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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD, HOW OLD
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE SALTS & WHITE DEPOSITS
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ENTRY in buildings
Mold and other indoor hazard or contamination advice for renters: this document discusses the steps that a tenant in a rental apartment or rental home can take to look for and test for mold, responding to other possible indoor contaminants or safety hazards, how to inform building management of a known or suspected building hazard or safety problem, what to expect the rental property managers to do if they are going to address a health or safety problem properly, and what the rental apartment tenant needs to watch out for during a mold investigation and mold remediation of their home.
An easy-to-print PDF version of this article is here.
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Rental Unit Mold Contamination Guide: how to handle mold problems or other indoor air hazard conditions at a rental property - Mold & IAQ testing advice for rental tenants - what can a tenant do about a moldy apartment or rental home? & Mold testing and mold remediation advice for landlords. Tenant's Action Guide to Indoor Contaminants, Hazards or Mold in Rental Homes, Apartments, Offices
A rental tenant in a moldy apartment in Kentucky asked us for advice. The risk in her situation was increased because she suffers from a compromised immune system. our advice to her follows her letter.
I appreciate the user friendly format and the wealth of information on your website. I'm suffering severely from mold related illness and I need immediate help.
Two months ago I moved into a new apartment. Ever since I have had terrible congestion that appears w/in a minute of entering the apt. And only clears up after hours of leaving the apt. I have gone and had allergy testing and find we are highly allergic to *most* molds.
We have found a black shadowing mold like substance on the walls coming from beneath the kitchen cabinets. The *dust* settles on the edge of the counter at the wall beneath the cabinets. The dust is large particles that look a lot like black pepper. It also sticks to wall on the way down.
Tenant Wants to Move out of Moldy Apartment - Lease Breaking Issues
We need to move because I cannot live with this building-related sickness.
It is important to know what I'm dealing with before I go to management, because it seems to be such a severe structural issue, they may try to do something underhanded and cover it up.
We have a year lease and need to handle the situation in a way that will allow me get out from under this situation w/out our being taken advantage of and we are no expert in these matters.
On-site inspection is important: Keep in mind that anyone whose opinion you seek by telephone, email, or web "prospecting", even if s/he is very competent, is distant and can't see all of the site conditions. Therefore such advice can only be general, and we must keep in mind that there could be, in fact probably are, important observations that might change the assessment of an individual situation as well as the advice on steps to take.
If more than ten square feet of moldy material is found in a building or if mold returns after you have cleaned a small moldy surface, ask your landlord to fix the problem.
At TENANT LANDLORD MOLD DISPUTE we describe how a tenant or a third party might inspect a rental apartment or rental home, photo-document conditions found, and if necessary, collect mold test samples using an inexpensive procedure that can be processed by just about any environmental testing laboratory.
Advice to Renters when health complaints appear related to spending time in a building - where Mold is Visible or Suspected
Building-related illness symptoms often stop or diminish quickly when the suffering person leaves that location. A simple subjective test which you have applied is the observation that you suffer health complaints soon on entry to the building and they stop when you've been out of the building.
Contents may be contaminated from a prior residence: Of course if someone's apartment contents were mold-contaminated from a previous residence those complaints could still occur, so it's important to rule out that chance by recalling what reactions you had to your previous home.
Mold related illness symptoms don't always stop right away: Finally, while some building-related or building-aggravated health complaints diminish or stop entirely on leaving that environment, other complaints may be slow to appear and also slow to diminish even after leaving the problem environment. In fact high exposure to some materials such as allergens or mold can increase sensitivity to those particles in some individuals, making them later react to even low levels of such particles in a new environment.
Health Risks for Tenants in Rental Apartments - Compromised immune system increases vulnerability to mold-related illness
The fact that a building occupant's immune system is compromised places that person at extra risk and means that s/he and the contents of their apartment need to be protected carefully.
People at extra risk of health problems if exposed to moldy dust and demolition debris include elderly, infants, immune-compromised, asthmatics, people suffering from COPD or other respiratory illness, and possibly others. While chronic exposure to high levels of toxic or allergenic mold can make even some healthy people become sensitized as well, the people I just listed should be particularly careful about exposure.
See MOLD RELATED ILLNESS.
Too often we find that "black mold" on building surfaces has received attention but hard-to-see Penicillium sp. or Aspergillus sp. (for example) remain in large reservoirs on building surfaces or in insulation.
One of the ways an expert finds the problem mold reservoir(s) in a building is to first understand what causes mold (see Possible Mold Causes) and second, where it is likely to be found - on what it grows. See Possible Hidden Mold.)
Magic bullets: Also, "bleaching mold" or "fogging" or "encapsulating" mold is never a successful remedy for a moldy building. The places where mold is growing must be found, moldy material removed, exposed surfaces cleaned, and the causes of mold growth corrected. If the area of mold growth is large (more than 30 sq ft) the work needs to proceed with special procedures to avoid spreading moldy dusty debris around.
The tenant or building maintenance staff may have already identified apparent mold reservoirs or sources, and of course there could be other sources from other leaks or problems they haven't discovered:
Roof leaks - can have leaked into ceilings and walls; depending on what building materials used, they could be moldy with problem molds.
HVAC systems - If there is a common A/C duct system which has become mold contaminated, no amount of cleaning in your immediate apartment would be sufficient since it is possible that the whole system needs to be cleaned, or possibly some duct sections replaced, and the cause corrected. Also it is common for A/C condensate or water from a chiller system to leak; water could have leaked into your closet ceiling and walls, also creating a problem mold reservoir.
Building insulation - often building insulation has become mold contaminated but looks "clean" to the naked eye. Few mold inspectors test this material, yet it is often discovered to be the principal problem mold reservoir in some building areas.
See INSULATION MOLD.
Very often when we visit a site we find other leaks and mold sources that need to be addressed, so I wouldn't assume these are the full extent of what needs attention.
Mold cleanup cost concerns: Sometimes a building management is reluctant to face the expense and trouble of handling leaks and mold contamination correctly. Correct response might require a (costly) thorough building survey, evaluation, diagnosis of problem areas and their causes and specification of the steps to remedy them, followed by performing of the work followed by clearance inspection and testing by someone not at all connected with the contractors performing the remediation. It would be rare for a building manager to have such an expert on full-time staff, so hiring an outside expert would be necessary.
Mold fear concerns: Reluctance of building managers to address mold also comes from the wish to avoid alarming other tenants. In our experience this is always a mistaken notion, as tenants talk to one another anyway, and building-related illness frightens people - fear spreading faster than mold growth. Accurate information and the assurance that tenant concerns are being handled competently is more effective than other less direct responses by building management.
True cost of improper mold remediation: Half-baked or amateur workmanship risks increasing the ultimate cost to the building management:
In sum, it's least costly if mold remediation is performed properly in the first place.
1. Notify in writing: You should notify building management in writing of unhealthy unsafe conditions that need attention and that you are
unable to live in the apartment. If you are not certain of the presence of unsafe conditions in the rental apartment,
your letter should state your observations, complaints, concerns, and ask the building management to bring in the appropriate
professional to inspect, diagnose, and if needed, specify what repairs, cleaning, or remediation are needed.
Mold and Leak Reporting Advice for Renters
The U.S. EPAsuggests that renters should report all plumbing leaks and moisture problems immediately to your building owner, manager, or superintendent. In cases where persistent water problems are not addressed, you may want to contact local, state, or federal health or housing authorities.
