Source: https://www.thereporteronline.com, January 7, 2019
By: Bob Keeler
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.”