Mould is part of a group of very common organisms called fungi that also include mushrooms and yeast. It can grow virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. In order for mould to grow it requires moisture, warmth, and food. Common places that give mould a place to flourish are the bathroom and kitchen, although, given the right conditions, it can grow almost anywhere. In winter we try to keep our homes as warm as we can; this can often result in a humid environment where mould can grow.
In a modern day home, humidity usually comes from clothes dryers, washing machines, gas heaters, showers, indoor plants and even from our own bodies as a result of breathing. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of mould, including children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system or other medical condition(s), such as asthma, severe allergies or other respiratory conditions. Not everyone is affected by mould but, if you are, symptoms caused by a mould allergy may include respiratory illness or asthma, watery, itchy or red eyes, chronic coughing, headaches or migraines, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems and frequent sneezing.
Determining if your house has a mould infestation shouldn’t be too difficult. Mould produces gases called Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs). These usually give off a musty odour. Most moulds are also visible to the naked eye. However, moulds may be growing out of sight like behind walls or in the ceiling. If you do have a mould problem within your house the first step is to stop the source of moisture; next you must remove the mould. If it is only a small area, then you can usually remove it yourself. Common remedies include sunlight, ventilation, wall insulation, non-porous building materials, store brought mould cleansers and dehumidifiers. If the mould inhabits a large area, its removal may require professionals to remove the affected materials and eliminate the source of excess moisture.
Just remember, if you do decide to remove the mould yourself, wear protection. A face mask should be worn so you don’t inhale any microscopic spores. The room also needs to be properly ventilated. Gloves should also be worn at all times.