Dr Joel Ten is a GP with over 14 years of clinical experience in both hospital and clinic work. He is actively involved in educating both people in the community and healthcare professionals. He holds a position as a member of the GP Advisory group at the National Asthma Council Australia. His work as the regional manager for Asia Pacific at Medix Global allows him to be on the forefront of the latest developments in the field of medicine and surgery. He enjoys teaching people in the community how to live the best lives that they can physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As recent devasting floods in Australia's southeast start to subside, they leave a mess in their wake for residents to clean up, including dangerous mould.
National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson and GP, Dr Joel Ten, said for people in these regions living with asthma and allergies this will be a worrying time as mould thrives in warm, damp environments and can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.
Dr Ten said it is critical that mould isn’t left to grow unchecked in homes or workplaces after the floods have receded and "if in doubt, throw it out".
Exposure to indoor and outdoor areas that are damp and have mould can trigger asthma or allergy symptoms in some people. Mould is commonly found in bathrooms and fridges, including on surfaces or various food items, but can appear anywhere in the home — particularly in places with little air circulation, such as walk-in and built-in wardrobes, and in bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. When a mould source is disturbed, small particles called spores are released in the air, which can then trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. The symptoms can include nose, eye and skin irritation, sneezing or wheezing, and severe reactions in some people. High levels of indoor humidity can allow mould to grow, so be aware of signs such as condensation on your windows due to lack of air circulation, or a crack in a bathroom tile or pipe.
It is important to find and fix the source of mould growth, as well as cleaning visible mould, to stop it from regrowing. What you can do Everyone has different asthma or allergy triggers and your doctor can help you work out which affect you. Know your triggers and understand how they affect your asthma. It might then be possible to avoid or reduce your exposure to some triggers, which may improve your asthma control. While allergy avoidance measures can help, using your asthma medications as directed is the most effective way of managing your asthma. Reduce humidity Removing moisture from the air is one of the best ways to stop mould growth in your home. Depending on why the mould has grown, there are several ways to help combat the problem:
• Using extractor fans in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries can help with natural ventilation to reduce the likelihood of mould or mildew growth • Cleaning refrigerator door rubber gaskets and drip pans • Sealing leaks in bathrooms and roofs • Clearing overflowing gutters and blocked under floor vents • Drying or removing wet carpets • Treating rising damp as soon as it is detected • Moisture-absorbing crystals can help manage small areas of damp or enclosed spaces, though they need to be changed frequently • Dehumidifiers are machines designed to pull moisture from the air. They come in different sizes and motor types to accommodate climate variations and room sizes. Dehumidifiers and high-efficiency air filters may be integrated into air-conditioning, heat-recovery ventilation systems, or used as stand-alone units. Other measures Other measures that may reduce mould exposure include: • Removing visible mould by cleaning with naturally fermented white vinegar solution. Remember mould is not always visible, so it is important to find and stop the source of the mould. • Removing indoor pot plants, which promote mould growth • Avoiding organic mulches and compost heaps.