‘I had mould growing in my lungs’: Young woman warns of health risks of Australia’s mould crisis

“I had mould growing in my lungs.”

For young Canberran Caitlin Ross, the mould crisis hitting Australian homes was almost a death sentence after mould spores started growing in her lungs.

“I had intense pain in my lung and I knew something was really, really wrong,” she said.

“I’d been through three different courses of antibiotics and nothing had worked.

“I was pretty lucky at that point to even be alive.”

Caitlin Ross had mould growing inside her lungs. (Supplied)

Ross has no idea where she was exposed to mould and two years later she is still feeling the consequences of breathing in the spores.

“I was a bit disgusted, to be honest, mould is something you think is a bit gross and icky and that was inside of me,” she said.

“I have permanent scarring in my lungs. If I breathe too hard or exercise too hard that will pull on the scarring and cause a lot of pain.

“It’s never going to go away, and I’m never going to be able to live life without that pain and it’s so much worse in the winter, because you have less elasticity in your lungs when you’re breathing, and that just exacerbates all that pain.” 

Caitlin Ross has mould growing inside her lungs.
The slightly opaque white areas are where the mould spores were growing. (Supplied)

After the wettest year on record, mould is breeding and spreading in homes, cars, and in the air. 

Asthma Australia warns the wet conditions are causing mould to grow and therefore increase the risk of breathing in “unwanted health problems”.

“It’s not just the mould you can see, we are all breathing in lots of mould spores every day,” Respiratory Specialist Professor John Blakey said.

“In the most extreme circumstances, people with depleted immune systems can get a pure infection and that can be very serious.”

A mould crisis is occurring across Australia after wet weather.
Recent wet weather means mould is rising in homes. (Supplied)

People with asthma or existing lung conditions are most at risk of developing more serious health problems from mould exposure. 

However, with the rise in the prevalence of mould and respiratory conditions brought on by COVID-19 more people are at risk. 

“No need to panic but there is probably a need to take action for some people to get on top of the problem,” Blakey said.

“You may not think it’s very dangerous, but I nearly died from mould, so it’s something you should be aware of, that you should take seriously,” Ross said.

A mould crisis is occurring across Australia after wet weather.
Experts advise using mould removal products as soon as it occurs. (Supplied)

The next problem is moisture removal products are hard to get with shelves across Sydney being emptied as mould becomes a problem in most households.

If Sydneysiders can get their hands on mould removal products, Asthma Australia recommends wearing protective equipment and cleaning with a mixture of vinegar and water.

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