Mould can be detrimental to your health when in high concentrations
The type and amount of spores within a closed environment can have implications on building occupant’s health. The extent of how moulds can affect a person’s health is difficult to determine and is influenced by the individual’s immune system, age and health. Many spores we deal with are either allergenic or toxic and in high concentrations can cause flu like symptoms and respiratory problems until the source is removed. Spores are commonly found in outside fresh air, but it is when we have high concentrations of spores that there can be issues.
Mould is often found in damp buildings; dampness can be caused by external weather-related leaks, internal plumbing type leaks, damp subfloors or poor ventilation and or insulation. Certain moulds are toxic and need to be carefully removed. The toxins are chemicals that sit within the spore-shells, so ‘dead’ or non-visible spores still carry toxins. Bleaching merely hides the mould growth and spores. The mould and spores need to be physically and safely removed.
Stachybotrys is one such mould which we, as building remediation specialists, come across a lot. This is a black/brown mould and can have a fluffy appearance when dry. Strict handling and removal policies must be adopted when moulds are identified to ensure both building occupants and those removing and handling mould affected products remain safe and healthy.
The symptoms certain moulds are alleged to cause include:
• Mental and neurological affects
• Respiratory difficulties
• Circulatory complications
• Vision and eye problems
• Skin problems
• Immune system problems
• Reproductive system issues
• Tiredness and discomfort
• And other health effects
Moisture is one of the biggest deficiencies of buildings in Ireland, essentially caused by inadequate building construction and lack of attention of residents for adequate ventilation. As a result,toxic black mould formation will continue to increase. However, this risk can be significantly reduced if the right and coordinated measures are selected during renovations.
So what should you do when you find mould, particularly within wall or ceiling ?
The first stage is to get the mould tested; this can be done via air testing, swab testing or sample testing. As building surveyors we carry out sampling which is then tested by an external agency, who are microbiologists and can identify the types of mould present. Testing can provide indications on the length of time the mould has been active and the level of moisture present. Air testing in particular produces a spore count so tends to quantify the problem.
A mould surveyor is able to identify the location of dampness or water ingress; however a more detailed investigation may be needed to determine the cause. Once the cause is known the repair method and remediation strategy can be formulated to remove the mould in a safe and cost effective manner.