After intense rain and flash flooding conditions are perfect for one pesky household intruder.
If water has entered your house, or if things are just feeling more damp than usual due to humidity, it's important to keep your eye out for mould.
While some may have been battling mould for years, the severe weather event has seen even the driest of properties inundated by rain.
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One local Goulburn resident returned home last week to find her carpets wet after leaving the house locked up for a few weeks.
"I've lived in Goulburn for more than 40 years and I've never had any dampness in my house,' she said.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here's what you can do to kill mould.
So, what actually is mould?
According to NSW Health, mould is part of a group of very common organisms called fungi that also include mushrooms and yeast. It is present virtually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
Mould may grow indoors in wet or moist areas that lack adequate ventilation, including walls/wallpaper, ceilings, bathroom tiles, carpets (especially those with jute backing), insulation material and wood.
Many different types of mould exist and they all have the potential to cause health problems.
How can it impact your health?
Health effects of mould exposure include a runny or blocked nose, irritation of the eyes and skin and sometimes wheezing.
Other symptoms from prolonged exposure include extreme tiredness, depression, muscle and joint pain, inability to sleep and brain fog, specialist General Practitioner Sandeep Gupta shared in an interview with the ABC.
Very rarely, people may develop a severe mould infection, usually in the lungs.
NSW Health says it is important to note that most people will not experience any health problems from coming into contact with small amounts of mould.
However, if you do experience any mould-related systems you should visit your GP.
Who is most at risk?
You should particularly avoid contact with mould if you have asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions.
For people with asthma, inhaling mould spores may cause an asthma attack.
People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases are most at risk of mould infection.
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How can you get rid of mould?
There are three key areas to focus on when trying to get rid of mould: ventilation, humidity and dampness.
Maintain proper ventilation
- Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes.
- Open windows when weather permits, to improve cross ventilation.
- Limit the use of humidifiers.
- Limit the number of fish tanks and indoor plants.
- Limit use of unflued gas heaters.
- Repair all water leaks and plumbing problems e.g. burst water pipes, leaking roof or blocked rain gutter
- If water enters your home, completely clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials. Discard material that cannot be cleaned and dried completely.
NSW Health has also outlined how mould should be cleaned.
- For routine clean up of mouldy surfaces, use mild detergent or vinegar diluted in water solution (four parts vinegar to one part water).
- If the mould is not readily removed and the item cannot be discarded, use diluted bleach solution (250mls of bleach in four litres of water) to clean the surface. When using bleach, protective equipment is recommended: PVC or nitrate rubber gloves; safety glasses; and safety shoes. Make sure the area is well-ventilated while you are cleaning with bleach.
- Ensure the surface is dried completely once cleaned.
- Absorbent materials, such as carpet may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced if they are contaminated with mould.
If you rent your home and have taken measures to ensure the building is properly ventilated and mould is still growing, you should raise the issue with the owner or real estate agent.
Tenants seeking further information about their rights and responsibilities may wish to contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20. Public housing tenants should call the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322.
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