Mold is a serious problem and one that tends to be ignored until its too late. In May of 2011, a rental tenant in Pleasant Valley, Missouri made the decision to leave her rental unit after discovering a serious case of black mold in the basement. From the story:
“The black mold is so bad inside one metro rental home that a mom and her five kids are moving out after a mold expert said the levels are the second highest he’s ever found. The landlord says he had no idea the mold had gotten so bad, but he now promises to fix it.” (Read the full article on Fox4KC.com)
The trouble comes in when the land lord, well meaning I’m sure, recommended vinegar as the solution. Its somewhat like handing someone a coat hangar to fend off a charging rhinoceros – not much good.
If you’ve found black mold in your home, take it seriously. The long term consequences of black mold exposure can be devastating and even deadly. If you’re looking for professional help, choose a remediator carefully. Experience is key.
Know someone who has been affected by black mold or have our own story to share? Send us your story!
Great article! Luckily it was a rental – very important to get a specialist to inspect any new property you are thinking of moving into especially if you’re looking to buy a place, please! Make sure you get a mold inspection before signing any contracts.
Too often I see this in customers homes. They worry about their main home, but because the visit the shore or mountains only in the summer, and storms, snow and more when they aren’t there, it’s hard for them to keep an eye on mold, mildew and water damage. Maybe more people will get proactive and fix before it’s too late.
As a professional that deals with actual mold investigations on a regular basis, I am deeply troubled by your lack of knowledge and general reporting/investigative skills on the subject. Toxic Black Mold is a myth that was created by the media and is used by consultants and those involved in remediation to fill their bank accounts at the cost of frightened customers. There is absolutely no compelling evidence that any mold species, no matter what the color, is “toxic” or poses any serious health concerns to relatively healthy people. The mold is not the real issue, the issue is the moisture that causes mold. If you have mold, clean it up and address the moisture issue. In almost all cases, removing the mold is not even necessary and only addressing the moisture issue will remedy the situation. The only real benefit to getting rid of the mold contamination itself is for aesthetic reasons or in those cases where the mold may weaken the structural integrity of a building material. The media is full of reports of joe and jane are perfectly healthy then get real sick and/or die and when the house is tested, they find a mold issue. What these cases don’t discuss is the multitude of other factors that could be responsible. What they do well is draw unsupported conclusions of causation, based on correlation. This is not science and this is not a proper investigation. This is fear mongering that the media happily covers and further blows it out of proportion to cause unnecessary fear, panic and the spending of resources by normal folks that may not have those resources to spare.
mold in rentals is a huge problem. Especially when they sit empty for a few months between tenants. Many landlords will shut off the air conditioning and the humidity levels are allowed to rise far above where they should be to keep the home safe from mold.
You’ve got to be kidding, FEAR MONGERING… I can tell you that my UNKNOWN exposure to mold has kept me bedridden for years…with rashes…with headaches…with seizures…with chronic insomnia, MEMORY LOSS THAT LOOKS LIKE PARKINSONS, and now a brain tumor…and probably cancer! ANYONE who is having problems with mold needs to find it and take it seriously… Cleaning it up is not easy and a really bad infestation should just relocate! You can clean it up with borax and peroxide….ozone blasting….those are proven methods, but nevertheless it will cause chronic illness and KILL YOU!
