Hi there, Can anyone help with some suggestions? We have found water in laminate floor and wood stud walls and mold spores. Strata has hired somebody to fix the problem/ They are using dehumidifier and fans to blow the air within one room. The room is not completely sealed and the air from treated room is spilling through gaps into the rest of the apartment where we live while this work is done. The odors are quite strong and I am also worried about any mold spores that are disturbed and now potentially contaminating the air that we bread. Is it safe to live in the rest of the apartment, while one room is being dehumidified by the method of blowing fans and heating up the air? Should we move out or at least request from the contractor to seal the room completely? The gaps under and around the doors are not sealed.
Read through this web page from the Washington State Department of Health:
Got Mold? Frequently Asked Questions About Mold, Washington State Department of Health
Most molds do not harm healthy people. But people who have allergies or asthma may be more sensitive to molds. Sensitive people may experience skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, nasal congestion, aggravation of asthma or difficulty breathing. People with an immune suppression or underlying lung disease, may be at increased risk for infections from molds.
A small number of molds produce toxins called mycotoxins. When people are exposed to high levels of mold mycotoxins they may suffer toxic effects, including fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irritation to the lungs and eyes. If you or your family members have health problems that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should consult with your physician.
That is, it's only a small number of molds that produce these mycotoxins, and normal healthy people have to be exposed to a HIGH LEVEL of these mycotoxins before they suffer any health effects.
Most commonly, the more serious health effects caused by exposure to mycotoxins (mycotoxosis) is caused by eating fungi which produce these mycotoxins (such as certain mushrooms), not by inhalation of mycotoxin mold spores. Ingesting large quantities of mycotoxins could potentially cause your liver to stop functioning, and that would be deadly.
In one web page I read, it said that airborne mold spores are common both indoors and out, and that outdoors mold spores have been measured at levels of 200,000 per cubic meter of air. All of us breathe in mold spores all the time, especially when we go outside, but our bodies have a way of preventing them from growing or doing any harm if and when they get into our lungs.
Also, take a look at this web page from Ecometrex, which is an environmental consulting and restoration company in Minnesota:
It says that mycotoxins only exist on the surface of the spores. It also says that the notion that healthy people can get sick from inhaling the spores of mycotoxin producing molds is controversial because of the tiny quantity of mycotoxins ingested by inhaling aerosolized spores. That is, mycotoxins are not a virus that can reproduce in your body, they are poisons. However, the tiny amount that you ingest would be unlikely to cause health concerns. That web page, does however say:
Despite the growing evidence supporting a causal relationship between airborne mycotoxins and health effects, mycotoxicosis due to inhalation of indoor spores remains highly controversial.
This medical study compared the health of 53 people working in an office building that was known to have a chronic problem with mycotoxin producing molds in it, with that of a control group of 21 people who were not exposed to mycotoxin producing molds:
SpringerLink - Journal Article
Only the abstract of the study is available online. The study did find:
Strong associations with exposure indicators and significant differences between employees (n=53) and controls (n=21) were found for lower respiratory system symptoms, dermatological symptoms, eye symptoms, constitutional symptoms, chronic fatigue symptoms and several enumeration and function laboratory tests, mainly of the white blood cell system.
The study concluded:
It is concluded that prolonged and intense exposure to toxigenic S. chartarum and other atypical fungi was associated with reported disorders of the respiratory and central nervous systems, reported disorders of the mucous membranes and a few parameters pertaining to the cellular and humoral immune system, suggesting a possible immune competency dysfunction.
Those 53 people that were studied had worked in that "sick building" for an average of 3.1 years and had an average age of just under 35 years. So, at that age these people would normally be expected to be of generally good health. 3.1 years is a relatively long time to be exposed to something for about 8 hours per day, but the health effects were relatively minor as evidenced by the fact that they were all still going to work every day.
