Karencita de Perú

Humidity & Mold – Humedad y Moho

Posted on: June 16, 2010

If you have never lived in a humid climate you can’t really understand it until you experience it firsthand.  Coming from Vancouver, where it rains a lot, one would think we have a lot of humidity but it isn’t the same as Lima at all.  It doesn’t rain much here, but the air is constantly moist and damp.  This causes all sorts of problems.

Of course there is the obvious problem of frizzy hair.  I have naturally wavy hair and straightening it in a dry climate is a challenge but here it is utterly pointless.  I have tried it on two occasions and within a few hours my sleek, smooth hair starts turning into a puffy, frizzy mess.  In addition to  looking bad, when Luis was getting his hair cut the other day, the hairdresser said that the humidity can actually damage your hair.  That was news to me.  I will have to find out what I can use to prevent damage from humidity.

More serious than hair, though, is the issue of mold.  Because it is always humid things here never fully dry out or take a very long time to dry.  We live in Miraflores which is close to the ocean and more humid than some other areas of Lima.  Luis has definitely noticed the difference between here and where he used to live in Independencia, which is only about an hour away.  Anyway, after living her for about a month we started to notice spots on some of our clothes and realized that it was mold.  It seemed to affect Luis’ clothes worse than mine.  I only had one pair of shorts and one t-shirt that had spots on them.  The worst item was a suit which Luis hadn’t worn for a while that was stored in the closet in a garment bag.  When we opened it up it was covered in fuzzy mold!  It was disgusting!!  We had to take it to the dry cleaner immediately.

After that we started asking around about how to combat this problem.  We were given a number of suggestions like putting containers of baking soda or black peppercorns in our drawers but in the end we decided to buy a dehumidifier for the bedroom.  It is really great and is helping a lot.  The amount of water that comes out of the air is incredible.  In about 4 hours it collects about a liter of water.

Just imagine that we are constantly breathing all that moist air into our lungs.  Which brings me to the last point I want to make about humidity… it can be bad for your health.  It is winter here in the southern hemisphere and Lima is not a hot, sunny place.  Humidity and cold air are a bad combination.  The people here are always talking about making sure you dress warmly and especially keeping your chest and neck warm and drinking warm beverages.  Continually breathing in cold, damp air makes illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia more prevalent.

The damp air is a perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew and fungus, which can cause health problems like skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, nasal congestion, aggravation of asthma or difficulty breathing.   In addition, if the humidity level is consistently high you are likely to experience a rapidly increasing dust mite population, which will affect allergy sufferers.   Apart from the clothes, the other place where the mold is a problem is in the bathroom.  After cleaning the bathtub, it quickly starts turning black again from the mold.   The worst thing was when I noticed that there was black mold on my toothbrush!  I had to buy a new one and I am now very careful to make sure I dry it every time after I use it.  We might have to buy a small dehumidifier for the bathroom eventually to help alleviate the dampness.

Well, I hope I haven’t scared those of you who were planning to visit.  If you are only here for a week or two you won’t notice any of these problems, except maybe the frizzy hair!

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