Home and commercial pipe leaks often come when property owners are least expecting them, and can quickly cause significant damage to other home fixtures if untended to - or worse, unnoticed. While the repair cost strain and potential for further damage to your property is a troublesome thought, even more so is the risk of health problems severe leaks can cause.
In these circumstances, it’s not the leaks themselves that cause damage, but rather the mold, asbestos and mildew that moisture-rich habitats facilitate. These hazards can lead to a slew of respiratory problems, which put yourself and any in your property in danger.
As reported by the EPA over the course of numerous recent studies, indoor air pollutant levels can be as much as 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels, and much more in extreme cases (such as when severe pipe leaks go unnoticed for prolonged periods.
“Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. The problems they cause can be subtle and do not always produce easily recognized or immediate impacts on health.” - “Questions About Your Community: Indoor Air,” US EPA
In this blog, we provide a rundown on the health hazards posed by asbestos, mold and fungi growth resulting from a severe pipe leak.
Health Effects and Symptoms
When mold, asbestos and other harmful fungi grow within a home or property, they can quickly lead to severe respiratory problems if unnoticed or unresolved. Most commonly, this includes:
- Throat, nose and skin irritation
- Itchy eyes or redness
- Frequent coughing or sneezing, as if affected by a severe allergy
- Upper and lower respiratory infection
- Sinus congestion
- Fever and/or difficulty breathing
These problems are made ever more severe when existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, exist. This is why it’s so important to act quickly whenever symptoms are experience or mold is detected.
How These Problems Develop
In many cases, mold and fungi-related health problems are caused by simply breathing in harmful spores, which are easily transferrable and fill the air around surfaces affected. Skin contact, of course, can affect individuals even more so.
Beyond homes, residential properties and schools, which are often main breeding grounds for harmful spores, commercial properties with poor ventilation are also susceptible.
“IAQ [indoor air quality] problems are not limited to homes and schools. Many office buildings have significant air pollution sources. Some of these buildings may be inadequately ventilated. For example, mechanical ventilation systems may not be designed or operated to provide adequate amounts of outdoor air.” - “Questions About Your Community: Indoor Air,” US EPA
What You Can Do
The first step in resolving a mold or asbestos problem in your home is determining its source - almost always, it’s moisture in some form trapped within walls, ceilings or other home surface. Mold and other hazardous spores cannot live without water. This moisture can be the result of a number of things, such as moisture around water heaters, under sinks and - for the purposes of this blog - water trapped within walls due to a leaky pipe.
Not all pipe leaks are immediately noticeable, and even a minor leak can cause a mold problem within your home. What’s worse is that the issue may go completely under the radar until you or those in your home/property start showing symptoms of respiratory problems.
If you find a source of mold somewhere in your home, such as under your sink or in the bathroom, the first thing you should do is call a team of mold removal experts to safely deal with the issue. However, if you or those on your property are showing symptoms similar to those above, for no conceivable reason, you should reach out to a leak detection expert ASAP - the problem may very well be a hidden leak within your property’s walls, only getting worse over time.