So, looking at everything, if you haven't suffered any health effects yet, you probably won't. Normal healthy people are not affected by the spores from most molds, and you have to be sensitive to the spores of most molds as a result of allergies or athsma to suffer relatively minor health problems as a result of exposure to them.
A small number of molds produce spores with poison on their surfaces. There's no reason to believe that the mold(s) growing in your house produce mycotoxins, and you need to have intense and prolonged exposure to the airborne spores of these molds before normal healthy people suffer health effects from them.
And, from what I read, the health effects typically only persist for as long as the exposure lasts, so your health returns to normal once you are no longer exposed to toxic molds. So, the bottom line here is that it's only a few molds that can cause health problems in normal healthy people, the exposure has to be intense and prolonged for there to be health problems, and the problems go away once the person is no longer exposed to the molds.
But, what the heck, I'd complain like he11 anyhow. :)
Do you happen to know what kind of mold it is? I dont suppose you have had it tested. Does it look like black mold or just mold mold? Do you have very young children? Is it dry or moist mold?
If you have a baby and it seems dangerous you should get out of there as certain molds can cause infant death, but if you are all healthy and grown adults it shouldnt be a huge issue. If the mold is dry already then it has the potential to release spores on touch which could be problematic. If its still moist then its not going to be as huge an issue.
You can request it be sealed off and go the superman method but you may later regret it when the bill comes along. I had drywall problems and had 3 different contractors survey it. There was slight mold in an isolated area from water damage, I was given quotes of $800, $500 and finally the company who wanted to do it the superman way $8,000 (Not joking here). I looked through their itemized list and they wanted $300 just to clean up the floor after removing the moldy section of drywall and they wanted $1000 to seal off this tiny bathroom and go all out including a cost of $5 per tool they used to sanitize them afterwards. Of course they also wanted me to pay for suits and masks and all sorts of other things for a fist sized patch of mold in the bathroom. Then again the same company thought it was appropriate to charge $1000 per sq foot of drywall. I wonder how they stay in business but then again I suppose it only takes one person to pay $8000 instead of 10 paying $800.
In reality mold is everywhere in your house, its just the level its present and the type of mold. If this is not dangerous mold it shouldnt be a huge issue (unless you are an asthmatic)
Thank you for your replies. We have already been exposed to the air blown from the affected area, but did not experience serious side effects so far, so I hope it was not as dangerous as we got scared. I think it could have been done with better care for occupants. They should have sealed the room with poly so that the air with any pores does not spill into entire apartment. I may have some more discoveries once more materials are removed. And I may make more posts. Your replays were very informative. Thank you
If there is any mold present, they should not have ANY fans in there. A dehumidifier and a air scrubber until the mold is removed. Those are the guidelines as outlined in IICRC. (Institute Of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Which is what all restoration companies are supposed to go by.
And unless you have a hygienist take a swab sample and send it off to the lab to determine what the air quality and how nasty that particular mold is, you don't know. It can be something as simple as sneezing or as bad as putting you in the hospital (personal experience). It can be DIY stuff as long as your smart about it and research it a little.
And finally- The reason you will get $8,000 quotes is because that is what the insurance companies pay out. Just like taking a trip to the Dr. (Possibly the proctologist?)
I have read a bit more about this. No one has tested for mold, so I can not say for sure, but my body tells me, when I am in the area, I have itchy eyes, runny nose, skin irritations, and I had a very nasty influenza. The symptoms unmistakably appear when I am exposed. So I will demand that the area be cleaned.
But, we do get a lot of jobs that after I have been in a house for 15 minutes I can't walk straight and will throw up. One job in Massachusetts I acted like a tough guy trying to remove mold I thought was not that bad without my respirator and ended up in the hospital for a week. My Uncle got a nasty case of Legionaries disease after remodeling a kitchen. He came very close to dying and is still not right. So you never can tell.
The company that came out to do the job knows what the guidelines are for mold remediation and it sounds like they did not follow them. If they refuse to follow up with you, tell them you will be getting a hygienist in there to take quality samples of their work. That should get them moving.
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