Unknown exposure? Then how do you know you were exposed? How do you know how long and to how much you have been exposed? Most importantly, how do you know it was the mold? Has a thorough investigation ruled out other, more plausible, possible causes? I agree that people that have mold issues need to have them addressed, but I disagree that they are necessarily in any kind of danger. I understand logic is not intuitive and can certainly understand your emotional involvement considering your unfortunate health concerns, but simply saying it was the mold, the mold made me sick is a gross confusion of causation and correlation. It is just an assumption on your part the mold is the cause. It reminds me of the anti-vaccine loons that ignore science and instead rely on their gut feeling and knee jerk reactions to claim that vaccines cause autism. All the science, and there is allot, has demonstrated no such cause effect link. Coincidentally, Kids start to show overt signs of autism around the time they get the bulk of their shots. The parents only notice these signs (even though they are there before the shots) and incorrectly conclude that it was the vaccine shots. You’re doing the same thing. I’m sick, I find mold…it must be the mold. This conclusion makes sense on an emotional basis and it gives you a tangible enemy to point your finger at, but until it is actually confirmed that it is the mold making you sick…this is just a baseless assertion on your part. No one wants to be sick and not know why, but it does no one any good to just insert whatever happens to be there as the cause without any actual support. This only distracts from the possibility of identifying the actual cause. “it will cause chronic illness and kill you”? Yeah, I would certainly classify that as fear mongering, even if it is well intentioned.
Well, this certainly is a passionate subject, especially for those who actually experience symptoms correlated with mold. While correlation is not causation, I think it would be foolish to dismiss the repeated proximity of environments conducive to mold growth and health symptoms. Inductive reasoning tells us that it requires further investigation. But also that remaining in such an environment could exacerbate the condition whatever might finally be determined to be the cause. My article, “Taming the Wild Debate Over the Health Effects of Mold Exposure” deals with this controversy in detail. You can find it at http://machadoair.blogspot.com/.
im a single monther of 3 who has just discovered that the reason my otherwise healthy family has been sick for months is because everything in our basement is yellow gray, black , and white mold. our entire house reaks of musty grossness.i rent this place. my newborn suck started chocking and would breath, the doc said mold spors were to blame. so now my kids are elsewhere and im really sick and cleaning up mess as well as packing the rest of our stuff. after my son almost died from this house we just want out. :( nowhere to go
Stephen, That is a pretty fair post on the subject, thank you for sharing. That being said, there are a few things I would like to point out. Missing from your article, as well as many others on the topic, is mention of the more probable cause…bacteria. Bacteria thrive in many of the same environmental conditions that Fungi do and their health effects are better understood. Most people miss considering bacteria, only test for mold and then conclude the mold is the cause. Reaching these flawed conclusions without eliminating the involvement of other factors, such as bacteria, often adds fuel to the “toxic mold” fire. I agree that this should continue to be studied and it no doubt will. The best research with Mycotoxins does demonstrate toxicity in animal models, but usually when these dose/responses are scaled up to humans it translates into humans having to be exposed to extremely large amounts over unrealistic time-periods to show the same symptoms. It is yet to be determined how accurate these animal model are when trying to apply them to humans..but it seems to be the best we have right now. Also, it is important to note that yes, people in environments that have water issues can demonstrate negative health effects, but what I think is more important is that for every single case this happens, there are orders of magnitude more people living in the same type of environment and suffering NO ill effects. Add to all of this the somewhat subjective process of analyzing mold samples, confidence levels in testing methods and plans and you have the perfect environment for myths, exaggerations and false conclusions. I could probably make much more money if I were to embrace the “mold is making you sick” assertions, but my sense of professional integrity and my passion for sound logic and science do not allow me to take the “mold if gold” stance that most “experts” or “inspectors” do. The jury is out, the link between mold and adverse health effects in healthy individuals is tenuous at best. The problem here, as in many other cases, is the media. When the media makes up its mind, the public tend to adopt that conclusion. Until people gain even a basic understanding of how to evaluate claims and recognize the media’s need to sensationalize everything, these types of mass hysterias will continue and there will always be someone out there willing to fuel the fire and take their money.
Well Zach, I can’t disagree with you. Mold has certainly been hyped by the media and often with a lot of false information. I do know that there are a lot of “professionals” who try to deal with complaints by virtually blind air testing for mold spores in various locations. There have been times when I have come in to evaluate a complaint after extensive and expensive testing for mold that found nothing. People complain about air quality and immediately think it has to be mold. The media has indeed made it sort of a “cause celeb.” What I have found as the major culprit in poor indoor air quality has been insufficient outside air. My next article is likely to be something along the line of “It Might Not be Mold.” Behind this we have a program that includes testing a location for common contaminants as well as a hygienic inspection of the HVAC system and measuring the volume of outside air. Maybe between us we can get people to take a more rational look at sources of air quality problems.
