Mould growth is a common occurrence in Australian homes. Often growing in the darkest, dampest places out of sight and out of mind. That is until you find yourself noticing an off smell, or noticing mould exposure symptoms such as headaches, rashes and eye, nose and throat irritations.  

If left untreated, living in a property with mould can pose some serious health risks, especially for those with asthma and pre-existing health conditions. Let’s examine the health effects of mould exposure, how to determine if you have a mould problem and when to call in a professional.

Can Mould Negatively Impact Your Health?

In short, yes. Exposure to mould and mould spores can affect your health to varying degrees. In small amounts, mould spores are typically harmless, however when they start to grow, this is no longer the case. When mould grows on a surface, spores can be released into the air, allowing them to easily be inhaled.  

Mould can be found in various areas of the home and property, and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Exposure to mould in your home can lead to symptoms such as:  

  • Headaches 
  • Coughing 
  • Rashes 
  • Dizziness 
  • Eye irritations 

You are also putting yourself at risk of more serious health complications from long-term mould exposure if you fall into one of the categories outlined below.

Who is Most at Risk of Mould?

Sensitivity to mould depends on the person’s immune system, and duration of the exposure. Some individuals who may be at a heightened risk of mould exposure include: 

  • Children: Various studies have suggested that there is a relationship between living in a mould affected environment and adverse respiratory symptoms in children. Additionally, if your child has asthma, inhaling mould spores can trigger attacks and worsen the condition. 
  • The Elderly: For the elderly, who have weaker lungs and vulnerable immune systems, exposure to mould can be even more dangerous. Exposure to mould can significantly heighten the elderly’s susceptibility to respiratory issues.
  • People With Asthma: Mould can trigger a range of respiratory issues including asthma. Mould produces millions of spores that can easily be inhaled. When inhaled, these spores can significantly increase the risk of an asthma flare up.
  • Immunocompromised: For those with weaker immune systems or respiratory problems, mould exposure can present the risk of more serious health conditions. These include internal infections, allergy symptoms and in some cases can be fatal, like Ulocladium (a strain of brown mould). 

Mould Exposure – What Is It?

Mould can turn harmful in the case of overexposure if left untreated or ingested. Mould spores may be breathed in or absorbed through the skin. It can also grow on food and can be dangerous if eaten. Some of the signs and symptoms of mould exposure include: 

  • Runny nose and congestion 
  • Irritated eyes 
  • Sneezing 
  • Coughing 

What Is Mould Poisoning?

Mould poisoning is a condition that can result from prolonged exposure to mould and mould spores. Mould reproduces by expelling tiny particles called spores into the air, when inhaled, can lead to various health problems like mould poisoning.  

Mould Poisoning Symptoms

While symptoms of mould poisoning will vary from person to person, common symptoms include:  

  • Brain fog 
  • Constant fatigue 
  • Asthma 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Hormonal changes. 

In rare cases, some people may develop a severe mould infection, usually in the lungs.   

How to Test for Mould Poisoning

If you feel as though you may be suffering from mould poisoning, a test you can do is to leave your home for a period of time and stay elsewhere. Monitor for changes in your health once in a new environment.  

Neurological Symptoms of Mould Exposure

Mould illness is often an unsuspected trigger for various neurological health problems. A 2020 study found that people affected by mould illnesses experienced the following neurological symptoms: 

  • Brain inflammation 
  • Decreased neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells 
  • Impaired memory 
  • Increased sensitivity to pain 
  • Increased anxiety 

Can Mould Cause Allergies?

Yes, a mould allergy can cause your immune system to react when you inhale mould spores. A mould allergy can cause the same symptoms common in other types of respiratory allergies. Including:  

  • Sneezing 
  • Runny or blocked nose 
  • Cough 
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Dry, scaly skin.

In some people, a mould allergy can be exacerbated by asthma, resulting in restricted breathing and airway issues.  

How Do You Know If You Have Mould Poisoning?

The symptoms and signs of mycotoxin poisoning can vary depending on many factors and can include changes in immune, nervous system, behaviour, mood and more.  

Learn More: What are the symptoms of black mould poisoning? 

Black Mould – How Dangerous Is It?

Some strains of mould are considered to be more dangerous than others. Black Mould (or toxic black mould) is regarded as one of the more dangerous mould types found in properties. It is known to cause respiratory discomfort and other serious health problems.

How Common Is Black Mould? 

Black Mould is common, especially in areas like bathrooms and kitchens due to their high levels of moisture and humidity. Without adequate ventilation, black mould can grow due to a build-up of moisture.  

