Mould in your home can kill as actress Brittany Murphy's death linked to
fungus in LA mansion
By David Hurst, 28th July 2010
A more unlikely end to the Hollywood dream could not seem possible - but
this week it was reported that the deaths of American actress Brittany
Murphy and her British screen-writer husband Simon Monjack might have been
caused by mould growing in their luxury Los Angeles home.
Murphy, who starred in such films as Clueless and Sin Sity, was only 32 when
she died last December - at the time there was speculation her death was
linked to drug abuse or an eating disorder.
When Monjack died in May at the age of 40, his death was blamed on heart
Now, in both cases, the cause of death has been recorded as pneumonia and
anaemia, and experts have suggested mould could be to blame, damaging the
couple’s respiratory systems.
U.S. public health officials are said to be inspecting the mansion Murphy
and Monjack lived in.
It may seem extraordinary, but in fact mould in the home is a common health
problem, affecting tens of thousands of people in the UK, explains Malcolm
Richardson, Professor of medical mycology (the study of mould) at the
University of Manchester.
‘Britain is especially prone to moulds, due to it being damp and cold so
often, and because a lot of the housing is old,’ he says.
‘Yet compared with countries such as America and Finland, there’s not much
awareness of mould or the health damage it can cause - it can be fatal.’
There are hundreds of thousands of types of mould, he says, but only about
ten types cause health problems, commonly sinusitis, bronchitis and other
respiratory conditions, as well as allergies.
Mould is a form of fungus which forms anywhere there’s moisture trapped in
the air — typically around showers, dishwashers, washing machines, tumble
dryers and in kitchens, although it is also often found in the moist soil of
Any flooding is likely to lead to mould. If it is growing rapidly, the
evidence will be visible in months - but it can take years to form and to be