What are Moulds?
Mould spores are prolific everywhere. They include the black mould that forms on window frames and others that are found on decaying food; also mushrooms and fungi that grow wild. Exposure to mould is widespread, so it is difficult to determine how much mould an individual is exposed to in everyday life. Like dust allergens, mould allergies are perennial and allergic people exhibit symptoms throughout the year, although levels rise in the autumn, during wet, mild weather and harvesting.
Moulds release spores and it is these spores that cause the allergic reactions in people. Spores are microscopic particles released by moulds in their thousands into the atmosphere. Spores contact skin and nasal and bronchial membranes, causing symptoms such as rhinitis, itchy eyes, eczema and most importantly asthma. Several well-known conditions, such as Farmer’s lung and Sauna-taker’s lung, are caused by mould allergy.
Moulds favour damp, musty conditions; therefore piles of rotting leaves, grass cuttings, compost heaps, and garden sheds are prime environments for mould growth. Indoor moulds can be found on food that is going off, such as the black and white fur that is found on cheese, bread, fruit and vegetables.
How to avoid Moulds ?
Moulds are prevalent throughout our environment. Most people associate mould with damp walls and similar extreme situations. The fact of the matter is that we are all exposed to moulds to varying extents in our everyday activities. The following measures will help minimise contact with moulds.
Avoiding Indoor Moulds
- Moulds flourish in damp environments; therefore one of the best ways to prevent their growth is VENTILATION.
- Avoid damp basements, compost piles, fallen leaves, cut grass, barns and wooded areas – or wear a face mask if these places or things are unavoidable.
- Thorough cleaning of the kitchen, bathroom and utility room with subsequent ventilation of these areas will help prevent mould growth. Pay particular attention to walls behind kitchen units and cupboards; the lack of ventilation often means that excess mould grows in these areas.
- Open windows and close internal kitchen and bathroom doors when cooking, showering or bathing to prevent steam entering other rooms. Keep bathroom surfaces dry. Do not hang wet clothes inside or over radiators.
- Do not let food decay. Clean and thoroughly dry problem areas such as refrigerator seals.
- Clean mould from window frames and dry condensation.
- Do not hang clothes in damp cupboards or pack clothes too tightly in wardrobes. Leave wardrobe doors ajar to ventilate the clothes
- Make sure that your tumble dryer is vented outside during use, or use a condenser-dryer. Try not to dry damp clothing indoors.
- When showering or cooking, keep internal doors closed to prevent damp air spreading through the house. Use extract fans and cooker hoods vented outside.
- Get rid of old foam pillows and mattresses.
- Do not bring in damp wood for the fire. Avoid burning wood inside that has been kept in a damp shed.
- Strip wallpaper from damp walls. Tackle any areas of dampness on walls etc.
- Remove piles of old newspapers.
- Keep houseplants to a minimum and change the soil regularly
- Do not use humidifiers.
- If using a dehumidifier, keep indoor humidity at 50% or less. Empty and clean the reservoir regularly
- Avoid using paraffin heaters and bottled gas heaters – they generate large amounts of moisture
Avoiding Outdoors Moulds
- Do not spend time in buildings where hay or grain is stored.
- Do not go into damp and musty buildings.
- Avoid cutting grass, raking leaves and turning compost heaps.
- Do not walk in the woods in mild damp conditions or among rotting leaves.
- Avoid country areas when harvesting, particularly when sunny and windy.
- Allergy bedding covers protect you from mould spores within the mattress, pillows and duvets.
- Filter facemasks, like those worn by cyclists, trap spores
- Mechanical ventilation systems can remove spores.
Solutions are available which eradicate moulds and deter their growth on windows, bathrooms and refrigerators and their frequent use is recommended.