Claims restoration managers and insurers at a conference on the health risks of airborne mould spores were told that more needed to be done to raise awareness of the issue.

Dr R Vincent Miller, vice president of Aerotech Laboratories, the world's largest indoor air quality laboratory, has spent many years studying the effects of mould spores which carry potentially deadly toxins.

At the conference in Bolton, he told delegates of severe cases where mould spores drawn through heating systems have caused bleeding in the lungs of young children after they had breathed contaminated air.

Although Miller was anxious to dispel concerns fanned by some sections of the media, he said that mould spores could pose a serious and widespread danger, though there was no scientific proof that this was the case.

He stressed: “Those personnel working in building restoration and those insurers dealing with domestic and commercial claims, need to be aware of the potential health hazards of mould spores and the possible future perceptions of claimants.”

The conference was told that the rising incidence of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or so-called sick building syndrome, could be connected to the increased installation of hot air ducting in buildings. These illnesses could well be the result of toxic spores carried through the air by air conditioning and heating systems.

Damage restoration experts also heard that speed was essential when dealing with a site affected by flooding to reduce the risk of mould growth.

Delegates to the conference, hosted by damage management specialists Onecall, included managers from Royal & Sunalliance (R&SA) and Prudential, as well as damage restoration companies.

Peter Beckett, senior building surveyor at R&SA, said he believed it was important for insurers to realise the potential hazard.