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Action needed NOW on toxic mould guidelines

Action needed NOW on toxic mould guidelines

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is urging the Government to learn from the United States experience, where studies have linked health problems to mould in leaky homes and office buildings.

New York guidelines say moulds have to be removed immediately and safely, any source of water stopped as soon as possible, and mould-damaged materials repaired promptly.

People removing mould should wear protective or disposable clothing, gloves and masks; and must be properly trained, the guidelines say. People who should move out while the work is done include babies, immune-suppressed people or people with allergies or lung conditions including asthma.

The guidelines also say people with health problems presumed related to mould exposure should see a doctor for referral to specialists knowledgeable on the subject.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene guidelines say many fungi, including the most serious mould associated with leaky buildings- Stachybotrys - could produce potent toxic agents; which some studies have linked to health problems.

The guidelines were developed because of Stachybotrys problems in New York City buildings in the early 1990s. The guidelines were extended to include all mould types; and are for use by building engineers and management, environmental consultants, health professionals and the public.

Ms Kedgley is calling on the Government to urgently issue guidelines to New Zealand homeowners and building repair workers on how to deal safely with toxic mould in leaky buildings. The Government acknowledged this week in Parliament, in response to questions from Ms Kedgley, that this information needs to be made available. But Ms Kedgley said it was dragging its heels on getting the information out.

Meanwhile, research microbiologist Dr Nick Waipara said Stachybotrys was very common in New Zealand, and agreed the Government had to act urgently on informing the public. He had tested homes throughout New Zealand and confirmed many instances of Stachybotrys. There was also very strong anecdotal evidence that many people in New Zealand were suffering ill health as a result of living in homes affected by Stachybotrys, he said. However, it was not yet possible to test humans for these toxic mould diseases, he said.

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