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Mould, Mildew & Fungus In Our Homes

Virtually everyone has one type or another of mould somewhere in their homes. Although not all types are toxic, any exposures to non-toxic mould types pose a health risk (allergies and asthma). It is often difficult to distinguish species without laboratory testing. Areas that are always or often damp, such as Kitchens, Bathrooms, Laundry/Utility rooms, and Basements, are common locations for mould growth in homes. Spores from dried mould are very dangerous and should be cleaned with caution. Never scrape or scratch dried mould, because the spores will become airborne and create a serious inhalation risk. Most mould infested areas are relatively small and are usually the result of small leaks or plumbing problems. If the problem is more internal such as on insulation or throughout a carpet, the only solution is to have the items professionally removed before being replaced. Mouldy areas more than 600mm2 are considered “heavily infested” and professional removal is strongly advised. Some insurance companies cover the cost of mould removal or remediation under certain circumstances. Check with your insurance agent to find out if you are covered.

You may suspect hidden mould if a building smells mouldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mould may be hidden in places such as the back side of Gypsum board, wallpaper, or panelling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and mats, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mould include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation.

Moulds have the potential to cause health problems. Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mould or mould spores may cause allergic reactions in
sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mould are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Additionally, mould exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mould-allergic and non-allergic people.

Moulds can trigger asthma attacks in individuals with asthma. People with asthma and respiratory diseases should avoid contact with exposure to moulds.
Black Mould or what is referred to often as Toxic Mould are common terms used to describe a slimy, greenish-black substance which can result in a very serious health risk. While toxic black mould is less common than other mould species it is far from rare. Cellulose is the only known host for the dangerous strains of Stachybotrys and Memnoniella, which produce mycotoxins. The mycotoxins grow in damp areas. Substances, where this mould can be found, include places where water has soaked wood, ceiling tiles, wall paneling, studs, cellulose insulation, gypsum board, carpet backing, cardboard and other items made of natural fibers such as cotton can act as a host. It can infest areas in the floors, walls and ceilings. Mould problems resulting from flooding should be treated professionally to avoid health risks. If the black mould is growing on materials that do not contain cellulose, it is unlikely that either Stachybotrys or Memnoniella are present. If you suspect Black Mould, have it tested before attempting to remove it.