Why Mould Must Be Controlled

On average, New Zealanders spend 16 hours a day at home – and even more when they are aged under seven and over 64. This startling statistic was actually released before the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores in 2020, so it is now very reasonable to assume that Kiwis now spend even more time at home and, consequently, even more time inside.

Being housebound to such an extent prolongs exposure to mould, particularly in damp houses, and increases the health risks associated with this fungus. The most notorious is Stachybotrys chartarum​, better known to us as “black mould”. It has the ability to grow on water-damaged building materials and produces toxic and potentially lethal spores. In 1994, it was linked to a severe respiratory illness after 10 children experienced bleeding from the lung, and tragically, one of those children subsequently died.

Mould thrives in damp and poorly ventilated buildings. Unfortunately, those conditions are common in far too many homes throughout New Zealand. The inhalation of mould fragments or spores can inflame the airways, cause nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation. In a broader sense, extended exposure to high levels of indoor dampness may reduce lung function, and cause chronic health problems such as asthma. People already suffering from asthma and allergies are much more likely to experience severe symptoms when exposed to mould. It should come as no great surprise that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of respiratory issues anywhere in the Western world, and inferior living conditions are often responsible.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that many of the world’s 300 million cases of childhood asthma can be put down to ongoing exposure to indoor dampness and mould. On top of this, people living in mouldy and damp homes are at increased risk of depression, and this can lead to an even greater chance of experiencing asthma and other respiratory symptoms. In those cases, it becomes a vicious cycle.

The WHO suggests that 15% of dwellings in cold climates show signs of dampness and 5% have signs of mould problems. In warmer climates, the estimates leap up to 20% for dampness and 25% for mould – and those latter figures better reflect what is happening in New Zealand homes right now.

Dampness is more prevalent in overcrowded houses without sufficient heating and ventilation, and with dampness comes mould. By controlling one, you can go a long way to controlling the other, as this New Zealand supplier of heat pumps and home ventilation systems knows only too well. And in this lockdown era, when mould control in NZ is more important than ever before, their products are inching ever closer to “must have” items in damp and mouldy Kiwi homes.

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