How Mould Can Impact Your Health
Flooding, major rain events or cyclones can cause large-scale damage. Significant water damage to buildings or periods of extended rain can lead to mould growth. Mould can also grow in old, damp and poorly ventilated and maintained homes.
Moulds produce millions of air-borne spores that are easily inhaled. When a person inhales mould spores, they are at increased risk of experiencing respiratory symptoms like asthma flare-ups, and can experience a range of mild and severe health problems. For instance, if you are sensitive to mould, you may develop a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, trouble breathing or skin irritation. Rarely, mould spores can cause damage to your lungs or airways and lead to serious side effects, particularly for people with pre-existing conditions.
Tips for Removing Mould
Everyone involved in removing mould should wear waterproof footwear, rubber gloves, a shower cap, safety goggles and a disposable N95/P2 particulate respirator. Do not use a conventional dust mask, as this does not protect against spores and bacteria.
- Clean non-porous items such as glassware, walls and floors with hot soapy water or household detergent. White household vinegar has also been recommended as a natural biocide product to remove mould.
- Wash porous items (such as stuffed toys and linen) as usual.
- Be cautious about using bleach, as it may not prevent mould re-growth and can form dangerous fumes when mixed with other cleaning products.
- Ensure air conditioners are cleaned and serviced.
- If you have respiratory issues such as asthma, try to get someone else to clean the mould for you.
Be sure to scrub thoroughly to clean mould from surfaces, but DO NOT use a dry brush. This could release spores into the air.
What Does Mould Mean To People With Asthma?
Mould is bad for people with asthma. To reduce the risk of an asthma flare-up a person with asthma should aim to reduce their vulnerability to mould in two important ways.
Maintain Your Asthma Prevention and Treatment In Line With Your Written Asthma Action Plan
If you are prescribed a preventer, take it regularly. This will help you keep your asthma under control and reduce your lungs’ sensitivity to mould.
If you have lost your medication or prescription in a weather event you can get emergency supplies from a pharmacy. You will need to go to a chemist and speak with a pharmacist.
Your asthma may play up in the coming weeks and months due exposure to mould, especially if damp or humid weather conditions continue. Make sure you are familiar with your Asthma Action Plan and know the four-steps to Asthma First Aid.
Reduce or Manage Your Exposure to Mould
Assume all water-damaged or damp items have mould growing on them within one to two days exposure. Try to clean up and dry out your home within this time by removing all wet materials including furniture and flooring. Air out rooms by opening all doors and windows and using fans or air-conditioners on dry mode if available.
Want More Information?
If you have any questions or concerns about managing your asthma when there is mould around, please call Asthma Australia on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462). More resources can be found below.