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Mould SensitivityDon’t Monkey About With Mould

One in three New Zealand homes has a mould problem, which can cause serious health issues in sensitive individuals. Caroline Wood looks at the best ways to prevent mould in the home.

Mould is a type of fungus, which can look like green, grey, brown, black, white or red growth or stains on walls, ceilings, window frames and other surfaces. mould releases thousands of tiny invisible spores into the air, which are breathed in causing asthma and allergies in some people.

Doctors don’t know how many people have a mould allergy in new Zealand as many may be going undiagnosed. Symptoms are similar to hay fever, such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, postnasal drip, and itchy watery eyes. mould can also trigger dangerous asthma attacks.

Mould needs moisture to live. If you have a serious mould problem, check for a water leak fist as that may be the cause. otherwise condensation – dampness on walls, windows, ceilings and floors – is the most common cause of excess moisture and mould. Condensation is caused when warm wet air touches cold surfaces, causing water to form.

There is a lot you can do to prevent mould. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when thinking about reducing moisture (and mould) in your home.

1 Ventilation: do you open windows and doors for at least one to two hours a day to increase air circulation - even in the middle of winter? Keep beds and furniture pulled slightly away from walls (especially external walls) so air can circulate. leave wardrobes slightly open for ventilation.

2 Condensation: do you have moisture on windows and other surfaces fist thing in the morning? It’s important to wipe off the condensation as soon as you can. reduce the source of the condensation, for example, open a window in the bathroom when showering and install an extractor fan if you don’t have one.

3 Heating: are you using an unflued as fie? They create a lot of moisture in the house. use a dry source of heat such as a heat pump, electric heater or woodburner. The World Health organisation recommends homes are kept at a minimum of 18˚C for good health. open curtains early in the morning and close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat in.

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Issue: Autumn 2014