Published On: Tue, Jul 31st, 2012

Is medical advice about mould making us sick?

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Jeff Charlton, of Building Forensics, takes on Government medical experts over mould issues, supported by Beckenham MP Bob Stuart

Jeff Charlton, principle consultant at Kent-based Building Forensics, is taking on the UK’s leading government agencies and patient support groups, challenging what he believes is dangerously unfounded and unscientific advice regarding the removal and control of mould: advice which, says Charlton, may have substantial health effects on those who follow it and who unfortunately live in damp and mould affected homes.

Beckenham Conservative MP Bob Stewart has backed Charlton by calling on relevant ministers – including the Under Secretary of State for Public Health and the Department of Communities and Local Government – to review Charlton’s evidence and concerns. MP Greg Mulholland Lib Dems has asked Charlton to provide discussion papers to two separate parliamentary groups.

The UK leads the world in asthma, with mould recognised by the World Health Organisation as a trigger for asthma in children, as well as for many other illnesses including CFS and respiratory and psychological issues; the UK government has classified mould in homes as a class 1 hazard, alongside asbestos.

“The basic advice on decontaminating and controlling mould, provided by recognised authorities such as the Health Protection Agency and NHS ‘Aspergillus patient support’, may actually increase the health hazards,” says Charlton. “The recommended approach of ‘damp dusting with bleach’ in homes and workplaces can itself be a hazard.”

He continues: “I cannot over-emphasise the importance of removing and controlling mould. The NHS is overwhelmed by tens of thousands of people suffering respiratory and allergic effects associated with mould, which can in extreme cases lead not just to respiratory problems but mould-related death. But the recommendation to kill mould with bleach doesn’t work and the resultant mix of mould and bleach, if inhaled, can itself be a significant health-hazard.”

Two weeks, Charlton challenged Unilever, maker of Domestos, to provide any evidence that its products – advertised as killing mould – actually work. Unilever was unable to provide any information at all, passing Charlton’s enquiry over to its trade association, which also couldn’t assist.

“I also asked the aspergillus patient centre at Wythenshawe Hospital about its recommendations for bleach to kill mould,” continues Charlton. “The centre directed me to the Royal Society of Public Health, which accredits bleach as a mould killer. But the RSPH could not prove this accreditation at all and failed to provide any supportive evidence.

“Meanwhile, it’s generally accepted that killing mould is not good practice, as dead mould can be as or more toxic than live mould. The best option is not to kill it but to remove it.”

Charlton has also taken on the Department for Local Communities and Local Government which, through local environmental health officers, assesses the mould health hazard with mathematical formulae instead of sampling. Sampling is the protocol used internationally but not in the UK.

“This is a battle that needs to be won,” says Charlton. “People in homes affected by flooding or damp are likely to develop respiratory problems and the current, unfounded advice is causing a lot of unnecessary illness, not to mention cost to the NHS.”

Jeff Charlton
Tel: 07990 500 999

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