Also see Health Department.
2. Simple mold testing: You might be successful in identifying some of the mold suspect material you see as problematic, and you might
collect a settled dust sample to see you can pick up indications of other problem molds or allergens.
Our mold sampling instruction contains sampling instructions you can follow. I'm on assignment out of the U.S. and won't be processing any lab samples until after 9/10 so if you are in a rush you should use another lab but you can still follow our sampling procedures.
3. If building management responds: If building management elects to make some effort to deal with the problem:
4. Should I Hire a Mold Expert to examine my moldy apartment?
In some egregious cases tenants have taken their complaint to the local health department. Also see Health Department.
Renters in New York City who have a mold problem in their home and who have not been able to resolve it can contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Call 311, or visit nyc.gov/health. Select 'M' in 'Health Topics A to Z' and click on 'Mold'.
If you live in another city or town, contact your local health department for advice. But beware; the staff at some health departments may not be educated about the common causes, extent, and potential health complaints often associated with mold exposure.
If there is a serious and obvious problem with mold or other health concerns in a rental apartment the health department may condemn the property and require the owners to act. In our opinion this rather drastic step may be appropriate in dire circumstances. It will also be likely to end any cooperation between landlord and tenant.
The more you know about proper procedures to find and clean up moldy buildings the better you can assure that your situation is handled properly. The articles at these links might be helpful:
When is mold a problem in buildings? What should be done about it? Find expert field and lab testing, inspection, remediation advice, but ... avoid "fear of mold" and bogus advice which can both cost you and yet may not really address the problem effectively. Our interest is in providing expert service to our clients, protecting not only their health but their wallets. I provide field investigations to find problems and to recommend solutions to mold in buildings, and I operate a forensic laboratory in New York which accepts mold and other indoor air and particle samples for examination. In depth information is at InspectAPedia.com and the links at that page. Website content suggestions are most welcome.
Case Histories: At our Mold Blog Mold Central: indoor air quality investigation case histories, I post summaries of field and lab toxic or allergenic mold and other indoor air quality investigations. I omit private information. I describe observations, procedures, and findings helpful to readers who are trying to remedy their own mold, allergenic, carbon monoxide, odor, or other indoor air and related health concerns in their indoor environment.
Continue reading at HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: my rental trailer has water leaks, gas leaks, carbon monoxide leaks - the owner says the black stuff I see is not harmful mold
I moved into a single wide trailer 3 months ago in Battlement mesa, CO I am a 61 yr old disabled person on O2 a t night. Since I have been here there has been a water leak under the floor, one through the roof, gas leaks and carbon monoxide leaks. I have had the maintenance people over every week. They half way fix things or tell me I am wrong about things. The leak under the floor got so bad the windows where dripping with moisture and the humidity in here was stifling.
Today they finally had to do something because the walls where wet and it has smelled terrible in here the whole time. They pulled off a panel, and found one leak and then knocked holes in the floor and found way more leaking. There is black stuff along the bottom of the walls and on the floor. All the wood is blackened and rotted.
I had the owner come look at the mess. Now they say it’s not mold, the stink will go away, it’s just old, and they have seen worse. I have breathed this smell all day. I feel like it’s in my mouth. I don’t trust these people. I am afraid I am going to die in this place.
What do you suggest? They have a fan blowing in there now, and I am going to sleep on the floor tonight, for at least for four more days.If they don’t think the black stuff is mold and just cover it up, will it make me sick? I can’t afford to move again. Also, the lease says I don’t get my deposit back $500 when I leave. I know I signed this even though I never had that in a lease before, but I needed a place to live that I could afford after the bank foreclosed on my home. The bank did not even care I was disabled. - J.M.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem with mold, leaks, and more of an emergency, possible very serious health risks for someone with a respiratory illness as you must have if you need to use oxygen for breathing assistance.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Watch out: My first concern is that running fans in a moldy area risks an enormous increase in the level of airborne mold, if problem mold is present - and could thus increase the mold hazard for you.
Second, it would be appropriate to have a neutral professional, someone with no link to your property management/ownership and with no connection to companies who repair or fix mold or buildings to examine your home for unsafe conditions, leak causes, and visible mold. That inspection may or may not lead to the need for some supporting mold testing. Mold tests without an inspection are unreliable.
If your home is mold contaminated, the problem
At our EXPERTS DIRECTORY of home inspectors o
at MOLD & ENVIRONMENTAL INSPECTORS you might find a professional who will help you pro bono or at a reduced rate if you explain your concerns.
You might find a local real estate attorney (also try DIRECTORY OF ATTORNEYS & expert witnesses) who will also help you pro bono or at a reduced rate. Most leases require the landlord to provide safe, habitable living space.
You may also have financial aid available to you locally through your local senior citizens, town, or county associations or even the Red Cross.
Make sure that you have expressed your concerns and health risks to your property management in writing.
Question: fragile health, mold exposure, doctor wants us to test our apartment for mold but we have moved out and have no access - can you test a moldy board game from that space?
I have an incurable type of anemia (Alpha Thalessemia) that often leaves me very weak and fatigued, and I am also currently receiving physical therapy for ortho-arthritis in both of my knees from a work injury 3 years ago.
I have three children and our monthly income is less than $700 per month. When I am unable to work because of my therapy schedule and treatment for my anemia, I volunteer a few hours a week just to stay productive.
We moved into a newly renovated, market rent apartment owned by the City of Decatur Housing Authority in April 2011. A few weeks after we moved in, I noticed that the apartment had many unfinished construction issues (no air filters, brownish gray(sewage) plumbing would constantly back up in the tub and toilet and over flow onto the bathroom and hallway floor(hardwood), door and window frames had no weather stripping allowing wind, rain, and insects into the house, broken pipes under the kitchen sink causing huge leaks and cabinets to be water damaged, broken stair rails on our porch causing my 3 year old and other children to often lean on them and fall off the stairs, no peepholes, opossums, and stray cats going through our trash bags every night(the building didn't have a dumpster and we were not allowed to have trash cans; so the city issued trash bags were constantly ripped through and trash scattered everywhere in the mornings...their solution was for us to keep our trash inside our small apartments until garbage day(Mondays) which caused our apartments to smell bad.)
I wrote all of my complaints down and submitted them to the landlord for immediate repair and after 60 days, there was very little effort to repair and correct. So I began paying my rent into the court until they could repair everything. The landlord in turn also claimed that we were to be evicted due to non-payment of rent, in which I appealed, but they still proceeded to ask for collection of rent without repairing everything.
During our court dispute, there were two more huge plumbing issues, and after each sewage back up and plumbing leak, it took maintenance up to 4 days to come out and repair, which left a musty odor months after repair and clean up. My children and I kept getting serious respiratory infections, high fevers, headaches, and congestion at least 2 times per month. After treating everything we were allergic to, our Allergy and Asthma doctor asked had we tested for mold and mildew in our apartment.
This had been the only allergy of ours that she had been unable to treat. I purchased the two test kits and placed them by the air vents in the areas where the musty odors were strongest. While waiting on the kits to collect enough to test, our doctor produced a letter to our landlord asking either if they could relocate us to a dry mold and mildew free unit because of our illness and allergies; or allow us to break our lease early because of the conditions of the rental.
