WHAT IS MOULD?
Mould is a microorganism that produces thousands of tiny particles called spores as part of their reproductive cycle. Mould colonies are usually visible as colorful, woolly growths. They are virtually any colour –red, blue, brown, green, white or black. When disturbed by air movement or handling, mould release spores into the air. Given the right environmental conditions, these spores can go on to form other mould colonies.
WHERE IS MOULD FOUND?
Mould can be found almost anywhere indoors and outdoors. Indoor mould usually originates from outside source, such as soil and vegetation. Mould most commonly grows in dark, moist environments, and can grow at room temperature. It can grow on various construction materials, including wallpaper, particleboard, ceiling tiles, drywall and plywood.
You may be exposed to toxic spores in houses and buildings with of water damage from flooding, plumbing leaks, or leaks in the building structure.
WHY IS MOULD A CONCERN?
In buildings with water damage or ongoing moisture problems, certain types of “water-loving” mould may reproduce to higher than normal levels, which potentially cause adverse health effects. Stachybotryschartarum is of particular concern because it can be found in large colonies and can cause adverse health effects.
Stachybotrys has gained special attention from regulators, because it has been discovered in portable classrooms with ongoing moisture problems. It appears as small black patches, and grows on water-soaked cellulose material such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, drywall, and insulation containing paper.
In addition to Stachybotrys, construction personnel working in water-damaged buildings may be exposed to other types of toxic moulds such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Pencillium.
WHAT HEALTH EFFECTS CAN MOULD CAUSE?
Air movement and the handling of contaminated material can release toxic spores into the atmosphere. These spores cause adverse health effects by producing toxic substances known as mucotoxins. Once released, toxic spores must come into contact with the skin or be inhaled before symptoms can develop. Not everyone exposed will develop symptoms.
Exposure to toxic moulds may irritate skin, eyes, nose, and throat, resulting in allergy-like symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, runny nose and watery eyes.
Other symptoms such as fatigue and headache have also been reported.
Anyone allergic to moulds could experience asthmatic attacks.
Anyone exposed to Stachybotrys have also experienced burning in the nose, nose bleeds, severe coughing, and impairment of the immune system sub point. Stachybotrys does not cause infection and is not spread from person to person.
People with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to mould-related illness, and should not work in mould-contaminated areas.