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The Hidden Danger of Dampness: Mold Growth in Homes

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on August 9, 2023

Mold is a familiar, yet unwelcome, intruder in many homes. While there are various factors that can contribute to mold growth, dampness stands out as the primary culprit. But did you know that even damp dust can be a breeding ground for mold? Let’s delve into the science behind mold growth and the importance of controlling moisture in your living spaces.

Why Does Dampness Lead to Mold Growth?

Mold Spores are Everywhere

Mold spores are tiny and lightweight, making it easy for them to travel through the air. These spores are omnipresent, both indoors and outdoors.

The Right Conditions

For mold to grow, it needs a food source, the right temperature, oxygen, and moisture. Homes naturally provide most of these conditions. The only variable we can easily control is moisture.

Evidence from Research

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between home dampness and mold growth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost all mold growth in indoor environments is associated with damp conditions. (1)

Damp Dust: A Surprising Breeding Ground

While we often associate mold growth with visible water damage or high humidity areas, even settled dust that becomes damp can support mold growth.

Here’s why:

Dust as a Food Source

Dust particles often contain organic matter, such as dead skin cells, hair, and bits of food, which molds can use as a food source.

Micro-environments

Small pockets of dampness can form in settled dust, particularly if there is limited air movement or if the dust accumulates near a moisture source, like a window sill or near a leak.

Research Findings

Damp dust could be a significant source of mold spores in indoor environments. When dust gets damp, certain mold species can flourish, releasing more spores and potentially leading to health issues. (2)

The Implications of Mold Growth

Besides causing structural damage to homes, mold can have health implications. Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and other health problems, especially in individuals with existing respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems.

To Protect Yourself from Mold Illness, Keep Dampness Out of Your Home

To protect your home and health, it's crucial to manage moisture levels. Regularly check for leaks, ensure adequate ventilation, and keep humidity levels in check. Remember, while mold spores are everywhere, they need dampness to grow. By controlling dampness, including damp dust, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold taking hold in your home.

Resources:

  1. Shenassa ED, Daskalakis C, Liebhaber A, Braubach M, Brown M. Dampness and mold in the home and depression: an examination of mold-related illness and perceived control of one's home as possible depression pathways. Am J Public Health. 2007 Oct;97(10):1893-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.093773. Epub 2007 Aug 29. PMID: 17761567; PMCID: PMC1994167.
  2. Cox-Ganser JM. Indoor dampness and mould health effects - ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Oct;45(10):1478-82. doi: 10.1111/cea.12601. PMID: 26372722; PMCID: PMC4667360.

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