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bignosycat 01-20-2009 10:50 PM

Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?

I think I have a mold issue in my apartment. There is nothing that I can see I would have to take the floorboards and walls off to find it. If I put a peach on the counter, the next day it will have mold. Foods mold easily even kept in the fridge. I had a jar of vinegar under the sink. The lid corroded and the white vinegar turned brown. I had an ice-cream maker the ones you put in the freezer. It was in a cupboard above the sink and the metal corroded and it seeped the gel that is inside. There is an apartment above and there was one flood since I have lived here. The water went into my kitchen cupboards; as for the walls the paint in the living room has puffed away from the walls and has cracks in it in places. This is above and below the windows. At one time water use to get through a small area around the windows but this has been fixed with new windows, no more leaks.

Is there a way I can find out on my own like a bench mark so if something shows up then I will call in the big guns to test. Here is some back ground information.

I live on the ground floor of a 1940's apartment building. Under my floors is a crawl space, which is soil. Since I have lived here (15 years (I developed chronic migraines, a bladder disease called interstitial cystitis (IC) and fell unwell all the time. I am tired, have dark circles under my eyes, which I never had before. When I went off work with IC I have just gotten worst as I am at home all the time. Lost 2 cats to cancer within 4 months and one these cats had chronic digestive problems leading up to a blocked gall bladder. My cats were in and out of the hospital and were treated for what ailed them. They received the best of care at a high expense they were well taken care of up to the end. One had lung cancer the other had lymphoma. The lymphoma did not show up in 3 ultrasounds (over 6 months) and when it did he died within 2 weeks there was nothing I could do to save him his body gave up.

If you have suffered from mold in you apartment can you let me know if food mold easily when you have it. Also is there a way I can test myself? Any suggestions would be appreciated. If you have any questions please ask as the norm may not be norm, I have just gotten used to something being normal like illness and other symptoms around the apartment. Hope that makes sense to you. With thanks.

sharewithme 01-25-2009 10:00 AM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Purple"]hello bignoseycat:

yes, fruit, vegetables & bread does mold quickly where there is a mold problem. To mold so quickly is really not good. In my house where I had two toxic molds -- penecillium and aspergillus -- the same would happen to me within 3 days. General Rule of thumb with mold, is where one grows, many others will also.

The obvious water damage from that leak from above is a [I]very, very[/I] bad sign. Also the leaking window could have caused a problem in the wall associated with it. The crawl space underneath you is common with older structures and they are very prone to mold growth, [I]especially[/I] with water intrusion and/or leaks. Couple all this with yours and your cats illnesses and I'd say you have very high likelyhood for a serious problem.

Can you move? That would be my first line of defense rather than spending money on testing. Try to stay out of multi story multiple dwelling structures if at all possible as they are most prone to prolonged or excessive water damage which gives mold all it needs to flourish in most environments. If your situation dictates the need for proof, I would suggest an independent mold assessor, who for a fixed price will inspect and document what is going on. A way to find a reputable one is to check with local allergist who specialize in mold allergy for a referral. Since you have so many risk factors I would say it is a safe bet they will find mold. This should allow you to break your lease without penalty.

I feel for you and all you are going through. I have suffered permanent ill health and complete financial devestation from excessive toxic mold exposure. It's important to know that the health complications are often extensive and misdiagnosed. And sadly it will never change so long as you remain exposed to it. You must avoid any further exposures in order to get better.

Good luck with it.


bignosycat 01-26-2009 10:51 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
Many thanks Share for the reply. When I was at work I was not as sick due to being out all day long. I spent more time out than in.

I have a month to month lease so it is easy to get out off. The only problem is to find a home for me and the cats (2) Vancouver is a hard city to rent in the vacancy rate is high. They do not build rentals they build condos which I cannot afford. However I will look for a new place. Will look and hold on to my tenancy until I find one. Even if I have to pay for 2 places it will be worth it. I am sick of being sick and do not want my cats to get ill.

many thanks Yvonne

sharewithme 01-30-2009 09:39 AM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Purple"]Hi bignoseycat:
The imporant things to look for are whether there has been any water intrusion (from the outside) or signs of plumbing leaks. Generally it is better to get as high up as possible so long as the roof has been properly maintained. With the heigth you generally get better air flow and more sun, both of which mold does not like. You also don't have to worry about leaks from apts. above you.
If the place you find does not have these problems then you can also go one better to make sure you are safe as you can (without professional inpsection) by using mold gravity plates to check for mold spore. They sell them on internet, be sure to buy from reputable source with fresh growth medium, they should cost you app. $10. - per plate without lab costs. It is very imporatnt that you do them the right way so if you are interested I can tell you how.
Hope this helps,

bignosycat 01-31-2009 08:23 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?

