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Internal Mould in Dwellings

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As the weather cools in Autumn I receive a large number of calls relating to mould within dwellings, the occupants of the dwellings are commonly very concerned for the health of themselves and their families.

Mould is a clear visual indicator of nature, that something is seriously out of balance and immediate remedies are needed, failure to take note of natures warnings can prove fatal to humans, news has just surfaces (27th July 2010) that actress Brittney Murphy and husband Simon Monjack may have died due to prolonged exposure to mould in their home, whether this proves to be the case or not in future is yet to be seen, but it does clearly raise the alarm that our choice of habitat and the choices we make with preserving the environment within our habitat of choice has a direct influence on our long term health and well being, if we do not heed to natures warnings the consequences can be serious.

Mould is a significant problem when observed within human habitat as numerous strains of mould are toxic to humans, some moulds are beneficial and form the basis for numerous antibiotics however without the benefit of a mould survey with laboratory support identifying the type of mould, we are unable to know which mould strains are toxic and which are not, in addition, science has little knowledge at what level of exposure a beneficial mould becomes toxic to humans, hence I have come to the opinion that all mould growth within a building is to be considered toxic as a general rule of thumb and that the exposure to mould should be minimised to prevent sensitivities and/or respiratory problems arising in humans. I am not a toxicologist, rather just a building and pest inspector that has a particular interest in mould and fungal growth in relation to buildings and properties.

I am currently of the opinion that it is critical to establish where the conditions for mould exist or are likely to exist and to carry out measures that will reduce these conditions.

Internal ventilation of compartments within buildings is commonly the problem however multiple additional influences also need to be considered.

Mould needs higher than normal moisture levels to establish and reproduce, areas where condensation occurs often are the areas where mould growth will establish and thrive.

It is very common for tenants of rented properties to contact me after mould has developed within units or houses they are renting, in most cases they are after a mould inspection report, in most cases they are seeking action from the landlord to clean the mould  or compensate them for possible losses or some other hidden agendas. In the opinion of nearly all tenants that I have had the pleasure of dealing with, the building is the problem, they claim to have been ventilating in an appropriate manner, unfortunately more often than not, my equipment and experience quickly provides me with findings that indicate that the problem is with the lifestyle of the tenant, they are not ventilating in an appropriate manner, it is often evident that they dry washing within the dwelling on rainy days, use unvented clothes drier, close windows due to security concerns, have multiple occupants etc', The buildings sometimes do have factors that contribute to humidity levels and inturn condensation but it is normally the occupants lifestyle that tips the balance, once a building is damp or wet it is very difficult to dry out, quite often the interior is totally saturated and covered with black mould. My advice in general is for the occupants to learn how to alter their lifestyle so they do not create as much humidity within the dwelling through their activities, I often advise landlords that it would be prudent for them to consider having tenants vacate the properties and seek tenants that have a drier lifestyle, where moisture accumulates within a building to the degree of saturation then the buildings fabric and/or components are more likely to deteriorate rapidly, this rapid deterioration can prove very costly to the landlord and could devalue the landlords investment significantly.

For occupants of buildings with mould there are no winners at the end of the day, the sources creating moisture that provide conditions for mould growth need to be identified and then appropriate measures can be undertaken to remedy the problem, it takes a lot of effort to combat mould effectively, it is never a case of simply applying bleach or vinegar solutions or mould retardant paints or other mould products to surfaces, these will only temporally mask the overall problem and often mould growth reoccurs, if the source providing conditions for mould growth is not identified and remedied the hope of getting mould under control is virtually hopeless.

Information on this page is intended to be informative, the information may not be popular however I do sincerely hold the welfare of others in the community close to my heart.

I can share some of my knowledge and help educate persons that are concerned.

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Stephen Koelewyn - NSW Builders Licence 45109c - Building Consultant Licence BC213 (Now Obsolete in NSW) - Pest Control Licence 2025
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Last modified: 21 March, 2019

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