The landlord refused my last two months of rent and ordered a writ based on their first filing for eviction from 2 months earlier. There was no paperwork warning us of the writ, I called the court and found out that one had been filed. I then in turn filed an cancellation of writ based on uninhabitable conditions. My cancellation was approved on the same day that the maintenance crew began moving our items out. By the time I got to the property with the signed order to cancel the writ/eviction, the marshal said it was up to the landlord to decide if I could move back in or if they could transfer me into a new apartment. The mold test kits were the only items that were not moved out of the apartment and new locks were placed on the door.
The writ and eviction took place in November 2011, but our case is still ongoing because of the appeal and the cancellation based on uninhabitable conditions.
We just received a court day for June 2012 last week, and I have had the hardest time locating a lawyer and toxic mold specialist to test our old apartment. I now have a respiratory condition that causes me to wheeze easily because of the exposure in the apartment. I had placed a couple of board games that had been on the floor near the leak in a big thick black plastic bag and taped it up prior to the eviction and I still have them. That is the only sample I have from the apartment in my possession.
Is there a way that the board games can be tested or is there a way I can still get the old apartment tested? This whole case is a big headache, but so is the fact that my lungs are now super sensitive due to the bad maintenance of that apartment.
Please inform me on any options, referrals, or advise that will aid in my case. - S.C. 5/9/12
Reply: testing a board game for mold would not be a reliable indicator of your mold exposure
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem. When an onsite inspection is no longer possible, because there is no access or because the original site has been cleaned or conditions there have changed, I agree that it's too bad but you just don't have that option as an information source that might help inform your doctor of conditions to which you have been exposed.
An accurate characterization of the mold to which you were exposed would require a visual inspection of the moldy apartment, some representative samples of the dominant mold genera/species growing in the home, possibly even some invasive measures to find large hidden mold reservoirs, and other measures.
I'm afraid that your mold test kits were most likely an unreliable approach to characterizing the mold in your apartment. What grows on the culture of a test kit may not be the dominant nor most harmful mold in the apartment but rather it's what fell onto the culture and liked to grow in that particular medium.
We could examine tape samples of the moldy surfaces of your board games, and I'd offer that work pro-bono for up to 4 tape samples (procedure at MOLD TEST KITS for DIY MOLD TESTS) but frankly it does not sound useful to do so. It would be a mistake to assume that the mold that grows on your board games is or ever was the dominant or most important mold that may have been in your home environment.
Your doctor can assist you in setting priorities for your time and attention but it seems to me (I am not a doctor) that your health comes first, and that the doctor will have advice on how your present health risks and complaints should be treated, considering that from your description alone you have probably been exposed to a variety of water-intrusion-type indoor mold growths.
A second concern is that if your home was very moldy, the contents that you have moved out of it into your new home may need to be cleaned, HEPA vacuumed, laundered, dry cleaned, washed, etc. to avoid importing a high level of moldy dust and debris into the new home.
Question: Suspected Chemical Hazards in a Converted Industrial Space
I got your website address from one of the Dutchess County health inspectors. He tried to help us but he could only test for organic solvents. He said sorry when he could not find anything and told us we needed to hire a private company to do testing.
We moved into a newly converted industrial space at [redacted for privacy] in Poughkeepsie. The building use to be a metal factory for the last 60 years until they turned it into rental units. On the 5th day of working there I noticed a strange vapor in the air that smelt like "welding" or something. For about a month after that I was in like a zombie like state. When I felt to sick to go to work and stayed home for a few days I snapped back to myself. Over those few days I was shaking like I was going through withdrawal or something. I downloaded a list of hazard waste shipments that this metal company shipped out and my symptoms fit well with tetrachloroethene exposure
I called the health dept and they told me to go to the emergency room which they said the only treatment would be fresh air and rest. I guess the health dept meet with the landlord and they were not able to find anything. One day a few days later I was there I could smell the stuff in the air that's when the inspector meet with me and said they can only test for solvents.
I bought one of these Haz Mat smart strips It tested positive for oxidizer and the Cyanide test turned a funky color that is not on the chart.
The landlord is a large company based in Westchester they seem to not care. The keep saying to write down dates and times and get blood tests. They never return our calls We tried to get blood tests but the doctor said we need to find out what we exposure to.
This nightmare has gone on for 2+ months my business is pretty much destroyed. I will be homeless in a month if someone does not help Can you please help us pro-bono or on a payment plan Thanks, R.S. - Poughkeepsie, New York
I am sorry to read of the difficulties you describe, and also to report that because my forensic expertise is with particles, mold, allergens, and not chemical contaminants, I'm not the best person to assist you. I agree that there could be chemical contaminants left from the prior industrial use of your building, including oils and solvents, and on an older building such as those along Cottage St. in Poughkeepsie, even pesticides.
Tetrachloroethene, also referred to as tetrachloroethylene or as "perc" was used in dry cleaning as well as a degreaser for metal working.
Watch out: while it is quite reasonable to suspect that tetrachloroethylene was and may remain present in a building where metalworking was conducted (used as a degreaser solvent that is both volatile and persistent in the environment), it would be a serious mistake to jump to the conclusion that it is the chief or only hazard in your building just as it would be risky to guess at your own exposure or to diagnose your complaint without consulting a qualified expert physician and hygienist. Just as an example, depending on the kind of work performed, metal plating, for example, can leave other hazards such as cadmium or other heavy metals behind in a local environment.
Watch out: Similarly, the "Smart-Strip" test kit that you purchased is a warning badge intended for emergency responders not comprehensive building surveys for chemical hazards. It was developed by Mike Reimer and is sensitive to chlorine, abnormal pH levels (identifying highly acidic or highly caustic agents), Fluoride, some nerve agents, Oxidizers, Arsenic, Sulfides, and Cyanide. It is by no means intended as a broad spectrum analyzer to identify specific chemicals among the thousands that may be used among various industries and industrial processes.
This chemically reactive "badge" is intended to be used or worn by first responders and emergency workers in the field to make very broad identification of hazardous conditions. It is not intended to identify specific chemicals or contaminants. And while this badge is widely accepted as a rough hazard screen, with this or many other chemically-based tests for contaminants, the presence of some chemicals or gases will affect the detection of others.
In contrast, an expert building investigator will consider the history of use of the building, the site, even nearby sites, as well as actual onsite observations, and occupant interview results in choosing an approach to screening for specific hazards.
I'm not sure you have to identify the exact solvent or chemical for a physician to be of assistance. If s/he has experience in environmental medicine or can refer you to someone who has that experience, there are most likely somewhat more broad exposure tests to hydrocarbons, solvents, including the one you name.
I suggest contacting an industrial hygienist willing to work on residential exposure questions, or perhaps Paul Ciminello at Ecosystems Strategies. But I am doubtful that many others besides myself are willing to take work like this on a pro-bono basis. And expert services can be costly.
Watch out: In my OPINION the safe inhabitability of a building is the responsibility of the building owner, and more, that the building owners may be inadvertently accepting a very very large liability risk if they have not had the building adequately surveyed and assured safe for occupants. If you make that concern clear, in writing, you may find that the owners will be willing to have proper inspection and testing performed. We can understand that an owner, not wanting to face or exacerbate what they may feel are avoidable expenses or troubles, may hope to find someone who will be quick, cheap, and who will give a clean bill of health to the building. But the risks of sloppy, careless or superficial work are so great for both owners and occupants, that in my view that would be a dangerous approach, and one to be avoided.
