Dealing with Damp

Thanks to double-glazing and central heating, damp living conditions are not the widespread problem they once were. However, for some people – particularly those living in rented accommodation, damp is still a major issue. And as well as being unsightly, damp can cause a number of health problems from skin allergies to recurring colds.

During a study published by the medical journal Thorax, 10,000 Finnish students were quizzed about their living conditions and their general health. The researchers found that those who lived in damp housing had double the risk of asthma as those who lived without damp. In addition, they found that one in seven of the students had suffered from four or more colds during the previous year and almost 40 per cent of those living in damp accommodation had experienced bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis or pneumonia.

The reason damp has such an impact on human health is because the mouldy surfaces caused by dampness release tiny spores which can easily be inhaled, triggering asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

Mould spores can be found wherever there are damp conditions such as in kitchens and bathrooms. You may first spot damp by noticing dark patches on walls or ceilings – or you may see peeling wallpaper or decaying woodwork around window frames. If left untreated, the damp will usually cause unsightly mould to appear.

If damp is being caused by structural problems then you may need a builder to conduct repairs to the property. However, damp conditions in bathrooms and kitchens can often be treated by adequate ventilation – this could mean installing an extractor fan, or leaving windows open to allow the room to dry.

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