DRYING clothes on radiators in the house is normal practice for many – especially during the cold winter months.

But for one dad-of-three from Little Hulton it turned out to seriously impact on his health.

Craig Mather, aged 43, was born with asthma and had already suffered from a bout of tuberculosis in 1997, which left him with scarred lungs and a weakened immune system.

But despite trying to live a healthy life from then the takeaway manager began coughing up blood three years ago, leading to a diagnosis of chronic pulmonary aspergillosis.

Experts have found that clothes put on drying frames or draped over warm radiators raise moisture levels in our homes by up to 30 per cent creating ideal breeding conditions for mould spores.

One in particular, aspergillus fumigatus, can cause lung infections – which for some can prove fatal.

Mr Mather said: "I've had asthma since I was a small child but I seemed to grow out of it but then it came back full force in my mid 20s when I split up from my partner and got a bit depressed.

"In 1997 I contracted tuberculosis off a friend despite having had the `injection when I was at school. Part of my lungs were damaged because of that and left scar tissue which is why I got aspergillosis. Normal lungs would have been able to deal with it but mine couldn't.

"Thankfully I wasn't hospitalised. I was told to stay at home to rest and given medication while my immediate family were told to have a test. I was housebound for a month and had to take six months off work.

"The TB really affected my immune system and I went from 11 stone down to about six stone. After I began to recover I was put on a high protein diet. It took me a while to get back on my feet – probably about two years."

Mr Mather started back at work doing light duties but still struggled with repeat chest infections. Then shockingly three years ago he began coughing up blood.

He said: "I was terrified and didn't have a clue what it could be so I rushed to A&E where I was told to go to the lung centre at Wythenshawe. I spoke to Dr Denning who was brilliant. He explained that I had aspergillosis and said that drying washing can make it worse.

"I did used to do that quite a lot, especially during the cold weather. Looking back I noticed that it was the reason why I had so many chest infections and struggled to sleep because of night sweats.

"I would never have thought that something so normal would cause such a problem. I straight away stopped drying clothes in the house and instead kept the place aired, and the difference has been really noticeable.

"I don't have a tumble dryer so I have to make sure that if clothes are out, I open the windows even if it is cold, or I put the clothes out on the washing line.

"My lung capacity is so much better – I can cycle to work and run around with the kids. I feel like I've got my life back."

Dr Denning, who is professor of infectious disease in global health at The University of Manchester, said: "It's estimated that as many as 87 per cent of us dry our clothes indoors in the winter. One load of wet washing contains almost two litres of water, which is released into the room.

"Most of us are either immune to the fungus which grows in these humid conditions, or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection. But, in asthma sufferers it can produce coughing and wheeziness, and in people with weak or damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, Aids patients and people who, like Craig, have an auto immune disease, the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition which can cause irreparable, and sometime fatal, damage to the lungs and sinuses.

"My advice would be when in doubt dry wet washing outside, in a tumble dryer or in a well ventilated indoor space away from bedrooms and living areas.

"Be safe rather than sorry."

What is chronic pulmonary aspergillosis?

The fungus - usually Aspergillus fumigatus - grows within a cavity of the lung, which was previously damaged during another lung illness such as tuberculosis or sarcoidosis.

Any lung disease that causes cavities in a lung can leave a person open to developing an aspergilloma see underlying diseases.

The fungus secretes toxic and allergic products, which may make the person feel ill.

The person affected may have no symptoms (especially early on).

Weight loss, chronic cough, and feeling rundown and tired are common symptoms.

Coughing of blood (haemoptysis) can occur in up to 50 to 90 per cent of affected people and can be severe.