When you walked through the freshly painted and carpeted home that you ultimately rented, you may not have thought to ask whether it had suffered any water damage. After all, it looks beautiful, and you had no reason to suspect that a danger to your health could be lurking in the walls.
After spending weeks or months in the home, you may not have yet realized that your rental home could be causing your allergies or even the flu that you attributed to the time of year. In some cases, the health issues are much more serious, and could even lead to life-threatening, if not life-altering, health conditions.
The culprit may actually be a mold called Stachybotrys. This dark brown to black mold may look like other molds that can develop, but its effects are much more hazardous to you and your family. It grows slowly, but is virulent enough to swallow up any other mold that may be present. It needs moisture to grow, and may not end up in the air as long as it remains wet. Once it dries, however, it can get into the air you breathe.
This mold is hearty enough to continue to grow even after its moisture source is gone. It feeds on several of the materials that make up your rental home, such as the following:
- Ceiling tiles
- Insulation backing
- Paper vapor barriers
- Paper files
- Cardboard boxes
It is possible that the coating of paint that made the home look fresh and clean was actually covering up a toxic substance.
What Stachybotrys can do to your health
Once it's in the air, you may come into contact with it through touch or inhalation. You may even ingest it and not realize it. In addition to infections or allergic reactions, exposure can cause one or more of the following:
- Hair loss
- Burning or tingling of the mouth and nose
- Burning or tingling of areas where you perspire
- Memory loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Coughing with blood
- Concentration issues
- Attention deficit disorder
- Personality changes
- Neurological disorders
- Internal organ damage to kidneys, blood, liver and lungs
- Bleeding of the lungs
Whether exposure to this toxic mold causes cancer remains a subject for debate and study. However, as you can see, the threat to your health may come from the place you once called home.
What to do next
Your doctor will likely perform numerous tests to determine your level of exposure in order to treat you properly, but that's not the end of the story. Conducting environmental testing of the home may verify your exposure to Stachybotrys. This will help doctors find the best course of treatment for your symptoms.
If it is possible to remove the mold and clean the affected area or areas of your home, certain measures are required right away in order to reduce your exposure. You may need to vacate the home since removing this toxic mold requires care because removing it may also stir it up even more during the cleaning process. Of course, this assumes that resolving the situation is an option.
What about my medical bills and other financial losses
Depending on the severity of your exposure and the health consequences you suffer as a result, you could find yourself facing significant medical expenses. You more than likely missed work and lost income as well. You will likely need to vacate the home while experts determine whether they can remove the mold. Your financial losses could be substantial.
You may want to know what your legal rights and options are for recovering those monetary losses. It may help to turn to an experienced legal advocate who can conduct an investigation into the situation and provide you with viable legal options for pursuing the compensation you deserve.