According to the asthma society of Ireland this country has one of the highest rates of asthma in Europe and the prevalence is rising. There are many factors that influence the rates of asthma increasing but poor house air quality, mould spores and mildew has long been recognised as a causative factor in many common respiratory conditions.
Moulds are types of fungi that grow indoors and outdoors in damp humid places. Moulds release tiny seeds called spores into the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. Mould spores are found in any damp place – from piles of autumn leaves and woody areas to bathrooms, kitchens and even piles of damp clothes.
During growth, fungal colonies can produce gases known as ‘volites’, which are musty mildew-like odours, which you may associate with damp basements. Exposure to these gases have been associated with a number of symptoms from headaches to nausea and fatigue.
The most common causes of mould is condensation. Older properties with solid walls are more prone to condensation problems and hence it is those homeowners that are constantly looking for mould treatment for the walls. But more increasingly new homes with very good insulation and air tightness are having severe mould problems in certain areas. Because of the greater air tightness and poor ventilation you will find high rates of humidity in these houses. This leads to condensation forming in greater amounts on the few cool surfaces around the house such as the areas around windows doors and ceiling corners.
What is needed for mould to grow?
The three basic ingredients to start a colony of mould comprise of the following:
1. Organic material (wood, wallpaper, carpets etc)
2. A fungal spore
The vast majority of products used to build and furnish homes are made from organic materials. Fungal spores are microscopic and are present in any indoor or outdoor environment; they can easily enter any dwelling undetected. The main source of water for mould is from the air around it, so if relative humidity is high the mould will thrive.