Can Mould Cause Allergic Reactions?
Mould is an all-too-common sight in homes where it is often found growing in the form of dark patches on walls and ceilings when damp is present. Mould patches can grow quickly and become unsightly, and if they are not removed, they can stain paintwork. Once established, mould problems can be hard to deal with, and unfortunately, they can also be damaging to the residents of a house, aggravating some medical conditions, and causing allergic reactions.
Where Does Mould Come From
Mould grows from microscopic spores that are carried on the air. Mould spores are present as part of normal household dust and are so small that they can easily be carried into your home with draughts. Mould spores settle as part of normal dust, but unless they have the right conditions, they do not start to grow.
Mould needs moisture and still air to begin to colonise a surface. In areas with good air flow, the spores cannot settle for long enough to start absorbing moisture, but if the air is still, and there is a damp surface, they start to develop very quickly. The speed with which mould becomes developed enough to notice will depend on the amount of moisture present and the type of surface where it is growing. In some cases, patches may start to form within 48 hours although it can take several weeks.
Mould appears as a dark patch on a surface, and if it is left for long enough, it will start to develop thin white filaments above the dark layer. These filaments, called hyphae, release more spores which causes the mould to spread elsewhere.
Is Mould an Allergen?
There are more than 100,000 known species of mould, but comparatively few are found in a domestic setting, and not all moulds are bad. Penicillin and some other antibiotics are actually made from mould, so they can be beneficial, however, several of the moulds that grow in homes can be bad for your health.
The spores that mould grows from are the main allergen that affect people. Although mould spores are commonplace and found almost everywhere, the concentrations that they reach in normal situations is extremely low, and although you might inhale them, they rarely cause a problem, however in a room that is infected with a large colony of mould, the concentration of spores in the air increases substantially, meaning that more are inhaled with every breath. If they are caught in the airways or eyes, they can be irritating, causing a cough, respiratory problems, and soreness.
Is Mould Toxic?
Some moulds, including toxic black mould or Stachybotrys Chartarum can be highly toxic to people and animals. Stachybotrys Chartarum looks similar to other kinds of mould, but in addition to the spores that it releases, it also leads to the presence of some mycotoxins in the air. These can be very damaging to health, particularly in older people or those with weaker immune systems or conditions like asthma.
It is important to remove mould as quickly as possible, but if you suspect that your house has Stachybotrys Chartarum present, it is essential that it is cleared professionally before it becomes a problem.
How to Get Rid of Mould
Mould is relatively easy to clean away, but you do need to take care when removing it. Unless you suspect that you have a problem with a toxic black mould, you can normally clean it yourself. Dilute bleach will kill the mould on your walls and make it easy to remove.
When cleaning mould, you should wear gloves, a mask and eye protection to prevent inhalation. Wipe the mould off the surface with a cloth – avoid scrubbing vigorously, as this can simply spread the mould spores elsewhere. Once you have finished cleaning the mould away, dispose of your cloth and gloves so that you don’t transfer mould spores onto other surfaces.
Unfortunately, simply cleaning mould away is rarely enough. Mould is a symptom of a bigger problem – damp – and as long as you have the underlying damp problem, the mould will return every few weeks, potentially creating a health risk in your home.
In order to prevent mould permanently, you need to remove the damp.
In most cases, damp is due to condensation being allowed to soak into porous surfaces such as wood or plaster. Reducing the amount of moisture in the air in your home can be the only way to prevent condensation damp from occurring, and in most cases, this requires improved ventilation to be present.
Find out More
If you are concerned about the risk to your health caused by Mould problems, and want to prevent it in your home, contact us today. Our local ventilation specialists can advise you about the causes of damp in your property and give you information about the best way to solve your problems with mould and damp. Book a free home survey today and take the first step to getting rid of mould for good.