Home General Info & Awareness Health Hazards of Damp & Mould In Your Home & How To Deal With Them

Health Hazards of Damp & Mould In Your Home & How To Deal With Them

by InvisiblyMe

Damp and mould. Evil and stubborn, and pretty unsightly. But they can also be dangerous for your health, triggering current conditions or leading to new issues. Here’s a look at how mould can impact your health. 

What Is Mould?

Mould is actually a type of fungi and it thrives in damp environments. You’ll often find it growing where there’s poor ventilation or in rooms that typically get damp, like bathrooms. Airborne mould spores can be present indoors and outdoors, and these airborne particles can proliferate inside your home. 

But how do you know if there’s mould? If there’s damp, often mould will follow. Sometimes you can smell damp and mould, especially if it’s an enclosed space. Sometimes you can tell by appearance whether there’s mould, but it’s not always too easy to spot. It may look a little like a discoloured fuzz-like rash on a skirting board or like a stain on a wall. In terms of colour, mould can cross the colour spectrum from grey to brown and orange, but mould most commonly appears as white, green or black.

Mildew is a certain type of mould growth. It’s typically more powdery and flat than other mould. 

Then there’s Stachybotrys chartarum, aka black mould. This releases mycotoxins, which are toxic substances produced by fungus that have been linked to various significant health problems. Mycotoxicosis, or mould poisoning, is one, but various symptoms and conditions may arise, like mood changes, memory loss, headaches, aches and pains.

In your home, there are a few key spots that are more likely to feature mould because of poor ventilation and/or moisture. For instance: bathrooms, kitchens, cupboards, walls, ceilings, windows. With walls, windows and ceilings, issues leading to mould can include rain that seeps through the roof, the impact of cold outdoor and warm indoor air, and poor insulation.

There’s also the issue of rising damp if your property is subject to ground moisture seeping up stone/brick walls. Internal walls can suffer from damp, especially if you live in a country with regular rainfall.

How Damp & Mould Affects Health

Mould also produces allergens, irritants and sometimes even toxic elements. Being in an environment where you touch or simply inhale mould can trigger allergic reactions, which come in the form of red eyes, rashes, runny noses, sneezing, or leading to asthma attacks and worsening breathing for those with lung conditions. The somewhat less common but nasty form of microfungus, black mould, produces toxic spores that can lead to severe respiratory issues. 

Touching or breathing in mould can affect the body but it’s thought that rather than inhaling the spores, it’s the longer term exposure that’s particularly risky for health.

Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, respiratory infections are all quite common from mould. 

Mould may worsen allergies or asthma, or cause a flare up of skin conditions like eczema. 

It’s also possible to get a mould infection, where you may experience things like excess mucus, nail infections, skin irritation and athlete’s foot. A doctor might be able to prescribe medication to treat the underlying infection.

Mould could also trigger new conditions, like lung infections, sinusitis or bronchitis.

Those with pre-existing conditions are likely to be more susceptible to the effects of mould, including those with the likes of allergies, asthma, lung conditions and weaker immune systems. In the case of the latter, the body is less able to defend and protect itself when the immune system is impaired. 

Inhaled mould fragments can inflame in airways and cause irritation in the chest and throat, which is what sparks the likes of wheezing, coughing and congestion. Long term exposure can reduce the function of the lungs, create new health issues or worsen pre-existing conditions. 

Children and the elderly both typically have somewhat weaker immune systems, so they’re more vulnerable to illnesses and infections like those caused by mould. Mould exposure at a young age is thought to be capable of impacting a child’s later development, with a 2016 study by Healthy Lungs for Life showing infant exposure to mould spores in their first year of life can lead to a 14% higher chance of developing asthma in future. Furthermore, it’s important pregnant women have a hygienic environment because at the extremes mould can lead to complications for mum and baby. 

Tips For Dealing With Mould

There are specialist products that can help eliminate mould, but they key is to not just clean the mould away. You need to control the crux of the problem, which is the damp from which mould thrives.

