Mold con­cerns raised at apart­ment build­ing

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @by­bob­keeler on Twit­ter

LOWER SAL­FORD >> Chris­tine Lin­den­muth says it started in May with a musty smell com­ing from her bed­room air con­di­tioner at Val­ley Manor, a Sec­tion 8 sub­si­dized hous­ing apart­ment build­ing for low-in­come el­derly and dis­abled per­sons on Broad Street in Harleysville.

Af­ter she com­plained about it, main­te­nance work­ers came and sprayed some­thing to cover the smell, she said.

“They acted like that was go­ing to do the job,” Lin­den­muth, 71, said. “Well, it didn’t.”

When she com­plained again, a con­trac­tor came to look at the heat pump, but the prob­lem still wasn’t fixed, she said.

“These heat pumps do not ex­haust the con­den­sa­tion to the out­side. It’s go­ing into the in­ner wall and that’s caus­ing the mold,” Lin­den­muth said.

“I had to live all this sum­mer with­out us­ing the air con­di­tioner. I had to sit be­side the win­dow with a ta­ble fan on be­cause if I had the air con­di­tioner on and it was blow­ing in, I got sick,” she said. “I got sick any­way, but I got less sick when I didn’t use it.”

Lin­den­muth and an­other ten­ant said they be­lieve mold is a fac­tor in health prob­lems they and oth­ers in the build­ing con­tinue to have.

Al­though the air con­di­tion­ing is not be­ing used this time of year, there is still mois­ture in heat pump drip pans and the prob­lems con­tinue, Lin­den­muth said.

Af­ter her re­quest to have Val­ley Manor do mold test­ing was turned down, a friend pro­vided the money so she could hire a cer­ti­fied mold tech­ni­cian to do the test­ing in Novem­ber, she said.

“While it is gen­er­ally ac­cepted that molds can be al­ler­genic and can lead to ad­verse health con­di­tions in sus­cep­ti­ble peo­ple, un­for­tu­nately there are no widely ac­cepted or reg­u­lated in­ter­pre­tive stan­dards or nu­mer­i­cal guide­lines for the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of mi­cro­bial data,” ac­cord­ing to in­tro­duc­tory in­for­ma­tion for the test re­sults, which were an­a­lyzed by EMLab P&K, Marl­ton, NJ. The test­ing pro­vides ba­sic in­ter­pre­tive in­for­ma­tion, the com­pany said.

Test­ing of sam­ples taken from Lin­den­muth’s apart­ment found an el­e­vated count of Stachy­botrys mold

in­side the apart­ment wall, Wil­liam Young, of Mold N’ More De­con­tam­i­na­tion, Ex­ton, the com­pany that did the sam­pling, wrote in a memo to Lin­den­muth in mid-De­cem­ber fol­low­ing up on the pre­vi­ously pro­vided test re­sults.

“Stachy­botrys are com­monly found in­doors on wet ma­te­ri­als con­tain­ing cel­lu­lose, such as wall­board, jute, wicker, straw bas­kets, and other pa­per ma­te­ri­als. It does how­ever re­quire a sub­stan­tial mois­ture load to am­plify on build­ing ma­te­ri­als,” Young wrote.

“The pres­ence of Stachy­botrys in a closed wall cav­ity on an up­per floor of an apart­ment com­plex is an in­di­ca­tion of el­e­vated mois­ture lev­els ex­ceed­ing el­e­vated rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity in the am­bi­ent at­mos­phere,” he wrote. “The fact that Stachy­botrys is a tox­i­genic mold known to present is­sues in water dam­aged build­ings gen­er­ates con­cerns.”

“The fact that he found it in my wall on the sec­ond

floor in­di­cates there’s too much water in this build­ing and the first floor must be even worse,” Lin­den­muth said.

Young wrote that his pro­fes­sional opin­ion was that fur­ther eval­u­a­tion should be done, in­clud­ing test­ing other parts of the build­ing and re­me­di­a­tion as nec­es­sary.

Lin­den­muth said her doc­tor also has supplied a let­ter ask­ing that re­me­di­a­tion be done.

At present, there is no test that proves an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween Stachy­botrys char­tarum (Stachy­botrys atra) and par­tic­u­lar health symp­toms, but when­ever molds are found in a build­ing, pru­dent prac­tice rec­om­mends that they be re­moved, ac­cord­ing to Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion in­for­ma­tion.

Lin­den­muth said she is cur­rently us­ing an ozone gen­er­a­tor her pas­tor loaned her to de­stroy mi­cro­tox­ins in the air, but has to leave the apart­ment while that is in op­er­a­tion.

She said she has con­tacted lo­cal, state and na­tional gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the U. S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing & Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment (HUD), but be­cause of the par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down, doesn’t know when she will again hear from HUD.

Af­ter hav­ing been given a copy of the re­sults from the test­ing that she com­mis­sioned, Val­ley Manor, which is a Grosse & Quade prop­erty, had its own test­ing done, but did not test in­side the walls as her tester had done, she said.

“We did have test­ing done and we’re await­ing the re­sults of the tests,” Kyle All­hiser, the prop­erty man­ager, said when con­tacted by phone Jan. 3.

He said he could not com­ment any fur­ther on the mat­ter.

Lin­den­muth said test­ing should be done in each of the apart­ments in the build­ing and ac­tion taken to fix the prob­lems.

“We are el­ders,” she said. “Why do we have to live like this? This is wrong.”

BOB KEELER [email protected] @BY­BOB­KEELER ON TWIT­TER

Chris­tine Lin­den­muth stands in her apart­ment be­hind the ozone gen­er­a­tor she be­gan us­ing af­ter test­ing showed el­e­vated lev­els of mold in the ex­te­rior wall.

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