Water-contaminated building. “Damp indoor spaces” combine to produce mold growths and bacteria capable of causing serious human illness.
Mold growth inside living spaces has been recognized as an unhealthy condition since biblical times. In modern time, as buildings were tightly insulated, increased use of indoor plumbing, lack of proper ventilation and the increased incidence of water leaks all combined to create what is now recognized as "damp indoor spaces." A damp indoor space is generally defined as excessive indoor moisture conditions, occasionally from excess humidity (85 percent or above), but most often resulting from water leaks inside the structure which may be chronic and undetected or sudden and accidental but not properly dried.
Exposure to excess mold growth and moisture conditions indoors, as opposed to outdoor molds and rainfall that we are all exposed to on a regular basis, has been scientifically and medically shown to cause adverse human health effects. The effects are recognized by the EPA (search Environmental Protection Agency Mold for multiple references, including mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings—http://www.epa.gov/mold/—still the best single source), the National Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. As with any developing scientific or medical area, both the literature and the internet contain a lot of useful information, as well as information less confirmed. There is no doubt that damp indoor spaces, with the mold growth, bacterial growths, mites, cockroaches and volatile gases from decomposing materials and molds, can cause serious human illness. People most susceptible are the very young, under six years of age, immune-compromised persons, the elderly and those with existing respiratory problems. This list is not exclusive, however, as perfectly healthy persons can "acquire" allergic and immune system reactions or suffer from direct toxic exposures to damp indoor spaces, and such health conditions may be passing or permanent. Often, adverse effects are strongly correlated with individual susceptibility, which is often genetically driven.
Of the many websites that you may visit, one of the best and oldest is the site established by Melinda Ballard, who, as a result of her own devastating experiences with mold, has a long-running website on mold effects.
Virginia strictly regulates mold and moisture conditions in rental homes and apartments. In general, the landlord has an absolute responsibility to remedy water and mold conditions as soon as notice is given. Mold remediation must be done in accordance with statutory guidelines and carried out by trained remediators. The use of bleach products is generally improper and can cause more harm.
You need immediate legal help if (1) your landlord refuses to remedy mold or water conditions; and/or (2) your landlord insists that the tenant perform such work; and/or (3) occupants of the unit are sick with respiratory problems, skin rashes, digestive disorders or any immune system issue. The Environmental Law Group will offer free consultation up to one hour by phone or office visit. Be sure to collect all medical data, pictures and investigative reports that you have.
Contact us for experienced representation
At ELG, we combine scientific expertise and legal knowledge to serve our community in the environmental issues Virginians commonly face. We represent only the plaintiffs in these matters, and our allegiance is to you, our client. Call the firm at 804.433.1980 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation on your case.