There’s no doubt that mould can be a problematic, even dangerous, nuisance in the home. If left unchecked, it can actually destroy your home’s value. The best way to can combat mold is to focus on prevention. The less opportunity you give mould to flourish, the less stress and worry you’ll have to deal with later on.

Common mould (non-toxic)

Moisture, is necessary for mould spores to grow, and removing the excess moisture and its source will usually eliminate the risk of further mould formation. The black mould that you may see growing on grouting and walls of showers and bathtubs is unlikely to be dangerous. The most common mould is Cladosporium. Although it can be an irritant to those with asthma or respiratory disease, it is not known to pose any toxic hazard. The most effective way to prevent it is by providing adequate ventilation. Vent fans should be installed in all areas where dampness can occur.

Who should do the clean-up depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mould problem, and after you have reassured yourself with a negative test from PrimeTech in most cases, you can handle the job yourself. Avoid exposing yourself or others to mould and fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely. No safe levels of indoor dampness and or mould have been defined.

Not all people who have been exposed to mould will experience a health problem. Health problems depend on the amount of mould, and the susceptibility of the individual. The young, old, and those with weakened immune systems are typically the most at risk.

Small amounts of mould are common in most houses in New Zealand and usually don’t cause any health concerns. However, when mould is left to grow in large quantities it can cause serious health problems. This is because mould releases thousands of very tiny or invisible spores (like tiny seeds) into the air. These spores can cause serious health issues when breathed in, especially for elderly people and infants, people with weak immune systems or people suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems. Some mould produce highly poisonous spores which can be life threatening when breathed in, even in small amounts.

The most important thing is to reduce moisture in your house. This will help stop mould growing. There are lots of ways you can reduce moisture: Reduce condensation ,Wipe condensation that occurs off windows and walls. Don’t leave damp towels on the window sill to dry. Open a few windows slightly throughout the house for 1-2 hours a day when you’re home so air can circulate. On sunny days, open windows and doors for longer to let in plenty of fresh air. When showering, open a window in the bathroom a little or use an extractor fan. While someone is home, leave the window open for a while after your shower to let steam and condensation clear. Un-flued portable gas heaters (gas heaters expel water as the gas burns ) create a lot of moisture in the house. Always open windows slightly when using them, or use a dry source of heat such as an electric heater or wood burner.

Other things you can do to prevent mould and damp are:

  • Keep lids on pots when cooking
  • Wipe condensation off walls and windows

Dampness definitely does promote mould in our homes. While dehumidifiers and ventilation systems can help lessen the likelihood of mould, they don’t always tackle the cause itself. In many cases. On average, the households produce around 8 litres of moisture in the home each day from a range of activities such as showering, breathing, and cooking. Dampness can also be caused by moisture getting into your house from outside, underneath or through leaky plumbing. These sources of moisture are often hidden and can go undetected for a long time, causing damage to your home, including the growth of mould.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is very likely you have mould:

  • Look Around. Are there any water spots in your ceiling? Are any of your walls discolored or yellow from old leaks? Is there any paint that’s cracked or peeling? All of these signs could point to mold lurking behind the gib board.
  • Are there any water spots in your ceiling? Are any of your walls discolored or yellow from old leaks? Is there any paint that’s cracked or peeling? All of these signs could point to mold lurking behind the gib board.
  • Check for Smells Do any areas in your home smell musty or like mildew? Sometimes a strange odor will be the only sign you get hinting at a mold problem.
  • Take Note of Leaks Have you had any flooding or leaks lately? Mold often shows up after these little disasters, so this can be a big clue.
  • Check the Gutters Are your gutters blocked? Blocked gutters can cause water to back up and leak into the side of your home or into the basement.
  • Visible ‘furry’ texture on surfaces of varying dark green/blue or black colour.
  • Persistent physical symptoms (sneezing, runny noses, red eyes and skin rashes) that seem to lessen when the sufferer is not at home.

The symptoms and health effects of black mould exposure and black mould poisoning cover a wide range of health problems. Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly known as black mould, can release spores as it feeds on organic materials. This occurs in common household materials like gib, carpet, insulation or sub-flooring that have been exposed to moisture. If these spores are ingested or inhaled it can cause a range of symptoms that cause irritation and even more hazardous symptoms. The most common black mould symptoms and health effects are linked to a respiratory response. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue and persistent headaches can all be symptoms of black mould exposure. In worst case scenarios of extended exposure to black mould, the symptoms can become even more dangerous. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and bleeding in the lungs and nose. If you notice these symptoms, take immediate action to protect your health and your home.

Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mould. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gib board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, conden-sation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary. All moulds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.

What is mould? Mould is a type of fungus that grows in damp areas inside and outside the home. It usually appears as green, grey, brown, black, white or red growth or stains on walls, ceilings and other surfaces. It appears in speckled patches or streaks that become larger as it grows. Another name for mould is mildew. Mould needs moisture to live – it grows when there is dampness in or on a surface (such as walls, ceilings, floors, curtains or furniture) for a prolonged period of time. If there is a lot of mould in a house, it means there is too much moisture in the air, or there may be a water leak or splashes that have not been dried. However, the most common cause of excess moisture is condensation. Condensation is dampness on walls, ceilings, floors, windows or window sills. It happens when wet, warm air such as cooking or bathroom steam (or even the warm air from your breathing), touches cold surfaces. This causes water to form. Leaky building syndrome is often caused by water damage. This is when moisture inside a house allows mould to grow. If your home is poorly ventilated, or you are us-ing gas heating, your home could be harbouring increasing amounts of mould. It only takes a small water leak, or even excess humidity, for mould to form in your home. Weather tightness has increased since the 1970’s without any consideration for associated and much needed ventilation. Consequently we now have buildings literally sweating which is creating mould contamination in all homes, new and old.

Remember there is mould everywhere around you. The question is at what level and whether certain individuals may be sensitive to the types that are present. Although the PrimeTech mould screening tests we use, are highly sensitive screening devices for specific mould types , a NEGATIVE result indicates that the ar-ea sampled does not contain mould levels above a certain significant level. It also does not conclusively indicate that there may not be a mould issue elsewhere in your property. A negative result on a settled dust sample does give a general indication that there is not a significant mould spore level in the air within the areas tested. Negative results may occur when levels of specific antigens ( mould ) are below the detectable concentration level (sensitivity) of the cassette test. The screening test is not intended for post-remediation clearance testing

The PrimeTech mould screening tests we use, are highly sensitive to specific mould types that are suspected to cause health issues. A positive result indicates that the area that was sampled contains detectable levels of these moulds. It does not necessarily indicate that you have a serious mould issue but rather that you consider consulting with a professional indoor air quality inspector or remediation service professional. The actions you take will depend on many factors including the extent of the mould infestation, the specific type of mould, the overall air quality in your living spaces and the costs involved. For serious mould is-sues, it is strongly recommended that you follow up with a laboratory test

Today, there are two variations of accurate moisture meter technology used to detect moisture in building materials to establish mould risk:

Pin-type meters use wood, cellulose fibers and other hygroscopic materials as a circuit element, sending electrode currents through the material with two pins. This is based on the principle of electrical resistance, and identifies water presence within the material.

Pinless meters perform the same function as models with pins, but use radio frequency signals in place of electrical currents. These meters emit signals into the scanned surface, and do not physically enter or damage the tested surface.