Mould allergy is uncommon and the correlation between house mould and allergy has not been sufficiently proven. What you can say with certainty is that some types of mould are more harmful than others, and how we are affected varies greatly from individual to individual. People affected by mould allergy often also suffer from other types of allergies, for example, allergies to dogs, cats or pollen. Mould may be extra problematic for people with asthma whose symptoms may be worsened if they spend time in mould-infested spaces.
A person suffering from mould allergy is hypersensitive to the spores and mycotoxins that the mould is giving off. Since the spores are airborne, we inhale them, which leads to problems in the airways. Many of the symptoms caused by mould allergy are also common in other allergies, and may be difficult to connect specifically to your indoor environment.
Common mould allergy symptoms:
The symptoms may vary in severity, from a slight runny nose to serious breathing difficulties that requires treatment by a doctor.
Mould is a fungus giving off spores and so called mycotoxins. Because they are so small it is possible for them to pass through many materials and in that way spread around the whole house. If mould is visible to the naked eye there is a great risk that it contains mycotoxins. Small amounts of mould toxins may be enough to endanger your health. In many cases, mould, dampness and other bacteria appear in the house at the same time and it may be hard to know which organisms are causing the problems.
Different types of mould affect us in different ways. Black mould refers to a large number of fungal species, or harmful kinds of mould appearing as little black dots. This type of mould favours wet rooms, but also appears in carpets or on walls if the air humidity is high, or if the house has damp damages. Black mould contains large amounts of mycotoxins and is harmful to people.
If you can smell mould in your house and suspect that there may be dampness and/or mould there, it is important to find out where the smell is coming from and to solve the problem. Small mould damage may be washed away using washing liquid and water, whereas greater damages are best taken care of by professionals. Preferably, you should replace the infested parts of the house with new material, since spores and environmental toxins will not disappear in other ways.
If your mould allergy is severe, it is best for you to stay away from the infested area for a while. However, if your problems are mild it is most often alright to move into the house fairly soon after the clearing. People allergic to mould should avoid mould as much as they can, but when it is not possible, mould allergy is treated just like other types of allergies. If mould is triggering asthma symptoms it should be examined by a doctor who can prescribe special asthma medicines, which are often taken via an inhaler.
UK/GEN/15/0057b Date of preparation: December 2015