People with asthma whose breathing is affected by widespread mould from ongoing rain across most of eastern Australia, are potentially spending thousands of dollars to try to protect their health.
The cost of dehumidifiers and ventilators, fans, safe cleaning products and personal protection, and even professional cleaning can quickly add up – for Port Macquarie resident Kerry-Ann her attempts to address dangerous mould have already reached $1500.
“I have bad asthma usually, but it’s well-controlled, but the mould is making it hard to breathe and I’m spending heaps on cleaning and trying to find solutions,” Kerry-Ann explained.
Following two bouts of flooding and ongoing rain, mould is now a problem in her bathroom and walls, her deck and eaves, and along the boardwalks on the nearby rainforest bushwalk.
“Mould makes my voice a little bit huskier and it’s a bit more difficult to breathe – and particularly in locations where there’s black mould,” she explained.
“I went for a bush walk a couple of days ago, before the rain started again, and down in the creek most of the boardwalk has mould on it and I just can’t breathe down there, so it’s really hard to find a location where you can exercise safely as well.”
Kerry-Ann had an exhaust fan installed under her house to improve ventilation, has tried various cleaning chemicals, and paid to have her deck and eves steam-cleaned, but the damp conditions mean the mould keeps returning. She has just purchased a dehumidifier.
“So now you’re trapped against outlying $700 on a machine that might work, versus all the products that you already wasted money on that aren’t working. Easily the total is over $1500, and I still have the problem.”
The mould crisis also has a social cost – those who are triggered by mould are forced to stay home, either being too unwell to participate in everyday activities, or to avoid any potential asthma triggers and flareups.
Kerry-Ann has in the past attended hospital emergency departments due to asthma flareups, but her asthma is currently under control thanks to her management plan: it currently includes taking strong oral corticosteroids, using her ventilator frequently, she recently received a flu vaccine to further safeguard her health, and she is avoiding going places where her asthma might be triggered – including the bushwalks in her local rainforest.
“Now I’m just waiting on the sunshine to return to help clear up the problem.”
Asthma Australia suggests using vinegar and water to clean mould, and wearing good protective clothing. Visit: https://asthma.org.au/about-us/media/asthma-australia-urges-safe-clean-ups-as-mould-worsens/