At RENTERS & TENANTS GUIDE TO MOLD & INDOOR HAZARDS we give advice to renters concerned about mold or other indoor contaminants - that may be helpful to you,
If you think it will assist your building owners in deciding what action is appropriate, when you write to them (phone calls alone are not adequate if serious building risks are suspected) you can include a copy of our correspondence, along with your own description of your concerns, along with the New York State file about Tetrachloroethylene exposure that and the Tetrachloroethylene MSDS I attached to my email to you and link-to here.
Please keep me posted on how things progress, and send along photos or documents about your building and its history if you can. Such added details can help us understand what's happening and often permit some useful further comment. What we both learn may help me help someone else. - Daniel
Question: obligation of a hotel to notify occupants of mold hazards or other health hazards
[The following is redacted and paraphrased to respect the correspondent's anonymty - Ed.]
Hi. Your website is a fantastic resource. Well done. Applause.
I wish to pose a question regarding citations and obligation to disclose.
I [...] reported [significant] mold [contamination] in [a hotel] room [and on a later visit to the same hotel] I found that the mold had not been removed. [I later found mold contamination in other rooms in the same hotel. [I] submitted [a] formal complaint to [the] local health authority. Authority did investigate, did confirm presence of mold and did cite the hotel in each instance. [But when I spoke with the hotel manager [s/he] denied [that the] presence of mold was confirmed, and that citations were issued [by the local authorities].
My question is, if the hotel is cited for mold in a particular hotel room and a public citizen later asks management whether the hotel was cited for mold in [in that very room] and the hotel manager asserts it wasn't cited for mold in that room might [there] be a governmental regulatory agency tasked to respond to such an incident? If actionable, what governmental regulatory agency should be notified?
Thanks in advance for your consideration. Sincerely, Anon 6/8/2013
Reply: laws requiring a hotel to give notice of health hazards
Good question and troubling but not at all surprising story; the hotel is naturally worried about scary publicity.
In my view it would be both appropriate and fair to first notify the building management and owners of your concern, in writing, in a clear, documented, and polite letter. Putting information in writing has its own strength and compelling nature.
It's easy enough to find the requirement for notice of unsafe or unhealthy conditions in a hotel, as I document here:
For information about hotel and health regulations see
Also see Cornell University offers information on hotel regulations
Watch out for a related concern: in my OPINION and based on my own field experience, building owners and managers, out of worry about scaring renters or in this case hotel guests, thus risking loss of business, may not only fail to report a mold hazard (especially if they do not agree with you that there was a hazard), they also may fail to take proper action to clean up or remove moldy materials and to adequately correct the cause for mold growth in the building. Inadequate mold remediation risks leaving a hazard in the building, one that may be particularly risky for future occupants who may be infant, elderly, asthmatic, allergic, or immune system-impaired.
Question: they said the mold in my apartment was harmless but I'm sick
(May 12, 2011) Karen Hamilton said:
They done mold testing in my apartmemt and i have 3 types of mold. They sent me a letter and told me the mold kind and that it wasnt the harmful kind. i have been sick with sinus infections since i moved here and i have given my notice i am moving . i just pray i dont take the stuff with me when i leave . I feel bad that this apt complex is preying on these elderly folks. This building had been flooded numerous times and many people have moved because of mold.
The mold test results you report sound a bit suspicious, at least from the distance of the internet. An onsite inspection by an expert who examines a building that has been flooded numerous times would be unusual to find only "harmless mold" unless previously there was an expert and thorough inspection, removal of problem mold, and cleanup. The worry is that if the building was actually flooded, even if there were no significant VISIBLE areas of mold, there is a real risk of significant hidden mold reservoirs that could be a problem for the occupants.
Mold "testing" accuracy and reliability varies enormously depending on exactly what tests were done, how they were performed, and where in the building they were performed, and most importantly, the results are not reliable unless there was also an appropriately thorough visual inspection.
Question: what do I do about my furniture in a moldy apartment; asthmatic children;
(July 18, 2011) Anonymous said:
what do I do about my furniture from a home where the test results came back 4x above 50 in concentration for black mold...Stachybotrys. do I need to get rid of my microfibre couch and my beds etc.? We were infiltrated while on a vacation with a leak in a water heater that went undetected and upon identification was not worked upon for weeks after by the landlord who failed to acknowledge the problem. I have six children and two are asthmatics on puffers.
Cleaning up mold-exposed apartment contents before moving?
Hard surfaced items can be cleaned using any household cleaner, soap and water, etc.
An upholstered couch that has been exposed to moldy DUST but doesn't smell moldy and has no mold GROWTH on it and has not been itself wet, may be simply HEPA vacuumed thoroughly and may be fine.
If that same couch was wet from some leak event, has mold growing on or in it, or you can't get rid of its moldy smell, most likely it needs to be replaced.
In a home with asthmatics, it's worth being extra careful to clean thoroughly.
Question: repeated sinus infections since moving into my apartmenbt
(Aug 26, 2011) Anonymous said:
i moved into my apartment in january 2011. since doing so my son and i have been sick with repeated sinus infections. sometimes needing two rounds of antibiotics and steroids. i have stared itching, breaking out in circular flat bumps, coughing, sneezing, and worsening asthma symptoms. my friends often leave my house sick with bacterial and viral eye infections, itching, coughing, sneezing, and hives. there was mold on my bedroom window that my landlord told me to clean with bleach. the intake vent leaks water onto the filters so i had to replace it with a hard fibered naturalaire filter so that it didnt fall to pieces due to water damage every week. there is a black gunky sludge on the coils (that the filter sits in front of) i tried scrubbing some off. there is also a black moldy looking hard ring around the bath spout. it probably used to be caulk or something. the fireplace was covered with a piece of plywood after i asked if it would be serviced so that i could use it this winter (because they wouldnt let me use it last winter). this apartment also an abnormal amount of dust blowing from the vents. I FOUND A MUSHROOM GROWING IN MY LIVINGROOM FLOOR in the corner of the carpet and wall. my landlord does not believe there is mold here. she only took over this property a few months back and dismisses everything i say. the owner lives in california! i have no idea what to do or who to call. i am getting worse every day. any advice?? thank you!
(Aug 27, 2011) coleton said:
I didn't see anywhere where you addressed her lease, can't the lease be voided by a lawyer if the mold is causing healtgh problem and the landlord refuses to fix it?
Several readers have commented about mold contamination being a basis for vacating a lease - "getting out of a lease"
I am not a lawyer - you'll want to consult a real estate attorney and s/he will want to read your lease agreement.
Indeed common or standard apartment and house rental lease forms include a "habitability" clause that requires the landlord to deliver a habitable property. If the building is not habitable because it is unsafe, that can be an effective argument.
Question: landlord intentionally covered up black mold in my apartment
(Aug 28, 2011) Kelly V said:
I have been in a unit for about 6 months and we had (intentional) covered up black mold in the unit. Landlord sent inexperienced contractor to fix the problems with bleach, they did not look in any other areas for black mold but the visible mold. Also recently found a large patch behind my washer and dryer in my furnace room. This means they failed at getting rid of it and what can i do, can i take land lord compensation or charge her for leading sicknesses that have been delt to me over time? I am 20 and i do not make a whole lot of money so i can't get a health inspector in here and land lord refuses to pay for one... I need help!