I am sure interested tell me how?

Also can you tell me your symptoms please. I may be used to symptoms and think them of daily living now. My cat has feline herpes he came this way from the SPCA. They get respetory problems. It took 5-6 months to clear last year and it has come back. Watery eyes, nasel drip and sneezing. This is all part of the disease and there is not much I can do to help him. I thought I had helped him rebuild his immune system back up and now I am deflated with grief i feel so bad for him. The only thing that helps is a steamy bathroom with aromatic oils.

I have daily headaches this is the worst symptom. I do not get flus but feel run down all the time.

Thank you for the help.

sharewithme 02-03-2009 04:09 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[COLOR="Purple"][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]bignoseycat:
My mold symotoms can vary as they depend on what type mold I have been exposed to and at what levels.
For me there are certain early onset symptoms that are [I]very[/I] serious and I must never delay in getting away from the source as quickly as possible and doing the decontamination process. One is I feel like a wave of energy is passing through me. I then feel very weak and weird. Another is if I feel a band around my chest which progresses into tight pressure when I breathe. This next one is hard to describe -- I feel like I am seeing a strobe light effect - can be very disorienting. Dizziness. Confusion. Stuttering. Blown out adrenals with profound weakness. Severe thyroid dysfunction. Asthma. Uncontrollable shaking. Irregular heart beats, extremely rapid beating or strange flunctuations in heart rhythm. If I have any swelling anywhere or experience changes in my voice or vision impairment I best get out immediately as this is the beginning of anaphylaxis. Two very embarressing but very serious symptoms are vaginal bleeding and loss of urinary control.

Less severe symptoms which require action but not as drastic as above include: greatly elevated bloodpressure, neurological symptoms like tingling or buzzing in my feet or hands, short term memory loss, spaceyness, sudden strong shifts of mood, fatique, coughing, sneezing, sinus congestion, ears itching or soupy feeling, skin itching or burning with or without rashes, digestive dysfunction, abdominal pain, anxiety, loss of taste or trouble hearing, pain in joints especially knees, yeast overgrowth in my body, headaches, loss of coordination and muscle spasms.
I think that's most of it. You get the idea though.

Of course all of this progresses into illnesses with very high sensitivities if I do not get away from the source of exposure, some can be pretty serious and very debilitating. I also have a cross over of some of these symptoms with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) but can usually tell the difference pretty quickly. For me, mold symptoms usually last longer than chemicals. And to date have been the most destructive in my life.

The long term consequences which I live with every day now are: severe food allergies, oral health degeneration,
leaky gut, thyroid & adrenal dysfunction, systemic yeast, permanently affected hearing and sense of smell, chronic rhinitis and sinusitis, asthma, spasmodic breathing, fibroid tumors, ovarian cyst, weak immune system, MCS, chronic fatique syndrome, very painful, prolonged and excessive bleeding with mentrual cycle, drastically reduced neurotransmitter levels, B12 deficiency, damaged joints, and permanently elevated blood pressure.

I have been so severely impacted by all this finanically that I am facing bankruptcy. Consequently I do not have the insurance or funds to see all the Dr's I need to or have all the testing they recommend. I am sure there are several diagnosis I don't have nailed down yet because of this.

The imporatnt thing to remember is that avoidance is key. Believe it or not, I am actually better than I was as I am now living in an EI (environemental illness) safe housing - no formaldehyde or mold! - and am practicing everything possible to keep my "load down". This is terminology that refers to the overload of toxins my body has had to deal with because of compromised detox pathways. It is this which is the key to why I am so sick and why I have this chronic illness of MCS/severe mold allergy now.

The most important thing I can tell you is that you cannot get better unless you get away from that which is poisoning you. Only then is there hope of healing for you and your animals.

I will complete the directions on mold gravity plates in the next couple of days. Till then take care,
Share [/FONT][/COLOR]

bignosycat 02-11-2009 07:48 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
Hello Share

Please forgive the tardy reply I was at an international skating event for 6 days and had no computer time due to the long hours.

You have so many illnesses I have some of them.

