Mould in my home: What do I do?

What are moulds? What is mould?

Moulds are simple, microscopic organisms that exist virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. They belong to the fungi kingdom, along with mushrooms and yeast, and play a vital role in breaking down dead material and recycling nutrients in the environment. Moulds require a food source, which can be any organic material such as leaves and wood, to grow and reproduce. They digest the organic material and gradually destroy whatever they come into contact with. Sometimes, new mould colonies grow on existing moulds. Mould growth is often visible as discoloured patches, commonly green, grey, brown, or black, but it can also appear as white or other colours. Moulds release invisible spores that travel through the air.

How am I exposed to indoor mould? How am I exposed to mould?

Everyone is exposed to some moulds on a daily basis without apparent harm. Mould spores are commonly found indoors, and most airborne spores found indoors come from outdoor mould sources. Mould spores primarily cause health problems when they are present in large numbers and people inhale a significant amount of them. This occurs when there is active mould growth within homes, offices, or schools where people live and work. People can also be exposed to mould by touching contaminated materials or consuming contaminated foods.

Can mould become a problem in my home? Why is mould a problem in my home?

Mould will grow and multiply whenever conditions are favourable, such as when sufficient moisture is available and there is a food source. It is important to be vigilant in your home and watch out for common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mould problems, including:

  • Flooding
  • Leaky roofs
  • Sprinkler spray hitting the house
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Overflow from sinks or sewers
  • Damp basements or crawl spaces
  • Steam from showers or cooking
  • Humidifiers
  • Drying wet clothes indoors or using clothes dryers that exhaust indoors

Should I be concerned about mould in my home?

Yes, if there is extensive indoor mould contamination, it can lead to a high concentration of airborne spores. Being exposed to high levels of spores can cause sensitization, leading to allergies or other health problems. Mould can also damage your furnishings, such as carpets, sofas, lounges, and cabinets. Clothes and shoes in damp closets or soiled clothing can attract mould growth. If left unchecked, mould growth can cause serious damage to the structural elements of your home.

What symptoms are commonly seen with mould exposure?

Moulds can produce health effects through inflammation, allergies, or infection. Allergic reactions, often characterised by fevers, are the most common response to mould exposure. Common symptoms associated with mould exposure include:

  • Respiratory problems such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eye irritation (burning, watery, or red eyes)
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Nose or throat irritation
  • Skin rashes or irritation
  • Headaches, memory loss, mood swings, nosebleeds, body aches and pains, and fevers can occasionally occur with high exposures to mould.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly in relation to mould exposure, it is advisable to consult a medical professional for further evaluation and guidance.

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