Housing Health and Safety Rating System (UK) classify mould as a class 1 hazard and action can be taken under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (sections 82 are criminal proceedings) statutory nuisance.
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Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that generate some of the most common indoor substances—or allergens—that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in many people. Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets or curtains of your home. They feed on the dead human skin cells found in dust.
Dust mites are not parasites; they don’t bite, sting or burrow into our bodies. The harmful allergen they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments. Dust mites are nearly everywhere; roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed.
People with allergies to dust mites or with asthma triggered by dust mite allergies need to reduce dust mites in their homes. Older homes, homes located in regions with humid climates, lower income residences and homes where a musty or mildew odor is present are more likely to have high concentrations of dust mites.
Mites are one of the major indoor triggers for people with allergies and asthma. Dust mite exposure can even cause asthma.
Chronic, ongoing exposure to dust mites at home can dramatically impact the health of people with asthma and those who are allergic or particularly sensitive to mites. These allergens cause an immune system response, known as allergic rhinitis. A dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe. A mild case may cause an occasional runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. In severe cases, the condition is ongoing, or chronic, resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure or severe asthma attack. People with asthma who are sensitive to mites face an increased risk of flare-ups or an asthma attack.
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There are at least three potential causes for ill health for people with normal healthy immune systems after coming into contact with damp and moulds: infection, allergy and toxicity.
Mould particles (spores and other debris) are readily released into the air on being disturbed and volatile chemicals are also readily released and are easily breathed into the lungs and sinuses of anyone in the area. These particles & chemicals can commonly cause allergies (incuding sinus allergies) and occasionally (rarely) cause allergic alveolitis (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) or rarely become established and grow in small areas such as sinuses – occasionally even in the lungs themselves (CPA, ABPA). Most recently it has become clear that damp and possibly moulds can cause and exacerbate asthma.
Many moulds can make various different kinds of toxins that have a range of effects in people and animals. Mycotoxins are present on some of the fungal material than can be dispersed into the air, so it is possible that these can be breathed in. Some allergens are known to be toxic. Current evidence suggests that not enough mycotoxin can be breathed in to cause problems directly related to its toxicity – there have only been two or three undisputed cases ever reported and only one in a mouldy home. The likelyhood of toxic health effects (i.e. not allergies) caused by inhaling toxic allergens is as yet very unsure.
There are other toxic substances that derive from moulds in a damp home:
- Volatile organic chemicals (VOC) that are odours emitted by some microbes
- Proteases, glucans & other irritants
- Also be aware that there is a large range of other (non-mould) irritant/VOC substances liable to be present in damp homes.
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Indoor air pollution has caused increasing concern in recent years. As we spend most of our lives indoors, it is crucial to understand the health effects caused by indoor air pollution. Household dust serve as good proxy for accessing indoor air pollution, especially smaller dust particles that can pass into the lungs are of interest
The type and size of a dust particle determines how toxic the dust is. However the possible harm the dust may cause to your health is mostly determined by the amount of dust present in the air and how long you have been exposed to it.
Dust particles small enough to be inhaled may cause:
- irritation of the eyes
- asthma attacks.
For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) or emphysema even small increases in dust concentration can make their symptoms worse.
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Dust mites and their waste products are one of the most common causes of year-round allergy and asthma.
Mites are primitive creatures that have no developed respiratory system and no eyes. Too small to be seen with the naked eye, a dust mite measures about one quarter to one third of a millimeter. Under the microscope, they can be seen as whitish, eight-legged bugs.
A dust mite’s life cycle consists of several stages, from egg to adult. Depending on the species, it takes anywhere from two to five weeks for an adult mite to develop from an egg. Adults may live for two to four months. A female mite lays as many as 100 eggs in her lifetime.
The waste products of dust mites — not the mites themselves — are what cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Throughout its short life span, a single dust mite may produce as much as 200 times its body weight in waste products. Dust mite waste contains a protein that is an allergen. An allergen is a substance that provokes an allergic reaction.
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