Are molds an environmental health problem in Seychelles?

Are you constantly sniffing and suffering from respiratory problems and feeling generally run down? Perhaps you have allergic reactions from exposure to molds at home or in the office. Environmental health standards in Europe and the US state that high relative humidity, over 50 percent, encourages biological agents, such as bacteria and viruses, house-dust mites, and molds, to grow and be released into the air. But here in Seychelles the humidity can be much higher!

In many bathrooms in Seychelles one can see ugly mold growing. I sent a sample some years ago to be identified and it turned out to be a ubiquitous mold called Aspergillus that can be found in the same conditions all around the world. But other molds can also grow. The presence of any of these molds can be a serious issue because they are known to trigger respiratory problems and other health symptoms.

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease. There are several triggers that can start asthmatic attacks, which include pollen, dust and dust mites, cockroaches and molds.

Molds produce tiny spores which drift both indoors and outdoors. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive.  When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, rapid mold growth will often occur.

Kitchens and bathrooms can have even higher relative humidity levels than the surrounding environment. This can be expected since those are the two rooms where water is used, but usually there are problem areas that could be fixed to reduce the humidity in those rooms.
Where bathrooms are not installed correctly there are moisture leaks sufficient to fill the floor under the basins, showers or tubs. Because these leaks are hidden, one does not see the damage occurring. Some houses in Seychelles seem to have these conditions in which very large populations of mold can grow.

Because we cannot control humidity outdoors, the best thing to do to reduce the growth of mold is to control moisture indoors. Stop leaks anywhere in the house and eliminate any moisture spots. If you can, use dehumidifiers like I do at home to control indoor humidity. Increase ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens and prevent condensation. Remove mold wherever you see it growing. If you do all these things perhaps you will feel better and reduce respiratory and allergic problems.

By Nirmal Jivan Shah, Nature Seychelles' CEO.

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