The Health Risks of Fungi, Moulds and Mycotoxins in Homes
The Facts of Mould, Fungi and Mycotoxins
Mould is a type of fungus that thrives in moist and humid environments. When mould grows, it produces toxins called mycotoxins. Mould also releases spores which can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems in some people.
The most common type of mould is Penicillium and Aspergillus. These moulds grow on organic materials like food, paper, carpeting and wood floors. The conditions that help mould grow are moisture, warmth and poor ventilation. Mould causes health problems when it grows in the home because it can produce mycotoxins that are toxic to humans or animals.
Mould usually starts to overgrow when the humidity level in the house reaches around 70%. Moulds release spores which float through the air until they land on a moist surface where they can start to grow
Importance of Controlling Spores from Fungal Growth in Homes
In Australia, the air quality inside homes is worse than outside. This is because indoor air has been found to have more pollution and microorganisms. The main source of these substances are from microbial spores that are released into the air from various sources such as furniture, carpets, and tap water.
The fact is that these spores can cause a lot of health problems in people such as asthma, allergies, breathing problems, and even cancer. People who have a weaker immune system or a chronic condition can suffer more from these spores.
Human Infection Risk Factors of Mould Toxicity
Certain species of mould can produce mycotoxins, which are harmful to human health. Exposure to mould can cause the person to become sick, and even lead to death.
Mould exposure is a major problem at home and in the workplace. It is estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide are exposed to damp indoor environments that promote mould growth. The most common health effects of exposure to mould are allergic reactions or irritations of the skin, nose, throat, eye or ear.
Some people may be at increased risk for developing health effects from exposure, such as those with asthma or allergies; those with chronic lung disease such as bronchitis, which is often accompanied by frequent infections; those who have had a lung transplant; those who have a weakened immune system.
Preventing Infections & Illness by Reducing Mould Exposure
Mould can grow in a variety of locations and thrive in damp, dark, cool places. It is important to physically remove mould spores and hypha fragments. Fogging does not remove it. Mycotoxins can still be present on mould spores. Professional mould remediation by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC S520) professional is recommended.
In conclusion, we can reduce mould exposure by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter and a solid activated carbon filter as a short-term solution. Dehumidifiers will also manage the moisture and humidity in the air. The long-term solution is to remediate the moisture or humidity problem and remove the mould.