Since mould occurs in combination with damp, the first thing to do is find out where the damp in the home is coming from.
Damp may occur because walls are cold and moisture condenses on them, or there may simply be too much moisture in the air (as a result of showering, cooking or drying clothes, for example). Alternatively, water may be entering the home from outside. This can be caused by cracks in walls, a leaking roof, burst pipes, rising ground damp or rain coming in through an open window.
The best way of stopping this unwanted guest making an appearance is to ventilate your home and produce as little moisture as possible. Don’t dry clothes in your apartment; turn on the extractor fan if you are cooking; don’t use a humidifier; and ventilate thoroughly whenever you take a shower. You can find out how to ventilate your home correctly here in our Health Tip.
If mould appears despite your best efforts, you should document it and report it to your landlord.
If the mould is superficial, occurs only in one area in one room, and is no larger than 10 x 10 cm, the Federal Office of Public Health recommends removing it with water and a normal household detergent. You can also disinfect the area afterwards by applying 70%-80% ethanol.
If the mould is more widespread, in-depth removal and cleaning may be necessary. In this case you should contact your landlord immediately as you may be liable for any consequential damage. You can find out more about how to deal with mould on the homepage of the Federal Office of Public Health.
If mould-related health problems occur, you should see a doctor and discuss the situation with him.
The worse the mould, the greater are the associated health risks. Irritation of the eyes, skin and airways is a common complaint. There is also an increased risk of allergies. Irritation of the airways over the longer term may lead to chronic bronchitis and can even result in asthma.
Mould can be extremely dangerous for individuals with a pre-existing condition (e.g. cystic fibrosis or chronic asthma) or a compromised immune system.