Covering up black mold? First of all "black mold" is not the only mold to worry about - it's just easiest to see.
If the health department is not going to take a look or help you, and the landlord is not going to fix the problem, and you are convinced it's a large problem area of harmful mold, if you've taken reasonable steps to confirm that such is the case, and you've notified those parties in writing of your concerns, then I'm not sure what further recourse you have without consulting an attorney or abandoning your lease.
Question: mushrooms growing out of carpet
(Aug 29, 2011) sick in tennessee said:
hi am the anonymous poster that had the mushroom growing and the health issues. the land lord is pretending there is no issue. she said the mushroom didnt grow here, but it did. i still have it even though it has been pulled from its root. i havent looked into a lawyer. cant afford any extra bills. but i will definitely contact the legal clinic here. thank you for that. i really dont know how to prove it though. im scared they will just say i have always had asthma or that its just gotten worse and that my son is just getting sick because he is a kid and they get germs.
Sick, the mushroom itself may be unimportant; but if there are wet conditions and a large problem mold reservoir (visible or hidden) there are likely to be health risks.
It is very difficult to PROVE that mold in a building has caused an illness. People are complex organisms exposed to a wide range of materials moving through various buildings and spaces, not just their home. BUT if we find a large problem mold reservoir in a building, experts agree that it is a hazard that should be removed.
And if you determine what kinds of mold dominated the environment, your physician may find that information helpful.
Question: mold growing in basement up to shoulder height
(Sept 12, 2011) Mold growing in basement said:
How bad does the mold need to be for it to be a health concern? The basement in our rental house flooded 2 years ago and all that was done was take out and replace the carpet. When hurricane Irene came through our basement flooded again. This time the carpet and bottom 12" of drywall and insulation was removed. On the interior surface of what is left of the wall there is mold growing some to shoulder height, some to waist height/thigh height. I'm guessing that the mold is already pretty well set in place from the previous flood and that the more recent flood just made it worse. I am also guessing that more drywall should have been taken to keep the mold from getting worse. The home is 3 stories with one thermostat so the basement air is getting spread throughout the house and I have three small children. We are moving out in 3 months, but I am wondering if it is safe for us to stay that long under these conditions.
From your description it would be unlikely that post-flood mold were just cosmetic; add that it's waist high in walls and an incomplete cleanup, and I can't imagine that those would be acceptable nor safe living conditions .individual susceptibility to mold related illness varies, but enev a healthy, insensitive person can become sensitized to mold with enoufpgh exposure, and even can become I'll or asthmatic.
Question: mold over my sofa
(Oct 5, 2011) Sherry said:
Mold is growing in my living room all over my sofa, speakers,table and is even growing in the cabinet where my pot and pan's are so I have to was them every time I use them and everything in my basement is molded . Is my landlord responsible for any of my belongings?
Sherry, you will need to take a copy of your lease to a real estate attorney to obtain a solid answer to your question about the landlord's responsibility for mold contamination in you rental home. In my experience and so in my OPINION, most leases require the landlord to provide a habitable property. And in my OPINION if the mold was not on your property before it was in your present home, AND if the mold growth is not due to your own negligence, then the landlord would typically have some responsibility. But as I said, a more accurate answer depends on the language of your lease, local laws and regulations, and case law. Let us know what your attorney advises.
AND WATCH OUT: don't move moldy belongings into a new home without cleaning them first (if they can be cleaned) or you will just import a possible problem to the new premises.
Question: moldy storage area contents
(Oct 8, 2011) Clare said:
My problem isnt as severe as others, but still a concern. I live in a co-op and I rent a 3rd party storage unit in the basement. It has been having problems with leaks for several years and never gets fixed. Now I have a problem with mold. I went into my unit and there is mold all over my things. The storage company blames the co-op and the co-op blames the storage copmpany and I cant get any answers. The storage company says they can disinfect the hard surfaces but not soft and this is where my problem gets worse. Theres mold on my clothes and winter coats. I cant get a straight answer as to if they can be cleaned properly. I'm most worried about the down filled coats, since they are so thick, and wondering if they can be completely sanitized. And then theres the items that can only be dry cleaned. If they can't its probably close to $2000 in items that will be ruined. I refuse to be out that amount of money for a problem that I cant fix. This is why I live in a co-op, this is why I pay maintenance. Anybody have advice? I'm tired of being dismissed, and with my allergy and asthma problems I can't even touch my things in the condition.
You can usually salvage moldy clothing by laundering or dry cleaning. I'd give those approaches a try. Just last month we successfully washed down sleeping bags and down vests in a new low-water-usage front loading washer, followed by low temperature drying in the clothes dryer. The results were excellent.
What cannot be reliably cleaned are moldy thick upholstered items like couches.
Question: modly apartment, getting desperate
(Oct 13, 2011) Terry said:
I am beginning to see mold all over my apartment, my apt. is rather small and the mold is becomming extremely bothersome. I have an 11yr old daughter living in the house with me and her father has mild asthma which now his coughing seems to worsen when we are home, we have already thrown out the majority of our funiture and clothing and shoes, now i am in expense of having to buy these clothing back because of the mold. when we moved in there was a lage dehumiditifier in the house and not knowing what it was doing there at the time we gave it back to the lanlord, now in my research of this mold situation i now know why it was sitting in the middle of my kitchen, HUH! and he said nothing. the house smells like wet damp musty clothes when you walk into the rooms and i have tried to get the smell out, plus we wear shoes in the house cause the carpet feels like fuzzy cotton under our feet and i dont want my family to get foot fungus in fear it might be mold. we asked to be let out of the lease but we were told from our landlord that they have their mortage to be paid too and so that was a bust. we cant move until may 15. now the black mold in the bathroom is worst and i have to pack all my belongings up and take to storage in fear i may lose it all to mold. what can we do from here on. i am so desparate.
Terry, small amounts of mold, less than 30 sqft can be cleaned up by just about anyone, but if there are building leaks or moisture traps there is a risk of a larger hidden problem. I would take a look at MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE (article links at page left) for help in deciding if an expert investigation is appropriate and also the reasoning in that article may be helpful in explaining the concern to your landlord.
You are right that if there is a significant mold contamination problem, your own items may need cleaning if you move.
Question: what if the building management won't respond to my mold complaint about my trailer?
(Nov 27, 2011) Lorinda Durst said:
what do you do when a manger does nothing and does not clean up the mold and i had to when i moved in and bowed celings with water and i think ther is mold in the trailer what do you and he does nothing/
(Jan 13, 2012) erin said:
I am in a 6 month lease with a real estate comp. I have many issues with this home. Rats living in my cieling that I poison often, gophers taking over every square inch of my yard, electrical problems and much, much more. My main problem is mold in every room that I clean with bleach and it just returns as fast as I clean it. I have painted 4 rooms now with a paint that is said to kill mold/mildew for up to 5 yrs, but it still returns. I think in one room that it is so bad it looks like black mold! This is ruining my furniture, clothes and more. I have been fighting this problem so long & the real estate comp knows. My daughter and I sneeze and have sore throats every day, and I did do in home care here with a man who was very sick & on 1-3-12 he passed away with respiratory problems. My pocket book can not take this any more between paints, poisons, cleaners, ect. I am out of work since loosing my friend here on the 3rd and we need this problem fixed. What can I do? I have even taken more than 40 pics to the real estate comp of damages & mold last dec and nothing has ever been done!!!
