My question regards mold development within home resulting from delayed response to correct water leak. We had a pipe leak in the manifold of a room in our home which was also under the slab and resulted in water damage to carpeting, drywall, furniture, x-ray film, various paper documents, retail goods, decor and other personal items which were immediately moved to the living room and family room. The damaged room is joined to the kitchen and bathroom. Both of these rooms were also affected. The kitchen cabinetry and toe touch had an 97%-99% moisture ten plus days after the repair to the drywall in the opposing room. Upon the opened toe touch area being dried-out, it still had 19-27% moisture detected that had remained without being dried-out.
The originating room was never dried out. Upon the insurance contractor coming to dry-out the wall had dried but the kitchen area affected had not. Meanwhile the toe kicks were removed and area dried out.
However, the carpet and all other damaged house hold furniture redistributed to other rooms, as well those within the room and other household items and paper documents remained as well the open slab and drywall in the office where the repair was done. Approximately three weeks later, I had testing done in the home as I had been experiencing health problems which had reoccurred and advanced to bilateral skin rashes on full limbs from upper respiratory, eyes, flu-like symptoms with fever, weakness, head and fatigue…
The testing after a three week period of the repaired piping showed elevated levels of spores which were greater than five times the amount outdoors. For instance in the room/office, Aspergillus/penicillium had a raw score of 261, at 86% and spores/m3 of air at 1749. Other fungal spores were ascospores, Cladosporium, smuts/myxomytcetes which were present. Total fungal spores/m3 was 2044, 305 raw and 100%.
The kitchen had 275 spores/m3 for aspergillus/penicillium, 147 spores/m3 for Cladosporium, 13 rusts spores/m3, 7 smuts/myxomycetes spores/m3, with total fungal spores at 456. There was one area under the cabinet that had a dark spot which was sampled. The spot was located at the edge near where the toe kick would connect. The spot tested as “major” Aspergillus/penicillium while there were no visible signs in the office of spots. However, there were two strips of molding that were in the bathroom which had been removed from the office upon repair to the pipe weeks prior, one tested showed an “abundant” aspergillus/penicillium-like fungi.
The week of Thanksgiving, I looked under the cabinet where my pots/pans glass cookware are stored-which would be the wood in the area of the toe kick which holds the cookware’s shelf. I noticed spots from end to end on the full board. I have not looked since. However, I covered the registers of the office and kitchen.
In the living-room I noticed items acquire mold that were sitting on top of the file cabinet which was a piece of wood furniture affected and in front of the dry wall with moisture and on top of the carpet. These items were placed in plastic bags tied together and put back on the file cabinet. On the 11th of November, canvas bags which are full of documents and other items were in the living-room in a large plastic tub. Fungal mold-like growth was present and removed to the garage.
Last week, Tuesday we had a visit from an adjuster(claim transferred to a different county and rep after complaints of contractors from Insurance company not following through nor getting started beyond photos, diagrams, and measuring in removing and cleaning etc.) who saw the areas. She was to send someone out that day to remove the carpet, remaining things in the room, clean, remove powder from results of work with wet saw in the room and to have someone come and put a suction unit in the room to remove spores and exhaust them outside of home-(is this appropriate, could they not re-enter with open windows or the like?). How about the other rooms which could highly likely have colonies as a result of location to the contaminated rooms and the pieces from those rooms disbursed in other places.
The adjuster assured us of action being taken that day and would contact her contractors to come out that evening. In addition, she would talk to her manager and review file as it was reported they do not cover mold-but she was told the insurance contractors delay from mid October to well into November is an issue.
Here we are in December and items are still unchanged nor removed. Carpet should have been gone among others. Therefore the insurances contractor is liable and should be responsible for those areas related to microbials. She did say the insurance can help out up to 5k’s. Again, we were assured in the meantime work would get going that evening or in the morning. That late afternoon she phoned and left a message that no one will be out that evening. She had not been able to receive contact from her manager either. However, she needs to ask me a question. I have not heard from her since returning her call.
On Saturday, the 11th of December, I went to the insurance office expressed my frustration of this situation in which the agent was amazed and reported this should not be like this. They never get complaints on home insurance and it should have been taken care of within a few days not a few months and nothing has happened. The agent sent an urgent notice to the adjuster and her manager. Needless to say there has not been any contact yet.
I have been having further health problems as a result of the contamination/fungal environment. This would make the fourth time I have sought medical attention.
I have made every effort to remove myself from the mold contaminated areas while I try to limit my time in the kitchen and family room with an exception on Sunday morning. I try to remain upstairs which is open to downstairs except for the bedrooms. Could the colonies multiply throughout the house with the conditions described and find their way upstairs? I think that they may have not only affected my health, but me physically. I have inflammation, advanced edema, muscle/joint pain, red eyes, and enlargement of my mid-section. Could colonies have developed within my body? I am active and work out four times a week-1.5hrs, but I’ve been noticing physical challenges of things usually included in my work out and some involve respiratory. How can these symptoms/conditions be corrected or can they be permanent? How about the other health conditions?
What precautions, actions, remediation and additional evaluations should be taken as a whole? Thank you.
I would like to summarize and answer your questions as follows:
- The adjuster was to send someone out to remove the carpet, remaining things in the room, clean, remove powder from results of work with wet saw in the room and to have someone come and put a suction unit in room to remove spores and exhaust them outside of home. Your question is whether this method was appropriate and whether the spores could re-enter through the open windows. To me this sounds like it was an appropriate method of cleaning up the mold. Most remediation companies follow mold guidelines such as “Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments” developed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In Canada, contractors may use the Canadian Construction Association’s Mould Guidelines for the Canadian Construction Industry or the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario’s Mould Abatement Guidelines. These guidelines are available online so you want you can refer to them.
- Your other question is whether the colonies could multiply throughout the house given the damp/wet conditions you have described. The answer is yes. If the moisture problem is not corrected mold will continue growing.
- You have experienced symptoms/conditions that you think are due to mold exposure and you wonder how these symptoms/conditions could be corrected. Generally symptoms associated with mold exposure should disappear once a person is no longer exposed to mold. However, permanent symptoms may develop if the individual was exposed for many years.
- You also wanted to know what precautions, actions, remediation and additional evaluations that should be taken as a whole. Since you’re not feeling well, I think the first thing for you is to move out of the house. Then hire a qualified professional to assess the extent of mold contamination and recommend the appropriate level of remediation.
I hope this helps. If you need more information, please contact us again.
Dr. Jackson Kung’u.