Lung expert’s mould health warning as wet weather lashes coast
A lung expert from the Institute for Respiratory Health is warning those with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions to be aware of a hidden killer lurking in their homes that could be unleashed by the rain that has drenched the east coast.
Associate Professor Yuben Moodley said the extreme wet weather could provide the perfect conditions for mould to grow and is concerned about the serious health issues it could bring.
Mould is part of a group of very common organisms called fungi that also include mushrooms and yeast. It’s present virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
Mould may grow indoors in wet or moist areas that lack adequate ventilation, including walls/ wallpaper, ceilings, bathroom tiles, carpets, insulation material and wood. If moisture accumulates mould growth will often occur on indoor surfaces. Many different types of mould exist and they all have the potential to cause health problems.
“Mould becomes a health issue not because it’s sitting there but because there’s “food” in people’s homes and that food is moisture,” said Associate Professor Moodley.
“As soon as you have high levels of water vapour, and there’s 70 per cent relative humidity for two days, mould spores are going to utilise that liquid source and start growing (and) infiltrating the surface area … then releasing chemicals that cause serious adverse health effects,” he said.
Health effects of mould exposure include a runny or blocked nose, irritation of the eyes and skin and sometimes wheezing. For people with asthma, inhaling mould spores may cause an asthma attack. Very rarely, people may develop a severe mould infection, usually in the lungs. It is important to note that most people will not experience any health problems from coming into contact with mould.
Associate Professor Moodley said, “With such extreme wet conditions residents should look at getting mould specialists in to assess the situation in their homes. But as they might be booked out for a while residents could tackle the mould by checking to see if it’s grown on soft furnishings like cushions and clothes and throw these out if it has.
“If fungi appears on windows, or plastic, vacuum it down before wiping it down with a microfibre cloth. Also refer to guidelines from the Department of Health.”