It’s official: a damp house can put your health at risk according to scientists at the National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester. A damp environment, especially in winter where ventilation is typically at a minimum, have been shown to be the perfect breeding ground for moulds and funguses.
While these moulds rarely offer a danger to adults, in those with a compromised immune system the story can be rather different. Individuals suffering from a range of medical disorders including athsma and tuberculosis that either affect the lungs or the immune system can result is rather more serious side effects. Children and the elderly may also be at a greater risk of illness in damp homes.
In damp homes where mould grows and reproduces the spores, when inhaled, can lead to unpleasant flu-like symptoms including red, sore eyes, a runny nose and a painful hacking cough. If you’ve had a “cold” that seems to have gone on far too long there is a risk that you could actually be misdiagnosing the problem which is in reality caused by the damp in your home. Damp can also cause skin conditions and eczema-like symptoms in some people.
Common signs of a damp home include patches of black mould growing on walls and ceilings, damp circles on your walls and condensation on windows or walls. Mould also has an unpleasant habit of hiding away from view; it is commonly experienced behind furniture for example, where the stagnant, stale air provides an ideal breeding ground.
The way in which mould can hide away can create additional problems. Many sufferers of damp-related health problems aren’t even aware of the mould problem in their home as it is hidden away from view. However the other signs of damp mentioned should indicate that there is a fair chance of mould occurring somewhere in your home.
A range of different activities can raise the humidity levels in your home leading to problem with damp. Cooking with uncovered pans is a great example, as is taking hot steamy showers and baths with the bathroom door open.
However one of the biggest causes of dampness in the home is the oddly British tradition of drying damp laundry indoors. The scientists responsible for the report are keen to point out that a damp load of washing may contain 2 litres of water. Allowing this washing to dry on a drying horse or a radiator will cause most of this water to evaporate into the air.
If this damp air is not rapidly removed from your home – such as through the use of an extractor fan – then this can lead to a high humidity, condensation and mould problems.
The lesson here is clear; don’t take chances with your health. If you have any concerns over the levels of damp in your home you would be well-advised to contact a professional damp surveyor who will be able to advise about reducing the damp levels in your home and, if necessary, remedial work to your property.