I was getting sick in my apartment for months. Just prior to me getting sick, I would smell an odor of sweat (like a gym) and couldn’t understand where the odor was coming from. It was in my bedroom…I had a huge problem with the manager of the peroperty. I would go out and my symptoms would leave only to have them return when I went home. People would walk into my apt. and start sneezing….My house was spotless. I started smelling the musty odor in my living room….I moved out and now am faced with the problem again. I live in Massachusetts and I could walk into a strangers home and know within minutes if there was mold there. My eyes are killing me. I have ren around the eyes andI have a crust near the eyes. It is not conjuctivits. Renters are at a disadvantage, because, mold remediation costs a lot of money. I fought a 4 month battle. Now I find myself in this situation again. I cannot find an apartment that isn’t making me ill, nor one I can afford. I have had pneumonia a few months ago. My eyes only bother me at night and in the morning when I awaken. I go into the livingroom and symptoms disapear. I am dreding this fight.
@ zach you have absolutely no idea of what your talking about certain molds can definitely cause severe health problems. There are over 100,000 different species of mold which means everyone that has been exposed may have different symptoms. My whole entire family has become ill because of the constant water leaks and mold growth in our apartment and guess what zach we all have had fungal infections…had the mold tested to find the exact species of mold that we have been exposed to and guess what a positive result has been matched to the mold tested and the fungus imbedded in me and my children. Mold is not meant to grow in abundance indoors..so one’s chronic exposure can cause debilitating symptoms. I do agree with another commentator there are other issues that is usually ignored with the assessment and remediation of mold which is the bacteria such as mycobacterium avium complex usually only associated with immunosuppressed individuals…false even immunocompetent individuals can have adverse health issues due to this type of bacteria. There are various aspects that are linked to the toxic affects of certain molds. So maybe the media exploits the financial benefits of molds that produce mycotoxins but their definitely not exaggerating about the horrific affects of what they do to your immune system. My kids and me now have asthma and wierd unexplainable rashes, breathing difficulties, vision problems, cognitive issues , vertigo and etc. I’m unemployed due to constant absenteeism from work just recently discovered mold is the reason for my children and me illnesses since 2008 prior to moving in this apartment no health issues …see the direct correlation numerous tests by health professionals no diagnosis because the government does not want to spend the money on addressing this problem but it truly needs to be state and federal regulated laws in regards to mold not just some proposed legislation that contradicts itself TRUE STORY …so to those who have been exposed to mold do believe the hype because it’s real.
While being exposed to high levels of mold may not cause you imminent danger, it absolutely can have long term effects.
The environment in a home with a mold problem is completely different than one with good quality air. I’ve felt light headed after being in an infested home for one hour. Try sleeping and living in there constantly.
At the same time, it should never get to that point. Its been said already, but identify the moisture problem and get it fixed.
Hey Zach, I do happen to agree with you that our media does in fact tend to “sensationalize” many things, but i would be careful to maintain such a “central view” on the subject of mold spores. I am just a little curious to hear your comments after googling: aspergillus fumigatus.
Most CERTAINLY, this is NOT an “imagined” illness!
I have had black spots in a large V pattern on my white carpeting for some time now. It is spreading and getting larger. I had pieces of the carpeting analyzed (can’t find the report at thia minute). They called it a particular type of black mold that they said it was not carcinogous, but could affect some people’s health. They could have done more extensive tests to find out what is causing it, but it would have been another expensive fee, so I didn’t have it done. I rent and love it here. My landlord is not willing to pull up all the carpeting which is not that old. I don’t know why this is happening, but it is horrible looking. Nothing was spilled. Does anyone have a clue?
