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Govt Must Act Urgently on Leaky Buildings

Published: Tue 8 Oct 2002 02:09 PM
Govt Must Act Urgently on Leaky Buildings
The Government must act urgently to protect the health of New Zealanders living and working in leaky buildings, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
Leaky homes could cause serious health problems, including breathing difficulties, fatigue and - potentially -lung disease. People most at risk were babies and the elderly, repair workers exposed to toxic mould spores, and people with allergies, asthma or rheumatic problems.
Ms Kedgley said the biggest concern was the toxic mould Stachybotrys. This mould was most commonly found in buildings which had sustained flooding or water damage from roof, wall or floor leaks. Overseas research showed it could cause rashes, breathing problems, and - potentially - bleeding lungs. It was most dangerous when it dried and its spores became airborne, such as during removal, vacuuming or if exposed to a draught.
Ms Kedgley called for three main steps:
- The Health Ministry should urgently assess the health risks of leaky buildings, especially toxic mould. Guidelines should be issued advising homeowners how to protect their health. Residents should be advised whether to move out while mould was being removed.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Service should send out urgent guidelines for anyone working with leaky buildings. New Zealand experts and overseas research showed people removing Stachybotrys should wear protective or disposable clothing, gloves and masks.
- The Government should conduct a nationwide survey of at-risk houses to determine the full extent of the leaky building problem. Many houses had hidden mould problems that would only be uncovered by correct survey techniques, including removal of wall linings and confirmation by a microbiologist.
Auckland building surveyor, Prendos founding director Greg O'Sullivan, today agreed the health impact of the leaky buildings was a significant issue which needed urgent government action and funding.
There was an urgent need to train people in correct procedures for removing Stachybotrys and other moulds.
"I've seen repairs happen today that we know will fail in three to four years time,"Mr O'Sullivan said.

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