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What Does the World Health Organisation Say About Living in a Mouldy Building?

Updated on
February 13, 2024

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The Health Implications of Mould in Buildings: A Comprehensive Analysis

Introduction to Mould-Related Health Risks

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has presented unequivocal epidemiological evidence indicating that inhabitants of mould-contaminated buildings, encompassing both residential and public structures, face a heightened risk of respiratory symptoms, infections, and the aggravation of asthma conditions. Their evidence also points to a probable increase in allergic rhinitis and asthma incidents for those exposed to mould. The WHO has identified clinical correlations between exposure to mould and other dampness-related microbial agents, and the onset of rare conditions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, and allergic fungal sinusitis. Supporting this, toxicological data from in vivo and in vitro studies corroborate these claims, revealing a range of inflammatory and toxic reactions subsequent to exposure to microorganisms endemic to damp buildings. This includes reactions to their spores, metabolites, and structural components. Essentially, there's a higher chance of lower severity illnesses and flare-ups and a lower chance of higher severity illness, but both chances increase as exposure time and the severity of the problem increase.

Mould, Dampness, and Respiratory Health

The WHO asserts that there is substantial evidence linking indoor dampness-related factors to a wide array of respiratory health issues. These include the development and exacerbation of asthma, ongoing asthma symptoms, respiratory infections, upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, wheeze, and dyspnoea. However, the evidence remains insufficient in establishing associations with other health effects, such as altered lung function, allergy or atopy, and lifelong asthma. Allergic individuals exhibit heightened susceptibility to biological and chemical agents in damp indoor environments, adverse health effects have also been documented in populations with little to no known allergies. In summary, the WHO states that there's adequate evidence to affirm that occupants of damp or mouldy buildings are at an increased risk of various respiratory conditions. Furthermore, there exists clinical evidence linking exposure to mould and other dampness-related microbial agents to rare conditions.

The Potential Risks of Mould Spores and Byproducts

The WHO acknowledges the potential toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic effects of certain mould spores, mycotoxins, microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs), and glucans present in damp buildings. These microbial agents can elicit diverse inflammatory and toxic responses, including DNA damage, genotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. For instance, pure microbial toxins from bacteria and fungi have demonstrated neurotoxic and genotoxic properties in both in vitro and in vivo studies.

Synergistic Effects of Microbial Agents in Damp Buildings

The immunostimulatory properties of fungal and bacterial strains common in moisture-damaged buildings can amplify when combined, leading to increased cytotoxic or inflammatory effects. The intricate interactions among microbial agents in damp environments can provoke unexpected responses, complicating the attribution of specific exposures to the causation of health effects associated with damp buildings.

Understanding the Health Risks of Mould Exposure

Individuals residing or working in mould-infested environments should be cognizant of the potential health risks associated with mould and its toxic byproducts. Key aspects include:

- Respiratory Symptoms and Infections: Mould exposure in indoor environments can escalate the risk of respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, and contribute to respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.

- Asthma Exacerbation: Mould exposure can provoke or intensify asthma symptoms, leading to exacerbations, particularly in individuals with asthma.

- Allergic Reactions: Mould can act as an allergen, triggering allergic reactions including allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic sensitization to specific mould species can result in continuous allergic symptoms.

- Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis: Certain mould species, especially in occupational settings, can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an inflammatory lung disease characterized by flu-like symptoms, cough, breathlessness, and lung inflammation.

- Immunological Effects: Mould and its byproducts can disturb the immune system, potentially leading to immune dysregulation, impacting the body's defense against infections, and possibly contributing to autoimmune diseases.

- Other Health Effects: Discussions persist regarding potential links between mould exposure and health effects like reproductive issues, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and rheumatic diseases, though conclusive associations require more research.

The severity of health effects varies based on individual susceptibility, extent of mould exposure, and the specific mould species present. Individuals concerned about health impacts from mould exposure are advised to consult healthcare professionals and address any underlying mould issues in their environments.

Don't Risk Dealing With It Yourself. Get The Mould Remediation Specialists In.

At Pure Maintenance, we're health-first mould removal specialists. That means we treat mould like the biohazard it is. We don't just come in and paint over it, and insodoing, aggravate it to the point your living environment becomes even more toxic and you, even more sick. Our patented dry fog technology fills the entire volume of a room, through positive air pressure, until our sterilant is touching every surface, whilst remaining suspended in the air. This means we're eradicating surface, hidden and airborne mould. Our antimicrobial film is then applied to all surfaces making your home inhospitable to mould going forward.