Can damp and mould affect my health?

Information written and reviewed by Certified Doctors.

Yes, if you have damp and mould you're more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system.

Who's affected by mould?

Some people are more sensitive than others, including:

  • babies and children
  • elderly people
  • those with existing skin problems, such as eczema
  • those with respiratory problems, such as allergies and asthma
  • those with a weakened immune system

These people should stay away from damp and mould.

How does mould affect your health?

Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks.

Causes of damp and mould

Mould and damp are caused by excess moisture. Moisture in buildings can be caused by leaking pipes, rising damp in basements or ground floors, or rain seeping in because of damage to the roof or around window frames.

A newly-built home may be damp if the water used when building it is still drying out – for example, in the plaster on the walls. Excess moisture indoors can also be caused by condensation.

If you have mould or damp it's important to find out why you have excess moisture in your home. When you know what's causing the damp, you can make sure your home is repaired or take steps to limit the moisture in the air. You may need to get a professional to remove mould for you, but if it's only a small amount you may be able to remove it yourself.

Content supplied by NHS Choices