The World Health Organization released a set of guidelines on July 16th targeting damp indoor environments. The guidelines state that "the most important means for avoiding adverse health effects is the prevention or minimization of persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and in building structures." This is a significant conclusion and will prove pivotal in the days ahead.
The press release continues, "In many EU countries, 20–30% of households have problems with dampness. Strong evidence indicates that this is a risk to health. In damp conditions, hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi grow indoors and emit spores, cell fragments and chemicals into the air. Exposure to these contaminants is associated with the incidence or worsening of respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma and immunological reactions."
The document is extensive and is the result of a rigorous two-year review of the research done by 36 leading experts worldwide.
WHO Guidelines on Dampness and Mould
The guidelines also conclude that occupants of damp or mouldy buildings, both private and public, have up to a 75% greater risk of respiratory symptoms and asthma.
When I see this as a news story I think of the words of Solomon, "there is nothing new under the sun." Mold (or mould) is clearly talked about in Leviticus 14. A home desecrated with mold, fungus, or "plague" in the King James version, was to be destroyed if the mold spread after treatment.
Mold has been a problem throughout history. Lord Carnarvon and 26 of his colleagues met with "mysterious deaths" following the opening of King Tut's tomb in 1923. Scientific studies later revealed high levels of Aspergillus at the site.
The potato famine in Ireland, the Ergot Epidemic, trench mouth in World War I, all have fungal origins. In 1938 Russian scientists determined that hay contaminated with stachybotrys killed thousands of horses in Russia and Eastern Europe.
New or old, the WHO document is a step in the right direction.