Lorinda and Erin, see MOLD ACTION ADVICE for RENTERS and see HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS - for advice on dealing with a landlord or manager who is ignoring mold in a rental home. If you are left with further questions just ask.
Question: I became ill right after moving in to the apartment
(Feb 28, 2012) I became very ill right after mo said:
I became very ill after moving into apartment. Seen many doctors and ruled out many diseases, etc. Found mold in apartment. Requested the apartment have a certified mold assessor come out. They did not do this. They took out some of the mold but not all. Had to vacate apartment as Doctor advised. Should I hire mold assessor now?I still am paying rent. Just not living there. I live in Texas and cannot seem to find which gov agency handles this.
Question: found mold in closet, clothes ruined, moved into moldy apartment, now what?
(June 2, 2012) tini chapman said:
I live in ahouse that I FOUND MOLD IN THE CLOSET AND ALL THE CLOTHES IN TH CLOSET WAS RUINED.I have been in the house for one year and six months and I am wanting the landlord to let us move without paying any rent at the end of the month. do you think he would allow that. I don't want to go through any legal matters if I can help it. But he hasn't done anything since we been in the house except put in a carbon monoxide detector. I try to be honest and I want to give him a call and discuss it with him first. This is not the only thing wrong or the only place we found the mold. We did not notice it cause the house was freshly painted in some areas of the old house. HELP!
(Aug 17, 2012) Candy said:
I have a question i have black and red mold in my house and my landlord wont take care of it and he told me it was my problem and i have a 4 year as well. I live in idaho and i don't know what i should do. There are more problems to this house then mold to i have the rent and i told my landlord that i would pay him the rent as soon as he gets this tooken care of and he told me it was my problem not his. But he wants the money he wont leave me alone about it. So what can i do or what should i do
Plus my landlord came over one day and tryed to fix up the house i have lived her over a year and i have hoes in the wall where he was trying to fix it up. He hasn't came back to fix and i don't know what i should do . I have mold all over my walls in my 4 years bedroom and mine it everywhere in my house . He wont take care of it but he wants the money for rent . I told him i would pay him but he has to take care of this first i am not the only one that is having this problem with this landlord and the mold. My friend has moved out of he house because her son came very sick because of this mold and now my daugther is comeing very sick and i don't know what to do . HELP!
(Oct 1, 2012) WendyA said:
My sister moved into a rental home. She discovered the basement was full of mold. The landlord had the basement carpeting removed and the paneling torn up and everything cleaned. My sister was in the home for 3 weeks including during the cleaning process. Once she found out one of the molds was stachybotrys, she moved out. And now she has pnumonia and pluersey. My first question is, could her illness be related to the mold? The second question is, does she need to worry that the items she moved from the moldy home into her new apartment are contaminated? The mold was located in the basement but there was not a door isolating the basement from the main floor where her things were located. She has been living in a motel as she is deathly afraid to move into her new apartment now. If her things are contaminated, what should she do to reduce any risk in her new place?
(Oct 17, 2012) gina said:
Since i moved into my rented house 3 years ago, I have been experiencing year round allergies that are getting worse and have developed into difficulty breathing at night and a recent skin rash. I now believe it is from breathing in mold but I cant afford a mold test. I frequently clean green powdery mold off the leather couch and wood furniture and just thought it was unfortunate maintenance due to mildew. But now my health is effected and my eosinophil count is elevated after a Dr.s blood test.
Tini, sorry to read about the mold issue; often moldy clothes can be laundered or drycleaned and are just fine, though some, such as leather, can be either too costly or too damaged to salvage.
I can't speculate on what your landlord might do - it depends on your rental agreement and the landlord themselves. Be sure that your concerns are made clear to the landlord, in writing.
Question: what's worse, breathing mold or breathign TileX
I have lived with mold in my old apt for over 9 years with my son who has asthma and and my daughter who has now allergy's..I now have lung damage ..We were told to use tilex now cair's who are federally funded had to move me .What was more damaging breathing the mold or tilex..
Breathing mold presents a wide range of risks depending on what mold spores or MVOCs are present, as well as the level of exposure in time, concentration, recurrence. Breathing fumes from a cleaning agent may be a respiratory irritant or depending on what the product's MSDS tells you, it may have other effects.
TileX MSDS data:
TileX is a product sold by the Clorox Company, for which a MSDS is easily found online. Basically it's a bleach product (Sodium hypochlorite 1-5% and Sodium Hydroxide 0.1-1%. There are worker exposure limits set for the second ingredient. None of the ingredients are on the IARC, OSHA, or NTP carcinogenlists. The Company's MSDS states that "Moderate eye irritant. Mild to moderat e skin irritant. Occasional clinical reports suggest a low potential fo r skin sensitization upon exaggerated exposure to sodium hypochlorite if ski n damage (e.g. irritation) occurs during exposure. Routine clinical tests c onducted on intact skin with this product found no sensitization in the test subjec ts. Exposure to vapor or mist may irritate eyes, nose, throat, lungs. Ha\rmful if swallowed. May cause nausea and vomiting if swallowed. The following medical conditions may be aggravated by exposure to high concent rations of vapor or mist: heart conditions or chronic respiratory pr oblems such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or obstructive lung disease. Under normal consumer-use conditions, the likelihood of any adv erse health effects is low. "- retrieved 5/19/14 original source http://www.thecloroxcompany.com/downloads/msds/tilex/tilexmoldmildewremover5-07.pdf
Question: What are my rights if the landlord won't fix a problem. Can I sue?
(Nov 26, 2012) Snowyva Almon said:
I have a an eight month old child and do not want her exposed to any hazards regarding water damaging my apartment from leaks or water backing up coming out of my drains. What are my rights, what can I do when the landlord not dealing with mold issue where there was damage from water leak. Can I get an attorney and sue the landlord?
(Dec 14, 2012) Owner wont give us our full depo said:
We have been living there for almost a year, we contacted them about the mold and they came in to look at the place. They offered us a rent free month to find a new place. Which we did take and found a place. We had agreed that they would give us our deposit back since the damage on the house was due to the mold. We are due to move out this saturday and the owner wants the house empty and the key's in her hand before she gives us our deposit back. We explained to her that we need it to put it down as the first month's rent for the new place. She said she understood, now I am fearful that once we give her back the house empty and the key's that she will try to say "Well this wasnt like this when you moved in" and wont want to give us our deposit back. What can I do? I don't know if there is anything that I can do. We have been having problems with the leaking since we moved in it's been almost a year and every time it rains the water seeps in and some of our things are damaged. Can any one tell me what I can do? I need help.
(Jan 6, 2013) Lee said:
Are the landlords required to perform mold testing upon tennants' request?
SnowyVA Almon et als:
Questions about your rights as a tenant are something to ask a LOCAL real estate attorney. In many jurisdictions, and in many standard leases, the landlord is obligated to provide safe, habitable premises.
Before starting the expense, trouble, and aggravation of suing anyone, make sure that you can document specific hazards or defects, then ask your landlord, in writing, to examine and correct them.
Unfortunately a dispute between you and landlord is a legal matter that turns on the terms and conditions of the lease that you signed. In GENERAL my OPINION is that most leases require the landlord to deliver a safe, habitable, functional home. If you have proof that that was not the case, an attorney or a judge in small claims court may be able to help you out.
