The term “damp’’ in the UK often refers to excess moisture or humidity in buildings, leading to issues like mould. Damp and mould are common issues in the UK where the climate can contribute to moisture problems. Some believe that properties are not suitably built to prevent mould. Some believe that the cost of living impacts their ability to heat homes properly to prevent mould.
Peter Francis, Executive Director of Operations at Fusion21 said: “Not getting this right can lead to the serious consequences of failing to provide homes fit for habitation, including the potentially dangerous impacts damp and mould can have on residents”.
“So, it’s understandable that this is a major issue, especially as we are now in the colder, damper months when problems are more likely to arise.”
In December 2020, two-year-old Awaab Ishak died from prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale. In response to this, Awaab’s Law has been introduced as part of the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which requires social housing landlords by law to fix damp and mould issues to strict deadlines or rehouse tenants in safe accommodation.
As the guidance states, landlords should “identify and tackle the underlying causes of damp and mould, including building deficiencies, inadequate ventilation and condensation. Simply removing surface mould will not prevent the damp and mould from reappearing”.
Mould and dampness in homes can have implications for health in the UK. Here are some key considerations:
1. Respiratory issues: Exposure to mould spores can exacerbate respiratory conditions, such as asthma or allergies. It may also cause respiratory symptoms in individuals without pre-existing conditions.
2. Skin irritation: Damp environments can contribute to skin irritation and exacerbate conditions like eczema.
3. Immune system: Prolonged exposure to damp and mould may impact the immune system, potentially leading to increased susceptibility to infections.
4. Toxins: Some moulds produce mycotoxins, which, when present in indoor environments, can pose health risks. However, the levels needed to cause health effects are generally higher than those found in most homes.
5. Mental health: Living in damp conditions may contribute to stress and anxiety, impacting overall mental well-being.
There are some preventive measures we can take and significantly reduce the risk of mould growth. Consider the following measures:
1. Ventilation – ensure proper ventilation in your home. Use extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchen, and open windows regularly to allow fresh air circulation.
2. Moisture control – address any leaks promptly. Fix plumbing issues and repair roof leaks to prevent excess moisture.
3. Insulation – adequate insulation can help regulate temperature and reduce condensation, which contributes to mould growth.
4. Dehumidifiers – use a dehumidifier to control indoor humidity levels, especially in areas prone to dampness.
5. Regular cleaning – keep your home clean and dry. Regularly clean surfaces prone to mould growth, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
6. Anti-mould products – use anti-mould paints or treatments in areas susceptible to mould. These products can help inhibit mould growth.
7. Remove clutter – reduce the amount of clutter in your home, as it can provide hiding places for mould.
Proper ventilation, controlling humidity, and addressing leaks or damp areas can help prevent and manage these issues in homes.
Caring for the place you live involves various aspects of creating a comfortable and well-maintained environment. Here are some tips:
1. Regular Maintenance: Address any repairs or maintenance issues promptly to prevent problems from escalating.
2. Heating: Proper heating is essential in preventing mould growth, as it helps control moisture levels in your home. Therefore keep your home at a consistent and moderate temperature. Fluctuations in temperature can lead to condensation, which promotes mould growth.
3. Regular Checks: Regularly inspect areas susceptible to mould, especially in dark and damp corners. Address any issues promptly.
By maintaining a warm, well-ventilated, and dry environment, you can significantly reduce the risk of mould growth in your home.