The relationship between black mould spores and asthma
Across the UK, around one in eleven people are receiving treatment for Asthma – about 5.4 million people in total. Of those people, around 200,000 suffer from severe asthma which requires hospital treatment. Sadly 3 people each day die as a result of the condition.
Sufferers of Asthma need to be particularly careful about their environment to reduce exposure to things that might trigger an attack, and as such should avoid smoking and environments which are prone to high levels of dust, damp, and mould.
Damp Properties Can Make Asthma Worse
Simply living in a property where there is a damp problem can increase susceptibility to minor illnesses that can trigger asthma attacks. Children, older people, and babies are particularly at risk of illnesses such as flu or colds in damp conditions as their immune systems are generally weaker.
As well as the general health risks of the damp itself, a damp property creates the perfect environment for other asthma triggers such as dust mites and mould to thrive.
Many asthmatics find that household dust – or rather the dust mite waste that gets mixed into it – and mould spores are triggers for severe asthma attacks, and as such it is important to minimise exposure to these along with any other triggers that can worsen asthma including Volatile Organic Compounds (chemicals released from household cleaning products and from the fabric of houses).
The Problem with Black Mould for Asthmatics
Black Mould – often known as toxic black mould – releases substances called mycotoxins in the spores that they spread with. Some research suggests that these mycotoxins have a link to health problems for people who live in contaminated buildings.
Some of the health concerns that have been linked with exposure to mycotoxins include:
- Mood changes
- Memory loss
- General aches and pains
People who suffer from allergies are often more prone to the effects of mould spores in their homes – common symptoms of allergic reactions are:
- Sore Throats
- Watery or red eyes
- A dry cough
- Shortness of breath
For asthmatics, the last symptom is of most concern. Asthma attacks often follow a vicious circle. Initial shortness of breath becomes worse, which in turn makes the attack more severe. As such, any conditions which can trigger a mild attack should be avoided to prevent a more severe response from developing.
What Causes Black Mould?
Mould typically thrives in damp conditions. One of the most common causes of damp and mould in UK homes is condensation – where humid air deposits moisture on cold surfaces where it can soak into the fabric of a building and lead to a damp spot where mould spores can grow.
Over time, mould spreads around a house and releases more and more spores causing more patches to develop wherever there is sufficient moisture for it to grow.
Removing and Preventing Mould
Mould can be temporarily removed through careful cleaning with fungicides however it will grow back unless the conditions for it to thrive are addressed. As cleaning mould can release more spores, it is important to take appropriate precautions when tackling the problem, and if you suspect that the mould growth is dangerous Stachybotrys chartarum, then it should be removed by a professional.
Preventing the growth of mould requires addressing its cause. Reducing condensation is possible by changing your behaviour – covering pans when cooking and ensuring that bathroom and kitchen doors are closed when the rooms are in use can help to reduce the amount of moisture around the house, but to properly address condensation, you will need to improve the ventilation around your property.
Extractor fans should be fitted in bathrooms and kitchens. Some modern fans feature automatic systems which recognise when humidity levels are high and increase airflow to compensate.
Whole house ventilation solutions such as Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) and Mechanical Extract Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems are a more effective answer to damp and condensation. As the name suggests, these systems improve airflow through the entire building, removing stale humid air from the building while drawing in fresh air from outside.
Whole house systems improve air quality from houses and reduce the presence of all allergens by preventing their build up.
Find Out More
If you, or a member of your household suffers from Asthma and you are worried about the effect of damp or mould on your symptoms, it is important to act quickly. Contact us today to book a free survey of your property and find out how you could improve your air quality.