  • Try to ascertain where there’s damp and where any moisture is initially coming from. 
  • Deep clean the mould area while a face mask, goggles and protective gloves. Close the internal doors to stop the spread around the rest of the home, but open the windows.
  • Wear puncture-resistant gloves that offer good protection against most chemical cleaners. Nitrile gloves are generally great for cleaning, medical examinations, and other uses, especially if you are allergic to latex.
  • Get any home furnishings shampooed, deep cleaning and dried if they’ve been affected by mould.
  • Home remedies can be found online as an alternative and many people swear by white vinegar, but there are also various effective specialist sprays for mould for convenience.
  • Use an old cloth that you can dispose of after use to dip into a soapy water solution, or that you can use with a specialist spray. Wipe the mould rather than scrubbing or brushing it as that might release more harmful spores. Use a dry cloth afterwards to wipe away excess and dry the area so that the cleaning doesn’t itself produce more damp. Throw away all cloths, wet wipe all surfaces in the room and vacuum thoroughly.
  • Some government guidelines suggest that diluted bleach could be used to wipe down mould, but never full-strength bleach. It’s worth noting that it’s not advised to use bleach on walls.
  • Only attempt to remove mould yourself if you think it’s a small area, less than a meter squared, caused by the likes of condensation.
  • For larger areas or mould that could be deeper in the floors/walls/structure of the house, call a professional.

Preventing Damp & Mould

Prevention is better than cure because eliminating mould is challenging given its perversive nature and the matter of airborne spores. 

  • Ensure rooms receive adequate ventilation by opening windows, and using extractor fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. 
  • Clean all flooring appropriately and mop up any water or spills quickly. If you’re having issues with carpeting, consider wood flooring. Solid wood flooring can look incredible in any home, and it’s also easy to look after. Try a hardwood spray and a microfibre mop to gently clean and dry wooden floors.
  • Make sure your home has adequate heat insulation.
  • Even the likes of some indoor plants and fishtanks can cause dampness in the surrounding area, so be mindful of their placement.
  • If your home has rising damp, new waterproof barriers or damp-course in the wall may be required, and ensure any vents at the base of the property aren’t unintentionally covered. 
  • Double glazing can help in maintaining temperature and reducing condensation.
  • Keep your home warm and dry, cleaning up any water and damp once they’re noticed such as after a shower.
  • Use a HEPA filter vacuum.
  • Repair any leaks, plumbing problems or roofing issues as soon as they arise. 
  • Consider an air purifier for the spaces you regularly use – check out my review of the Levoit Air Purifier here. You can find it on Amazon US & Amazon UK.

It’s worth checking to see what potential triggers your home is susceptible to, such as poor ventilation or heating, and to check around places that might have mould that you’ve perhaps not yet noticed, like the corners of rooms, ceilings and skirting boards.

While it’s unsightly and common, damp and mould shouldn’t be overlooked because they can have ramifications for our health whether we realise it or not.

Have you had to deal with mould in your home? Do you think it has ever affected your health?

Caz  ♥

[ This is a sponsored post written by myself ]

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Sandee September 30, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Mold is an awful thing to have and tough to get rid of. Great tips.

Have a fabulous day, Caz. Big hug. ♥

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 9:51 am

It’s definitely not the easiest thing to get rid of, is it? Prevention is better than cure where possible. Thanks for the comment lovely – have a great weekend ahead! xx

B September 30, 2020 - 4:27 pm

We trusted a professional would do it best and he told us, Oh but you cook and you have plants here (2 plants, 2 cacti) and there are too many of you, you breathe (my parents were here). Swear to god.

Marilyn September 30, 2020 - 5:43 pm

Oh boy, B – there’s just no answer to that! X

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 9:52 am

See, it’s all that breathing that’s the problem, B! Oh dear, sounds like that professional is in the wrong line of work ???? xx

Despite Pain October 2, 2020 - 2:45 pm

Haha….we were told the same. Don’t know what we were meant to say to that.

Liz September 30, 2020 - 6:47 pm

Bathroom, in a particular corner I have to keep an eye on.
Living room around window that only has part single glazing.
Other older mould I was aware of after first 3 months of living here, those have never come back. But I still keep check. And I have always had my windows open in these areas.

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 3:46 pm

I’m sorry you’ve got issues in your place, which won’t help with breathing. It’s good you’re aware of them though so you can keep an eye on them and do your best with keeping the rooms ventilated. xx

Marilyn September 30, 2020 - 5:51 pm

Hi Caz, feel like I’m just coming out of the woodwork – then it’s back in! Great post. Living in converted Victorian school in Snowdonia we know about damp, and mould. One of our best investments was a dehumidifier. Such a difference. We have another problem – and thankfully I’d stayed with friends in Adelaide where stuff is rife – and that’s salt damp. So if anyone out there has damp patches that form small lumps and bumps that are powdery to the touch – then check it out.
Hope you’re keeping well, and able to keep up appointments, etc.
Love Maz x

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 9:57 am

Sounds like you’ve definitely had more than your fair share of damp and mould to contend wit there. I think older properties are often going to be more liable to the stuff. We moved into a 1930s home and I’ve found it to be a problem here, which it wasn’t particularly in the new build we used to live in. Salt damp is a good one to raise, I think that’s what’s also referred to as rising damp, particularly affecting brick and mortar and stone. That could potentially do a lot of damage to a property and be very costly to sort out I imagine. Thank you very much for sharing this, Maz. I hope you have a restful weekend ahead ???? xx

Christy B September 30, 2020 - 6:17 pm

Oh gosh this is very insightful! We are looking at homes as we’re hoping to move soon and one of my fears is that we will find mould in the future place. We will make sure we get a good home inspection to prevent that worry from becoming a reality!

