Mould is a common problem in many homes, particularly during the in winter when the air is colder and humidity levels in your home rise because of less fresh air from open windows. There are thousands of different species of mould that can be found in homes, and these can have different effects on your health ranging from mild to severe.
Mould is a type of fungus that grows on organic materials, such as wood, paper, fabric, and food. Mould can produce spores, that can be released into the air and cause allergic reactions as well as contributing to different health problems for residents.
One of the main causes of mould growth in homes is condensation. Condensation is formed when water from the air collects on cold surfaces. Condensation most commonly occurs on windows, walls, ceilings, pipes, furniture, and appliances but it can also form in unventilated spaces, such as closets, cabinets, and attics.
Condensation forms because of temperature changes in the air. Warmer air has a higher moisture capacity than cold air, so when the warm, moisture laden air meets cold surfaces, the water is released. This water vapour air comes from a variety of sources. From bathing and cooking through to drying clothes on radiators and even breathing. As a result, during the winter months when we spend more time in the home and leave the windows closed more of the time.
When condensation forms on windows or bathroom tiles, it will remain on the surface and can be wiped away or evaporate as the temperature rises, however on porous surfaces, the condensation soaks through to form damp patches where mould will eventually grow.
Some people are more sensitive to mould than others. Infants, children, elderly people, people with existing skin or respiratory conditions can all have weaker immune systems which means that they will typically see a stronger reaction to mould and its spores, but even the healthiest people can have some reaction – particularly with more toxic species such as Stachybotrys Chartarum.
The most common effects from mould are:
The symptoms of a reaction to mould can be like having a winter cold, but it may affect you for a longer period.
Long term exposure to some moulds can have a serious impact on your health. The mycotoxins released by toxic black mould can result in neurological problems including headaches, nausea, depression, and fatigue.
People with existing immune system disorders may develop hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis which will require medical treatment.
If you discover mould colonies growing on walls and ceilings in your home, you should clean the surface mould away as soon as possible.
Toxic Black Mould (Stachybotrys Chartarum) should be cleaned professionally as the chemicals that it releases can damage your health. For most species of mould, you can carefully remove the surface mould.
Special fungicides are available from most supermarkets that will temporarily stop mould from growing and allow it to be wiped away, you can also use a dilute bleach mixture. Avoid scrubbing the mould to prevent spreading spores from one area to another, and wear eye and mouth protection to minimise skin contact. Once you have finished cleaning the mould, dispose of any cloths that you have used, and wash your clothes as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, mould is resilient, and the visible patches on the surface are only part of the problem. Beneath the surface of your wall the main body of the mould will continue to grow and unless you tackle the root cause, the mould will come back quickly.
The best way to prevent mould growth in your home is to take away the conditions that allow it to thrive. This means reducing condensation and improving ventilation. Here are some tips to help you do that:
If you have discovered mould in your home, and are concerned about the risk to your health, it is important to act quickly. Contact us today to book a free home survey from one of our local ventilation specialists. They will visit your home to identify the causes of condensation in your home and provide you with advice about the best solution for you. Simply enter your postcode below to find an expert in your area.
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