Dear infamous Zach,
It seems to me that you are the type of individual that bases your argument on numbers and statistics via the insurance companies and negligent individuals that claim this “mold thing” is all “media induced hysteria”. Forget your numbers, graphs and charts. I have the best kind of information first hand knowledge of my daughter who is three and a half. The first incident was when she was 26 months old a rental home that we lived in for 4 months caused 105 degree fevers followed by unusual small red bumps on her skin, rhinitis, sinusitis, words previously easy becoming increasingly inaudible, “fluid behind the ear”-which the first ENT diagnosed incorrectly as malformation and last but not least pediatric sleep apnea. Now I’m not sure how versed you are in statistics but after numerous rounds of antibiotics with no results my daugthers symptoms only majically vanished when she was not in the home. Fast forward exactly 1 year later present day. 3.5 months in a rental property and my daughter duplicated symptoms from first home. Both landlords insist that it is my daughter whom is the problem not their homes. So who do you suggest be held accountable for these incidents? the landlord? myself? the insurance company for insuring a home sight unseen? the doctors for failing to do elementary investigative work? Maybe we should blame my child for the not one but two RANDOM affects of mold. Air samples were taken in both homes by professionals and both found compromised air systems with toxins. The truth is you can argue until you are blue in the face but I will be what sanity I have left after this that you will not be volunteering to live in any of these affected individuals homes and test you statistics. How about you research empathy before you try blasting victims of a “media hyped so-called nothing”. Thank you
Wow! Zach……….. I find it hard to believe that you can spout such ancient disproven false information about mold.
Let’s look at a few facts. 1. All mold produces protective gases known as mycotoxins, which are NEUROTOXINS. These toxic gasses are as strong as nerve gas used in bio-warfare. Some stains of aspergilis produce aflatoxin-b
which is the strongest neurotoxin known to mankind. One mold spore typically produces 300 molecules of mycotoxin gas, and since one square inch of mold on a surface can host one million spores or more, the volume of mycotxin gases in a structure can be quite high.
2nd. Approximately 25% of the human population has the genetic markers that can “flip a switch” if exposed to mold and create a cascade of detrimental health effects on a suceptible person, from breathing issues, to headaches, mental confusion, fibromyalgic symtoms, and on and on and on.
I see the problems in my line of work and can tell you that you need to do some serious research and get yourself updated on how very serious mold contamination can be.
EVEN IF you are not one of the 25% of people who get very sick with mold exposure, I would hazard a guess that you wouldn’t willingly breath mycotoxin/nerve gas nor want your family exposed either.
I love this thread! The article and comments demonstrates how confusing and emotion charged mold contamination can be. There needs to be more unbiased information about mold for the public. Thanks!
My husband and I live in a rental home for right now. We are in the process of moving a home that we bought, but because of things being done to this house, it will be at least a year before we can actually move in this house. Now, the house that we are renting, definitely, has lots of mold. There is lots of black mold that you can see on the ceiling of the basement where the attic door is. It is also on the walls around this area also. I will have to say that some of the health problems that we have been facing since we have moved in this house, we have never had a problem with until now. These problems would be, feeling tired all of the time, watery eyes, red irritated eyes, skin rash, lots of headaches and stomach aches. One main issue that I am upset with is the fact that the landlord definitley knows about this mold problem, has been over there to see the mold, and has done nothing about it. I’ve even told her what is probably causing the mold issue. From talking to several people, I think that maybe the problem is that there is too much insulation in the attic and it is covering up the vents and it’s holding all this moisture in. Shouldn’t it be able to escape from the attic vents ? The landlord should be held accountable for this and get some type of mold remediation done. How can we get this lanlord to take action, because this is a bad issue in this house, and we pay a lot the rental of this house. This house is in a very nice neighborhood, and the landlord has plenty of money. There is no excuse for this, except that the landlord is too cheap to take care of this problem. How can I get results ???
