Melbourne women develops auto-immune disease from MOULD in her air conditioner

A 34 year old high school PE teacher developed lesions all over her skin after moving into a brand-new apartment in trendy Melbourne suburb of Prahran in April 2014.  Carly Buhagiar had no idea how disastrous the place would be for her health, she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and autoimmune condition that left her so exhausted she was forced to quit her job.

During the three years the 34-year-old high school PE teacher lived in the rental unit she developed lesions all over her skin. At the same time, Ms Buhagiar’s former partner, who was also living in the unit, developed an eerily similar autoimmune condition.

However, it would be years before they would connect the dots – and trace their dramatic health problems back to an air conditioner filled with mould.

Diagnosis Found – MOULD Found to be the cause

“I was just handballed from specialist to specialist, and I probably went to see about 14 different doctors,” she said.  It took over 20 months after she first moved into her apartment  until she was finally diagnosed with toxic mould illness after seeing a new GP.

When asked when she felt her skin was at its best, she replied: ‘When I go on holiday.’ Luckily for Ms Buhagiar, the GP’s colleague had just had an experience with mould, with his son becoming very ill because of it. With this in mind, Ms Buhagiar’s GP recommended she get the apartment tested for mould.

Toxic mould illness is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions caused by toxic vapours from mould.

These vapours can cause an auto-immune reaction in some individuals like in Carly Buhagiar’s case.

Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, shortness of breath, depression, sleep disturbances and  abdominal pain.

“I did a home test kit off the internet. And sure enough, alarm bells rang straight away,” she said.  Ms Buhagiar had further tests done by Dr Cameron Jones, “He came out and swabbed the whole place. It was uninhabitable,” she said.

Dr Jones said “It was extremely high where the air conditioner was pumping out. That was the central thing that you saw when you walked into the apartment,” he said.

Photos taken of the air conditioner at the time show mould growing inside the casing and on its fins. (Photo: Carly Buhagiar)

“It was clear as crystal. It was the air conditioner,” Dr Jones said. While reverse cycle air conditioners can be useful in lowering a home’s humidity, they can also become mouldy inside if they are not regularly checked and maintained, Dr Jones said.

Lint and debris collect inside the air conditioners over time and, when mixed with water, form mould, he said. “It becomes mould contaminated and that’s when it’s a massive problem.”

Sydney GP Mark Donohoe, who specialises in treating chronic illnesses, said he was initially sceptical about CIRS, but over the past few years had come to recognise mould as a factor behind many of his patient’s puzzling and debilitating conditions.

Many of his patients had been ill for years and misdiagnosed with illnesses such as chronic fatigue. Like Ms Buhagiar, they were also often suspected of having mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, Dr Donohoe said.

“When medicine has run out of ideas of physical medical treatment we move straight to psychiatry and psychology. “(So patients get) misdiagnosed with mental health problems but when the moulds are gone they quickly regain their equilibrium and you find people emerging from what seems like depression or anxiety or bipolar disorders,” he said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that (mould-related illness) is an enormous problem and that we are going to have to solve it.” “Why it’s taken off so much in the last few years I can’t tell you but my practice is full of people who are mycotoxin affected, and mould toxins are by far the most common of those.

 Treatment for the Mould Illness

Carly underwent  a two week detox program in a Seattle based wellness clinic which involves medication and also alternative treatments such as “ozone steam sauna capsules” where patients sit inside and “sweat out the mould”.  At an expense of $25,000, Ms Buhagiar said she had noticed improvement in her health.

Dr Donohoe said while there was some merit to the suggestion you could sweat out toxins in the body, the main way to treat a mould illness was still to avoid exposure to it.

Ms Buhagiar has been treated in the US for toxic mould syndrome. (Photo: Carly Buhagiar)


NSW Liberal MP Lucy Wicks, who has herself been diagnosed with CIRS, called for a national inquiry into mould-related illnesses.

An inquiry, similar to one recently conducted into Lyme disease, was needed to raise awareness among GPs about the health impacts of mould and also establish national guidelines for doctors, Ms Wicks said.  A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the minister was supportive of the proposal.

Professional Air Conditioning Mould Remediation

For all your Air conditioning mould remediation contact one of our professional Sanitair HVAC Hygienists.  We have over 65 branches across Australia.

Freecall 1800 1301 68 or enter your postcode into the search bar to be directed to your local Sanitair HVAC Hygienist.





Teen Challenge 2018 Diamond Gala Dinner – Celebrating 60 Years

Saturday night was a great celebration and recognition for the dedicated team and the awesome job they do at Teen Challenge. The 2018 Diamond Gala Dinner, celebrating 60 years was a great success and raised much needed funds for a very worthwhile cause which was validated with some awesome success stories from some very amazing people.

The event table was kindly sponsored by Tony and Karen Evans from Sanitair Brisbane Inner East and their table shared by Robert Walters from Sanitair Brisbane South and Craig & Juliana Jefferies from Sanitair Head Office.

Since 1971, Teen Challenge QLD has helped thousands of young people overcome addiction, abuse and other life-controlling problems, giving them a second chance at life.

