A TODDLER died shortly after his second birthday due to living in a mould-infested flat, a coroner has ruled.
Moulds and damps are caused by too much moisture – and there are different types that can be found in the home.
Little Awaab Ishak had been living in a one-bedroom housing association flat in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, that was riddled with mould.
His parents Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Aminin had previously complained to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) but no action was ever taken.
A coroner this week ruled Awaab “died as a result of a severe respiratory condition caused due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home environment”.
Experts at Asthma and Lung UK warned that mould and damp in houses are worse when temperatures drop in the winter.
They added that cold and flu viruses, which can cause respiratory infections, can also thrive in colder temperatures and poorly ventilated, damp environments.
With that in mind, it’s key to understand how mould can harm your child’s health and the risks posed by living with mould in the home.
Here’s the three ways it can be harmful:
- Can damage the lungs
- Triggers asthma attacks
- Trigger allergies in those who already suffer
- Mental health issues
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive at Asthma and Lung UK explained: “Exposure to mould and damp can be very harmful to our lungs as mould releases spores that can be breathed in, causing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing or watery eyes.
“Mould and fungi are a major trigger for asthma attacks and can worsen symptoms for those with other lung conditions, leave them fighting for breath. Babies, small children, older people and people with allergies are more likely to be affected.
“There is a link between poor housing and asthma, because of things like mould and damp.”
There is also evidence to suggest mould exposure can lead to rare conditions including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alveolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis.
A study published in 2016 in the journal Integr Med, found that not only does mould cause respiratory issues, but that there were also problems linked to an increased risk of dust mites.
Another paper, published in 2012 found that young children exposed to mould in the home had an increased risk of developing asthma by the age of seven.
Jeroeon Douwes, a professor of public health at Massey University, previously wrote in The Conversation: “Prolonged exposure to high levels of indoor dampness can reduce lung function and cause chronic health problems such as asthma.
“Those who already suffer from asthma and allergies are more likely to have more severe symptoms when exposed.”
He added: “People who live in damp and mouldy homes are also at increased risk of depression.”
GP Dr Rachel Ward, who is based in Didcot, Oxfordshire, said people with underlying health conditions might struggle.
She said this is due to the fact that they could be made worse by living in a cold, damp house or by the stress of not being able to pay essential living costs.
Rules came into effect in 2020 which should help tenants battling for better living conditions.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force in March 2020 and means landlords must make sure their properties meet certain standards.
It means renters in England and Wales can now take their landlords to court over problems including cold and damp homes.
If you have a mould problem, housing charity Shelter advises checking your tenancy agreement to find out how to report repairs to your landlord or letting agent. Dr Ward says: “Keep records and evidence of the repair problem. This can help if you need to take further action.
“Proof can include photos and any damage to your belongings, emails, texts, letters to and from your landlord, and doctors’ notes if your health is affected.
“Your landlord must make sure your home is fit to live in. Some local authorities are asking medical teams to refer patients if their house could affect their health due to the cold and damp.”
“If you have heart or lung disease, make sure you are accessing all the support you can this winter. If you do become unwell, get prompt advice from your GP or 111.”
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