Mold Infested Condo Development

October 18, 2010
Headlines regarding a mold infested condo development generated conversation, confusion and concern following a September 8, 2010, Seattle Times report. It will take a reported $4 million to repair the Riverwalk at Redmond condo complex where water damage has riddled some units with toxic mold.  Members of the homeowners association appear to have little recourse for what it says is shoddy construction.  Water has damaged 15 units, affecting three of the five buildings on Northeast Leary Way. The Times article described the plight of the Dusi family, whose lives have been turned upside down by the severe mold in their unit.  They have completely abandoned rooms, and ripped out and replaced drywall as mold has moved throughout their unit.  Their 4-year old developed a spotty rash on her legs and has required frequent hospital visits for respiratory infections and allergies. Although mold is a very common phenomenon in homes, apartments and commercial buildings, new stories such as the one affecting the owners of The Riverwalk at Redmond often spur interest and demand for more information on mold. It becomes even more relevant as remodel jobs become a larger part of MBAKS member’s business.  Mold is oftentimes found in crawls, attics or behind sheetrock during remodel activities. I thought some facts regarding how mold may impact the health of your clients and/or future tenants would be helpful… 1.    Mold growth in buildings is a symptom of water damage or moisture problems. 2.    Dampness in buildings can promote other exposure sources including dust mites, cockroaches, bacteria, and chemical releases associated with some building materials.  Due to the possible presence of these agents, accurately attributing particular health issues specifically to mold may seem logical, but can be disputed. 3.    None-the-less, exposure to mold has been recognized as a potential health problem. 4.    The strongest evidence exists between indoor mold exposure and upper and lower respiratory health effects such as nasal symptoms and asthma exacerbations. 5.    Molds do produce volatile compounds, spores and other minute particles that can cause irritant and allergic responses ranging from annoying to serious depending on the amount of exposure and the immune system of the individual. 6.    Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic. 7.    The presence of toxic mold does not mean it will kill you. Everyone’s immune system handles exposures differently.  Thus, mold may affect members of a household differently, with some feeling no effects while others may experience possibly dramatic reactions. “If you’ve got mold indoors, that needs to be dealt with,” says David Williams, an investigator for Public Health – Seattle, King County. Bleach and Kilz, both commonly used by consumers for mold, are neither advisable, nor acceptable according to most commercially accepted remediation protocol.  Bleach in particular, is only recommended for hard, non-porous surfaces like tile, countertops and tub and shower basins.  However, it is ineffective as a biocide to kill mold in joist, framing members, roof decking, OSB and plywood as it is unable to penetrate the porous nature of those materials.  As a result, the hyphae, or roots of the mold remain alive and viable – despite the fact that the mold stain may have been bleached away. So, if you’re dealing with mold, either personally, in a property that you own, on a remodel job, or speculatively through foreclosures, seek the advice of a mold professional to reduce the possibility of adverse health effects to occupants and potential down-line liabilities. Chris Heller, Sales and Business Development, Mold Solutions NW, chris@dontfearmold.com, www.dontfearmold.com