Substance abuse is one of the most prevalent issues facing this generation. It knows no socioeconomic boundaries.

Their services aim to eliminate self-destructive behaviour by meeting the need of the whole person, not only dealing with the addiction, but also rebuilding their self-image, work ethic, spiritual awareness and relationships.

Queensland Government Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate

Queenslander’s investing in energy-saving appliances may be eligible for a rebate of up to $300.

As part of the Queensland state government’s Affordable Energy Plan, customers from the Sunshine State will be eligible to receive a rebate on the purchase of a new appliance with a four star energy rating or higher.

You have until 3rd June 2018 to purchase a 4 star energy rating or higher air conditioner, refrigerator or washing machine to be eligible for the rebate.
Customers can save up to $50 a year by using an energy efficient refrigerator or washing machine. An energy efficient air conditioner could save up to $100 a year.
Rebates available

Rebates will apply to purchases from 1 January 2018 to 3 June 2018 (inclusive) for the following household appliances:

• $200 for a 4 star or higher energy rated washing machine
• $250 for a 4 star or higher energy rated refrigerator
• $300 for a 4 star or higher energy rated air conditioner.

Limited to one (1) rebate application per household.

The scheme will end when the funding is exhausted, so payment of a rebate is not guaranteed.

Eligible to Queensland residents, for purchases in a domestic application.

Queensland’s Minister for Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, says:

“In Queensland, appliances such as air conditioners, fridges and washing machines can account for nearly half of a household’s energy use.”
If your system is on it’s last legs this is the time to invest in a new one.”

Find out more:

Cleaning up the Air on the Coffs Coast!


John Winnacott is a licenced Sanitair™ HVAC Hygienist based in Coffs Harbour. The Coffs Coast can now breathe easy knowing John is on the job cleaning up the air on the Coffs Coast and improving the indoor air quality for residents, employers and employees and their guests.

Recently John was employed to clean and sanitise the air conditioning at the legendary “Big Banana” to ensure that the staff and visitors are provided with clean, fresh uncontaminated air to breath.

You don’t need a Big Banana in your front yard to experience the Sanitair Difference, If you live on the Coffs Coast John is available to give your air conditioning the same treatment. He promises your air conditioning will Look, Smell and Run as New.

Contact John Today and Breathe Clean Healthy Air.  FreeCall: 1800 130 168 and simply enter your postcode to be connected.

How a real banana turned into “The Big Banana”

In 1964 John Landi wanted something to make passing traffic stop at his road side banana stall. He had heard of a “Big Pineapple” in Hawaii and thought that something big would definitely stop traffic. With assistance of 1200 pounds and local engineer, Alan Chapman, who set about designing the giant banana by cutting the best looking banana he could find into 40 pieces and developing plans from which builders could work from, the Big Banana could become a reality.

Builder Alan Harvey started the construction in September 1964 with the work to be completed before Christmas. The biggest banana in the world was officially opened on December 22 that year.

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!

Clean air now! for every Woman, Man and Child in Canberra

Official Canberra Town Crier Joseph McGrail-Bateup is now also proclaiming the many benefits of Sanitair™

Canberra Residents, Employees, Businesses Owners, Students and Visitors to the city have now been granted the freedom and opportunity to breathe clean healthy air indoors.

It is with great pleasure and by the order of Sanitair Australia that we announce that Joseph McGrail-Bateup has been appointed Sanitair licensee for Canberra South. Joseph’s first proclamation as a licenced Sanitair™ HVAC Hygienist was to let all Canberran’s know that no Woman, Man or Child shall unnecessarily be exposed to dirty air conditioning in their Homes, Workplace, Educational facility or Accommodation whilst staying in Canberra.

Joseph joins the growing number of Sanitair licensees dedicated to providing specialist air conditioning hygiene services in Australia.  Sanitair is Australia’s largest and most trusted specialist air conditioning cleaning and sanitising provider providing their services since 2005.  With 60+ licences now operating in every state and territory of Australia there is sure to be a licenced Sanitair™ HVAC Hygienist near you providing their Award Winning Premium Clean.

Licenced Sanitair™ HVAC Hygienist’s have been providing their industry leading and Award-Winning services for Domestic Homes, Hotels & Resorts, Aged Care, Hospital & Medical, Mining, Public & Private Schools, Universities, Childcare & TAFE, Government agencies and Prisons. All Licenced Sanitair HVAC Hygienists are fully insured, Police Checked and have working with children and the vulnerable clearance.

A Sanitair Premium air conditioning service has many benefits as experienced by thousands of Australians each year and some of these benefits include Health, Energy Savings and Operational Efficiencies.  Sanitair promises that after they carry out a Sanitair Premium Service your air conditioning will Run, Look and Smell as new and best of all every one of their premium services is backed with a 12 Month Nationwide Mould Free Guarantee.

To speak with Joe or your Local licenced Sanitair™ HVAC Hygienist simply call on Free Call: 1800 130 168 and enter your postcode when prompted.