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Mrs. McCretton in Lowell, MA

by Jonathan

We moved to the home in question in September of 2008.

Less than a week after moving in the roof was leaking into the crawl space above our bedrooms. It then leaked through the ceiling onto our clock radio sitting on top of my husband’s dresser. He called the landlord and told her that the roof was leaking, she proceeded to tell him that the roof in fact was not leaking because a new roof was just put on two years ago. Nothing was done about it that time.

Our ceiling would only leak when it was windy and rainy outside. In Sept. of 2009 I decided to go back to school online to get my BA in psychology and eventually get my masters so I could work for the DCF and help abused and neglected children. On my birthday Sept. 23. 2009 my mom and brother went halves on a laptop for me so it would be easier for me to study and do my school work upstairs. I started school and continued to stay upstairs; I was doing great the first seven classes I received A’s and B’s, and then I became violently ill.

In the mean time my son was experiencing breathing problems and I had to take him to the emergency room at least twice. The first time was around Dec of 2009, he was experiencing stuffy nose, coughing and headaches, and he was prone to sinus infections. I had to take him to three different specialists and not one could find anything wrong; he had a CT and a MRI and both had negative results. I was at a loss and did not know what else to do for him. I have also had to take him to the emergency room because he could not breath well and they put him on a nebulizer.

In April of 2010 I informed my landlord that there was mold in the crawl space and it was affecting my son Christopher’s health. I was so busy with school and then on June 3, 2010 I became sick. It was all of a sudden, I was perfectly healthy before all this happened, I had started school and was receiving A’s and B’s. I had severe nausea all of the time and could not eat; the only thing that did not upset my stomach was candy bars or ice cream. I would eat one to two ice cream cones a night and about two candy bars. When I did eat; about an hour after having a meal, my fever would rise and my stomach would become very nauseas. Usually if you have nausea you cannot eat dairy products because they would curdle in your stomach. This would happen an hour after I ate, my stomach would feel like someone was kicking it and then the fever would spike.

I became very ill after having my second upper endoscopy and thought that it was the doctor’s fault. The low grade fevers continued and I started getting sick with a runny left nostril and then fever and severe nausea, diarrhea and night sweats. I thought I had the flu or some kind of virus. I was scheduled for an upper endoscopy and I went to the appointment but my esophagus was irritated and there was something on my esophagus that looked like a yeast infection but when tested it was negative. After the second upper endoscopy I became more ill and my stomach was killing me; I just could not eat and I also became very dehydrated both times I ended up in the hospital. I did not have the C-diff the first time I went into the hospital (which was soon after the endoscopy). The second time Doctor Tilson stretched my esophagus because he said it was scarred and was narrow. I ended up in the hospital which was one week later they detected the C-diff. I ended up in the hospital twice. The second endoscopy pushed the mold in my esophagus into my stomach, making me violently ill. I also believe that this contributed to the C-diff. My doctor prescribed an anti-biotic. I did not realize but my doctor was treating a bacterial infection when it was fungal. The second time I entered the hospital was July 31, 2010 with a temperature of 102.0.

On Aug. 1st 2010 I had exploratory surgery done and had my gall bladder and appendix removed. It took me a very long time to recover from this surgery. I had severe pain in my stomach like someone was stabbing me about six different places and then a stinging sensation like open wounds. Every time I was in the hospital; my appetite was good, I could breathe better and felt a little better except the fevers did not go away. I left the hospital both times with a low grade fever of around 99.5. Once I returned home and was up in my bedroom to recover, I could not eat again and was feeling almost as bad as when this whole thing started. I still did not feel fully recovered because a low grade fever would start.

In Sept. of 2010 my husband talked to the landlord and expressed his concern for the mold, her husband went into the crawl space and came back out and said we will let it dry out. A piece of plaster had fallen off the ceiling of my son’s closet and he smelled a musty smell. I had expressed my concern for that hole and she said it did not look bad. When she finally filled it on February 27, 2011, she expressed to my son that the hole was bigger and deeper than she thought.

On Feb. 3rd I expressed to my landlord I needed someone right away to test this apartment for the presence of mold. I expressed how ill I was and I felt that the cause of everything was mold. I had spent all my time upstairs going to school and then when I became sick, I was up there all the time. I would often close the vent in the floor and have my bedroom door closed. I have a commode that my mother got me because I was too weak to go down stairs. On this same day the next door neighbor told her his roof was leaking also. The roof was not taken care of until the health inspector made her and it was finally done the middle of March of this year.

