#DontMoveImprove: How can damp affect my health?

Solenco Reporter
 July 28, 2017
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If you live in a damp home and have accepted this ‘normal’ or have chosen to ignore the problem due to financial reasons, may need to reassess the situation in light of the health problems that you and your family may be experiencing as a result of dampness.

Mould accumulates in damp and poorly ventilated buildings. Inhaling mould fragments or spores can inflame the airways, causing nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing and throat irritation.

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.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a considerable proportion of the world’s 300 million cases of childhood asthma are attributable to exposure to indoor dampness and mould.

People who live in damp and mouldy homes are also at increased risk of depression which, in turn, may increase the risk of respiratory symptoms and asthma.

Although those with pre-existing allergies or asthma are at greater risks, mould can also cause health effects in otherwise healthy people. So measures to prevent or reduce mould exposure are important to everyone.

Damp problems are particularly prevalent in rental homes, often due to poor maintenance.

Health problems associated with damp

Respiratory problems

Some of the most common health problems caused by living in a damp environment are those that affect the respiratory system. This isn’t just the moisture in the air, but also the microscopic bacteria and fungi that thrive in just such an environment – either floating around in the air or landing on moist surfaces in your home.

A study in 1997 analysed whether there was any scientific correlation between damp homes and the occurrence of asthma. The research suggests that people in damp homes are twice as likely to suffer from asthma when compared to those living in homes without damp problems.


Research published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the USA found a clear link between those living in damp houses and the occurrence of unpleasant skin conditions like eczema.

While the risks seem greatest to those already suffering from such skin problems, there is a risk, especially among children, that the dampness in your home may be a contributing factor in any skin complaints experienced.

Fever & Vomiting

Findings from research in Scotland suggests that people living in damp homes are far more likely to suffer from problems associated with fever, including symptoms such as high temperatures, aches, pains and even fainting. The study further suggests that children are 7% more likely to suffer from blocked noses in homes infected with mould and there is a significant increase in the occurrence of vomiting among those living in damp homes.

Other reasons to nip dampness in your home in the bud


Moisture is the prime breeding ground of bacteria. No amount of anti-bacterial cleaning products can compensate for a damp house. Bacterial colonies grow on damp organic matter such as wall boards and floor boards.


When there is a lot of water damage in a home, there are higher mouse allergens and cockroach allergens. Cockroach and rat waste material is a known trigger of asthma, and these pests flourish in damp environments.

Dust mites

If you’re allergic to dust mites, you’re all too familiar with the stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, respiratory problems and even asthmatic symptoms they may cause. Dust mites thrive in warm, moist environments (in humidity levels of 60% and above). If you keep your home’s relative humidity between 50 and 55% then this becomes unfavourable for dust mites.

Get to the root of the problem

Often we look for quick fixes for moisture problems, but addressing the root of the problem and managing the humidity and dampness by means of a dehumidifier is the best way to solve the problem and keep prevent your home from making your family sick.


A dehumidifier can assist in keeping your family healthy by maintaining the target relative humidity levels of 50 to 55% inside the home to prevent mould growth and prevent further damp-related health issues.  


COMING SOON: What is the difference between rising and penetrative damp? 

PREVIOUS: How to identify a damp problem in your home

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