Drying Washing Indoors Can Cause Lung Infections, Doctors Warn

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Small boy helping with laundry

A dad-of-three has told how drying wet washing indoors gave him a lung infection.

Craig Mather, 43, from Bolton, suffered serious lung problems because of mould spores from washing drying on his bedroom radiator.

The spores came from Aspergillus fumigatus, which can cause lung infections, with adults and children with asthma being particularly susceptible.

Craig said: "I only started to recover when my consultant diagnosed chronic pulmonary aspergillosis and prescribed me special drugs to fight the fungal infection.

"However, I noticed coughing fits and night sweats particularly when I had wet washing drying on the warm bedroom radiator.

"He told me that it could be making my problems worse, so for the last 12 months I haven't dried my clothes indoors and I've notice a huge improvement in my health."

Craig's experience is one of many highlighted by doctors who have warned that drying washing indoors can pose a serious health risk.

Clothes draped on drying frames or warm radiators can raise moisture levels in the home by up to 30 per cent, creating ideal breeding conditions for mould spores.

Professor David Denning and his team at the National Aspergillosis Centre in Manchester said he is treating a growing number of patients who have inhaled Aspergillus fungal spores.

Professor Denning said: "One load of wet washing contains almost two litres of water, which is released into the room. Most of us are either immune to the fungus which grows in these humid conditions, or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection.

"But in asthma sufferers it can produce coughing and wheeziness, and in people with weak or damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, Aids patients and people who have an auto immune disease, the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition which can cause irreparable, and sometime fatal, damage to the lungs and sinuses.

"My advice would be when in doubt dry wet washing outside, in a tumble dryer or in a well-ventilated indoor space away from bedrooms and living areas to be safe rather than sorry."

Which may well be desirable, but is it really practical for families with permanently filthy children whose washing machines are used almost every day of the week?

It might be OK in summer, but it is nigh on impossible to hang clothes outside in the cold and wet weather we experience during autumn and winter.

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