HELP I have mould in my house!!
With 24% of the population unable to create the right antibodies to cope with mould exposure, its inflammatory effect on the body, the growing research linking it with such illnesses as chronic fatigue and Perth experiencing one of the worst winters for mould on record - it is no wonder that it has become a growing concern.
There are many factors I have witnessed that can result in increased moisture in a building from leaking pipes, both internal and external, natural disasters such as floods and wild weather to poor building design, humidity and occupant behaviour such as drying clothes indoors and cooking methods. there are also many times where mould has been at play but could not be seen nor smelt!! The negative health effects of damp building materials and fungal growth in homes, institutions, and workplaces have been reported in many publications, including the WHO guidelines Dampness and Mould, which concluded that there is sufficient epidemiological evidence to show that occupants of damp or moldy buildings are at increased risk of respiratory problems, respiratory infections, and the exacerbation of asthma. There is also strong correlation with fatigue, headache and inflammatory disorders. The Institution of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), believes that there are several factors to this heightened awareness, including energy conservation measures, changes in building materials, the use of fast-track construction techniques, failure of occupants to manage moisture intrusion and humidity properly and an increased reliance on mechanical Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems for comfort control. Now while it all sounds very doom and gloom, and yes mould can be a major issue affecting ones health, especially in our little ones, we need to look at how we should be dealing with mould in the home or workplace and best practice to prevent it.
There are three contributing factors when we look at mould growth, the mould spores, its food source and moisture. Now as mould spores are ubiquitous and they eat just about anything - including that delicious bleach we seem to be obsessed with feeding it, the only thing we can really remove from the equation is moisture.
So how can I tell if I'm affected by mould? Well there is a great little online test known as the VCS or visual contrast test. It helps determine if someone is currently mould affected costs only a couple of dollars and can be done in under 10 minutes on your home computer. This is also great to monitor improvements as mould is remediated.
The first step to remedying mould is to locate the source of the water, and not just locate it but remove it within a 48hr window to prevent mould growth. Now some of you may be thinking ummm........ 48 hrs?? But this mould has been here since last winter! Well the general rule of thumb is if the affected area is greater than a square meter it should be professionally removed by a IICRC approved mould remediator. Less than a meter squares and you should be able to remove the mould yourself. So how do we do that, bearing in mind I've just mentioned that bleach only serves to feed the mould (forgot to mention it also bleaches it so you can't see it)? Once the moisture issue has been rectified it is time to physically remove the mould with the use of a microfiber cloth. I like to cut the cloths up so that I am only using them one to two times before throwing into a garbage bag. I often choose to make a solution of a small amount of detergent to break down the biofilm and oregano oil (I've included links to the one I use at the bottom). Oregano oil has the strongest inhibition of mould, proving to be superior to clove and thyme and without the neurotoxic effects of clove. (Ever wonder why clove has the ability to remove toothache? Its due to its ability to deaden the nerve).
But with mould enormous swag of associated health effects, and believe me we have only skimmed the surface - there are some seriously nasty little species out there, we need to be sure that all of the mould has been removed. Dead mould can be even more dangerous that live mould as the hyphae fragment and are easily inhaled which is why I am not fond of people using just mould killer, so it is important that we microfiber all nearby surfaces, vacuum all floors with a HEPA filter vacuum and preferably motorised head to pick up particles and spores down to 0.3 microns, wash and air in direct sunlight all soft furnishings and have any HVAC systems thoroughly cleaned.
Still concerned or think you might need some extra advice? A building biologist will be able to test surfaces and materials throughout the house for moisture content, sample and test for mould and active mould and provide steps for remediation.
So for now, stay dry, stay mould - less and stay healthy.