Question: my landlord is going to panel over the mold
(Dec 1, 2012) Anonymous said:
My landlord is planning on pannelling some walls in the house I am renting, wil this actually help? I have asthma and am taking my inhaler up 6 times a day when before I lived in the house I used my blue one maybe three times a WEEK maximum. Any advice on if his solution will work as i am struggling with heallth due to it.
In my opinion, installing paneling atop mold- contaminated surfaces is unlikely to help, wont fix a mold problem, adds new mold-friendly growth surfaces, and will add to the ultimate cost of doing the proper job, that is, remove the mold and fix it's cause. In addition to possible health risks, there may be added liability for a building owner who takes a cover-up approach to mold rather than following procedures recommended by experts. 5
(Dec 29, 2012) Grammyhugs1 said:
I have been getting increasingly ill with respiratory illness treated by my MD, and am concerned about mold in the home I am leasing. I bought some mold testers from Home Depot, that are petri dishes exposed to the ambient air. The now show growth rings from the plates in each room, and will be mailing them to the lab instructed for specie identification. I plan to leave the premises, but not 'abandon' the property until tests are returned, and my attorney advises the landlord on breaking the lease for medical reasons. Anyone else out there with success in this scenario?
(Jan 3, 2013) Anonymous said:
What if I want to have my rental apartment inspected for air quality control, how would I go about it
Question: Tenant claims mold on wet furniture caused by soil under the building
(Jan 13, 2013) Marissa said:
Furniture was moved into unit on an extremely wet day. Being winter and cold mould developed on furniture and subsequently on roof and window sill. No mould on carpet on skirting of rooms. However tenants are claiming that the mould is the result of mould in subfloor soil. Can that happen?
Marissa, it's technically reasonable to say that "all mold is everywhere all the time" - in the air, and for soil molds, in soil. Most soil molds don't invade the building air, though soil moisture in a crawl space might encourage mold contamination in both the crawl area and the building above.
But it makes most sense to me when explaining mold growth to look first at the most likely sources:
If furniture was soaked and not dried in 24-48 hours that's the most likely explanation of its moldiness.
If you inspect the crawl area and it's dry and if there is no visible mold growth on the under-floor surfaces that also suggests that the crawl area is not the source of the moldy furniture complaint.
Finally, it wouldn't make much sense to me for mold to grow ONLY on furniture and not on other apartment surfaces if the problem had its origin in the building.
(Feb 1, 2013) Marcia Nessan said:
Several months ago I called my landlord about the cold breeze running through the home. He sent me several window kits and some caulk. I had originally requested this in the summer and advised him that he should have someone look at all the windows because I didn't think anything had been caulked after they put the siding on the house. I was ignored. Now the house is so cold it is sending my left leg into muscle spasms all day every day. My doctors have tried to help by sending me to physical therapy not realizing how cold my home is.After going over different scenario's with my doctors we have found the muscle spasms are caused from the cold dampness in my house. We also have mold growing under each window and behind my cupboard where I store all my utensils, knives, and dishes. I don't know what my rights are for paying rent. Now I have also found mold growing on things in my closet. I don't know what to do.
(Feb 12, 2013) Louise said:
I have really bad mould on my walls in my 2 bedrooms and the landlord just sends someone to paint over the problem only for it to return a month later I would rather sleep in a car than have to breath tht in to my lungs what's my best thing to get this resolved ..?
(Feb 9, 2014) Karen said:
I have mold in my apartment. Inspector came told her to get rid of it. Got real mad didn't want to spend. How long does she have to fix it I live in cook county IL.
Karen, the response time requirement for a mold complaint may be fixed in local laws; I have not seen such in national standards and frankly the urgency would respond in part by the particular level of risks involved - something that needs an onsite assessment. For example there is no urgency to trivial amounts of cosmetic mold (such as a typical bath tub tile grout issue) while there would be great urgency in a large mold-contaminated area (more than 30 sqft) especially where easily airborne molds are present such as Aspergillus sp or Penicillium sp., and moreso where occupants are at extra risk (elderly, infant, immune impaired, asthmatic).
In sum you need to take this question to your local health department.
Question: property manager comment
(Feb 23, 2014) property management Phoenix said:
Good uestions & answers or comments about handling indoor hazards, air quality, contaminants, or mold problems in rental homes, apartments, mobile homes, doublewides
Thanks for the nice feedback PM-Phoenix. We also welcome critique, questions, content suggestions.
Question: am I entitled to see the results of tests done in my apartment
(Apr 8, 2014) FL TENANT said:
Please help! I live in a Fl apartment rental complex whose owners are not on site, but the property manager (different company hired by complex owners) is on site. [IN SHORT] I found mold in my apartment, there was a leak, the Landlord independently contracted a man to test the humidity level in my apartment. He declared it hazardous. Now they will not let me see any of the reports or speak with him about the additional tests he has performed. Am I entitled to see these tests without legal action?
I'm not able to answer the legal question (you may have a legal aid attorney or your own attorney who can) about what documents a property owner must show you.
I'm a bit uncertain why someone who tested humidity level alone would declare humidity hazardous, especially in Florida. But humidity-related problems such as mold growth, could be a concern.
But more important, if there is a substantial mold contamination issue it needs to be properly addressed: cleaned-up properly and its cause corrected.
Question: management made us sign a waiver to pay for mold testing if nothing is found
(Apr 15, 2014) lr walton said:
This problem was reported to management on April 2nd, now waiting for them to send someone to check for a moisture problem, we are in South Carolina, we had to sign a waiver that if they don't find a problem, we will have to pay for testing.
Reply: watch out!
Well that waiver is in my OPINION (I'm not a lawyer) reasonable IF and ONLY IF the person sent by management (who is not a disinterested party) is someone who is qualified, thorough, uses valid methods, and is able to avoid the conflict of interest that arises by being hired by someone who has an interest in having no problem found.
Certainly such professional service is possible. But be sure that you are present to observe what the inspector does, and that you obtain copies of all inspection and lab reports produced.
Finally, JUST checking for "a moisture problem" would be an incompetent approach to inspecting a building for mold contamination. For example there could have been a previous leak that initiated a large harmful hidden mold reservoir in a building cavity (wall or ceiling for example). That mold reservoir would remain present and problematic even if later, at the time of a subsequent inspection, the moisture itself, or the leak, were long gone.
Question: lots of "black mold" in a bathroom
(June 12, 2014) ghlani said:
We found a house that was for rent, we contacted owner we did a walk through with the ownre. On the surface it looked liked we just needed to do some really good cleaning. the owner made a deal if we cleaned the house up and make minor repairs she would keep the rent low. As we are cleaning we discovered ALOT of black mold in one of the bathrooms. We told her about it she said just remove the shower walls and replace and all will be good. Thats what we did. We know nothing about deposal of mold. We through it all away in the trash.
My question is.... Was that ok? Are we allowed to do that kind of clean up and construction?Could the mold return since we carried the mold through the house? We hadnt moved into the house until we were done so the moldy wood didnt pass our belongings.
WHat you did may not have been "OK" if you exposed yourselves to high levels of harmful mold by breathing moldy dust or by getting mold into eyes or open cuts or sores. If the total area was small (less than 30 sqft) the old job would have been considered one suitable for handling by a homeowner or handyman; larger areas of harmful mold ("black mold" is by no means the only harmful mold) would have merited professional cleaning.
