Many people ask me the question: can you really get sick from spending time inside a water-damaged property? Or another related question: Does mould really make people sick? Sometimes I even get questions along the lines of: I can understand why people might not like the smell of mould or even its visual presence, but surely, a little bit of mould can't hurt you?
If you've ever been part of these conversations, and want definitive proof that mould can in fact, cause serious problems for occupants then this live stream and podcast is for you. A paper came out at the end of 2021 in the GMS Hygiene and Infection Control Journal discussing the situation for a family of five, who developed severe health problems after spending six years inside a water damaged home. Your first reaction might be: why did they stay six years? For many people, this is unavoidable and for this family, it was because it was a new home construction. They battled on trying the get the builder to fix the problems. This case study deep dives into something called building-related illness and explores its relationship with sick building syndrome.
The paper is important because it includes an evaluation of the home from an Occupational Hygiene viewpoint as well as the Environmental Medicine perspective. This case study highlights many of the building-specific factors that contributed to water damage and mould as well as the complaint pattern and medical symptoms that were experienced by the children, the mother and the father.
The outcome of this case study revealed that until the family changed their place of residence unwanted health complaints persisted. But once they left the father's health symptoms improved after two weeks. The three children took six months to recover and the mother's symptoms went away after 18 months.
This paper highlights that long term exposure to mould was the cause of building-related illness. Use this paper to support your position especially if you're ever needing to prove the health hazards from mould inside buildings.
Kramer A, Wichelhaus TA, Kempf V, Hogardt M, Zacharowski K. Building-related illness (BRI) in all family members caused by mold infestation after dampness damage of the building. GMS Hyg Infect Control. 2021 Dec 7;16:Doc32. doi: 10.3205/dgkh000403. PMID: 34956824; PMCID: PMC8662741.