It has only been in comparatively recent times that public attention has been directed to the harmful effects of black mold on humans. The scientific name for what is usually referred to as 'black mold' is genus Stachybotris and species chartarum. The organism is also known as Stachybotris atra or Stachybotrys alternans.
The first publications
The first scientific notice of the black mold was taken by a Czech scientist in 1837 Prague. August Carl Josef Corda noted that the substance required moisture to grow. The significance of the organism in producing unhealthy conditions in buildings was not suspected until the second quarter of the last century (1900). It was then postulated that the fungus was the cause of leprosy in ancient times. But proof of this theory has never been pursued. Although its toxic properties were known, the black mold was not considered a major health risk until the 1980's.
The first recorded manifestations
In 1986 a family residing in Chicago asked for medical assistance and advice about chronic afflictions that had been affecting all their members for some years. Proceeding on the assumption that the pathological signs were caused by the inhalation of pollutants, it was verified that the air inside the Chicago home was replete with spores of Stachybotrys chartarum. It was subsequently discovered that the house itself had colonies of the black mold in most areas, a condition which was induced by the persistent high moisture content of its environment. Specifically, the family members experienced fatigue, chronic states of diarrhea, fevers and colds. Lucky for these people the conditions were remedied in time and no untoward incidents occurred.
The first recorded fatalities
The first hint at the possible fatal effects of black mold on humans occurred during the tragedy in Cleveland, Ohio which occurred between 1993 and 1994. Out of 45 infants suffering from pulmonary hemorrhage, sixteen died. It was later confirmed that there were colonies of Stachybotrys chartarum in the infants' homes. Although some scientists question the validity of the logic associating the deaths with black mold, the incident has become a primary motivator for research in this area to be conducted intensively.
Today, the hypothesis has been proven
Scientific research has so far proven that the conjectures and fears of the previous generation concerning the toxicity of black mold are all based on fact. The relatively recent scientific evidence accounts for the fact that not many people are aware of this danger and not many homeowners have even heard about mold-removal as being an important requirement for maintaining a healthy home environment.
Specifically, people whose home environments have a moisture content of 55 % and above are very likely to have colonies of black mold hidden behind the wall boards, inside the ceiling or under their floors. Those who live in humid environments owe it to themselves to avail of a hygrometer. This is a device that reports the current moisture content of the air. In cases where the moisture content is 55 % or above and the people living in the house are experiencing chronic colds, fatigue and coughing, along with the other symptoms of black mold toxicity, the appropriate remedial measure should be undertaken to eliminate or control the pathogenic fungus and prevent tragedies from happening.