Half Hedland houses mouldy

KIM KIRKMANNorth West Telegraph

Mould has infested on average every second house in Port Hedland, experts say.

Reception areas at Pilbara TAFE’s Pundulmurra and South Hedland campuses and South Hedland’s library were closed last week due to mould.

In March the new $17 million South Hedland Police Station closed for several weeks to tackle an infestation.

Last year was Australia’s third wettest year on record, while February’s North West rainfall was the heaviest in 22 years, and speculation is rife that mould is increasing in the region.

But, according to scientist and chief executive of mould remediation company Mycologia, Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp, people are just more aware of it.

“Of course the wetter weather will bring out more of it, but the mould was there all the time,” she said.

“The climate up here is tropical, in the summer months (Port Hedland) normally always exceeds 75 to 85 per cent relative humidity.”

According to Dr Kemp, problems are caused primarily by poor maintenance of air-conditioning systems.

“The second thing is due to point problems, parts of the buildings are hotter and colder than other parts, causing condensation,” she said.

Mycologia does mould remediation in around six houses a week in Port Hedland.

“In Karratha we do 10 houses a week and we are not the only company; there are five other teams there who do mould remediation,” Dr Kemp said.

Mould can cause building materials to deteriorate, and it can corrode metals and destabilise structures like wooden buildings.

Healthwise it can act as a pathogen, a toxin or as an allergen with the potential to cause respiratory problems, eye, nose and throat infections, skin irritation or even behavioural changes.

But Dr Kemp said while mould was a serious problem, there were solutions.

“It’s not just the environment, it’s the artificial built environment that causes the problem and it is made worse if you then have a wet environment,” she said.

Pilbara TAFE managing director Lyn Farrell said the reception closures were a precautionary measure and the rest of the campus remained open for business.

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