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This document discusses whether or not a tenant should call their local health department officials about a known or suspected moldy rental apartment, home, or office, how building owners and managers can be expected to react to health department involvement, and when such a call is probably justified.
An easy-to-print PDF version of this article is here.<.p>
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
In some egregious cases tenants have taken their complaint to the local health department.
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 is a rather drastic step though it may be appropriate in dire circumstances.
Calling in local building authorities will also be likely to end any cooperation between landlord and tenant. If health officials agree that a serious health problem is present the tenant is likely to be required to move immediately.
If this becomes the case, the tenant may need to evaluate the condition of and possibly clean their belongings before moving in order to avoid importing a problem to their new home.
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: do these mold test results for my apartment show a problem? Now what?
I have been sick from a mold related illness since June of last year. I live in an apartment with my husband and 21 year old son. All of us have respiratory problems and I became violently ill because of my exposure and the amount of time spent in my bedroom with the vent closed and my door shut.
My landlord did have a test done and the company that did it put everything in my bedroom under aspergillus/penicillium and the count done on February 11th was 633 for our bedroom. Since Aspergillus is only supposed to be outside in the Spring, Summer and Fall, the man told my husband that 150 was high a normal count usually is about 50. Our bedroom started leaking soon after moving in and the walls which are covered with paneling if you hit them you can here the plaster falling. I went into the crawl space above our bedrooms and the wood is rotted except for the beams. All of us have been running low grade fevers for a long time.
My husband and I are disabled, my husband with a back injury and I with Fibromyalgia. I had mentioned something to my landlord last spring about mold and how it was affecting my son's health. The only time it leaked into our bedroom is when it was a windy rain. But who knows how long it was leaking into the crawl space. My landlord lied to me about having a new roof put on, the man that just fixed the flashing around the chimney that was supposedly causing the problem they just fixed and he said it was an old roof.
I have never been in a place with mold before and did not realize the dangers and when I became very ill had forgot about the mold. I ended up in the hospital twice all of my tests came out negative. The second time they did exploratory surgery and removed my gall bladder and appendix. This is only part of what happened and it would take pages to continue. We are currently looking for another place to live, but where this is an old roof, I do not want anyone else getting sick.
If I was an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system I would have died. I now have asthma in which I have never had this before even when I have smoked for 40 years. I have never not been able to breathe. I have been sleeping in the living room for about a month now and my concentration is better and I do not get dizzy much. This was also affecting my skin, where my skin would turn red with bumps usually my face and scalp as these were exposed the most. My husband is now getting little bumps on him on his torso and legs because he is still sleeping up there and sleeps naked. I am going to enclose the report from the other company and it does not seem he did everything as their are leakage spots all on my ceiling and they did try to cover some by nailing tiles on the other tiles. I do not know what else to do and need advice or help. Could you please help? - J.G.
Reply: Start by following your doctor's advice; mold counts without an inspection are confusing.
This case is far too important in health and secondarily in possible costs to you for someone to pretend to diagnose or for which to make specific advice for via email. You should start with advice from your doctors about your health condition and the risks from possible mold exposure, and you should keep your landlord informed about what you are told.
Your physician should be the starting guide about what sorts of environmental contaminants are most likely to be a problem for your family members, with attention to those. Or she/he may refer you to a physician who specializes in environmental medicine if s/he agrees that your environment is a likely cause or contributor to the complaints you describe.
RENTERS & TENANTS: MOLD ADVICE has some general advice for tenants where mold is a problem
Your description of what sounds like a wet crawl space is a strong indicator that there is risk of a significant indoor mold problem in the building.
An expert impartial and in-depth inspection of the home for mold or other obvious hazards may be helpful. And in our - in renters advice you'll see that we warn about moving: your items may need to be cleaned before bringing them into the new space so you don't import of moldy dust and debris into your new home.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in Buildings - References & Products
Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.