Hives, these first came when I had an allery to a medicine. This was 8 years ago and I still get them. I get itchy skin and my body swells up. cronic fatigue, headaches, blurred vision. The worst is the headaches and fatigue. I used to work out with heavy weights for 2 hours a day and now I have problems with just housework. I am off with disability due to a bladder disease called Interstitial Cystitis so I am at home all the time. They do not know how one gets this disease it makes me wonder.

Thank you for sharing this information I really appreciate the time it took to write down.

estria 02-12-2009 05:48 AM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
Hi bignosycat,

I have been reading your posts and wonder if the water coming from the windowsills was not a symptom of another problem, namely water leaking down the inside of the walls.

Last year we began to have water infiltration which went down into the walls. We only knew about it because we had some of the water infiltrating the window sills (just drops). When we went to check the attic we found that water was indeed coming through. In order to avoid a mold problem I actually had all of the walls of the second floor removed, dried, sprayed with fungicide and replaced (we also had no insulation since it is an old house so we took advantage of this to add proper insulation). It was a HUGE project to say the least but I would rather do this than have mold problems later.

Have you considered getting something that checks the humidity in your apartment ? Also, perhaps a dehumidifier might help to keep things drier in your living space. These are all bandaid solutions and the actual problem would have to be tackled eventually but perhaps in the meantime this might limit the damage to your health and to your cats (I totally understand, by the way, as I have three of my own and they are like my children). Getting a professional assessment as has been suggested is also not a bad idea.

Something else that may cause water infiltration in that crawlspace under your apartment is water around the foundation outside. You should perhaps check this out. Bad eavestroughing can cause water to fall around the foundation and infiltrate the house. Our basement walls used to bleed (unfinished basement with stone foundation but with concrete flooring) and we added a lot of soil around the foundation, changed the eavestroughing and planted lots of bushes around the foundation as well (since it is stone and not wood this is OK .. never put soil in contact with wood as this invites carpenter ants and termites). Plants and bushes are more likely to drink any water that falls around the area and to keep things drier. This has completely taken care of the bleeding basement walls and our basement is much dryer now (still on the humid side since we have stone walls down there).

Do some research on-line and see if you can find some solutions while you are waiting to find something else. Vancouver is quite damp I imagine (here in Quebec we have a problem with snow and ice and let me tell you, water infiltration due to ice and snow buildup is a huge problem over here .. after all of our trouble and changing all of our roofs, we have started to have a leak coming through our light in the hallway upstairs .. my contractor is coming today .. water infiltration has become my specialty !).

Take care of yourself and don't forget to beef up on the vitamin C.



Machaon 02-12-2009 06:16 AM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[QUOTE=sharewithme;3873008]My mold symptoms can vary as they depend on what type mold I have been exposed to and at what levels.[/QUOTE]

We get [B]many[/B] of the same symptoms, except my resultant health problems are not as severe as yours. I have never attributed my problems to mold, only to almost everything else in this world. I think that I will start learning about mold.

[QUOTE]This next one is hard to describe -- I feel like I am seeing a strobe light effect - can be very disorienting.[/QUOTE]

I've researched my "strobe light effect" and have determined that it is called "Migraine Aura". I have guessed that it has something to do with how well my body is handling Insulin, but I am not exactly sure.

It happens identically in both eyes and often is shaped like the letter C. It floats across my vision until it finally disappears. Before it comes on, and for sometime after, it causes problems with focusing, although I can still see fairly well. I just can't focus my eyes well, while it is happening.

I've got to run right now because my wife is doing the laundry and I want to be out of my home while that is going on. I tested an old, worn bedspread last night, to see if I could sit on it, and I reacted to it. Although I got up as soon as I could, my heart jumped all night long. So....... I don't want to push things today by being around my exposed washing machine.

I'd like to share notes and read through all of your posts, after I get back.

I wish you the best and the strength and courage to continue to fight and cope with your illnesses. You certainly have more than your share of nasty health problems.

Take care....... and hang in there! :wave:

sharewithme 02-12-2009 03:05 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Purple"]Greetings All:

Here are the promised directions for collecting 1 hour gravity plates (otherwise known as mold plates).

Preparation: Purchase gravity plates from a reputable source (usually an online mold lab) that has maintained plates properly so that growing medium is viable and not dried out. Local home improvement/hardware stores [I]are not [/I]good places to purchase these. Refrigerate plates upon receipt and use as soon as possible. [I]Do not open plates until ready to use them.[/I] Keep windows closed for 6 hours prior to testing.

