Blog Archives

Mold in vacant homes poses health threat

By  Kirsti Marohn, kmarohn@stcloudtimes.com

MoldceilingFrom the outside, it looks like a typical two-story split-entry on a corner lot, not much different than the other houses in this newer suburban development.

The first indication that something is amiss is the sign posted in the yard announcing that the house is in tax forfeiture. Step inside the front door, and the reason for the home’s emptiness becomes startlingly clear.

Black mold covers the walls in angry splotches from ceiling to floor. It coats woodwork, sinks, appliances and doors. In the basement, it has decimated the ceiling, leaving a gaping hole.

Chad Martini, land management director for Stearns County, says it’s the worst case of mold he’s ever seen.

The county had planned to demolish the house at 424-13th Ave. N in Wildwood Estates after it went into tax forfeiture last fall. But several contractors have called the county with interest in buying, rehabilitating and reselling it.

So the county will try to sell it at a public auction this spring for a minimum bid of $10,000, a fraction of its original value. In 2009, the county estimated the house’s market value at more than $235,000.

The county’s goal is to get the property back on the tax rolls, Martini said.

“I think what we’re hoping to see is a contractor that will come in, buy the house, rehab it and make it a good neighbor in the neighborhood,” he said.

Across the nation, mold has been a problem in houses left empty after the housing market crisis. In some states, it’s estimated that as many as half of all foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues.

Some mold contains toxins, so if it’s not removed and remediated, mold can cause serious health issues. That’s especially true for people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems. Read more

Woman finds mold in Chandler apartment, alleges cover-up

By Rebecca Thomas, http://www.kpho.com/

moldyapartmentThis week’s record rainfall caused roofs to leak all across the Valley.

But for a Chandler woman, a leaky roof revealed an even bigger problem, one she said put her family’s health in danger.

“I woke up in the morning and my ceiling was gaping open,” Jessica Ford said.

She said water began gushing into her apartment during Monday’s storm.

Ford immediately called the management office at Laguna Village, near Arizona Avenue and Elliott Road and maintenance crews brought over an industrial fan to dry things out.

“They plugged it into this outlet while my wall was still damp,” Ford said about the counterproductive measure, since her ceiling was still leaking.

There was obvious water damage to her daughter’s room, with water pockets bulging from the ceiling.

Ford said a maintenance worker cut the ceiling open on Wednesday and what she saw shocked her.

“Mold, tons of black mold,” she said.

Again, Ford called management to report the problem and got a voicemail Thursday addressing the issue.

“That drywall has a colored backing on the back of it and that is what the discolored spots are,” said a woman who identified herself as Andrea and said she works with Laguna Village’s corporate office. “It’s actually not mold and there’s no mold that’s been seen.”

Not convinced, Ford took a sample of the sheet rock and gave it to a friend who is a biology professor.

He looked at it under a microscope and said he found very high concentrations of Stachybotrys Chartarum.

It’s a black mold known to cause respiratory problems, especially in people who have asthma, like Ford’s 6-year-old daughter. Read more

Mold-infested home with no clear owner a ‘serious’ health threat to neighbors

By Tom Perkins, http://www.mlive.com

mold houseOn any sunny, summer afternoon on Hawthorne Avenue in Ypsilanti Township, the unmistakable stench of mold and mildew wafts down the street.

 

That’s because a vacant house at 1070 Hawthorne is flooded with several feet of water and infested with mold, and officials say that’s a health threat to neighbors who have complained about issue at the property for several months.

 

At its June 17 meeting, the Board of Trustees formally approved township staff seeking a court order to bring the house up to code or to have it demolished.

 

In all likelihood, the home will soon be razed said Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards.

 

“The basement has been flooded, it’s full of water, the stench can be smelled at the sidewalk and neighbors’ houses,” Radzik said. “We’ll be going after whichever bank we find owns it, but at this point we’re probably going for demolition because it’s so far gone that even Habitat for Humanity won’t want it.”

 

Who the township holds financially responsible for the probable demolition is unclear, Radzik said, because it isn’t known who holds the mortgage.

 

The original occupants were kicked out after foreclosing in January leading the the township to contact the owner of record, Columbus, OH-based US Bank National Association.

 

That bank said the mortgage was sold to Chase Bank, which assured the township it would send an agent to secure and clean the property.

 

But the house was left open and debris and junk littered the yard. The utilities were also left on for several months, causing a pipe to burst and the basement to flood. The continuously flowing water led to a $5,655 water bill for the property.

