You may have heard of “mold growth” in passing. Depending on the situation, the story you heard may have been about a simple annoyance, a house deal that fell through, or a sneezing fit. However, there are a lot worse stories than that out there; mold can cause severe allergies, incapacitation, and even worse health problems, in plants, animals, and humans.
Today we are going to look a little at what mold is, what kinds are serious, what to do if you spot it and how to ensure that your landlord takes care of the problem before it severely affects you and your family.
Mold is actually a kind of fungus. It reproduces by dispersing spores all over the place in the hopes of finding a suitable environment. In the forests and fields outside, this is great – mold plays the role of a decomposer, helping to get rid of dead animals and plants. The problem comes when mold finds your home to be its suitable environment.
This happens when there is any kind of moisture sitting around inside. The mold spores settle on it and start to feed on it. They need surprisingly little “food” to profligate at a surprising speed. Just your walls, papers, books, or fabrics could be enough to sustain mold. Mold will even grow on top of the mold. By that point, the problem will be fairly obvious just by looking. Black mold is particularly harmful, but any visible mold should be dealt with quickly. Remember: mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, so if you are seeing them, that means you have a lot of them.
Most mold reactions are fairly mild. You may develop a cough, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing. You could also get allergic reactions to the skin, such as itching, raised, red bumps, etc. More severe problems can quickly develop in people suffering from asthma. This could include wheezing, shortness of breath, or asthma attacks.
Now the worst reactions stem from molds that include compounds known as mycotoxins, which is basically poisonous fungus of some kind. This is where the literally deadly Stachybotrys chartarum comes in, but you probably know of it by its more common name: the aforementioned black mold. This species of mold can cause severe and systemic health problems. It can literally spell disaster for people – you could end up completely debilitated in a wheelchair, and you could end up dead.
- What to do as a Renter
The first thing you want to do is remove any mold-covered surfaces. The next, and most crucial, step is to ensure that there is no excess moisture in your home. Now, as a renter, this may prove more of a commitment than you are ready to make.
In California, landlords are responsible for offering a clean, safe dwelling that is not breeding dangerous mold. If you do see mold, your landlord must act quickly to help you. If there is any delay, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to see what your options are.
Mold can be serious and, as a renter, it is your job to look out for yourself and your family.