Mold has Always been a Problem in NYC..but is it still an issue?
Mold has always been a problem in cities large and small and, according to the New York Times, is particularly bad in New York City. According to the article referenced above, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development issued over 14,000 citations for mold infestations in 2010. While this was over 7 years ago, it would seem that the problem has not subsided, as the city investigates over 500 cases of mold each year. These cases are seemingly not including mold issues that property owners have taken care of on their own, which means the actual number of cases is significantly higher than that.
Mold Myths and Facts
When people think of a mold infestation, their mind will wander to images of black spots covering the walls, unlivable conditions, and illness. However, mold is present almost anywhere you go and is even consumed by people on a daily basis (beer and cheese anyone?). The fact is, all of the thousands of mold strains can make you sick, but only a few actively produce toxins. These are what people commonly refer to as black mold (namely a strain called Stachybotrys chartarum), which produce toxins that researchers say can indeed cause serious illness. However, exposure to any of the other common mold strains can cause symptoms including asthma, allergic reaction, rashes, headaches and so forth (for a full list of symptoms click here).
How Prevalent is it in NYC?
According to the research done by the New York Times (linked at the beginning of this article), many of the mold cases investigated by the city were in buildings less than 5 years old. This can almost certainly be attributed to things like shoddy plumbing, leaks in the building, and central air systems that a mold infestation can use to spread. Testimony from tenants who have been exposed to excessive mold in their buildings does shine a light on the problem from a personal standpoint however, as whole families have experienced fatigue, nausea and other common symptoms of exposure. According to one tenant in East Harlem, their mold problem began in their bathroom and spread quickly to the halls of their home. He explained how his family began experiencing the telltale symptoms and, even after cleaning the areas of issue, continued to be impacted. This is due to the ability of mold to spread invisibly through the air and, when the situation gets that bad, the inability of simple household cleaners to remediate the problem.
What to do if you have a mold infestation
If you have a mold problem, the first thing you should do is communicate the issue to your property manager or landlord. If you are the owner of the building, it is your responsibility to hire a professional to conduct a full mold inspection. Once the cause and severity of the infestation is established, you should have the company begin a thorough remediation of the entire affected area. If you are a tenant and your landlord does nothing, the NYC government website has a mold complaint page that you can submit a report to, or use to gather more information.
please note that the information in this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing symptoms you believe could be a result of mold exposure, consult your primary care physician or a doctor. Consult a mold remediation professional for information on proper mold removal.