The Canberra Times

Mould a problem for health and homes

Mould a problem for health and homes 500 285 Radic 8

Story reprinted from The Canberra Times

9 December 2018

Canberrans suffering from undiagnosed bleeding, cramps, joint pain or chronic fatigue might be feeling the wrath of insidious mould.

Mould is one of the most common complaints from private tenants in the nation’s capital, and about 100 public housing homes are reported to have problems with mould. Not to mention homeowners who are constantly scrubbing bathrooms, walls and ceilings to try to rid their homes of this potentially toxic growth.

An ACT government fact sheet describes mould as a type of fungi that grows best in damp, poorly ventilated areas. The fact sheet recommends fitting ventilation fans and fixing leaking pipes or areas of condensation to help control mould.

“Spores are the microscopic ‘seeds’ which fungi, including moulds release into the environment. They are sufficiently small that they can be suspended in air and be widely distributed.”

It states that not all moulds are hazardous, but exposure to some moulds can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, wheeze or respiratory infections.

“Mould needs moisture to survive. Therefore mould in a building is controlled by reducing moisture and ensuring that there is adequate ventilation. Mould should be removed as soon as it appears,” the fact sheet reads.

This week is the first in a series looking at the effects of mould on human health in Canberra.

The Sunday Canberra Times spoke to public housing tenant Melissa Harrison, who has been fighting for years to move from the home she’s been designated as she believes it is making her and her children sick.

A kick in the guts was after she was given final approval to move, she said the government forced her to clean the mould in the house – despite doctors diagnosing her with a mould allergy – so Housing ACT could move in new tenants to the potentially toxic home.

“I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy living there,” Ms Harrison said of the place.

In coming weeks you’ll hear about an increasing number of Canberrans who are seeking treatment for mould related illnesses, also called chronic inflammatory response syndrome.

Alarmingly, it’s likely that many of these cases are linked to “hidden mould”.

While Canberra homes in winter are considered to be a breeding ground for mould, as a lot of condensation occurs when heating is on, summer storms can also help brew mould breakouts.

As the Sunday Canberra Times puts a spotlight on the issue, we will also look at what can be done to help inform more people about mould-related illness and how to treat it. And we take an eye-opening look at public buildings around Canberra that could be cause for concern for people who suffer mould-related illness.

For more information on how to get rid of mould in your home, take a look at our story here.



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