With winter’s arrival and spells of cold and rain, many people living in apartments in cities across Turkey have started drying their laundry indoors rather than on their balconies. According to pulmonologist Dr. Nihal Başay, this could be very harmful to our health and lead to chronic lung diseases such as asthma.
Başay said the problem with this is that “mold starts to form in rooms due to higher humidity that evaporates off the clothes. The spores emitted by this type of fungus can cause infections and lead to lung disease.” She warned against drying wet laundry on heaters or in closed rooms during the winter, as doing so can cause humidity levels to rise as high as 30%.
“People who already have lung disease get affected by this badly,” she said, adding that even if it does not lead to an illness, it forms the basis for future infections and weakens the immune system.
In such a humid environment, these spores start multiplying rapidly, creating the “Aspergillus” mold – a common type of fungus that thrives in warm, dark and humid environments and can be found both indoors and outdoors. “This mold can cause severe cases of pneumonia, for which people even get hospitalized,” Başay said.
Başay advised people to upgrade their current washing and drying machines, saying that with the newest models and new technology, laundry can be wrung out at high speeds, coming out almost completely dry. Those that do not have the means or cannot dry their laundry outside for whatever reason should try to dry them in a room that is used less, and definitely not the bedroom, as the spores tend to stick to the walls.
“Closing the door while drying them and then airing out the room is essential,” she stressed.
Stay away from scented detergents
Başay also cautioned against using heavily-scented laundry detergents, especially for people with asthma and chronic bronchitis. “The strong smells they emit harm the patients. If possible use odorless/unscented detergents and make sure to rinse your laundry thoroughly. If these patients start developing symptoms such as coughing, fever, shortness of breath, respiratory distress or wheezing, they should consult a pulmonologist as soon as possible,” she said.