The health effects from damp homes are serious and should not be overlooked.
In this blog, we will examine the various ways that excessive moisture can put your health and wellbeing at risk.
By understanding the risks, you will be better able to protect yourself from moisture in the home and recognise the signs if someone gets sick.
Causes of damp houses
As we have written about in a previous blog, water leakage can come from many different places.
Common sources of moisture include air conditioners, clogged gutters, defective plumbing and leaky taps.
You should be vigilant to protect your home from water damage.
Health effects from damp homes
One of the most common side effects of excessive moisture is mould.
Mould is a fungus that grows in moist areas with poor ventilation.
Mould releases spores into the air that can trigger allergies and asthma.
Residents of damp, mouldy homes may find themselves out of breath, coughing, wheezing and sneezing excessively.
Mould may even cause children to develop allergies or asthma.
The Australian climate is naturally hot. When combined with a moist home, this creates a humid environment.
High humidity makes it more difficult for your body to evaporate sweat, which is how your body cools down.
Beyond making us uncomfortable, this can cause our bodies to literally overheat.
As such, this can cause heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, cramps, weakened immune system and altered blood circulation.
If left unchecked, you can even faint.
For older people, heat exhaustion can be fatal.
Humidity can also cause skin problems.
Excessive sweating can cause a breakout of acne in people who are acne-prone.
Our sweat ducts can also close off due to humidity. This causes moisture to get trapped under the skin and trigger a rash or blisters.
Heat cash is itchy and highly uncomfortable.
Danger to Food
Most dry foods stored in cupboards are generally advised to be stored in a damp, cool, dark environment.
However, excess moisture can ruin foods quickly.
If dry foods are exposed to excess moisture, this can cause premature spoilage of food and can result in foodborne illnesses.
The vitamins in food can also be broken down by moisture, which lessens their nutritional content.
Moisture can also destroy the packaging of food, by rusting cans and degrading plastics and paper. This also reduces the shelf life of food.
Eating spoiled or contaminated food can cause major sickness.
One of the less commonly discussed health effects of damp homes is chemical contamination.
Building materials like fabric and wood contain chemical agents such as formaldehyde into the air. This is called outgassing.
That “new car smell” is the result of outgassed chemicals in a closed car, for example.
Excessive moisture and humidity in the air causes a chemical reaction that increases the concentration of these chemicals to toxic levels.
These chemicals can cause skin, eye and throat irritation as well as raspatory issues.
The health effects of having pests in your home
Moist conditions create the ideal environment for pests.
Moisture makes wood damp, which allows termites to more easily chew through wood and enter your home.
Furthermore, moisture attracts mosquitoes, cockroaches, snakes, spiders, cockroaches and other pests.
These various insects can contaminate your home and others, like lizards, snakes and spiders, can cause you physical harm if they bite you.
Increase risk of accidents
Moisture and dampness around your home can also increase the risk of accidents.
This is because moisture creates slippery surfaces that people can slip on. This is particularly true of brick, mortar and stone surfaces.
Furthermore, household moisture can increase the dangers of using electrical appliances, due to the inherent danger of mixing water and electricity.
Overall, dampness poses a major risk to household residents, so you should seek to prevent excess moisture from threatening your home.