Sunday, 22 June 2014

Mould Growth in Your Home – Its Health Hazards and Cleaning Tips

Do you know that moulds known as Hyphomycetes, a group of fungi, can grow in your home interiors and cause health hazards to you and your family? 

Indoor water condensation is the main source of moisture that helps the growth of mould in your home. There are chances of severe health risks due to mycotoxins from some toxic moulds. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins for a longer period of time can cause neurological problems and even death in more serious cases.

Mould can affect all people. But more prone to its attack are the young, elderly or sick, and those with asthma and allergies. Asthma is made worse by the presence of mould. Around 50% of people who live in mouldy conditions can get affected by upper respiratory symptoms. Prolonged exposure to mould can also develop allergy.

In addition to health problems, mould can cause damage to fabrics, shoes, and discolour paint and wallpaper.

Mould growth can occur at poorly ventilated places in the house where there are dampness and darkness. Indoor condensation of humidity that comes from bathrooms and kitchens promotes conditions suitable for the growth of mould. Showers, hot bath, washing machines, clothes dryers, fridge drip trays, boiling kettle, and indoor plants are some sources which generate humidity. This water vapour easily travels to other areas of the house and when it comes in contact with cooler surfaces it gets condensed. In a house, condensation easily occurs at windows, corners of rooms and bedrooms. Cluttered storage, basement areas, flooded areas are also prone to mould growth.  If walls, carpet, wooden furniture and fabrics stay damp for long, mould will slowly grow there too.

Mould growth mainly depends on the type of interior finish in your house. Flat paints (compared to semi-gloss or gloss painted surfaces), plasters and untreated timbers have high percentage of moisture absorbency causing condensation of water vapour.

Mould has to be removed the moment traces are seen. It becomes difficult to clean the area affected by mould for longer periods. Avoid dry brushing the area because it could release spores that will help the mould spread further. It will also cause harm if you are allergic to it.  

Room heating, adequate ventilation, proper insulation of walls, ceiling and flooring, and physically removing the moulds are some of the possible methods of controlling condensation and mould. Cleaning affected areas using 80% white fermented vinegar solution can be more effective than applying bleach. It poses a cheap means of dispatching mould too.

In case of flooding, make sure to clean and dry the area thoroughly as early as possible. Water-damaged carpets, rugs and damp building materials are most affected by mould growth. If you are unsure about proper cleaning procedures after a flood, it is recommended that you take the services of a reputed cleaning contractor in your area.

The adage that says “prevention is better than cure” is also applicable to mould issues. Frequently clean the bathroom, window panes, evaporation trays in air conditioners, and refrigerators where there is a possibility of the occurrence of humidity. It does not only maintain the beauty of the house from the inside but also maintains your health and well-being.

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