Few things strike fear into the hearts of homeowners as intensely as mold. Even the very name of it – toxic black mold – sounds horrible and deadly, a scourge of even the neatest, cleanest homes.

In truth, mold really is everywhere. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold grows year-round in all U.S. regions, most often in damp, shady spots indoors and within the soil outside. Inside the home, this translates to those areas where humidity and moisture levels are high—in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and anywhere else where water can accumulate.

That makes it pervasive.

But that doesn’t make it pleasant.

From the musty smells, to the water stained ceilings, to the visible spores, mold is a common concern nationwide and it doesn’t have to be the black variety to cause problems. In general, black mold is likely to occur in warm, damp parts of the home, such as basements and crawlspaces, or within walls where leaks are present. Anywhere that has a steady source of moisture is susceptible to toxic black mold.

Fortunately, the “toxic” in toxic black mold doesn’t exactly mean deadly. Depending on the length of time a person is exposed to them, the spores can cause everything from headaches to eye irritation to allergic reactions, including a burning feeling in the throat or nose, rashes, a chronic cough and other conditions. Prolonged exposure means all of these symptoms get worse, eventually leading to more extreme complications.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are 8 things that every homeowner should know about toxic mold. They are:

It hurts. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.

It’s everywhere. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

It’s here to stay. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

It’s dirty. If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate the sources of moisture that it is feeding on. There is no other way to prevent mold from coming back, and you must fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.

It’s black. Mold spores come in a range of different colors, but toxic black mold is a dark, uniform black that is hard to miss.

It thrives in humid spaces. Mold growth can be curtailed by reducing indoor humidity by properly venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside. Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers, and using exhaust fans. Moisture always needs to be vented outside.

It’s fast. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

It loves carpet. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting. The water will gather in the carpet and create a breeding ground for mold. If carpet or other absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles or furniture, have been infiltrated with mold, there is no solution to clean them. They must be replaced.