Common Sources of Mould Exposure in the Home
Moulds are able to grow on almost any surface, especially if the environment is warm and wet. Inner wall materials of buildings, wall paper, fibreglass insulation, ceiling tiles, and drywall (Gyprock) are all good surfaces for fungi to colonise. These moulds release mycotoxins into the environment which may cause symptoms of many different chronic diseases.
Window Sills and Doors
Windows and doors with leaks, not properly sealed, or those prone to condensation can lead to mould growth on the window sills or around doors.
Check for water leaking from plumbing sources in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, etc. If you see mould near water pipes, waste lines, ice-maker lines, or other plumbing fixtures, there is probably a nearby plumbing leak.
Poorly ventilated bathrooms and even just regular use of well-ventilated bathrooms can lead to excess condensation and moisture. This can create an ideal breeding ground for mould on shower and tub walls, in drains, on bathroom walls, in ventilation fans, and on bathroom windows. If you do not have a ventilation fan in a bathroom, but do have a window, it may help to open the window during and after shower and bath use.
Because they are dark, closets can be prime breeding grounds for mould, especially if your home is warm and humid, and/or if you ever put wet or damp clothing or towels in your closet. If you find mould in your closet, wash your clothes and other items immediately.
Fireplaces and Chimneys
Fireplaces and chimneys are ideal for mould because they are often dark, damp, and poorly ventilated. Those not used often are particularly prone to mould growth. Mould can easily grow on bricks in your chimney or fireplace, then spread to other parts of your home.
Your laundry room is an ideal place for mould to develop. Moisture build-up and/or faulty washer and dryer connections can lead to mould growth on walls, pipes, and under leaky appliances. Make sure your clothes dryer has an anti-humidity vent. Humidity can also be reduced with a dehumidifier, an open window, or a good ventilation system with a ceiling vent. Better still, hang clothes outside to dry – sunshine is a natural disinfectant and kills spores.
Basements are dark, tend to be damp, and are often not well ventilated, making the floors and walls (especially if cement) ideal for mould growth. Mould in homes often starts growing in the basement and works its way up to other parts of the home. Basement mould can be difficult to eradicate without first addressing the underlying moisture and ventilation issues allowing the mould to flourish.
Air Conditioning Systems
Mould in AC systems is common and can be quickly spread throughout the home by the forced air in the systems. According to the U.S. EPA, you should routinely inspect your AC systems, not just for mould, but for moisture. Check drain pans to be sure they are draining properly. Look at other components including the ducts and blowers, ensuring they are moisture-free. Keep your filters cleaned out regularly to avoid build-up of debris, which in combination with moisture, can lead to mould growth.
Check your roof for leaks regularly, especially during and after periods of heavy rain or snow. The leaks can cause water damage to your ceilings, and lead to mould growth in your home, especially in attics or crawl spaces. Algae or moss, especially on wood shingles, can eat through the shingles, priming the area for mould growth. Mould stains can also form on roof shingles that are in permanent shade. If left alone, these stains can discolor your roof and damage the shingles over time.
While mould grows best in warm, humid environments, it can tolerate the cold environment of a refrigerator. To assess potential mould growth in your refrigerator, look for mould on your food, dark mildew stains on the compartments of the fridge, and take notice of any foul or musty odors. Be sure to check the refrigerator door seals and the drain pan too, as these are places mould can often grow.
Examine food before you buy it. Foods commonly contaminated by mould include fresh produce, grains, cereals, corn, bread, cheese, spices, coffee beans, nuts, dried fruit, grape juice, and wine. Fresh meat and poultry are usually mould free, but cured and cooked meats may not be. Check your refrigerator regularly for spills or older items, which can create an ideal environment for mould to develop. When you see mould on the surface of foods, it may go much deeper. Heavy mould growth may create root threads that can move into the food, which may be quite toxic. A majority of mycotoxin exposures are through food ingestion or airborne exposure. In the European Union, 20% of all grains harvested have been found to be contaminated with mycotoxins. Unfortunately, mycotoxins are resistant to heat and many processing procedures.
If your home has experienced any water inundation – regardless of how minor – chances are you have a mould problem.
For those living in humid climates – for example tropic or sub-tropical areas – moisture can build up quite easily. Other areas where mould can occur is at higher elevations due to recurring fog or low cloud. Good ventilation and sunshine are helpful but ‘moisture eaters’ are also a good option.
Diseases and symptoms that may be linked to mycotoxin exposure include:
- pneumonia-like symptoms,
- heart disease,
- rheumatic disease,
- memory loss,
- vision loss,
- chronic fatigue,
- skin rashes,
- anxiety, and
- liver damage.
So how do you know if mycotoxins are making you sick?
Functional pathology testing can identify certain mycotoxins in your body. These tests are available at True Medicine.
Call True Medicine on 07 5530 1863 today and arrange a health assessment.