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  • Josh Leviton

Why isn't mold taken more seriously?

When it comes to mold there are three types of people in the world. There are the people who think it is a serious problem and the people who don’t. In my experience, what seems to separate the types is that those who believe it is a problem have had mold related illnesses themselves or have friends/relatives who has been made sick by mold. Those who have never felt symptoms themselves and have only heard stories about how bad mold can be don’t seem to take mold very seriously.

I see this all the time in relationships where one person feels symptoms and the other doesn’t. The one who feels symptoms is insistent that there is a mold problem in their home and the one who does not feel anything thinks it is all in their head. The problem is that an individual’s sensitivity to mold varies from person to person. For example, I myself never feel symptoms when I am around/living in an environment with elevated mold levels no matter the type of mold. Does this mean it isn’t hazardous to me, not at all, only time will tell what it might be doing to me in the future. But the main thing is that I know how bad it can be for some people even if I don’t feel symptoms myself.

However, the category I am most concerned about are people who acknowledge that mold exists but don’t take it seriously. This person is almost always in the role of the landlord or even the mold removal companies in some cases.

Now I do understand that there are scenarios in which a landlord might be great and the tenant is troublesome. A scenario in which a tenant is demanding mold testing even though there is no reason to test, or if the tenant cause a leak, etc. But these are not the scenarios I am talking about. I am mainly talking about a scenario where the tenant notices mold growth or water damage and asks for testing, and the landlord refuses. My frustration lies specifically in scenarios when there is visible mold growth that needs to be removed, the tenants are sick, and the landlord either won’t do anything or will send a handyman that doesn’t know what they are doing and ends up contaminating everything and making the problem worse.

Most frustratingly, the other people that don’t seem to take mold seriously is the people working at the mold remediation companies. This of course does not apply to all companies but there are plenty of them that just treat this like another job to turn over and they don’t really care about the health of the people living in the residence. I have had far too many conversations with mold removal technicians in which they think cutting corners is “not a big deal.” I am viewed as pretty strict in terms of mold inspectors but I think this is serious business and we are in the business of making a residence safe for people to live in. There is no room for cutting corners or missing areas where growth exists. So when I am doing clearance testing, of course I am strict, of course I am going to recommend that these companies go back and do more work if they missed something. I cannot understand the attitude that I get when the lab analysis shows that there is still a problem. I would expect the remediation company to be concerned and determined to find all the mold and make sure it is removed. This is not all about money, it is about people’s health. We are trying to protect people here and to many of the professionals in this industry are not taking it seriously.

The solution is to ask questions and demand that these so called professionals not only know what they are doing but can empathize with the people they are doing the work for. Ask whether they have a science background and questions about mold growth and how it behaves. What they would do in the event that they don’t pass the clearance test and then based on their answer you can gauge how seriously they take it. Empower yourself to separate the companies that are concerned about your health and making your residence habitable from the companies who just look at you like A $ sign. Together we can clean up this industry and hopefully a lot of homes and lives along the way.

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