My husband talked to her the night after on the 4th and she said she had been waiting two hours for someone to call her back. I did not feel that she new the importance of this or that all of our health was at risk I emailed the health inspector and she came over on the seventh of February. She did not have anything to test for mold and if she could not see it then she could not write it up. But she found a couple of other violations and wrote her up on them. My landlord was angry that I went behind her back and called the health inspector. I explained how important our health is and I am scared. That did not matter to her. She had told us then that she wanted us to leave. She did not want to spend the money on the person who came and tested. She only wanted the mold tested but he had to test for carbon monoxide and oxygen level. That was fine. I was at a hotel at the time of the testing.

The man came in and tested and my husband showed him where it had been leaking in our bedroom and he placed the tool on top of the clock radio on my husband’s dresser and it read 633 and the tester said that 50 was high. In the wake of these results, my landlord did not offer or even mention putting us up anywhere until the mold was taken care of which by her standards is covering it up. She knew how sick I had been and still wanted to do everything herself to save money instead of hiring someone to come in and move our furniture in the bedrooms to get rid of the problem that is making me sick.

I have asthma now and never had asthma before, I have a hard time breathing I do not have any idea as to what is affecting me whether the mold itself or mycotoxins it is giving out from the plaster or the wood. Any chemicals in these I am breathing. It is affecting my lungs. I still receive brain fogs and have a hard time with short term memory. I cannot breathe well and this is the first time I have not been able to breath right. I have never had anything wrong with my lungs; I have very bad fatigue and I am tired all of the time from the moment I awake. I recently had the same breathing test done and my doctor said for someone who smokes my lungs tested great.

She has owned apartments for thirteen years and will not do things because she fears her home owners insurance will go up. I just wonder how many other buildings have this problem because they let things go for so long so that their home owners will not go up.

My short term memory is almost gone, I have great long term memory, My ADD is very bad, I cannot think straight half of the time. My mind just races all the time. I am having such a hard time in school with concentration, when the weather is warm and we open the windows my concentration is so much better. It is only bad being closed up here without any windows open, even though they all leak.

I have been sleeping in my living room since February 15, 2011, when I found out for sure that there was mold and what I thought was true. We all had suffered respiratory problems because of this. It was not just me anymore; it was also Pete and Christopher. I just had it worse because I stayed in my bedroom the longest period of time. It has nothing to do with the mold being there; it is the quantity of mold that is there causing the problem. It just has to be above both our bedrooms.

This was like this before we moved in and the roof leaked before we moved in. Not too long after moving in is; less than a week it leaked into our bedroom.

The lawyer I hired was useless, but I have been contacted by an insurance adjuster representing her homeowners insurance and gave him all of my medical records I had and the pictures of the crawl space as I have everything on CD anyway.. He took pictures and could not believe they just let it dry out without any ventilation. I want this place torn apart and all the mold gone so the next unsuspecting people moving in will not become as ill as I got. This was more than an allergic reaction, it had a lot to do whatever the mold was attached to.

Bleach does not work for mold, it will hide it until it resurfaces but will not kill it. It is only a band aid. Anything that the mold is attached to should be removed and replaced. If this roof ever leaks again the same thing will happen and someone else may not be as lucky as I was and may die from it.


My landlord was negligent and knew about the mold before we moved in, her husband used to be a builder. Can I bring criminal charges against her? How about the Consumer protection act?

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Lori Tondini June 12, 2011 - 10:22 pm

Never use bleach! Bleach, when combined with mycotoxins creates even more dangerous VOCs. First, and I cannot stress this enough-get out of the moldy environment! Dont take anything with you in order to avoid cross-contamination. See if you can put stuff in a storage unit until you find out the extent of contamination. Many things may have to be throuwn out. Secondly, contact your local govt agencies to see what rights you as a tenant have in your area. Legitmate and good lab testing and inspection by qualified licensed mold inspector are keys to any kind of determination of negligibility on the part of the owners. If you can afford a GOOD mold attorney, and they do cost alot of $, but they are out there…

Mikal June 15, 2011 - 4:24 pm

Please read my post. I had the same issues with renting. The slumlord allowed you to move in without telling you of mold issues or roof leaks. Call Fair Housing and file a complaint with them and they can most assuredly make the slumlord pay all moving costs. Also call a good attorney that specializes in mold law suits and file for emotional stress, all rent paid back from date of first complaint, as well as punitive damages. Hopefully you have all correspndence of these mold issues documented. Good Luck. Michael in Oklahoma City


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