Between Mold and Black Mold - Comparison Summary

What is Mold

Mold refers to a growth of fungus, which occurs on food or on other organic materials under moist and warm conditions.  More than 10,000 mold species can be identified living indoors. The growth of mold starts as small patches. The color of the patch can be white, blue, green, black, brown or gray. Finally, the mold may get either a fuzzy or slimy appearance. Molds produce a musty odor as well. The fungal hyphae of the mold penetrate the organic material on which they grow. Therefore, the growth of mold on an organic surface eventually destroys the material. Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold) are the five types of household molds.

Difference Between Mold and Black Mold

Figure 1: Mold

Alternaria grows on damp walls. The color of Alternaria can be either gray, dark brown or black. Prolonged exposure to Alternaria may cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions. The most common type of mold that can be seen in the household is Aspergillus. The color of Aspergillus can be white, black, grey, yellow, brown or green. Aspergillus can grow on walls, papers, and fabrics. It causes respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and inflammation in lungs. Cladosporium grows on fabrics and wood surfaces. It produces a characteristic black or olive-green color. Penicillium produces a blue-green color as well as a strong musty odor. 

What is Black Mold

A black mold refers to a fungus that grows in damp environments, causing severe health problems. Generally, Stachybotrys chartarum is considered as black molds. It produces a toxic compound called mycotoxins. Due to this toxic compound, black mold is taken as a dangerous kind of household mold. Black molds may cause severe health problems such as breathing problems, allergic symptoms, inflammation, fatigue, depression, chronic sinus infections, immune system suppression, and damage to internal organs. Household black mold is shown in figure 2.

Main Difference - Mold vs Black Mold

Figure 2: Black Mold

Black molds grow in constantly damp environments such as inside air conditioning ducts. They produce a significant musty odor as well.

Similarities Between Mold and Black Mold

  • Both mold and black mold are filamentous fungi.
  • Both mold and black mold grow on the damp surfaces of household organic matter.
  • Both mold and black mold penetrate the organic matter on which they grow.
  • Both mold and black mold may destroy organic surfaces on which they grow.
  • Both mold and black mold may produce musty odor and specific colors.
  • Both mold and black mold may produce health problems.

Difference Between Mold and Black Mold

Definition

Mold: Mold is a fungus that grows on food or on other organic materials under moist and warm conditions. 

Black Mold: Black mold is a fungus that grows in damp environments, causing severe health problems.

Types

Mold: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold) are the common types of molds.

Black Mold: Black mold is a type of mold.

Color

Mold: Molds can be black, gray, white, green, blue, orange or brown in color.

Black Mold: Black molds are exclusively black in color.

Toxic Compounds

Mold: Spores of the molds are toxic to humans.

Black Mold: Mycotoxins produced by the black molds are highly toxic to humans.

Habitat

Mold: Mold may grow in both damp and dry areas.

Black Mold: Black molds grow in constantly damp areas.

Health Problems

Mold: Prolonged exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, inflammation, migraines, extreme fatigue, and pain in joints. 

Black Mold: Black molds may cause severe health problems such as breathing problems, allergic symptoms, asthma attacks, fatigue, depression, chronic sinus infections.

Beneficial Uses

Mold: Mold can be used in the making of cheese and antibiotics such as penicillin.

Black Mold: Black mold has no beneficial uses.

Conclusion

Mold and Black mold are two types of household fungi which grow on the surface of organic materials. Both mold and black mold produce health problems upon prolonged exposure. Black mold is a type of mold, which produces a toxin called mycotoxin. This toxin may cause severe health problems than a usual mold. The main difference between mold and black mold is the intensity of health problems caused by each type of mold.

Reference:

1.“Mold.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 17 Aug. 2016, Available here.
2. McEvoy, Sean. “Black Mold: What You Should Know.” HGTV, 19 July 2016, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Mold 6552″ By © Nevit Dilmen (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Black Mold” by satemkemet (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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