How to prevent toxic mould after water damage
Mould produces tiny particles called spores which are carried in the air. If the spores land on a surface with the right conditions, mould will grow.
Here's what you need to do:
- Remove all excess water from your home. Shani says to keep moisture levels low and ventilation high (turn on exhaust fan/open windows during/after showers).
- Depending on the damage, you may need to remove damp carpet and flooring. Alternatively, here is a guide on how to dry the carpet quickly.
- Next, you will need to wipe down and disinfect walls, floors and other surfaces.
It's a big job - but it will be worth it.
Types of mould
There are over 100,000 different species of mould. Some mould spores are harmless, while others, like black mould spores, have the potential to be toxic.
"There are studies indicating that certain moulds are potential toxic producers," says Shani.
"Some of the most commonly known potentially mycotoxic genera that I am aware of are Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Chaetomium, Fusarium, Cladosporium (Asp & Pen being the main culprits as per several Australian references/guidelines)."
How do you know if mould is dangerous?
That said, regardless of whether your mould is black or green, Shani says all mould has the potential to be toxic, depending on a variety of factors.
"Some of the main reasons a mould may be dangerous to an individual are the prevalence or concentrations of mould (the higher the concentration or, the longer the exposure time—the more likely it will affect occupants), says Shani.
"Or if the individual is immuno-compromised and is more at risk of reaction to mycotoxins."
Can breathing in mould harm you?
As we know, mould spores fly around in the air and may cause health problems if inhaled.
"Mycotoxic fungi may affect individuals in different ways—some common effects include respiratory responses such as coughing, sneezing, and other effects like fatigue and nausea," says Shani.
"It's important to note that the point at which mould becomes dangerous to individual health is unknown since individuals react differently."
How to spot and get rid of dangerous mould
It's pretty easy to spot mould growing in your home.
"Mould may be sighted on several materials throughout the home, but are usually in areas with water sources (bathroom, kitchen) and grow easier on porous materials," says Shani.
"Mould may also be identified by a musty smell."
As for the best way to remove mould, Shani says, "Antimicrobial products and treatments and minimising high humidity and temperatures will help to prevent mould."
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