I M GETIG VERY SICK AND MY SON 9 YEARS OLD ALL SIPTOMS IS ABAUTE TIXID MOLD WE CANT BRED IN THE HAUSE VERY BAD SMELL VERY HARD TO GET HELP WHAT TO DO HELPPPP!!!!!!
I both agree and disagree with you Zach. There are so many people who run around filing lawsuits of poor air quality in their home. They claim that their home was not built properly, or that the real estate agent who sold it to them never disclosed information regarding unhealthy mold. And yes, how can they be sure it was the mold? I see your point.
Not every kind of mold will be toxic for each person. Think of it in terms of allergies. Some people are allergic to peanuts, while others are not. Mold can and does cause health related problems for some people.
And it is not so much the mold, because mold is everywhere, but the growing mold is the problem. And in order for mold to grow, the problem stems from moisture issues. Regardless of opinion, it is a fact that certain molds affect some people in a health damaging way.
This a short and sweet email regarding Zach’s comments posted in July and August of 2011. Surely Zach may be good at investigating mold issues. But it is clear Zach doesn’t have a medical background. I find it rather profound that a majority of experts that specialize in mold remediation take great pains to protect themselves from the black mold toxins. So my question to Zach is, “Why do you think they go to such a degree of protecting themselves with the necessary equipment so they do not breath in the mold spores?” Nor do they touch the discovered mold. Also, Zach may want to educate himself by contact the CDC in Atlanta. And possibly following that up with contacting the Mayo Clinic. It is also evident that Zach hasn’t lived in a mold infested environment for an extended time, if ever. When all or most members of a household including pets suffer similar health issues and symptoms upon moving in to a home, apartment, or whatever the living environment may be, the culprit to truly take in to consideration is mold. Now what kind of an explanation do you think Zach would have for a whole household of family members that were healthy, then moved in to a home and experience all the same and similar symptoms. Typically when people have consistent symptoms they will seek medical attention. A healthy family would not seek medical attention except for the annual checkup. Yet when affected by mold toxins will end up at the doctor multiple times. Therefore a change in medical history which would be abnormal for a healthy family unless otherwise affected. Once determined there is a mold problem, a family moves if renting, or home is remediated. Once family is no longer exposed, they will not suffer anymore. One sign of mold exposure, the symptoms never go away while living in the home infected. Upon reading Zach comments, he only knows about mold, but doesn’t have the background to otherwise speak medically about the effects. So to all whom commented and to all whom may, please don’t let any one tell you mold doesn’t cause health issues. By the way Black Toxic Mold is not a myth, for if it was the CDC, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, would not have recognized it. So whom would you put your faith in. I’m not wanting to offend Zach, I would like for him to actually do thorough research for he just may be surprised,
(needed to add to my post after surprised) and maybe Zach will help educate people with the dangers instead of portraying as myths. Again, this is not to offend Zach or any one. You have one body and it is important to take care of it at all cost. Especially when a whole family is involved. Thank you.
I live in phoenix az and am living in a black mold apartment that is making us all sick. I have short term memory problem, dizzy,weak vomiting, contstant migrane headaches. Could you please advise me or help. Tempe Az
I’m a new to mold and mold blogger. My family and I are living a nightmare that I would not want my worst enemy to live…. Besides the “infamous Zach” on this blog. If you only knew what mold victims went through. Why are you even on this site, this is a place for people like me to find other people who understand not some asshole who should be slapped in the face. I’m angry, sad, sick any emotion I can feel right now I feel. I’ve lost my house my belongings and my health. You are a total moran Zach
My family and I are currently in the process of moving from our rented accommodation have had 2 leaks over 3 years that have resulted in mould growth.Our house has tested positive for high counts of penicillium mould. I know that mould exposure causes health risks as my family and I are all suffering and have been told by medical professionals that we may only get better if we move. We all have red eyes,headaches,sickness,hair loss,rashes,asthma,ecxema etc. I have tremors,sweats,vertigo,light sensitivity,the list goes on. I have only just found out that penicillium mould is tremogenic. All symptoms are unexplained by the doctors.Definitely not coincidental and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
Our landlord will not disclose the results of the tests! A hygienist took air samples and collected dust from our apartment and very kindly let me know he could not inform me of the results unless the landlord gave him permission. What do we do now? Is it possible to find out if we have mold allergies or if mold is in our systems? Our symptoms include constant headache, nausea, vomiting, unexplained bloody noses, flu like symptoms, swollen glands, sinus infection, minor cough, short term memory loss etc… Will my short term memory come back? I am disturbed most by that symptom. Will my short term memory come back? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Oh my this mold situation is in my home and my daughter has been allergic for the past year. I just realize the mold was the culprit. My landlord came in the other day and called his self cleaning and wiping the mold away. Me knowing that is not the answer am now afraid because I’m sure spores are in the air and I probably should get out of this house ASAP! I’m feeling some type of way….very bothered right now!
