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Respiratory health warning adds to Townsville mould risks

13 Feb 2019

With flood waters subsiding in North Queensland, those affected now face a potential risk to their health with warm damp environments encouraging mould and mildew growth in homes.

CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman says those with respiratory sensitivity needed to be particularly careful during the clean-up period.

“Mould and fungal spores are a known trigger for causing asthma,” she said. “Spores are airborne, as you breathe in, they enter the airways and can trigger serious breathing difficulties and allergic reactions.”

“It’s important that people with sensitive airways leave the responsibility for cleaning mould to someone who doesn’t have asthma. If this isn’t feasible they should wear good quality face masks while handling mouldy things or cleaning mouldy walls.

“Most important is for these people stick to their Asthma Action Plan, be vigilant with asthma medication and to prioritise restoring a dry living environment as quickly as possible.

“Open windows and doors, air out homes and follow public health guidelines for cleaning mould.

“Assume all water-damaged items have mould growing on them. This is a massive task on top of clean-up efforts, but those with asthma or with young children must pay attention to mould removal.

“Be aware that your asthma may worsen in the coming weeks and months due to exposure to mould and faunal spores,” she said. 

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Image sourced from: ABC News

Asthma Australia is further warning that at back to school time, mould in schools and around the home could exasperate asthma flare ups in school-aged children.

“Back to school time sees an annual peak in asthma hospitalisations due to summer viruses and I understand Townsville schools are struggling with controlling mould. School children with asthma in flood affected areas are at greater risk because these two risk factors are combined. Parents of these children need to have heightened awareness at this time and schools must ensure teachers are made aware of children with asthma,” said Ms Goldman. 

“Keep asthma reliever medication on hand and follow your Asthma Action Plan.

“Young children shouldn’t be exposed to mouldy environments for long periods,” she said.

People with asthma who are more likely to have asthma triggered by fungal and mould spores include:

  • Babies and children

  • The elderly

  • Those with existing allergies and skin conditions such as eczema

  • Those with a lowered immune system

  • People with severe asthma

People are advised that if they notice cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, blocked nose, coughing and shortness of breath while in warm damp environments, it could be an allergic reaction to spores of mould or other fungi.

It’s recommended these people see a General Practitioner to check for asthma.

One in nine people have asthma in Australia and Queenslanders have a higher than the national average prevalence of the chronic respiratory disease.

For information on how to safely clean mould and fungi from the home and how to manage asthma, people can visit Asthma Australia’s webpage at www.asthmaaustralia.org.au under Manage your Asthma.

People who are experiencing difficulties with their asthma can phone the 1800 Asthma Helpline (1800 278 462) for confidential phone support and information.

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Media contacts

Teresa Vella 07 3252 7677 | 0403 895 144 tvella@asthma.org.au

 

About Asthma Australia

For over 50 years Asthma Australia has been the leader in asthma health care, research and support. Asthma Australia delivers evidence-based preventative health strategies to over 500,000 people every year and provides support, training and resources to the primary health care sector. The organisation funds vital basic science and population health research contributing to national and international understandings of asthma and how best to manage the disease.

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