Blog Archives

How did housing inspectors repeatedly miss mold that disabled tenants say existed for years?

By Barnett Wright, http://www.al.com/

MoldceilingFor years, federal, state and local housing officials conducted inspections at a housing development for disabled and elderly residents in Tarrant. Repeatedly their reports made no mention of mold – even though one former resident says he had experienced problems with mold there since 2005.

But now – after media reports of dissension between two housing boards responsible for safety issues at the development — mold has been found in more than two dozen units in the Spring Gardens apartments.

A series of inspections – some annually — had turned up no traces of mold. Read more

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Brain Fog, Weight Gain, Fatigue — the Sneaky Symptoms of Household Mold

By Yahoo Health Editors, https://www.yahoo.com

moldsymptomsWhen you hear the word mold, chances are you think of the fuzzy stuff growing on the leftovers in your fridge, or the shower scum that develops on your bathroom tile when you’ve slacked on cleaning. But the truth is, some mold isn’t just an icky sign of neglect — it can be toxic, even deadly.

Dave Asprey — the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur behind “The Bulletproof Executive” blog and Bulletproof Radio podcast — has released a new documentary calledMoldy, which explores the hidden health dangers associated with mold toxicity. (A screening of the film is available for free now until June 14, and can then be purchased through the documentary’s website as a DVD or digital download).

The documentary is personal to Asprey who suffered from mold toxicity. He says it’s a problem that potentially impacts hundreds of millions of people — even if they don’t know that’s what is making them sick.  Read more

Peoria family building non-toxic, mold-free house

By Steve Tarter, http://www.pjstar.com/

MoldfreehomeThe Brooks family has been on a toxic adventure that few would want to endure after a prior home that had hidden mold affected all three of them. Wes, 18, has a hypersensitivity to mold that led to significant health problems. His mom, Donna, said, “It was very serious, he’s our miracle.” Together, they look forward to moving into their new northwest Peoria home that has been built to minimize exposure to harsh fumes and toxic elements given off by common construction materials. Dave Brooks, said they just hope their ordeal can help other families when they are faced with a similar situation.

Brooks, who serves as the general manager of the WCIC-FM radio station in Peoria, ticked off some of the special measures taken with the family’s new home.

“I personally inspected all the lumber used on the project to make sure it was free of mold. We kept all the stacked lumber on site covered while using low-moisture concrete with no fly ash,” he said. “We’re wrapping the whole house with a one-inch layer of foam to reduce condensation potential inside the wall assembly. The whole system is aggressively designed to keep water out of the basement,” said Brooks. Read more

Is toxic mold the real hidden culprit in haunted houses?

By David Sommerstein, http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/

moldghostsA team of researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., are the North Country’s answer to the “Ghost Hunters.”

They have a hunch that the reason some people see ghosts is not necessarily because a place is haunted. It may be because a haunted house has a lot of mold, and breathing it alters people’s states of mind.

Shane Rogers, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Clarkson, is into paranormal activity and ghosts in general. As a scientist, he studies some icky things, like manure and mold. He put his interest together and developed a hypothesis. Maybe people who see ghosts are actually just breathing in toxic mold? “There are reports of people who have been exposed to mold who have reported things like anxiety and depression.”

Rogers also knows many alleged haunted houses are old and dilapidated and more likely to be infested with mold. He said, “If you’re in a place where you’re exposed to mold, and you’re feeling a little anxious, and you see something strange or you feel something strange, if you’re in an old house that’s a little scarier, you might be more likely to ascribe it to a haunting, whereas in a newer house, perhaps not.” Read more

Moldy Homes May Mean More Asthma in Young Kids

By Tara Haelle, HealthDay Reporter

MoldceilingChildren appear more likely to develop asthma if their living rooms, kitchens or bedrooms have mold or moisture damage, according to a new study.

Children were most susceptible to developing asthma with mold exposure during their first two years of life, or if they already had allergies. However, mold did not increase children’s risk of developing allergies in the first place.

“The most significant finding was that moisture damage with or without mold in the rooms where children are expected to spend most of their time is associated with increased asthma risk, and it appears to be permanent,” said lead researcher Anne Karvonen, a senior researcher in Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare.

In other words, children’s asthma continued through age 6, and visible mold in children’s bedrooms or living rooms presented the highest risk, she said. Read more

Asthmatics alerted over spores threat

By Sarah Cosgrove, http://www.hortweek.com/

aspergillus-flavus_tnA professional gardener whose lung filed with pus after inhaling a deadly fungus that lurks in bark and mulch has warned others that they should be careful.