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 3:38 pm

We were looking to move too until the pandemic hit, so I hope you can make it happen, Christy. Mould and the potential for damp issues is definitely worth having in mind when house-hunting, and those inspections, while pricey, could save a lot of headaches further down the line! xx

johnrieber September 30, 2020 - 6:42 pm

Terrific report!

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 3:41 pm

Thank you kindly, John! x

InspiresN September 30, 2020 - 7:29 pm

Good post Caz, yes any kind of humidity is a growth place for molds .Thanks for highlighting the health issues and how to get rid and prevent them.

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 4:49 pm

It’s definitely worth being aware of damp and mould. Thanks, Nisha ???? Hope you’re having a lovely week so far.xx

Darnell Cureton September 30, 2020 - 7:31 pm

Good tips Caz. I don’t want another spray bottle on the shelf to tackle mould. I like the old approach, clean, clean, clean. I’ll use what I already have to battle Covid-19 with.

InvisiblyMe October 2, 2020 - 5:07 pm

Whatever works, Darnell! I prefer the approach of prevention too with regular cleaning and ventilation where possible, and definitely lots of cleaning on top of the usual because of Covid.xx

Ann Coleman October 2, 2020 - 1:25 am

Thanks, Caz! Excellent advice. I’m allergic to mold, so I have to be very careful to make sure there is never any in my house. I’ve actually had to switch hotel rooms if I can smell even a tiny bit of it, because if I don’t, I’ll end up with a sore throat, stuffy nose and pounding headache before the day is over.

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 10:35 am

I’m sorry you have such a swift & awful respond to mould, Ann. It’s a good job you can usually detect it so that you can do something about it, like you say with swapping rooms if you’re staying away from home. It’s potentially very dangerous stuff, and it’s a worry to think we could be exposed to small amounts but on a daily basis in our own homes. For someone like you that would be pretty extreme. Thank you for sharing your experience.xx

Rosie October 2, 2020 - 7:50 am

You’re spot on about needing to prevent, rather than ‘cure’, mould, Caz. Can be easier said than done when renting, in my experience at least! We had a few damp problems in our last place – the rotten window frame in our bedroom was probably the worst (it once sprouted a mushroom!). Our landlord was aware of the issue and looking into double-glazing but that didn’t materialise in the three years we lived there, so all we could do was air the room and keep on top of the mould. We find a moisture trap in the bathroom (there are various brands out there, we’ve used Kilrock and Kontrol Krystals) helps reduce damp/mould growth. Very glad we’ve since moved to a newer flat with none of the ventilation/damp issues our old place had!

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 10:38 am

An excellent point about the difficulties when renting, and I’m sorry you’ve had such problems with it where you’ve lived too. Sadly too many landlords seem lacklustre in the efforts to make places safe, healthy and habitable for their tenants, who are paying more than enough to cover what needs to be done. Moisture traps are a good idea, too, especially in a situation like that where bigger changes by yourself aren’t possible. Shame on that old landlord. I’m glad you’re in a better flat now without those issues! xx

Yvette October 2, 2020 - 2:43 pm

This is a fantastic post. Thanks for educating us today Caz xx

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 10:39 am

I’m glad you liked the post – thanks, Yvette! x

Holly October 2, 2020 - 3:14 pm

Caz, I am so glad you wrote about this topic! Not to mention, you covered it brilliantly, because you always do! Mold and dampness are very very serious. Most people don’t realize just how accumulative the effects on their health can be over time. You might hear things like, “I don’t know, I just developed these allergies that drive me crazy!” Our bodies do everything they can to rid themselves of toxic overloads, but when we don’t realize what’s causing the problem, it just keeps getting worse.

Due to moving a ridiculous amount in my lifetime, I’ve lived in quite a few moldy environments. Each time, I was much more prone to depression, anxiety, and sinus issues. As you rightly said, mold exposure is especially troublesome for folks with compromised immune systems.

I loved your entire section under, “Preventing Damp & Mold.” Every single one of these are actionable tips for any home owner or renter to consider today. Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are also effective mold spore cleaners, by the way.