Further, the mold problem is likely to return unless its cause is found and corrected.
I agree that I'd not move my belongings into a moldy area before the problem has been addressed.
Question: need inspection for moldy apartment
(July 18, 2014) Grace said:
Could you help me? I need an inspection to the apartment I lived for a year with my two young kids, I am moving to another apartment because every time I notify the apartment's office that we had mold in the apartment and smells only humidity the took too long to come and try to fix it and that happened multiple times, with the big problem that again and again, over and over we had the same problem!! So they were not fixing anything!! Me and my kids now are very sick! All our clothes stink and shoes have that green stuff and black! The windows, bathroom, and I need legal help the soon possible! Please email me. I live in Riverside County California.
In this article series we give advice to tenants in moldy apartments including the importance of serving written notice to your landlord, assuring that proper cleanup is done, and avoiding moving moldy contents to a new home if moving is necessary. Unfortunately we are not qualified to give legal advice such as concerning lease issues. But in general, a landlord is obligated to provide habitable living conditions in a rental home or apartment. You may need to consult a local attorney or legal aid office.
If specific mold-related questions arise, don't hesitate to ask us.
Question: landlord uses an apartment for trash dumpsters
(July 19, 2014) Robert Van Eyck said:
We have a 16 stall garage building in are apartment complex the landlord is using 1 for trash dumsters is that legal?
Give your local building department a call with that question - let us know what you're told and we may be able to comment or research further.
Question: mold growing on HVAC vents, on furniture, on jewelry
(July 31, 2014) Beth said:
I noticed mold growing on the vents here at my apt. Called and maintenance came and changed the filter on my air conditioner and said to clean the mold and if it comes back to call them again. A few weeks have passed and I'm noticing this green moldy stuff all over clothes, shoes, leather jewelry and furniture. I called them and they came back out and said a dehumidifier would be the best. My lease is up for renewel soon and I am afraid to tirn it in for fear that the dehumidifier will not work. They said this mold is not harmful and will not cause sickness. Also said that it will wash off with soap and water.
I look online and see otherwise though. I have people saying I should demand they pay for the cleaning of my things since it costs to wash and dry here and that I should call my renters insurance and see if I can't get reimbursed for some of the things covered in this green mold. Just unsure of what to do as far as renewing my lease if the dehumidifier does not work and this mold is in fact unhealthy to be around.
If you have green moldy stuff growing all over clothing, leather, jewelry (really? what's there for mold to eat on jewelry), furniture, then you most likely have unusually high indoor humidity or a leak somewhere. Before relying on a humidifier I would be looking for the moisture source.
Also if there is a LOT of mold (more than 30 sqft of contiguous moldy surface) then professional cleaning is needed.
Worse and a bit tricky, dehumidifying a very moldy environment without cleaning up the existing mold reservoir can, depending on the mold genera/species that are present, actually temporarily increase the level of airborne mold - which could be a hazard.
About who pays: in my OPINION that depends on what is the base cause of the problem and thus who's responsible for that.
(July 31, 2014) Beth said:
The jewelry is leather that's why it was so moldy. They said the source is because we live in a bottom level apt and it's been an abnormally wet summer. When asked if they would reimburse me for the money I will have to pay to clean everything I was told no, that it was not something THEY did and that it was an act of nature and that they are taking precautions to fix it now. I don't know for sure if it is in the couches but I do know that the couches and carpet are damp (they offered to have the carpet professionally cleaned.)
I disagree with her because I've already called once about this issue with it growing on the vents so this is the second time I've had to call them about it. Everyone seems to think the cure all will be the dehumidifier. They said clean everything with soap and water and that will clear it up and it won't come back.
Act of nature?
First, there should be no leaks into the structure.
Second, the structure ventilation, and if present, air conditioning systems should be working properly. For example, if A/C was not run, or was not working properly, or was over-sized, it would quite possibly fail to dehumidify the building interior.
I agree with advice that if you remove mold from surface (or toss out stuff that can't be cleaned such as a moldy mattress or pillow or wall to wall carpet and padding), and then keep the indoor humidity down - say under 50%, the conditions to invite mold growth are much reduced.
Let's try a different analysis. You're in an apartment. If the surmise of the THEY who told you the mold problem is "normal" for the weather you experienced, then one would expect to see the same mold problems in every unit in the complex that is in the same position (bottom level) as your apartment. Right?
(July 31, 2014) Beth said:
I've lived in the apt now for going on three years and never had this problem until now. The air conditioning unit has been working fine to my knowledge. And yes the "they" that I'm referring to is the maintenance team and their boss and they have not said anything about anyone else having the same issue as me. They said they were specifically ordering a dehumidifier for me so I'm assuming no one else is having this problem.
Thanks for getting back with me it is much appreciated
Question: rodents, roof leaks, and other troubles
(Sept 7, 2014) Diana said:
I and my disabled spouse just moved from a house in which we lived since 10/09. During this time, we had rodent infestations, leaks in roof that cracked the ceiling, mold, and never had any real maintenance for any appliances including the Gas heat and A/C. In 2/2012, I became suddenly ill. My husband was in the hospital having a hip replacement. I was unable to go seek help also at that same time, so I tried making do. I began having eye irritations, pain, light irritant, then I started losing balance, and began to fall down when I would try to walk from one place to another. In a month, I was unable to step from the pavement onto a low curb. I also was unable to drive our car. I lost over 30 pounds. Since that time, my condition has deteriorated.
Now, I have what seems to be severe Neuropathy, balance issues (I close my eyes, and fall over), I have memory issues, as my does now too. We moved out after having the Gas company knock on the door to inform us a gas pipe, installed by the owner and below grade, was leaking and they red tagged the line, removed it and when disconnecting it, it immediately fell over due to the amount of rust. This was connected to the meter located right outside my sleeping area. I have read a lot about the issues I have and I know now I have problems that may never get better. The three weeks outside the house helped a little bit, but not a lot. I need advice. Please, help. Thank you, Diana
(Sept 7, 2014) To Beth said:
... This is partly what has happened to me. Get out of there! Do not let the apt make you ill! And, no, it IS their responsibility to make sure you are not living in an unhealthy environment. And to the man who asked about leather jewelry and mold, yes, I have seen lots of leather that attracts mold if it is in a damp area. In fact, when we just moved, I found some shoes, nice shoes that are now covered in mold. So, whatever it may be, IF it is leather, it can attract mold. I would look up the state laws and report the roof leaks to the state or local government. We should have done that while we still were living there. Now, we have to go back to prove things. I think the county and or state should inspect the issue. A landlord has to provide a safe, livable environment.
Question: how to store family heirlooms in a box truck avoiding mold
9/17/2014 Anonymous said:
I'm experiencing a financial problem that may force me to store my family heirlooms (furniture) in a 16 foot box truck. I am concerned the temperature variations may cause mold or mildew damage. Can someone advise me? I expect to have to store it in the truck for about 7 months.
While temperature variations that might include very high levels may harm the items you store in a box truck, it's not temperature but moisture, specifically leaks or other sources of high moisture inside the truck that would invite mold growth. Be certain that the truck is absolutlely dry inside and clean before storing items, and inspect it regularly to check for any leaks that might develop.
For some items it may also make sense to store them inside airtight waterproof plastic containers inside the truck.
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