• James Stephenson

MOULD IN HOUSES AFFECTS HEALTH


What is mould?


Mould is a type of fungus, found in many environments and hosts.

In houses, it has been found to produce ill health in some residents. However, the presence of mould is not always obvious (unlike citrus mould).


What causes mould?


Mould can be caused by roof or wet area leaks. Shower trays are a common source of leaks which can remain undetected, or only show small signs that many householders may ignore.


Mould can also be caused by condensation, a condition that arises where there is enough of a temperature and humidity difference between two zones in a house. In a heated home in cold weather, water vapour can migrate from the heated space through painted plasterboard into wall insulation where it can be trapped by impermeable wall sarking. This accumulation of dampness will promote mould growth.

In order to reproduce, mould produces tiny particles called spores.

Spores are carried in the air and may cause health problems if inhaled by people who are sensitive or allergic to them.

These include a running or blocked nose, irritation of the eyes and skin and sometimes wheezing.

Occasionally, people may have more severe reactions.

Very rarely, people may develop a mould infection, usually in the lungs. It is important to note that most people will not experience any health problems from coming in contact with mould.

For people with asthma, inhaling mould spores may cause an asthma attack.


(From NSW Govt Health Website)

So if you are experiencing some of the symptoms identified in the NSW Government Health information about mould, it may be that you need to check your home (or workplace) for possible mould problems.


Prevention is not always simple


Home owners and owner builders need to ensure that any new construction is carried out to a standard that prevents leaks and condensation. This can be easier said than done, and relies on a chain of knowledge and best practice on the part of professional building designers and trades. The average home owner may be unaware of what to look out for.


Not just a health risk


Furthermore, it will not be just occupant health at risk - the building fabric is also at risk if the source of the mould treatment is not identified and fixed:-

  • timber rot or steel corrosion may follow, causing structural weakness or failure,

  • termites are always on the lookout for timber weakened by damp and rot and may invade causing more structural weakness and failures.

New home - Case Study


Finally don't think you're safe just because you have a recently constructed home. I have first-hand account of someone who developed respiratory problems after moving into a four year old home in Brisbane. At first the thought was the occupant had developed COVID -19. Tests showed this was not the case, but the symptoms remained. There was a problem with a bathroom leak above a kitchen, and I advised there could be a related toxic mould problem. The occupant has had the the leak fixed and the affected building materials replaced and is now feeling a lot better.

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