Research shows that mould can cause asthma in people genetically predisposed to allergies.
Ever noticed spots of mould forming on the bathroom tiles or growing in the kitchen? It may seem harmless but new research has shown that mould around the home not only irritates those with allergies but can go as far as causing asthma in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. A study done by the University of Western Sydney showed a strong link between certain household moulds and the onset of asthma. As explained by Connie Katalaris, professor of immunology, “The research showed very clearly, with this study at least, that certain indoor moulds can be linked to actually causing asthma in the first place in people who genetically predisposed,” The research looked at 36 different common household moulds and found three to cause asthma. Dustmite, cat, dog and cockroach allergens were also tested in the study yet only mould was shown to be linked to the onset of the condition.
How mould affects us
Living with mould is never a pleasant experience. As mould grows it releases spores into the air. It is when we inhale these allergens that the body begins to produce an allergic response that may present itself with hay fever type symptoms. These mould spores could affect those who already have weakened immune system more severely. For example, those who are receiving certain medical treatments or are known to have a condition that weakens the immune system. As Katelaris points out “It’s possible that mould could produce toxins that harm us in other ways, it’s a very poorly understood area”.
Interestingly, many of the houses that had the largest recordings of mould spores also had little visible sign of the mould. This is because mould issue are often caused by poor building construction and therefore can occur in the structural part of the home such as the subfloor area and behind walls. When moisture is trapped in these areas with no airflow then mould can easily spread. Leaks, plumbing issues or just simply condensation build up in bathrooms is enough moisture to cause these issues also. Katelaris explains that the study makes clear that
“band-aid treatments don’t work,… it has to be at the building level that remediation happens, not just buying anti-mould and wiping it off the wall.
Cleaning and preventing mould
The best way to deal with a mould problem is to prevent it growing in the first place. This will begin with identifying the places that moisture is entering your home and fixing them. So check any leaks in the roof, through windows or plumbing issues. Some sources of moisture such as condensation from showers, kettles and dryers are largely unavoidable. The best way of dealing with these is clear up excess water and supply adequate ventilation to remove trapped moisture. Installing an exhaust fan and a roof ventilation system will ensure that this moisture laden air doesn’t get trapped in roof cavity. The Victorian Department of health suggest when cleaning mould to use a damp cloth and a vinegar, detergent or alcohol solution. While many household cleaners promise results their main ctive ingredient loses potency over time. Likewise these cleaners tend to bleach the mould white instead of killing it. While cleaning mould is important, Katalaris points out that most mould occurs as a result of building structural inadequacies. Other tips to prevent and control mould in your home include:
- Consider replacing porous materials, such as carpets, soft furnishing or fabrics that are mouldy.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking, showering or using the dishwasher.
- If possible, vent clothes dryers to the outside.
- When washing mould off hard surfaces make sure you dry it completely: you should use a system of washing and rinsing with several separate buckets and cloths to help avoid recontamination.
- Get a professional to examine your subfloor and roof cavity for excessive moisture build up and mould growth
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