 

Chase Bank then told the township it no longer held the mortgage and didn’t know where it went.

 

“Meanwhile, neighbors continued to complain about a growing stench emanating from the house,” Radzik said. “It presents a serious health and safety threat to neighboring residents due to the unabated mold that is causing a strong stench to permeate the area.”

 

The home has been padlocked and township officials cleared the blight and junk from the yard. Radzik said he township would continue to seek the mortgage holder and bill the bank once they’re found, or place a lien on the property to recover the costs of cleaning the property, securing the home and the likely demolition. Read more

 

An Unintended Effect of Energy-Efficient Buildings: Toxic Mold

By Sarah Zhang, http://gizmodo.com

Energy-efficient buildings can be wonderful at keeping out drafts and keeping down heating bills. But the same air-tightness, unfortunately, is also perfect for trapping humid air where toxic mold can go to party.

The Alberta Court of Appeal in Canada has been a mold-filled ghost building since 2001, after renovations to the handsome, 87-year-old sandstone building went awry. When the renovated and newly energy-efficient building reopened, according to ClimateWire, judges and attorneys complained of fatigue, irritated lungs, and watery eyes.

Air quality samples pointed the finger at mold growing inside the walls. The cracks and leaks of the pre-renovation building had been a crude form of air-quality control—albeit not very energy efficient. The new airtight building, however, trapped moisture to breed toxic mold. Read More

NTRR Works to Replicate Anti-Staph Success in More NCAA Locker Rooms

By Neutra Corp, http://www.businesswire.com

armor-blastNeutra Corp, a fast-growing provider of all-natural wellness solutions, is working with joint venture partner Surface to Air Solutions, LLC (S2O2) to spread Texas Christian University’s proactive approach to protecting student athletes from deadly infections.

“Our company, along with our partners, has been in contact with numerous colleges around the country interested in replicating TCU’s success in battling dangerous infections.”

Earlier this month, S2O2 acquired Zero-Blast, a Texas-based company that specializes in advanced, anti-microbial coatings for germ-infested environments such as college sports locker rooms. Its top product, Armor-Blast, is a polymerized organosilane that bonds to surfaces and forms a barrier that kills germs, microbes and pathogens on contact. The safe, non-toxic coating needs only to be applied four times a year in order to provide 24/7 protection from staph, MRSA, e. coli, H1N1, black mold, athlete’s foot and more.

Zero-Blast has been working with TCU for four years, beginning with the sanitization of the school’s football facilities and equipment. The Armor-Blast treatment worked so well that Zero-Blast was hired to apply the same treatment to basketball, baseball, volleyball and soccer facilities, as well, including indoor field turf.

“TCU has been the perfect test case for this technology,” said NTRR CEO Sydney Jim. “Our company, along with our partners, has been in contact with numerous colleges around the country interested in replicating TCU’s success in battling dangerous infections.” Read more

 

Hidden mold in dream home points to larger industry concern

By Gitte Laasby,  Journal Sentinel http://www.jsonline.com

The beautiful two-story stone-faced Sheboygan County home with the impressive Lake Michigan view was supposed to be a retreat for Mequon resident John Liebl and his wife, Beth, once they retire.

Instead, the couple are now seeing well over $250,000 of their retirement savings vanish to remedy and replace rotten exterior walls. The Liebls’ contractors say it’s a warning tale to every home buyer about the damage that can result when cheap building materials are combined with questionable workmanship.

“This was to be our weekend retreat. It’s turned into a nightmare,” John Liebl said. “What the guys are telling me is, had we not discovered this, in three to four years it would have been a complete tear-down. I don’t think we have any recourse.”

Bruce Nordgren, partner in Mequon-based Northgreen Builders LLC, which is now rebuilding the Oostburg-area home, calls the Liebls’ experience “a prime example of what’s going on in our industry.”

He predicts many more mold cases will come to light in the coming years.

“I’ve been building for 37 years now. I’m horrified by what we’re doing as a construction industry,” Nordgren said. “We’ve got to start looking at some of the things we’re doing….

“In the last five years, we’ve repaired so much stuff. It’s the products that we’re using. It’s the techniques, it’s all kinds of things. If it doesn’t change, (this) is going to happen.”

A home inspection before the Liebls purchased the house, built in 2004, in September of 2010 uncovered only minor defects. Those were remedied and the couple moved into the home, which was fully decorated and painted. Beth noticed a musty smell, but nothing showed.

