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Carla in Berkeley, California

by Jonathan

After six weeks of flu and sinus congestion symptoms, that two rounds of antibiotics failed to clear, I began looking for other sources of cause. I was describing my physical symptoms as well as mental ones (incredible difficulty focusing, exhaustion and depression) to a friend who is deathly allergic to black mold and they were so similar that I began wondering. Some months ago there was water damage to the ceiling in our rental unit (a downstairs apt). It was never cleaned and the Bay Area has been experiencing a tremendously damp and dank spring and summer. Though there were no outward signs, I couldn’t help but realize that every time I left the house, I felt better and when I returned, I’d be exhausted and coughing within five minutes. Since I couldn’t see anything, I doubted what my own instincts were telling me. Meanwhile, trying to finish my Master’s Thesis, I was really angry with myself because I had so much trouble focusing and attributed it to some sort of writing block. But I’ve been writing for years, and had never experienced anywhere near this level of disorientation, in addition to all the awful physical symptoms.

Finally, I started listening to my instincts. I am lucky enough to have family in the area, and got out of my apartment. It’s amazing how much better I feel after even a short time away. In fact, it’s relatively stunning.

So, I’ve been able to give 30 days notice, as I’m pretty sure my property manangement company will never do the situation justice, even if they make an effort to clean it up. We do have tremendous renters rights in Berkeley, and so I’m sure I can get at least a mold inspection, but in the meantime, I’m too scared to spend any amount of time there, let alone the night. Thanks for listening and please see my questions below.


While I realize that I’m going to have to get rid of several pieces of cloth furniture, I’m particularly concerned about my books. A writer and teacher, I have hundreds of books, in addition to papers. Does anyone know of a solution for so many books? I’ve thought about bleach spray for the covers, but the pages? Sunshine? A microwave? Any ideas would help.

Also, is there any way to tell what’s been contaminated? I can feel the difference with my dirty / washed clothing, but with larger items am kind of at a loss.

Thanks for any tips. This is one nasty, nasty, nasty invisible enemy and I really feel for everyone else dealing with this.

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