Moulds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, moulds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mould growth should be avoided. Moulds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mould may begin growing indoors when mould spores land on surfaces that are moist. There are many types of mould, and none of them will grow without moisture.
Can Mould Cause Health Problems?
Moulds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mould spores land on a moist surfaces and begin growing. Moulds have the potential to cause health problems. Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).
Inhaling or touching mould or mould spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mould are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mould.
In addition, mould exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mould-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mould.
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