Indoor Air Pollution: Danger Level #4: Moulds And Mildew

Mildew and moulds are fungi - simple microscopic organisms that thrive anywhere there is a moist environment.

Moulds are a necessary part of the environment; without them, leaves would not decay and aspects of soil enrichment could not take place. It is their ability to destroy organic materials, however, that makes mould a problem for people - in our homes and in our bodies.

Mildew (mould in early stage) and moulds grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, cardboard, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, foods, insulation, decaying leaves and other organic materials.

If your home has water damage due to; flooding, sewage back-up from flooding in the area, plumbing or roof leaks, damp basement or crawl space, overflows from sinks or bathtub, or high humidity: steam cooking, dryer vents, humidifiers, mildew and mould will develop within 24-48 hours of water exposure. Even worse, it will continue to grow until steps are taken to eliminate the source of moisture, and effectively deal with the mould problem.

We are all exposed to many kinds of mould both inside and outside the house.The exposure is greater in damp or wet conditions, especially when timely drying out does not have a chance to occur. Of the thousands of molds that exist, some are known allergens (aggravating or causing skin, eye, and respiratory problems), and a few moulds produce harmful mycotoxins that can cause serious problems. But all moulds, in the right conditions and high enough concentrations, are capable of adversely affecting human health.

Mould can form anywhere with a house, provided conditions are favourable. In Ghana, almost every household have some mould present, and rooms with heavy mould infestation can cause severe respiratory problems. Avoid excessive moisture indoor and alway ensure clean and dry living area. Spores are almost always present in outdoor and indoor air, and almost all commonly used construction materials and furnishings can provide nutrients to support mold growth. Dirt on surfaces provides additional nutrients.

Cleaning and disinfecting with non-polluting cleaners and antimicrobial agents provides protection against mould growth. However, it is virtually impossible to eliminate all nutrients. Moisture control is thus an important strategy for reducing mold growth.

Typical symptoms reported from mould exposure include:
* Respiratory problems - wheezing, asthma attacks, etc Nasal and sinus congestion or dry, hacking cough
* Eye irritation - burning, watery, redness
* Nose or throat irritation - sneezing fits, bloody noses
* Skin irritations - rashes or hives
* Nervous system - headaches, memory loss, mood changes Aches and pains

The more serious health problems have been associated with the toxic black mould, Stachybotrys atra. The mould is greenish-black and slimy, resembling tar or black paint. Stachybotrys typically grows only on repeatedly wetted materials that contain cellulose - from paper to ceiling tiles, and any kind of wood.

Prevent Mildew and Mould infestation indoors to improve your indoor air quality. Stay Safe!

Read 223 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 March 2017 12:59
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About author

Hakim Tabas

Hakim Tabas is Health, Safety and Environmental Practitioner with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Occupational safety, Health and Environmental Management from GIMPA, Ghana. He thinks of Health and Safety as a calling and is very dedicated to the practice. He is affectionately known by colleagues and friends as Don Tono.


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