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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Roytas

What's that smell?

The ‘mouldy odour’ in damp, water damaged buildings, might not be due to the mould itself, but from the aerosolization of toxic chemicals present in construction material.

For example, chloroanisoles, a group of toxic chemicals used as a timber preservative, are converted into chlorophenols in the presence of dampness and mould.

Chlorophenols are level 1 carcinogens, they cause acute intoxication in humans, and give off a characteristic ‘mouldy odour’.

Exposure to these chemicals results in symptoms that resemble mould related illness.

A recent 2024 study concluded that the adverse health effects of these toxic substances has been confused with mould exposure.

They also stated that ambiguous and misleading terms such as “sick building syndrome” and “dampness and mould” should be avoided, as they neglect or obscure more important hazards such as exposure to harmful man-made chemicals.

Mould isn't the problem, it's the toxic building material.

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