Many people don't fully understand the health hazards of fungal exposure. Exposure to damp and mouldy environments in the home may cause a variety of health effects. Some people are sensitive to moulds. For these people, moulds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
People with mould allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mould. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mould, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
Exposure to mould is linked with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
How can I prevent mould?
Keep it clean. Old-fashioned housekeeping is the first line of defence against mould. There are no strict guidelines for how often to give your home a good scrub, but people who are more sensitive to allergens should clean more often, perhaps on a weekly basis, while others might be able to go two weeks between rigorous cleaning. Clean bathrooms with mould-killing products.
Keep it dry. Keep the humidity level in your home between 40% and 60%. Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces, like basements. Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans that vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
Keep it out. Although mould usually develops due to the conditions outlined above, it can also be brought into the home on furnishings, potted plants, stored clothing and bedding material that we might bring in from outside. It’s important that you ensure items are mould-free before bringing them into your home.
Keep it uncluttered. Don't store boxes up against concrete walls or floors. This could lead to moisture getting into the boxes and creating a haven for mould while damaging your goods.
How do I deal with mould and moisture?
There are various products on the market that will help, such as fungicidal products. Wipe down affected areas with a fungicidal product that carries a Health and Safety Executive “approval number”. Dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo mouldy carpets. Where possible, remove lining paper and wallpaper where you suspect mould growth, and treat the plaster and then paint or paper the area again. After treating mould-affected areas, redecorate using a good-quality fungicidal paint.
If you have problems controlling mould or a family member suffers from respiratory or other health problems that appear to be aggravated inside the home, seek the help of a mould treatment professional.