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What is it?

Aspergillus are common fungi of which there are many different species, such as aspergillus niger (the black mould found in damp places such as the corner of a bath). It rarely causes infections, but exposure to spores and chemicals it releases into the air can trigger respiratory problems in susceptible people.

How does it spread?

Aspergillus fungi can be found in large numbers in damp places and on organic waste (such as food or plant waste), in bins and compost heaps for example. Aspergillus spores are released into the air from the colony of fungus and can be inhaled into the lungs. The infection can be transferred via hands, surfaces and other objects to form new colonies in damp places.

What are the symptoms?

  • Exacerbation of respiratory symptoms such as asthma.
  • If infection occurs, fungi can grow inside the lungs or sinuses, causing chronic coughs and fatigue, blocked nose and headaches.
  • In rare cases, infection of particularly vulnerable people can progress to invade other organs through the bloodstream, such as the heart and brain, which can be fatal.

Prevent the spread

  • Where mould is visible, remove it using a bleach-based cleaner such as Domestos Bleach Spray or Domestos Extended Germ-Kill.
  • If large growths of fungi return, look to eliminate the source of dampness that allows them to grow.
  • Don't store food waste or other rotting organic waste, such as plants on which aspergillus can grow, indoors for long periods.
  • Wrap organic waste (such as food or plant waste) before disposal into outdoor bins and bags, and avoid disturbing it in a way that may release large numbers of spores into the air
  • Keep waste bins clean.
  • People with respiratory illness, asthma etc. and anyone who is severely immunocompromised, should try to avoid places with significant visible mould and rotting waste.