What is mould?
Mould is an umbrella term for a wide variety of microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors, and common to most parts of the world. We should not talk about mould, but about moulds because their forms are so numerous.
Moulds are microorganisms, of the fungus family, which in order to develop they feed on substrates such as dust, food debris, wood, and require humidity and a little heat.
They are generally known for their action on food, for example, old bread that turns green, and they are appreciated in certain cheeses.
During their growth, moulds produce small pockets, the vesicles, which contain spores. It is these spores that can cause health problems.
Moulds reproduce thanks to their spores.
When mature, the blisters burst and spread the spores into the air nearby. Thus spores can be carried by air currents, wind or human or animal activities to a place that provides favourable conditions for their development: humidity, warmth and food. When these three conditions are combined, the moulds will settle and start to proliferate.
Detecting mould in your home.
No smoke without fire means no mouldy smell without mould, so smell is your first indicator to identify indoor air pollution by mould.
With habit it is sometimes difficult to notice the smell but an outside visitor can help you detect it.
In order to detect mould, it is therefore necessary to pay attention not only to odours but also to possible symptoms that the inhabitants of the house might develop. It is quite common for the presence of mould to be revealed following the development of symptoms that lead a third party, usually a doctor, to put the chip in your ear.
It is also necessary to keep an eye out for signs of mould. Moulds come in a wide range of colours such as grey, white, black or green.
However, you can't necessarily see with the naked eye if you are contaminated by mould.
This is often because mould typically grows in places out of sight, behind furniture, woodwork, veneers, in dark corners and out of reach of your home, but be careful because there is mould that is invisible to the naked eye.
However, you can be certain that moisture is needed for their growth and that therefore in homes, damp rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements are the first line of defence.
There are also professional environments that are more exposed to mould, such as agriculture, dairy work, forestry, baking, carpentry, greenhouse work or winemaking.
What are the symptoms of mould exposure?
The following is a list of symptoms that may be related to mould:
- Irritation, burning, redness, itching of the eyes.
- Irritation, burning sensation, throat secretions.
- Irritation, burning, congestion, bleeding or runny nose.
- Sneezing, coughing.
- Abnormal shortness of breath.
- Noisy breathing due to the flu or other conditions.
- Feeling of fever.
- Skin rashes such as rashes, pimples, patches.
- Unusual headaches.
- Nervousness, unexplained irritability.
- Frequent and severe memory loss.
- Disturbed concentration.
- Dizziness, fatigue.
- Insomnia, drowsiness.
- Unexplained muscular pains, decrease in physical capacities.
What are the consequences of exposure to mould?
As mentioned above, in order to reproduce, moulds emit spores that float in the air and it is these spores that can cause allergic reactions.
Risks of serious health problems are rare but they do exist.
Obviously, hypersensitive people are not equal in terms of vulnerability and the danger also depends on the degree of development and the type of mould involved - some moulds are mycotoxins that can have significant health effects.
Finally, be aware that chronic exposure to mould can be the cause of the development of asthma, particularly in young children and the elderly.
If you have mould in your home, there is a good chance that you will develop allergic reactions that will become chronic if you don't take action.
How can you protect yourself from mould?
No mould without humidity and as is often the case "In medio stat virtus" so a level of 40% to 60% is the ideal humidity level for a home. To maintain this level you can control it with a humidimeter or hygrometer. If the indoor humidity level exceeds 60% you enter a configuration conducive to the development of mould.
Adjust the temperature of your heating system in winter or invest in a dehumidifier. By controlling the humidity level you can control mould.
Obviously in the event of flooding or water leakage, mould will grow quickly, which can be very harmful as the leak in question often goes undetected for a long time.
A few simple tips to prevent mould growth.
- Install a dehumidifier, preferably in the basement if you have one, to keep the humidity level under control.
- Check the humidity level with a hygrometer. Connected sensors can also provide this information.
- Check, clean or replace your air filters on a regular basis.
- Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are properly cleaned and that water does not get on the walls of the house.
- Dry your floors and tiles well after cleaning.
- Look closely at porous materials such as paper, mineral wool, carpets, plasterboard, or acoustic tiles, which are all breeding grounds for mould and mildew.