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Mould Invasion: Everything You Need to Know About Mould and Your Health

12 October 2020

They are everywhere in the home and you don’t see them until they have already colonised and formed streaks of ugly damp masses and patches in your home, moulds come in different shapes and colours; green, black, brown, white, orange. 

It doesn’t really matter the colour, what matters is that these unsightly, uninvited guests in your home can make your home unhealthy to live in and cause you and your family to be sick, especially if you have allergies or respiratory health conditions.

What is Mould?

Mould is the common name for groups of fungi that grow everywhere in nature where there is water. They often find their ways into the homes through their airborne spores which when they land on favourable moisture-rich places in the home can grow rapidly and form mould colonies. 

These favourable places include around windows, walls, pipes, kitchen sink, kitchen blinds, leaks in roofs. They can also grow on wood and paper products as well as in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulations, upholstery, carpet, and fabrics.

Outdoors and in nature, moulds play a major role in balancing the earth’s ecosystem by decomposing dead leaves, plants, trees, and animal matter, and recycling their nutrients back into the soil.

The most common types of moulds in the home include Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Aspergillus moulds. 

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Where Moulds can Grow in The Home

Moulds generally thrive in moist, damp and steamy places and these include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Windward side of house walls
  • Air vents
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basements
  • Kitchen
  • Recently flooded areas
  • Cluttered storage areas
  • Spots with poor ventilation
  • In humid environments both indoors and outdoors
  • Crawl spaces

How Mould Spreads

Moulds reproduce by producing lightweight airborne spores that float and travel through the air. 

These spores often find their way into the home through the air, especially when you open your home for natural ventilation. The spores can also get attached to pet furs, damp clothing, and shoes, and be carried indoors.

When these spores land on damp spots in your home, which can be the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room, they will begin to grow and multiply rapidly to form the mouldy unsightly, musty masses and patches that are very familiar.

These mould colonies will mature and start producing spores in the enclosed spaces of your home.

When you and your family members inhale these spores and the airborne toxins produced by the moulds, it could cause you health problems.

iStock-1133360227How Mould Affects Your Health

Inhaling mould spores can trigger serious allergic reactions, especially in allergy sufferers and asthmatics. Even in normal healthy persons, exposure to mould spores can lead to several uncomfortable reactions.

Symptoms of Mould Allergy:

  • Watery, itchy, eyes
  • Headache and migraines
  • Rashes
  • Sinus problems
  • Tiredness
  • Blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever

Mould Toxins

Some moulds produce toxins called mycotoxins which they use to prevent other microbes like bacteria from growing around them. These toxins are not just poisonous to other microbes, they can also cause serious health problems to you and your family.

When these moulds grow on stored food and release their toxins into them, consumption of these foods can cause food poisoning which can be life-threatening.

Even if you are too careful, what about children and pets?

Kids or pets may eat these mould infested foods and ingest some mycotoxin which can lead to food poisoning.

Studies show that exposure to high levels of these mycotoxins can cause neurological problems and even death. 

Who is More Susceptible to Mould Allergy? 

Inhaling mould spores or eating mould infected foods can lead to serious especially to these vulnerable persons:

  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • The aged and elderly
  • People with respiratory health problems like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma 
  • Allergy sufferers 
  • People with lowered immune systems like people undergoing chemotherapy.

How to Get Rid of Mould in Your Home

Moulds need moisture to grow, so the best way to get your home free of them is to fix the problems that cause dampness in your home.

If there’s mould already growing in your home, you will need to use adequate cleaning methods to clean up the mould and fix the conditions favouring their growth.

Here are some things you can do to get rid of mould and stop mould invasion in your home.

1. Reduce Indoor Air Moisture

istockphoto-1204686187-612x612Relative humidity measures the amount of moisture or water vapour present in the air. Since moulds thrive in moisture, it is important to keep the humidity of the indoor air in your home low. You can do this by installing air conditioner units and making sure that they work properly.

If you already have AC units in your home, it is important to perform routine maintenance checks to be sure they are working properly. Keep the air conditioner drip pans clean and free of obstructions which might hinder airflow.

You can get a cheap hygrometer which is the instrument that measures relative humidity, from your closest hardware store and use it to accurately measure the relative humidity of indoor air in your home.

If possible, maintain the relative humidity of indoor air in your home below 60 percent or between 30 percent to 50 percent which makes it unfavourable for mould to grow.

During cold weather days, try to maintain a warm indoor temperature, this will prevent indoor air from getting cooler and condensing on cold surfaces in your home.

To keep your home warm during cold weather means that your house’s heating and cooling system should be properly working, you can check how good your system is by having a contractor inspect and perform a proper inspection of your heating and cooling system.

Insulate cold surfaces, such as outside walls, floors, and windows to minimize condensation.

2. Monitor for Leaks and Spills

It is important to dry up water spills and wet areas quickly especially in the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, and other places where water spills could occur. When you do this, you prevent the settling of flying mould spores and prevent them from taking root in there and growing.

Here are the things you can do to check on leaks and spillages in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and other areas where moisture, spills, and leaks can be common:

  • In the laundry room and kitchen, install exhaust fans to push moisture and water vapour produced while cooking and washing to the outside.
  • Don’t install wall to wall carpeting in the bathroom and basement, instead, you can use area rugs, which can easily be unfixed for washing and proper cleaning and then fitted back. 
  • Routinely check for leaks around washbasins, tubs, and plumbings in the kitchen, laundry room, toilet, and the bathroom, and get them fixed to avoid spills and mould growth.
  • Keep the bathroom window open when showering to allow the warm mist especially for warm showers to float out through the window and not condense on the walls and glasses where they can trap mould spores and aid their growth.
  • Wash and dry damp towels, don’t leave them in the laundry hamper, in the laundry basket or dryer, as they can become breeding grounds for moulds.
  • In the kitchen routinely check for leaks and spills from your refrigerator and ice makers, have them fixed if there are problems with them.
  • Set up your interior decor to allow for natural airflow and ventilation. You can use fans to increase air circulation. Use extractor fans to extract damp air out of the basement and crawl areas to prevent dampness and mould growth in these places.
  • Routinely check for leaks in your basement. Water can come into your home by seeping through basement floors and walls. This is often the reason for the musty smell and dampness of most basements, and breathing in this stale air can cause you allergies.

Replace mould damaged building materials like wallpapers and wood panels where possible. Where possible and the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially in outside walls, you can fumigate affected areas and then insulate them from further moisture exposure.


3. Purify and Detoxify Indoor Air
You can stop airborne mould spores from entering your home, by installing indoor air purifiers that use high efficient performance air (HEPA) filters to filter and purify indoor air of dust, mould, and other allergens.

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To get a double dose of effectiveness, you should consider installing indoor air detoxifiers instead of just air purifiers. 

An indoor air detoxifier like VBreathe, filter the air of dust, pollen, and mould particles using medical-grade HEPA filters, just like an air purifier but it takes it a step further, it can kill and deactivate airborne pathogens, including toxic mould, bacteria, and viruses which are usually too tiny to get filtered out by HEPA filters. 

By using indoor air purifiers and detoxifiers, you would not give mould spores a chance to settle in your home and grow, because your purification or detoxification system filters and deactivates them, before they have a chance.

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VBreathe Tasman is an intelligent and portable indoor air detoxifier.

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