People with asthma or a weak immune system are advised to wear masks when moving rotting leaf, plant and tree mulch because of the microscopic dust that this dislodges, which can contain Aspergillus fungal spores.

The National Aspergillosis Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, sees about 350 new patients a year with conditions coming from inhaling the spores. Professor of infectious diseases in global health David Denning said numbers are growing, especially among people who take steroids – arthritis sufferers, for example – which suppress their immune systems.

“Most of us are either immune to the fungus or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection,” he added. “But in asthma sufferers it can produce coughing and wheeziness, and in people with weak or damaged immune systems the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition that can cause irreparable and sometime fatal damage to the lungs and sinuses.”

One previously “very fit” professional gardener who had asthma only as a child and went to the gym three times a week became very ill with pulmonary aspergillosis and said she was lucky to have survived. 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

6 things to know about white mold

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University

sclerotia inside stemThis disease is caused by the fungus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and it is favored by cool damp conditions.  Remember those morning fogs this summer and the fact that you hardly used your air conditioner?  Perfect conditions for infection.  This fungus forms hard black irregular shaped bodies called sclerotia. (photo of sclerotia inside stem)  They are actually a mass of hyphae and if you break them open they will be pink inside.  They can be mistaken for mice or rat droppings as well, the inside is a different color!  When the conditions are cool and the canopy is closed, this fungus produces a very small mushroom (photo).  This usually occurs during flowering and the spores then land on the dead flowers. This provides a perfect point of entry. This fungus produces oxalic acid – which degrades the tissue as it colonizes the plant.  The infections that you see now occurred 2 to 4 weeks ago.  Symptoms from the road will look like standing plants with a gray-green appearance.  Eventually these plants will lodge.  Once the leaves fall off – the plants will stand back up to some extent.

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Experts say deal with mold before health issues arise

By Marisa Lagos, http://www.sfgate.com

Health experts say any apparent mold growth or dampness needs to be taken care of swiftly or it could lead to asthma or other respiratory problems.

These health issues could be particularly acute for children and firefighters, who are already vulnerable, but should be of concern to healthy adults as well, said Dr. Mark Miller, director of UCSF’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. Many families on Treasure Island are already worried that polluted soil is causing health problems, including respiratory issues, in their children.

“From a practical standpoint, if there is mold in a house, it needs to be remediated – and if you can see it or you can smell it, it’s there,” Miller said. “It’s always the result of moisture of some sort, and the first thing you have to do is do something about the moisture … certainly people with underlying respiratory disease and asthma are more prone to have effects, and we are always particularly concerned about the very old and very young. And firefighters already have respiratory-related problems. You don’t want to pile more things on.”

Mark Mendel, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health, said wiping off mold or painting over it is an insufficient approach and that state law requires landlords to fix dampness in homes. He said expensive tests aren’t actually necessary, because if you can smell or see mold at all, it’s a problem.

“Painting over it is absolutely not acceptable and not effective … you need to find out where the water is coming from and fix it,” he said. “You need to dry damp materials, and some you have to get rid of – if you have carpet or ceiling tile that’s been wet more than a couple days, you really need to get rid of it. In addition to drying or removing any damp material, you need to remove any mold.”

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Snow mold popping up on lawns

It’s that time of year when things start to sprout up and grow.

But you might find an unwanted visitor on your lawn this spring: snow mold.

The fungus gets its name because it thrives underneath snow cover. So all the snow we got this past winter means the mold is popping up on more lawns than in past years.

The temperature underneath all that snow sits right around 30 degrees, the perfect conditions for which mold to grow, said Nate Devisser of Weed Man Lawn Care.

“Those are conditions that are prime for the fungus to grow in lawns: prolonged period of snow cover,” Devisser said.

The good news is, it’s not hurting your grass. Only in rare causes would the mold cause permanent damage.

It just looks bad.

“It looks like dead grass,” Devisser explained. “A lot of homeowners might panic and say, ‘Oh my goodness, my lawn died over the winter!'”

But there’s a simple fix to get rid of it: just rake it up.

“You just want to fluff it up,” he said.

But even though snow mold doesn’t hurt your lawn or plants, you’ll still want to take care of it as soon as possible in case someone in your family’s allergic to mold.

It can cause some serious symptoms, said Dr. Christina Barnes, an allergist with the South Bend Clinic.

“Runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, sometimes stuffiness, drainage,” Barnes listed. “And if they have asthma, it can trigger asthma as well.”