Black Spot Mould is something I have dealt with for many years and is a nuisance in the home, especially for landlords/housing associations who have tenanted properties.
I hope you take the time to read this article, however in short I’m asking the question – How harmful is Black Spot Mould to your health? In short I’m giving the answer – not very. If you want to save some time reading, then you can leave it there and take my answer. Otherwise please read on for a detailed explanation as to how I’ve come to this conclusion.
I’ve heard it all over the years about the evils of black spot mould. How dangerous it is, how much it affects peoples health etc. however I’ve always had my doubts over black spot mould. You can’t help but believe what you’re told by the NHS, Environmental Health etc. as to how back ‘Toxic’ BSM is.
I myself am asthmatic. I visit properties on a daily basis with damp and mould and in the 15 years I’ve been doing it, and remembering I’ve been is some properties with shockingly bad mould problems, not once have I ever had a physical reaction to it in any way. I’m also allergic to just about everything. I can be out walking the dog and come into an area where there’s certain plants I’m allergic to and it has me struggling for breath in an instant. I have to carry my inhaler at all times.
Funny though, in all these years, black spot mould has never been a trigger.
I went to a property recently in Durham where there was some black spot mould on a wall. About 1 metre square at best. The client had a ‘mould removal specialist’ coming in who was going to seal off the area, come in with full body suits on, remove the mould and take it away for safe disposal. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Wow.
I have been in many properties where the complaint is – “the mould is affecting my health”. I’ve always believed that it’s not the mould, but the living conditions which are present that allow the mould to grow, are the same living conditions which affect the inhabitants health. Lack of airflow, poor ventilation, excessive moisture in the air, generally poor air quality.
Again I recently surveyed a home where the tenant complained of mould causing breathing difficulty. There was also no fresh air, the heating was on, doors and windows sealed, and the tenant smoked 3 cigarettes just in the time I was there. By the time I left, I was also struggling to breath, but I can assure you it wasn’t the mould that was responsible for that.
We have said for years mould would become the new asbestos. It looks like it finally has. I decided it’s time to do some research and answer the question once and for all.
During my research I was pointed in the direction of a Forensic Industrial Hygienist from Colorado. I wanted to share some of the information from his website with you. He has done talks with the PCA (Property Care Association) and after reading some of his research, it really backs up what I’ve always thought.
The article is written by Caoimhin P. Connell. A Forensic Industrial Hygienist, and below is a summary of what he has written. I’ve included some snippets below and a link to an excellent article he has written about Health Effects of Moulds.
“All Houses have mould, and all houses contain billions of mould spores. All houses and work places contain the dreaded ‘toxic black mould’ – which a nonsensical term invented by the news media.
“Virtually every human, in virtually every location on earth inhales hundreds to hundreds of thousands of mould spores on a daily basis. Contrary to common belief, there is currently no evidence that the presence of these moulds and the exposures threaten the health of members of the public.
“Every cubic foot of air in a normal, healthy and dry home contains hundreds of mould spores. Therefore you can be assured if a ‘Mould Specialist’ performs a mould test on your property, the result will be positive. In most cases mould tests are invalid, but that is another discussion in itself.
“In July of 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its position paper on indoor moulds and Indoor Air Quality. Contrary to what many people in the mould remediation business want to believe, the WHO guidelines reinforced the findings of the 2004 Institute of Medicine mould study group. In that study, the IOM stated there was insufficient evidence to find a causal association between the presence of moulds and any of the claimed adverse health effects. That is, after reviewing the global scientific and medical literature, the IOM could not find sufficient evidence to support the argument that the normal presence of mould in residences and workplaces caused any adverse health effects.
“Only certain mould spores produce toxins, and only under certain circumstances. Just because a particular mould can produce toxins doesn’t mean it will. Even if the mould is producing toxins, a person must breathe in a sufficient dose to be affected. It is highly unlikely that you could inhale enough mould in your home or office to receive a toxic dose.
“The WHO and the IOM, however, both concluded there was an association between damp living spaces and some adverse health effects. The unfounded assumption by those unfamiliar with the studies presume that mould was responsible for the association, however, this is not the case. Although it is well established that there exists an “association” between damp in buildings and a slight increase in observed adverse health effects, it is also well established that no one has been able to conclusively demonstrate that the association is exclusively due to the presence of mould. WHO and the IOM note that dust mites, Bacteria, termites, protozoans, endotoxins, VOCs, formaldehyde, pesticides, viral survival and generally poor ventilation are similarly associated with damp, and these factors, too, are considered to be part of the etiological backdrop. As such, in the remediation of water damage, the stress is placed on correcting “damp” and not on removing mould.
“The problem is not the mould. The underlying problem is moisture. The mould is the visual evidence of the problem. Long term mould problems usually indicate a condensation problem.
The article can be viewed in full here