Source: http://www.wndu.com, January 31, 2012
By: Kevin Lewis
A local woman says she’s battled pneumonia, extreme fatigue and weight loss because of toxic mold in her apartment.
The battle began in Feb. 2010 when Zola Blivin, 72, moved into the Kensard Manor Apartments, located along E. 12th Street in Mishawaka.
Blivin says she’s called management, the St. Joseph County Health Department and Mishawka Code Enforcement, all to no avail.
While they wouldn’t go on camera to defend themselves, Kensard Manor management gave NewsCenter 16 a document stating Blivin’s unit passed its annual inspection in both 2010 and 2011.
“I try not to get too upset, but it started with the sneezing, the eyes running itchy, a scratchy throat,” Blivin recalled.
At first, Blivin thought her symptoms may have been caused by excess dust in the carpet. That was until she found apparent mold, peppered behind her furnace filter.
“This is the compartment where they put the clean filter when it gets dirty and as you can see, there is a lot of mold here,” Blivin added.
Things are only worse on the third floor of the building where the 72-year-old says mold permeates a utility closet. There, NewsCenter 16 found a dark, fuzzy substance coated across a furnace blowing into an apartment with a young child inside.
“Management just ignores anything that goes on around here. That’s not good,” Blivin said.
In Sept. 2011, Blivin took a sample of the mysterious material to her physician. After the visit, he wrote a letter citing what he believed to be “mold spores.” In that same letter, he also suggested his patient vacate the unit immediately for her own health.
“I’m a very strong person, but I’ll tell you, you stay here long and it will get to you. I’ll never look back at Kensard Manor, never,” Blivin concluded.
Because of that doctor’s letter, Blivin was able to break her lease early and move from her unit Tuesday afternoon. When asked why she waited so long to share her story, she said partly out of fear, but more importantly, in hopes no one would make the same mistake she did by moving into her apartment.
Kensard Manor says there is no mold within its complex. To substantiate that claim, NewsCenter 16 offered to hire a mold analyst to conduct testing inside the building in question. Despite making multiple calls, Kensard Manor has yet to agree to that proposal.