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What are the main health risks from mould in a home

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What are the main health risks from mould in a home

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Nov 22, 2021

A patch of black mould growing on a ceiling or wall is unpleasant, but it could also be a signal that there is a risk to your health.  Some household moulds can release dangerous toxins into the air that cause unpleasant allergic reactions and can lead to long term health problems for people with weaker immune systems such as the elderly and young children.

What Causes Mould to Grow

Mould grows from microscopic spores that are small enough to float through the air.  They can settle anywhere in your home, but unless they have the right conditions to grow, they will remain as part of your household dust, and you might not even notice them.

Unfortunately, if mould spores collect in a damp area where there is limited air flow to blow them away, they can start to grow very quickly into patches of slimy black material that is immediately noticeable through the musty smell it produces.  Over time, as a colony of mould grows, you will see white filaments develop on the surface, which are the fruiting bodies of the mould.  These release more spores into the air, which can spread the infestation while also damaging your health.

The Main Health Risks of Mould

There are two main by-products of mould that can be damaging to health:

  • Mould Spores
  • Mycotoxins

Domestic mould spores are often allergens.  If they are inhaled, they can cause an allergic reaction that makes the airways irritated and swell up.  This can be bad for asthmatics and people with respiratory problems, who may need to seek medical attention.  Some people may also find that they get other reactions from mould including rashes, sore eyes, and runny noses.  While these are milder symptoms, they can worsen over time if the amount of mould in the house increases.

Mycotoxins, such as those released by Stachybotrys Chartarum can create much more serious reactions in people that can build up over time into things like depression, and tiredness alongside the more obvious allergic reactions. 

Dealing with Mould

If you have a problem with toxic black mould in your home, it is important to have it dealt with professionally.  Other moulds can safely be cleaned using dilute bleach and a cloth.  Make sure that you wear gloves, a mask and eye protection when cleaning mould away, and dispose of the cloth after use so that it does not spread mould into other areas.

Unfortunately, cleaning mould from walls is a temporary measure.  It will grow back quickly if you do not take steps to remove the underlying damp issue that allows the mould to grow.

Permanently Removing Mould

The most common cause of damp where mould can grow is condensation.  This is caused when warm, moisture laden air comes into contact with cool surfaces such as windows and exterior walls and deposits droplets of water.  On windows and tiles, condensation can simply be wiped away, but on porous surfaces, it can quickly soak in, and will soon develop into a damp patch.

In order to prevent damp from forming, you need to reduce the amount of moisture in the air in your home.  There are some easy changes you can make including avoiding drying clothes indoors, keeping kitchen and bathroom doors closed when in use, and opening windows when practical, however in order to really make a difference, you may need to look at your ventilation.

Simple extractor fans that remove moisture laden air out of kitchens and bathrooms should be fitted and used whenever cooking or bathing.  They help to create negative pressure in the room which prevents water vapour from leaking into the rest of the house.  While fans are a good first step, they might not be able to prevent all damp from forming, particularly in colder rooms that are not used as often.

Whole house ventilation systems such as Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) or Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) are a much more effective long-term solution to condensation and damp that can lead to mould growth.  These work with a central unit that either draws fresh air in from outdoors to replace moist internal air (PIV) or extracts the moisture laden air to be replaced by fresh air from outdoors.  MEV systems can also include Heat Recovery (MVHR), which makes them more efficient by preventing heat loss from your home.

Find Out More

If you have found mould in your home and are worried about the potential risks to your health, contact our local ventilation specialists to book your free home survey.  They will be able to provide you with information about the causes of mould in your home and give you advice about the best way to resolve the problem.  Contact us today to find out more.

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During the free survey we will

  • check Assess any condensation, damp or mould problems in your property
  • check Take readings of the relative humidity levels
  • check Identify any underlying problems and make recommendations for a permanent solution

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