Problem with drying wet clothes inside
Severe weather and torrential rain in New South Wales over the past three days has left the state drenched.
And while Aussies are thankful the soaking has helped ease statewide fires, the soggy situation has made it a nightmare for carrying out ordinary chores.
The problem many are experiencing is the need to dry wet washing inside - and for most this means a makeshift arrangement generally involving a wire clothes horse.
While this solution is effective for those without a dryer, the problem is wet washing, combined with humid conditions, are a perfect environment for mould.
Ibrahim Ech, a principal work health safety consultant with Safety and Environmental Services is an expert in damp and mould.
He told news.com.au drying wet clothes inside can increase humidity and in turn provide a breeding ground for mould, especially if there is a lack of ventilation.
"When a period of rain is extended, the overall humidity level increases, both indoors and outdoors," he said.
"If moisture then becomes trapped, and the temperature rises, mould breeds. Basically mould loves these conditions."
Homes which have an air conditioner system installed which also doubles as a dehumidifier are best for these sorts of situations.
"Drying clothing with the airconditioning running means excess moisture is being removed from the air," Mr Ech said.
However, problems may set in if this type of arrangement isn't in place - particularly if weather conditions extend for more than two to three days.
While mould can set in rapidly due to extended rainfall and humidity, homeowners can be faced with a more serious problem of protracted wet weather activating dormant mould.
"An extended period of elevated humidity can help spread mould which may be lurking in building materials (hidden behind gib-sheeting or plasterwork)," Mr Ech said.
"Elevated moisture will reach those hidden locations, and then mould will start to proliferate.
Mould in the home can pose myriad health problems, especially for those who suffer respiratory conditions.
"It's not conclusive mould exposure is directly linked to specific health symptoms, although a lot of people experience health problems in the presence of mould," Mr Ech said.
"The casual relationship between mould causing certain health problems hasn't been fully established yet, but there is a clear association between those who suffer symptoms and the presence of mould."
"There are many different types of mould that cause health problems, and those who are mainly affected have a weakened immune system or are categorised as being mould-sensitive."
When it comes to preventing mould in the home when drying washing inside, Mr Ech recommends using dehydrating devices or ensuring there is adequate ventilation.
GETTING RID OF HUMIDITY AND MOISTURE
"If it is too wet, you probably won't be able to open doors and windows, but if you can allow for some ventilation, the air movement will help reduce and control mould growth.
Lastly, Mr Ech said he wanted all homeowners to be aware of the problem internal water leaks can cause.
"If there is any water intrusion, this should be considered a high-risk situation. It needs an immediate response or the conditions could get complicated.
"Any water leaks need to be attended to as soon as possible. Water needs to be removed, and the area dried.
"If you don't take swift action, you could get mould generation within 48 - 72 hours.
HOW TO GET RID OF MOULD
Wash clothing, bedding and other soft fabric articles, such as soft toys, in a washing machine on a hot cycle. Wash all the clothes you used for cleaning up separately to other clothes.
Other contaminated soft furnishings that cannot be put in a washing machine will have to be cleaned professionally. If this is not possible, they may need to be thrown out.
Thoroughly clean all affected hard surfaces. In many cases, household detergent can do the job if it is used correctly. Check the product's label to see how much to use and on which surfaces they can be used. Do not mix detergents with bleaches, together in the same bucket, as this may release hazardous fumes. Apply the cleaner and give it time to work before you mop or sponge it up.
After cleaning a room or item, go over it again with an antibacterial disinfectant to kill germs and to remove any smells.
Source: Better Health Channel