There is mounting evidence that environmental factors within our own homes; are contributing to the increasing incidence of medical conditions.
Most of us are aware that mould and mildew are undesirable visitors in our homes.
Whilst there is an acceptance that it is desirable to erradicate these insidious growths; many home owners are not aware that mould; mildew, and fungi can seriously effect their health and well being.
In this article we will briefly look at the following issues
• What is mould and mildew?
• Where does mould tipically develop and live; and why does it thrive?
• What are known medical problems and risks to humans
• Tips on how to minimise the growth of mould in your home
• What are the best cleaning methods to eliminate this menace?
What is mould and mildew?
Fungi are a group of organisms with nuclei and rigid cell walls, but without chlorophyll. They may be unicellular or in multicellular filaments. The filaments are called hyphae. A fungus may produce a system of branching filaments, called the mycelium. The filamentous fungi are sometimes called molds. Unicellular fungi are often called yeasts. Some fungi may produce both yeast and mycelial mould phases. Mildew, in layperson’s terms, describes the staining, and likely the degradation of the materials, caused by fungi or moulds. Mould, mildew and fungi are hardly new problems. In the book of Leviticus, chapters 13 and 14, there is a reference to a plague, (also called mildew in some translations). The description seems to fit that of a toxic mould. In Leviticus, the simple solution was thorough cleaning of the affected area.:
Where does mould tipically develop, and live; and why does it thrive?
These living organisms grow and thrive in damp; moist; and steamy conditions; in areas such as bathrooms; toilets; the laundry; and kitchen areas; or as a result of neglected spillage of liquid onto carpeted areas. When mould appears in the shower; it is usually present in and around the grout or on the ceiling, and/or walls of a bathroom, toilet; or even the kitchen; and it is generally as a result of very poor ventilation, and or improper cleaning methods.
What are the known medical problems and risks to humans?
A wide variety of symptoms have been attributed to the toxic effects of different moulds. The medical problems may be caused by toxic gases produced by the moulds or by reactions to the mould particles themselves. Many allergies are also attributable to mould and fungi.Commonly reported symptoms include runny noses, eye irritation, congestion, aggravation of asthma, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. More severe symptoms may include reports of profusely bloody runny noses, the coughing up of blood, severe headaches, fibrous growth in the lungs and – at least in one reported instance – cognitive dysfunction and loss of memory. Stachybotrys chartarum was first identified and described by a scientist from wallpaper collected in a home in Prague in 1837. The toxic effects of Stachybotrys have been reported as early as the 1920s. Reports and surveys on mould in homes have been published since at least the late 1970s. In 1986, the injurious effects of trichothecenes – a mycotoxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum and a few other moulds were reported from many studies including that of a family in Chicago.
Addressing the facts
The conclusion to be reached from all of the cases studied, is that moulds are potentially dangerous and cannot be ignored. All moulds should be removed.The general rule of thumb is very simple: If you can see mould or smell mould, you have to remove it.
Tips on how to minimise the growth of mould in your home
Prevention is better than cure; and by following these simple rules in and around your home, you will have little problem with the build up of mould and mildew.
1. As much as possible keep your wet areas as clean and dry as possible.
2. When you use the shower; keep a window open or door ajar; and always ensure the fan is on.(this also helps the fan to operate efficiently, and lengthens is life). If the fan is faulty; replace it urgently.
3. Reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower to four minutes at most.
4. After you take a shower; dry off any excess water in the shower base and on the tiled floors.
5. Do not leave damp bath mats or towels lying around on bathroom floors.
6. Clean up any spills on carpeted areas immediately.
What is the best cleaning method for eliminating this menace?
Avoid using toxic cleaners which studies have proved, literally “feed” the mould rather than eliminate it. Use the micro fibre range of cleaning cloths; clean and dry off all of the wet area surfaces with white vinegar. Scrub the visible mould well with a tooth brush after spraying the surface with a spray bottle filled with with the undiluted vinegar. Use Bicarbonate of soda for toilets; Tee tree oil, Lavender oil, and the Orange power, and the Green cleaning products range are available at the Supermarket and are all good alternatives to the toxic cleaners..
Check the labels to ensure that there is no Chlorine based bleach in the list of ingredients. Add only a few drops of a low toxic detergent in a spray bottle to spray on the shower tiles and glass, as this helps to emulsify any greasy build up on these surfaces For extra heavy build up on the glass, use soft steel wool to scrub this build up off. Don’t worry; using soft steel wool will not scratch the glass!
Remember; try a small amount of any of these cleaning materials first, and only increase the strength if required. A little usually goes a long way.
Is your House mould free?
Irradicating mould in your home with environmentally friendly solutions is well worth the extra time and effort you put in. Going to this extra trouble, will ensure that you and your family’s health is not compromised. You will also be making a small contribution in helping to reduce the negative effects of chemical pollution upon our environment.