Today I found out I had rotten food (bread and meat) inside a closed (I think) container inside a bag. The bag had been smelly but I couldn't find the source until today. I immediately threw it away, but it had a nasty look: putrid smell, black-green-colored (hard to tell). I had felt the smell for quite a few days, maybe two weeks (though I suspect it had been hidden on the bag for longer). Today, when throwing it away, I obviously smelled it once again.

I did wash my hands thoroughly, but I'm still worried this might be dangerous. I'm not feeling any symptoms, but should I be worried about the potential consequences? I was close to the source, and smelled it, many times. Presumably either fungi or anaerobic (even aerobic?) bacteria were involved, and these can give some nasty infections, I think.

  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice. As far as I know, your question is fine, so I edited out your concerns about that.
    – Jolenealaska
    Feb 23, 2015 at 17:42
  • To be clear, you didn't eat anything - you're worried about exposure from smell and proximity?
    – rfusca
    Feb 23, 2015 at 17:59
  • Yes, I did not eat anything. I'm worried about smell and proximity, and the fact I think it looks like "black toxic mold" (Stachybotrys chartarum) which is reportedly very toxic. Thanks!
    – helloworld
    Feb 23, 2015 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


Far be it for me to give medical advice as I am NOT a doctor, but the likelihood that the mold you encountered was toxic is pretty small and I would not be worried. That said, if you were to start developing any kind of symptom, your best place to ask about it would be your doctor and not on the internet ;)

The presence of black mold doesn't guarantee that it is of the kind that everyone fears to find in their homes, and even if it was it doesn't mean that there are mycotoxins present and that you should be worried. Toxic mold can actually come in a variety of colours, and isn't limited to one genus/species.

I have also thrown out plenty of 'science experiments' from my fridge that required me opening containers to clean them out with very questionable looking growths of mold, and have experienced no actual illness, despite how my stomach might turn based on the smell.

As for bacterial concerns, unless you got some of what was in the bag into an open wound or mucous membrane, you have nothing to worry about there.

For reference, I studied microbiology in college and worked in biotech for a while before moving to 'greener' pastures. I've also done research specifically into black mold as we had a concern in my previous house.

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