The hidden health dangers of household mould revealed

May 20, 2024
From skin rashes to mystery illnesses, there are many ways mould in the home can impact your health and wellbeing. Source: Getty Images.

When it comes to mould, most people are aware that it can be harmful, but many don’t know just how detrimental it can be to our health. Recently, numerous media reports have put mould back in the spotlight, whether it be a mould outbreak in a rental home or someone experiencing strange health symptoms.

It’s something you’ve likely spotted in your bathroom or around the home at one point or another and it’s actually a bigger problem than you’d probably think. Speaking to Starts at 60, Lucinda Curran, Environmental Health Assessor at Eco Health Solutions explained that water damage is one of the leading causes of mould.

“Mould is a significant problem and I would bring that back to the fact that there are so many homes in Australia that are water damaged,” she explained.

“It’s roughly one in three houses that have been water damaged – and that could be a leaking roof, flooding, a burst pipe or even spilling a jug of water on the floor or something, any of those things count as water damage.”

When a material is wet for long enough, it can actually result in mould growth. According to Curran, people have just 48 hours to act before it can become a problem. When that happens, it can do a variety of different things to different people.

Mould can grow if a leak or spillage isn't dried within 48 hours.
Mould can grow if a leak or spillage isn’t dried within 48 hours. Source: Getty

Some health issues you may already be aware of include mould being a cause and trigger for asthma, upper-respiratory tract issues, recurrent colds and flu and in some cases, other lung-related problems such as pneumonia. For Curran, who sees some of the worst cases of mould in Australia, she regularly comes across an array of other health problems associated with mould.

She notes it is often an environmental stressor for many.

“Anytime the body is under stress it can’t detoxify,” she explained.

“If it’s an environmental stress, it’s going to be fairly constant. When they’re sleeping at night, they’re actually not detoxifying as they should be. Sleep is when our bodies heal and basically recover from the day and getting ready for the new day.”

For some people, they’re simply genetically predisposed to not deal with mould, meaning their immune systems flare up every time they encounter it. They experience what is known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

“There are some more obscure things that are tied in with the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome,” Curran said.

“Things like frequent urination, tingling and a strange sensation like pricking on the skin, like someone was jabbing you with a pin.”

Thankfully though, there is help available to get health back on track, with Curran explaining it isn’t a death sentence. For people with a normal immune system, they’ll usually experience inflammation the first time they’re exposed to mould, but are able to fight it off the second time around.

Others will experience itchy skin or rashes, while memory loss and confusion is also noted for others impacted by mould.

Curran explained that hidden mould could also be to blame if a person is finding it hard to get better with treatments that typically work or unexplained health.

“You may take a course of antibiotics or do a herbal protocol and not respond as you should be to that treatment,” she said.

“You’re not getting well, you’re not getting over it, or it helps for a few days and you’re back to where you were.”

An effective way of testing whether your health is being impacted by mould is to remove yourself from certain environments, such as your home, to see if there’s an improvement in your health.

“Do they feel better when they’re away and the symptoms come back when they’re back?” Curran noted.

“That would be a good indication that there’s something going on in that place.”

If you do experience any health problems, it’s always important to bring them up with a GP. And, when it comes to spills or leaks, Curran’s advice is to act quickly so it doesn’t become a bigger problem.

“If you have any spills or leaks, you have 48 hours to act,” she noted.

“Other than that, we need to get professionals in to deal with mould. If there are any leaks or damage to roofs, act promptly.”

This article was originally published on June 27, 2018, and has been updated on May 20, 2024. 


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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