Mould!!! We all have experienced mould in our houses. Whether it is a bathroom that grows mould in the shower or fruit that has gone mouldy in the fruit bowl or for the unfortunate few who have experienced a leaking roof that results in water damage that moulds if not correctly and effectively dealt with. Mould is part of life, but in some circumstances it can cause harm to our bodies, from unpleasant to down right life threatening symptoms/ disease.
Essentially mould needs 3 main ingredients to grow. Moisture, heat and food. We are coming into one of the wettest Winter seasons we have had for some time and its the perfect storm for mould growth. In winter we tend to close down the house and turn up the heat, couple that with these heavy downpours of rain that lead to back flowing gutters and roof leaks, and you have all the right conditions for mould blooms. If not dealt with swiftly if can very quickly get out of hand and infect the entire house.
To understand more about mould you need to understand how it reproduces. Mould throws out microscopic spores to colonise its environment and when the level of spores are higher inside our homes than outside, we have a mould problem.
Most people will experience symptoms such as throat and eye irritation, runny noses, skin rashes and headaches, But there are some mould species that can cause much more serious reactions because they produce mycotoxins. These mycotoxins cause the same allergic reactions as regular spores, but they also pose much more serious long term health risks including cancer, lung infections, immune deficiency, acute poisoning and a huge list of other uncomfortable symptoms. Some mould is so toxic that they were used in bioweapons in the 50s by the US and Russia. Mould is no joke.
So what do we do if mould infects the house?
Early detection is key. At the first sign of mould you need to inspect for water leaks. Roof leaks are common in downpours. Gutters when not clean, can cause overflow and force water back into the roof cavity of the house, or heavy down pours will find any missing roof screws and gain access to the roof cavity, leaking pipes in wall cavities can be hard to find but will need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Fixing the water leak is the most essential step in stopping the mould!!
Once the water source has been fixed the clean up can begin. Remember how we said the mould spores were microscopic?? Well that means they are tiny enough to be invisible and those spores can gain access to your body when breathed in or even touched. So protect yourself. Double glove, eyewear and masks should be worn when cleaning mould from you house. Mould is no joke!! Reducing mould spore access to your body is essential to keep your health protected.
Ideally you want to be cleaning mould that is dead so spores are not being released when you start cleaning. UV surface cleaning lights can used first to reduce the risk of live mould spores, then the use of vinegar and water to clean the surface mould. Make sure you are wearing the protective clothing at all time. Microfibre clothes are best used to clean the mould and can be disposed of afterwards. NEVER use bleach. the chemical structure of bleach makes it unable to penetrate mould surfaces and it will aggravate live mould to throw even more spores around. Bleach should only be used to remove mould stains one the mould have been successfully removed.
If you have a large section of mould to clean it is recommended that you call a mould remediation company. These companies specialise in safe mould removal. If mould is beyond light surface mould and is embedded in the gyprock or furnishing you will need these remediators to make your house safe again. Remember those mycotoxins!! They pose serious health risks and if mould is embedded in walls, ceilings or carpets you will need help to make these areas safe again. There are companies like Xspor Australia that specialise in fogging houses to make sure the microscopic spores are killed and then HEPA vacuum to remove dead mould spores so you have a safe living environment.
IF ITS FLOODED, FORGET IT!!! This is a catchy slogan for drivers to remind them not to cross flooded roads. But it should also apply to flood victims who are cleaning out their houses. When flood water goes through a home mould closely follow. Usually within a day or two of flood water receding and owners having access to their homes the mould growth has already begun. It is absolutely essential that you protect your health when dealing with flood effected homes. Wet, humid, mud covered houses are like a mould carnival... all types of mould thrive in these conditions and those species that have the toxic gases (mycotoxins) will be at the top of the list!! Do not risk your health. Leave it up to your insurer to organise the safe removal of debris and rubbish. Talk to your broker about making sure you have the correct flood cover today.