It wasn’t until September 2012 when the Liebls hired Northgreen Builders to enclose the courtyard of their U-shaped house that signs of trouble appeared.  Read More

Front-load washing machines may contain hidden mold

Electrolux washing machine

Electrolux washing machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By Kara Kenney, http://www.theindychannel.com

 

Mold could be growing inside your washing machine, and you may never even know it, according to attorneys representing consumers.

 

Lawyers accuse some top companies of making defective front-loading washing machines, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

 

Attorneys have also accused some manufacturers of knowing about the mold and trying to cover it up.

 

Many people love front loaders because they use less water, they’re quieter and they look sleek.

 

But some consumers across the country claim the machines ruined their clothes and wasted their money.

 

Ruth Ogden, of Gas City, bought a Whirlpool Duet front loader around 2004 and said after a year or so, she started noticing an odor in her clothes.

 

“It smelled like an old, dirty dishrag,” said Ogden.

 

For years, Ogden blamed her son.

 

“My son was as typical teenage slob, and we all thought the odor from him was getting into our clothes,” said Ogden, adding that she threw out clothes worth hundreds of dollars.

 

Ogden said she pulled out the soap dispenser one day and discovered mold and mildew growing in the machine.

 

“I used bleach, I used vinegar, I used ammonia, I used baking soda. I bought the Affresh things they sell,” said Ogden.

 

Whirlpool’s Duet Washer, like the one Ogden purchased, is the focus of a class-action lawsuit.

 

Attorneys allege the washers, sold between 2001 and 2008 without a steam feature, have “serious design defects” that can cause mold and mildew.

 

“The bottom line is the washers don’t clean themselves properly, the way a properly designed washer should clean itself,” said Mark Chalos, an attorney representing consumers in the class-action suit. 

 

Chalos alleges Whirlpool failed to properly warn consumers.

 

“They knew they had a problem with these machines going back years,” said Chalos.

The Call 6 Investigators found similar lawsuits against other top companies, such as LG, Bosch, GE, Sears and Kenmore.

 

Most of the machines named in lawsuits were sold between 2001 and 2008.

 

A lawsuit filed last month against Electrolux, the parent company of Frigidaire, alleges the company concealed material facts regarding some of its Frigidaire front loaders, including “defects in the stainless steel drums.”

 

“We filed suit against Electrolux to get compensation for persons like Ms. Fleming who own front load washers that suffer from the same mold defect,” said attorney Paul Weiss, who represents consumers, in an email to RTV6. “This is a problem that manufacturers like Electrolux have long known about, but have failed to fix or remedy.”

 

“We are vigorously defending ourselves in this matter,” said Eloise Hale, spokeswoman for Frigidaire, in an email to Kenney.

 

Attorneys told the Call 6 Investigators millions of consumers could be affected by mold problems in their washers and not even realize it.

 

Read More

 

Clean up That Moldy Mess

ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A musty, mildewy smell is the undeniable odor of mold. And it may be lurking in more places than you know — having harmful effects on your health. Now, we tell you how to track down mold.

Holly Russo’s tub comes clean now, but there was once a moldy nightmare lurking underneath it. “Our first reaction, when we saw the mold, was absolute horror. I could not believe what was under there. I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Russo.

Mold that’s made its way indoors can cause health problems, but many people still don’t understand the hazards. Now, industrial hygienists are growing mold to learn more about how it grows, what it grows on, and how mold makes us sick….

Read the entire story and watch the VIDEO at Ivanhoe Broadcast News

Mystery Mold Getting Kids Sick At Daytona Beach School

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Children are starting to get sick from a mysterious mold at a Daytona Beach elementary school. Toxicologists came out to Longstreet Elementary, but they still can’t figure out what’s causing the mold. It’s difficult to track down, too. The classrooms were just rebuilt this winter and a mold expert Friday explained that all it takes is some moisture like Thursday night’s rain to get in during the rebuilding and then one tiny spore in one tiny crack can lead to big problems. Tampa toxicologists and the county health department inspected the row of moldy classrooms Friday at Longstreet Elementary School. They found no obvious mold or environment for mold growth. “It is serious and it is a problem,” said parent Cheryl Martin. Air samples confirmed the mold was there last month and Martin’s experience with her daughter tells her it was a serious amount.”The doctor checked her again for her breathing and he can hear the wheezing inside. And he put her on a breathing machine,” she said….

Read the Full Story at WFTV.com

(Looks like one parent is wanting to file suit against the school district.  Could be messy!)