Beware of mould in your home - it can kill

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 11:00 hrs

Beware of mould in your home - it can kill just as it killed actress Brittany Murphy last December and her screenwriter husband Simon Monjack this May in their Los Angeles home.

At the time of her death, there were rumours that the 32-year-old actress had died of a drug overdose or an eating disorder and later that her husband had died of a heart failure.

A more unlikely end to the Hollywood dream could not seem possible - but this week reports said the deaths of the couple may have been caused by mould growing in their luxury home, reports the Daily Mail.

Mould is a form of fungus which forms anywhere there's moisture trapped in the air. Any flooding is likely to lead to mould.

In both the cases, the cause of death has been recorded as pneumonia and anaemia, and experts have suggested mould could be to blame, damaging the couple's respiratory systems.

The US public health officials are said to be inspecting the mansion Murphy and Monjack lived in.

Malcolm Richardson, professor of medical mycology (the study of mould) at the University of Manchester, said: 'It may seem extraordinary, but in fact mould in the home is a common health problem, affecting tens of thousands of people in Britain and elsewhere (especially in damp and cold countries).

According to him, there are thousands of types of moulds, but only about 10 types cause health problems -- commonly sinusitis, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions, as well as allergies.

Symptoms include coughing, constant tiredness, eye and throat irritation, headaches, skin irritation or nausea.

'Mould is an opportunistic fungus and grows aggressively in the body, stopping the organs working properly - so it can be lethal,' Richardson says.

'It can form in any poorly ventilated house, no matter how grand or ordinary, but it's especially likely where there is moisture leaking,' he added.

A leaking radiator is often a mould hotspot.

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