Mould is one of the most resilient species on earth; it can adapt to almost any environment, and for that reason, there are 1.5 million species of it on the planet.
Mould is mostly found in damp areas, where it grows and thrives. It can be found in our bathrooms, laundries, on our ceilings, behind our curtains and even underneath our beds and carpets.
It is also commonly found in our cupboards, where we store our possessions – such as leather handbags and shoes – allowing mould to transfer onto these items.
Mould is in fact very dangerous to our health. And this is especially the case if it is in our bedrooms, where we can inhale the spores into our lungs as we sleep and breathe deeply.
The Side Effects of Mould
The adverse health effects of mould are mostly lung-related problems. These include asthma, bronchitis, cold and flu-like symptoms, hay fever and pneumonia. Eczema can also be an adverse effect of mould in the home.
Additionally, acupuncture circles recognise that the lungs are linked to the colon. Therefore mould can even cause constipation and/or diarrhoea.
Evidence shows that it is the mix of microbes found in water-damaged buildings (due to mould) that are a major problem in particular. In healthy individuals, these microbes are identified by the body’s immune system, broken down and removed by the liver, then excreted via the bowels.
However, research has shown that 24% of the population can’t produce antibodies to fungi.
And for anyone who walks into a water-damaged building, an inflammatory response occurs that doesn’t switch off.
Symptoms of these fungi include fatigue, headaches, brain fog (results in mood swings), poor concentration, memory loss, aches in the joints, sleep disturbances and excessive hot and cold body temperatures.
Checking for Mould in the Home
We must always be checking our homes for mould.
To do this, locate moisture sources such as plumbing, gutter or roof issues, places of inadequate ventilation, insulation, waterproofing and drainage. Buildings in a flood zone are particularly of high risk.
It is also important to be aware of humidifiers left on too long, overly long showers and drying wet clothes indoors, which can all provoke mould growth.
Climate above 70% is ideal for mould growth.
In the event of water damage, materials like plaster walls, carpets, furnishings and underlay that has been exposed to moisture for more than 48 hours, and can’t be laundered, should be thrown out – otherwise, they will be a continually growing source of mould.
Adequate insulation and ventilation are recommended in the home, as well as air conditioners for hot and humid regions like North Queensland. If not done already, it is worth replacing single-pane windows with energy-efficient glass that regulates temperature.
It may seem practical to remove mould with cleaning chemicals, such as bleach, however, this is a mistake. Many varieties of mould can use bleach as a food source. And even dead mould spores can contain mycotoxins.
To remove mould from nonporous surfaces, it is first important to wear a mask and rubber suit. Once protected, soak a microfibre cloth in a solution of 20% water and 80% fermented white vinegar. Rinse each time and repeat the process.
For porous surfaces, such as unsealed timbers, you can use a 70% alcohol solution such as ethanol.
While these are quick solutions, the best and most effective method is to call in professionals (visit iicrc.org).