Where Can You Find Black Mould?

Black mould thrives in warm, damp environments or areas that have been subjected to water damage. As its spores can travel airborne, black mould can easily spread and grow around the house and property.

Health Effects of Black Mould

Black mould poisoning is a result of overexposure to mould or a result of inhaling the mycotoxin spores. Some people may experience mild or no symptoms, whereas it can be dangerous for those with underlying health conditions. For those sensitive to mould, black mould poisoning symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, respiratory complications and asthma.

Black Mould Exposure Symptoms

Toxic black mould can release spores that linger and travel through the air around the home. Common symptoms of inhaling black mould spores may include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing 
  • Dizziness and fever. 

In more severe cases, black mould inhalation can also lead to vomiting, nausea and respiratory complications. 

How and Where Can Mould Grow in the Home?

If moisture accumulates, mould growth will often occur in indoor areas that lack sufficient ventilation. Common areas mould can be found around the home include: 

Ceiling: Ceilings provide the perfect conditions for mould due to their lack of ventilation and potential exposure to leaking roofs.  

Bathroom: Mould in bathrooms is common due to high levels of condensation and moisture. It’s usually found on tiles in the shower, around the bath and even the shower curtain.  

Kitchen: Mould can grow in kitchens as a result of condensation build up from cooking and washing dishes. It is typically found around the sink, on appliances, surface areas, windowsills and behind cupboards.  

Carpet: Carpets typically trap dust and moisture, making them the ideal place for mould to grow, especially in areas with a lack of ventilation. 

Fabric: Fabrics naturally absorb moisture from the surrounding environment, making them the ideal environment for black mould to grow and spread.  

How Do I Know If Mould Is Growing in My Home?

Some of the main warning signs to look out for if you think you have a mould problem include: 

  • Mould Odour: Most mould types produce a smell that often comes in the form of a persistent musty odour.  
  • Visible Signs: Some moulds will appear in white and thread like while others appear in clusters of small black spots. Mould can be grey-brown, black, grey-green or white. Read more about mould types in Australian homes. 
  • Signs of water damage: If your home has water stains, discoloration on walls, floors or ceilings or bubbling, cracking or peeling paint, you’re likely dealing with a mould problem.  
  • Water leaks: If you know of a leak, it’s important to get it repaired quickly as areas where condensation forms can be ideal breeding grounds for mould.  
  • Flooding: If your home has experienced any form of flooding, it’s very likely that you will have some form of mould growth as a result.  

Removing Mould from Your Home – What Are Your Options?

When you discover mould growing in your home, you’ll want to get rid of it as quickly as you can. There are many DIY treatments for mould removal, however they are only a temporary fix and can be dangerous to attempt yourself. Seeking out expert mould removal services like those offered by MouldMen will provide a long-term solution for prevention of mould.  

Home DIY Treatments

There are several species of mould that will require a professional mould removal specialist, especially in the case of brown, yellow, and toxic black mould. For small mildew and mould patches and spot removal, there a few ways you can remove it from the surface yourself: 

  • Bleach: Mix a 1:10 ratio of bleach and water and scrub onto the mould for removal or mix in a small amount of colour-safe bleach to your washing machine to thoroughly wash clothing, curtains and fabrics.
  • Vinegar: Mix a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar into a spray bottle, shake well, spray onto the mould and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing it clean. 
  • Baking Soda: In a 250ml measuring cup, mix 125ml baking soda with 62ml white vinegar and 62ml water (2:1:1 ratio) to make a thick paste. Spread the paste onto the mould affected area and allow to dry. Scrub off any mould or stains and wipe down with a wet cloth to remove tough or stubborn mould growth. 

If you find mould in your home or property, it is important to wear protective masks and gloves if you attempt to remove it yourself. If the mould you find is larger than the palm of your hand, do not attempt removal as this can aggravate the spores and cause it to spread. If you believe you have a mould problem, it is recommended to seek out the services of a professional mould removal specialist.

How much does mould removal cost?

Mould removal treatments can cost anywhere from $500 to a few thousand dollars depending on several factors. The long-term benefits of professional mould removal far outweigh the possible health risks of prolonged mould exposure.  

Read more: How much does mould removal cost?  

Book A Free Mould Inspection Today

With thousands of strains in existence, mould can pose a risk to your health if left untreated. If you want to learn more about mould that could be growing in your home and are searching for a long-term solution, be sure to get into contact with a professional team.  

The MouldMen team will inspect, treat, and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan to ensure that your property is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 or click on the link below to book your free inspection today. 

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