Do what you normally do the day of the test, run heat or AC as normal. However, at the time of the test – turn on [I]just the fan [/I]for the central HVAC system and leave on through out test. Do not sweep or vacuum just before the test as this activity can increase the number of mold spores in the air. Children and pets can be in the area being tested but do not allow them to touch the materials used for the test. Select an area to place the mold plate that is at least 3 feet from walls. DO NOT PLACE MOLD PLATES IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT.

It is always wise to know the relative humidity of a place where you live as mold grows at 55% or higher relative humidity. You can find these gauges for about $12.-. Be sure and check all areas of the structure in question for relative humidity. All areas where the humidity is high be sure and check with a mold plate.

Suggested areas for sampling: To locate the specific areas you wish to test, look for any place that has had water intrusion or leaks or shows any signs of water damage. Also any part of the structure where you notice symptoms (including but not limited to sneezing, coughing, sinus congestion or itching). If there is any musty odor then this area is also a definite for testing. In addition to areas that are suspect it is recommended to check:

ATTIC - BASEMENT - ALL BEDROOMS - GARAGE - LAUNDRY ROOM - KITCHEN - ALL MAIN LIVING, WORK & PLAY AREAS, if a large house do 2 plates for attic and basement

Steps for Plating:
1) Carefully remove lid of plate (larger side) , [I]do not touch inner surface of top or bottom.[/I] Place lid (inside surface down) on new clean paper towel next to bottom of plate.

2) leave bottom with inside surface facing up for exactly one hour in designated area

3) put lid back on plate. Using a magic marker write your name, area of house tested, and date on the outside surface of the container.

4) tape the lid securely to the bottom

5) totally cover all the plates with a large sheet of aluminum foil and store in a warm dark place with little air flow

6 ) if sending to a lab, place in envelope and mail

****IMPORTANT WINTER WARNING**** In areas of the country where temps are 30 degrees or below, keep ALL plates wrapped in foil in a warm spot in your house for a day before shipping to the lab as freezing temps on the first day will give you artificially low readings. Once the 24 hour mark has passed it is safe to ship them as they will now grow properly in the lab.

7) if self monitoring, check every day for individual spore colonies (look like spots). These can be many different colors. I always keep note of color of each colony along with the total spore count each day. Be sure to check edges of bottom and lid as the spores will grow anywhere the growth medium is. By day five you have the total number of colonies that will grow, from this point on it is a matter of allowing them to grow so they can be identified.

Be aware: Self monitoring is very tricky as what may look like 10 spores may actually grow into only one very large spore (acremonium does this). Then again you can have some spores which grow much faster than others and will “overgrow” those around them, making it hard to distinguish what is there unless you have been monitoring it from the beginning. Also candida will grow very easily on these plates and that comes from your body. It is white as are certain types of toxic molds, thus making it hard to tell what the correct results are with the structure you are testing.In order to minimize this cross contamination I wash my hands thoroughly before handling the plates and wear a mask while putting them out. It takes experience to read these suckers so be careful.

Also know that mold plates are limited in what they can do. They must be able to catch the spores to work properly. The mold can be there, emitting VOC’s making you very sick and not show up on the plate in your room. If the mold has not progressed from out of the dark area where it prefers to grow this test can be inconclusive. Also ceratin molds are known for not plating very well and only vacuum testing or tape samples will work. That is why if you are heavily invested in staying in this particular place it is always better to have a professional mold assessor (not remediator) look at your structure. They can check the coils on your HVAC system for mold growth, they will go into the crawl space, attic or basement and look for the hidden signs of contamination. Mold is always in dark, hidden places first. By the time it has progressed enough for you to smell or see it, it is usually pretty serious.

Good luck! Hope this helps,
Share [/COLOR][/FONT]

bignosycat 02-12-2009 11:12 PM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
Hello Share

How many kits should I purchase. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment around 625 sq feet. The kitchen is the place I think has the mold. But as I mentioned in my first post, my living room leaked until the management replaced them. Please advise. Thank you for this great information it would be nice if it could be a sticky so it will always be available. Thank you for the time you put into this post I appreciate it. I found a place on the internet to purchase plates. IMS laboratory it seems to be good. Yvonne

sharewithme 02-13-2009 08:59 AM

Re: Does my apartment have any symptoms of mold?
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Purple"]Bignoseycat:
It depends on the size of the rooom. If I were in your shoes I would plate the kitchen, LR and where you sleep. If the living room is large do two plates. Were the leaking windows in the LR? if another room, then do that room as well. Anywhere there are symptoms or water leaks/intrusion are highly suspect.
Good luck,

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