Aussies love an air-conditioned summer. Yet, most of us are blissfully unaware of the supreme filth emanating from many of our nation’s unserviced air-conditioning units.
From pooping mites to deadly mould, stinky bacteria and even toxic drugs, an unserviced air-conditioner can house a slew of contaminants – all of which can make you very, very sick.
If you can’t remember the last time you had your air-conditioner serviced, your filters changed, or you’re beginning to suspect that the smell coming from the vents might be a little sinister, this article is for you.
Read on to find out what could be hiding in your air-con.
Dust Mites Living In Your Own Filth
To those of us with allergies or immune diseases, dirty air-conditioners offer a world of pain.
According to Dr Ravi Gutta, an allergy and immunology specialist at the UAE’s leading Mediclinic City Hospital, unserviced air-conditioning units can cause serious respiratory problems in those with pre-existing conditions.
How does this happen? Well, it’s because just 1 gram of fine dust an air-conditioner filter traps can contain up to 1000 dust mites and, get this, 250,000 dust mite faecal pellets. Pieces of dust mite dung, essentially. It is this waste that actually triggers allergic reactions.
Air-conditioners that aren’t used during winter become perfect homes for dust mites to breed and defecate in. Then, when summer gets hot enough and you turn your system on, their bodies and their poop blow around all over your home!
Once they’ve landed on carpets, couches, and curtains, the mites dig in and begin breeding and defecating again. Your air-con spreads their infestation!
And it’s not just dust mites that live and thrive in air-conditioning units.
Deadly Mould Growing Silently
Unserviced air-conditioners make excellent breeding grounds for many types of moulds too. They provide the moisture (condensation), food (organic matter) and warmth that these fungal colonies need to flourish.
Yet, while most people know that air-conditioners can get mouldy, many don’t realise how serious a mould infection can be. Airborne mould isn’t just hazardous for those with allergies, it can injure, or even kill, anyone!
Certain types of mould spread mycotoxins – dangerous particles that can cause serious diseases like pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Symptoms include bleeding lungs!
Mycotoxins pose a particularly high risk to babies and small children, the elderly, those with immune conditions and household pets.
If your air-conditioning unit is smelly, wet or not functioning well, don’t ignore it! These are signs of a potential mould outbreak.
Unless you have the right personal protective equipment to protect you from inhaling mould spores, forget about cleaning out the unit yourself.
Book a professional to carry out an air-conditioner service as this will include a thorough sterilisation of all the hard-to-reach parts.
An Epidemic Of Hospital-Grade Bacteria
The same conditions that make the inside of an air-conditioner a great breeding ground for mould also suit the growth of harmful bacteria.
From Legionnaires’ disease (a lethal type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria) to a smelly, skin-cell eating variety of Staphylococcus, air-conditioners can host a range of dangerous and unpleasant bacteria.
The good news is that, when filters are changed and household air-conditioners are regularly cleaned and serviced, these germs pose no threat to our health.
If you’ve been experiencing inexplicable seasonal illnesses, or even year-round suffering, and you have a reverse-cycle air-conditioning unit, the cure could be as simple as getting it serviced.