I had no idea that mold could be that dangerous to the home! I would never want something like this to happen to my home! I have a little bit of mold in the bathroom, but I never thought it could go out of control. Maybe I will hire a contractor to make sure that my home cannot end up like this other one! http://www.authorizedmoldremoval.com
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Yes, we do post guest posts. You can email article submissions for review to [email protected]
Just moved out of rental after living there for 6 years. Found mold in laundry room wall. Landlord called mold remediation and he said its safely contained in wall. With all my health problems, pounding headaches, stabbing pain in head and eyes, blind for periods of time, swollen lymph nodes, swollen chest in between ribcage( hurts so bad I want to die) pneumonia every yr for 5 yrs sometimes twice a year, valley fever, pleural effusion, liver and kidneys hurt, bone infections, tremors, twitches, passing out, 2 miscarriages, leaky gut, stomach and intestine problems, diarreah, and or constipation, chronic vaginal yeast infections that never went away, the worst menstrual cramps ever, colon problems, mental confusion, depression, anxiety,
7 yr old had a hole in lung and my 17 ur old had a bloodclot, pulmonary embolism. Doctors, friends, family and strangers thing you are crazy, a hypochondriac, stressed, and mental. Need and environmental doctor, or occupational medicine Dr, or just a doctor that recognizes blk mold is real. I’ve been to er visits more than I can even remember, doctors , numerous, specialists. Still looking for right doctor since I dnt HV food insurance can’t find a good doctor. Nobody could pay me a million dollars to go through what I and family endured. Three types of blk were found through air sampling. Tested proved we needed out of the house asap. We gave 30 day notice and packed and left. Landlord mad at us? Are you crazy? Drove by and saw kids toys out front, new renters with a child!!!! I need to find the courage to warn the new tenant. Its not my business but would NEVER wish this on my worst enemy. Have congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. all from mold Zach!!!!! I travel 3 hours to bay area to be treated bY a chinese medicine doctor. No refined carbs, fruit, sugar and no grains is way to starve it out of body or it can take over and kill you!!! Basically organic veggies and grass fed and or organic meat. Cut back on chemicals commonly used in parfume, shampoo, deoderant, saops, lotions, make up, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, etc…God bless all who suffer, and family and Friend s it takes a toll on infected person and their loved ones.
Holly Caplan. I believe you!! Toxic mold illness is real. Most of the symptoms you just listed, my family is experiencing. I just discovered mold everywhere in my home and wondered why we were feeling sick. How did your kidney and liver turn out? What kind of medical treatment was used to help your family feel better? I need help I dont know what to do, visiting different specialists with no answers. Just more diagnoses and more medicine but not feeling healed
Just here reading the thread after researching mold exposure. We moved into a new house 11 mos ago and my husband and I are developing eczema when we’ve never had it before. We both are having vertigo and concentration issues . Also whole family is experiencing frequent bloody noses. We think the air in the house is just really dry but not sure. We don’t see mold growing anywhere, but Just weird we are getting all these new symptoms. Thanks for this interesting thread!