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Mold in rental housing is a serious health risk

Though many students are familiar with mold growing in their refrigerators, several are complaining that mold is growing in other parts of their homes, as well.

Mold has been detected in buildings throughout Ames. Though it’s a common household problem, mold can cause health problems in some people.

One of the buildings that has been affected by mold growth is Legacy Towers, located at 119 Stanton Ave. While many of the residents of the building said that they have not had personal issues with mold, a few of them have.

“It was along the pipes, in the living room, and above the cabinets in the kitchen,” said Brooke Tebrake, a resident of the building. “The hallway in my apartment reeked.”

Tebrake, a sophomore, said that she tried to get in touch with Ev Cochrane and Associates, the manager of Legacy Towers, to handle the mold problem; however, she said that her attempts were not successful. After contacting officials at Ames, Tebrake was able to get her landlord to spray a lot of the visible mold. Her apartment will be inspected in a month to see if the mold comes back, she said.

Russ McCullough, a co-owner of Ev Cochrane and Associates, could not be reached for comment.

An environmental specialist at the Story County health department, Russ Tell, said that mold is a common issue. Mold is particularly problematic for residents of rental properties because the buildings usually do not receive the maintenance that they should, said Tell. High humidity levels and water damage are the most common causes of indoor mold growth.

Stachybotrys is one of the most common types of mold found in the state of Iowa, said Tell. It’s the type of mold that is most often reported to the health department.

Stachybotrys is a common type of black mold that causes health issues. For some people, it’s an allergen. Tell said that some people have a higher sensitivity to mold, while it’s a little risk for others.

“People have varied symptoms, from cold-like symptoms to respiratory symptoms to pneumonia”, said Tell.

Mold is classified as an indoor air quality problem, and the Story County Health Department doesn’t handle indoor air quality problems. Often, mold can be removed without professional remediation. The Iowa State University Extension says that to remove mold yourself, you need to protect your eyes and wear a mask. They say that you should wash the affected area with an all-purpose cleaner that does not contain ammonia, then rinse the area down with a solution of bleach and water.

Jennifer Anderson, a senior, said that she has also reported mold in the house that she rents. “It started a few weeks ago and it’s making me sick,” she said.

Anderson said that she found mold growing in her living room, basement, bedroom, and bathroom.

Mold Inspection & Testing Des Moines has vast experience performing mold assessments in commercial and residential properties. We strongly urge Ames to arrange for regular mold testing at all of their residences to protect the health of their students. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 515.200.2695.