Mould is a type of fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors. It reproduces by making tiny particles called spores.

Spores are carried in the air and may impact people who suffer with asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions.

What could happen if I inhale mould spores?

When mould is inhaled, particularly by people who have a sensitivity it may cause an allergic reaction. The airways may constrict, produce more mucus and become red and swollen. This reaction in the airways may cause people to experience chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing.

For people with COPD, mould has the potential to lead into a fungal infection in the lungs due to their increased vulnerability.

How to limit exposure to mould

Although mould can be found almost anywhere, it needs moisture and nutrients to grow. To help reduce the risk of mould in your home there are a few simple steps that you can take.

Maintain good ventilation

Use exhaust fans or open windows, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes to improve cross ventilation.

Control moisture

  • Fix water leaks and plumbing problems
  • Clear and clean overflowing gutters and under-floor vents
  • Dry wet areas as soon as possible
  • Be aware of and monitor other potential sources such as indoor plants, fish tanks, garden mulches and compost heaps

What to do if you have mould in your home?

If you can see or smell mould in your home, getting it removed as soon as possible is important as the longer it grows the more damage it can cause.

When cleaning mould, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn, including waterproof shoes, rubber gloves, overalls, safety goggles and P2 respirator mask.

If you are allergic or sensitive to mould it is recommended that you should not remove or be present during the removal process.

Basic mould clean-up for small jobs

 For less than 1m2 of affected area:

  • close doors and seal air vents where possible to prevent mould spores spreading
  • ensure unprotected people leave the affected area during the clean-up
  • wearing a P2 respirator (mask), gloves and safety glasses, scrub mould off hard surfaces with either:
    • detergent and water; or
    • three parts vinegar with one-part water; or
    • three parts alcohol (e.g. methylated spirits) and one-part water;
    • dry the material completely;
  • absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, can be dried if the water has been present less than 48 hours. If items have been wet for a longer period, they may have to be thrown away if they become mouldy as their structure makes it very difficult to properly clean them
  • wet vacuums, dehumidifiers and fans assist in drying wet carpets and similar absorbent materials
  • for valuable items that have been mould affected, seek specialist advice.

Mould clean-up for medium to large jobs

Medium jobs are where the area affected is 1-10m2 and large jobs are where the area affected is more than 10m2.

For medium to large mould problems, professional advice is recommended. Getting such advice at an early stage can result in the problem being fixed more quickly, provide the tools to find hidden mould, limit further spread of mould, and assist in identifying and resolving the moisture problem.

Additional controls in terms of the containment of the mould and the level of PPE required are likely to be needed for medium to large jobs. Medium to large jobs also require a higher level of consultation with, and provision of, information to stakeholders, including tenants and workers, as building occupants can be quite concerned about the issue and the remediation.

For more advice on mould and dampness in your home or office, please visit Healthy WA.