You’ve done it again, my friend. You’ve shared a post that brings awareness and actually gives the right kind of information to help solve the problem. You’re the best! ❤

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 11:41 am

I’m so glad you liked the post – damp and mould really can be very serious, and it’s a worry that we might be exposed to even small amounts on a constant basis in our own homes. Often we don’t realise or link allergy-type symptoms to mould, like you say. I’m sorry you’ve experienced a lot of mouldy environments and know all too well the dangers of them. Great tip on the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar – is that white vinegar? Having a solution like that to hand would be very helpful. Thank you so much for another amazing comment my friend! ????

Holly October 7, 2020 - 8:26 pm

It is white vinegar. 🙂 It’s best not to dilute it because having it full strength is needed on mold. You spray full-strength white vinegar, let it sit for an hour or two and then wipe it down with a soapy cloth or just a towel soaked in plain water.

Despite Pain October 2, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Each house I’ve lived in since being married has had dampness somewhere. Good ventilation is important, but in old houses, it’s often hard to get rid of. We’ve also been told it’s because we breathe lol. Ok…so do we stop breathing? I go through a lot of vinegar to clean spores. It really helps.

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 11:42 am

It’s all that breathing that’s the problem! Maybe we need hazmat suits with tubes going out the window so our carbon dioxide can be ventilated outside. Since we moved to a 1930s house, I’ve found damp and mould and the way in which it’s so difficult to do anything about. Ventilation doesn’t seem to help and it’s a case of trying what you can to stop it getting worse and to tamp down what’s already there. Good call on the vinegar – is it white vinegar you use? Thank you for sharing this, Liz. xx

Despite Pain October 4, 2020 - 3:57 pm

Yes, just white vinegar, Caz. I was repeatedly getting mould right behind our bed and nothing stopped it until I used vinegar. It’s not been a problem for a few years now. I’ll warn you though, that the house did smell like a fish and chip shop for a while!

InvisiblyMe October 4, 2020 - 4:37 pm

And now my room will smell like a chippy, too! Thanks for the tip. I hope it stays problem-free in your bedroom for the foreseeable future. xx

Terri, Reclaiming Hope October 2, 2020 - 6:07 pm

Another fabulous article Caz! Once mold ever takes hold, it’s hard to get rid of it for sure. We had a dehumidifier installed in our basement because whenever we went down there it had that “basement smell.” It helped immensely, but we still have a problem from time to time when it rains a lot. That Levoit filter you talked about above works fabulously! Whenever I’ve cooked something that “stinks up” the house, I turn that baby on and it gets things cleared up right away…. Thanks for sharing some great tips to take care of any damp and/or mold problems!

InvisiblyMe October 3, 2020 - 11:44 am

I’ve been thinking about getting a dehumidifier for my bedroom but in truth we probably need one in a lot of the rooms here; it’s a 1930s house and older properties can be tricky with damp and mould issues. You’re right in how getting rid of it is difficult, and prevention is better than cure where possible. I’m glad you find the Levoit purifier to be so good – it really can be fantastic in clearing the air! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terri xx

James Viscosi October 3, 2020 - 10:21 pm

Is “run away screaming” an appropriate way to deal with mold? Asking for a friend …

InvisiblyMe October 6, 2020 - 3:35 pm

This friend would already have run away so I’d say yeah, it’s a decent way to deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind ????

forresting365 October 6, 2020 - 2:44 pm

Good post, Caz. We live in MUCH humidity and ack. Mold is a BAD thing!!! ????!!!

InvisiblyMe October 6, 2020 - 3:36 pm

Humidity can be a bugger to deal with. Mould is definitely yuck and it’s a bit worrying to think it could be brewing in corners where we don’t even realise it (which happened in my room!) Thanks for the comment lovely xx

Ami October 10, 2020 - 5:50 pm

Thank you for sharing this Caz. Its making me wonder if a previous home has caused any of my conditions. The place was absolutely riddled with black mould, in every room. The landlord never done anything about it. We lived there for 4 years, I wasn’t at the age that I could get my own place. That long of exposure… its making me wonder. ????

InvisiblyMe February 6, 2021 - 4:02 pm

I’m sorry you had to put up with those sorts of conditions, Ami. It seems shockingly common that landlords let this stuff slide. Black mould is nasty stuff even in small doses, let alone in all the rooms on an ongoing basis for a number of years. I imagine in future that mould or the potential for mould is a big thing you’d be looking out for when moving! x

Rockdomenico February 6, 2021 - 3:54 pm

This post is really helpful. Thank you for sharing.

InvisiblyMe February 6, 2021 - 4:06 pm

I’m glad you found it useful – thanks for reading & commenting!


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