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Mold becoming more of a problem in Central California homes   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Friday, 05 November 2004

Mold problem becoming more evident to Central California Coast residents

Household mold is affecting more and more Central California Coast residents, and for many, it can become an overwhelming and costly problem to solve.  Adrienne Moore has the story of one local man whose battle to control indoor mold not only ate away at his Morro Bay home, but his health as well.

Daniel Barker and Vicki Morrison now live ina mold-free home after a year-long battle that with time caused problems for their house and health.  "I only had about three nosebleeds in this house and then they stopped and I haven't had one since," says Barker.

Barker says due to mold exposure in his previous home in Morro Bay, he developed severe asthma, chronic headaches, and chest pains.  Now, just two months later, Barker no longer relies on his inhalers and medications.  "I do know that it definitely did attack my immune system because I don't have anything for energy, and I'm just taking vitamins," says Barker.  "Vitamins are a plus."

Barker claims the management agency overseeing his home never disclosed previous mold problems, which is required by law.  When he approached them about the issue, Barker says they suggested using bleach to mitigate the problem; the management agency declined to comment on the matter.

"The mold report by the rental agency said that there was nothing wrong with the house, and they told us it wasn't a problem, so that's why we went ahead and had our own done by a professional," says Barker.

When he brought in a mold inspector, Barker was told the house was uninhabitable due to excess moisture levels, humidity, and high spore counts of pennicilium; he was forced to quarantine two bedrooms.

"We've lost two furniture sets, our dressers, our clothing, family heirlooms I had hoped to pass down someday that we no longer have," says Barker.

Since he's moved, Barker says he's kept in touch with many of his neighbors and has discovered that past tenants all had a similar story.

"According to past residents, it's been known about since the early 1990's on from `94 to previous when we lived there, and nobody has lived in that home for more than a year at a time," says Barker.

Barker is waiting to address the board of realtors later this month about his experience and is looking into taking legal action, although he is having trouble finding an attorney despite being told he has a strong case.

"They put us in an unsafe and unhealthy situation and knowingly knew about it," says Barker.  "That's what it proves to me."

As for future homes Barker may rent, he says he now knows to take a proactive approach about mold, because it could mean the difference between a healthy home and a destructive one.

"It could absolutely drive somebody to their grave, it could literally be a life-taking threat if it's prolonged long enough," says Barker.

Daniel Barker did not have renter's insurance, although he has many of his damaged belongings in storage as evidence if he does pursue legal action.

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