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Damp + mould: Health risks

In Europe, an estimated 10–50% (depending on the country) of the indoor environments where human beings live, work and play are damp. WHO is concerned about this situation because excessive dampness and mould are a threat to health.

What is causing the moisture?

  • false residential behaviour (such as insufficient heating, ventilation deficiencies, entry of moisture during cooking e.g.))
  • insufficient thermal insulation, structural defects
  • moisture damage, accidents and floods

Can mould cause health problems?

Moulds are microscopic organisms. There are about 100,000 different species of moulds. Moulds are ubiquitous and can be found indoors and outdoors all the year round.  Usually, moulds are not a problem indoors, unless mould spores germinate and multiply on wet or damp surfaces. Moulds have the potential to cause health problems such as:
  • Allergies
The mould spores or small fragments of moulds can be inhaled and then trigger an allergic reaction. Allergic responses can  include: allergic rhinitis, hay fever, nasal irritation, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, asthma
  • Infections
Infections triggered by moulds can invade any organ systems (skin, lung or liver). For healthy people there is usually no danger of suffering from a fungal infection. This may be hazardousfor people with a weakened immune system (such as in leukemia, AIDS, tuberculosis, after transplantation or chemotherapy).
  • Poisoning
Some mould species produce toxins that can be absorbed by eating mouldy food.
Some people are more sensitive to mould than others, and some groups are especially vulnerable. Additional effort should be made to keep babies and children, elderly people, those with existing skin problems, such as eczema, or respiratory problems, such as allergies and asthma, and anyone who is immuno-compromised (e.g., chemotherapy patients). away from damp and mould environments.