Mold is an organism that develops in locations where excessive moisture is present. This can occur when a building or a home experiences a water leak, for example:
- A flood;
- A roof leak;
- A pipe leak; or another way water can enter the structure.
Mold is an issue because it can cause property damage. Mold removal, also referred to as mold remediation, may be costly and time consuming but is necessary for the health and safety of the individuals who use the building.
Mold may be toxic to the human body. Mold may also cause major health problems, including:
- Rashes; or
Mold commonly affects locations including:
- Schools; or
Common locations for mold to grow in buildings includes:
- In an air conditioning unit;
- In a basement that has flooded;
- Beneath a refrigerator;
- Beneath a bathroom or kitchen sink;
- Around windows that leak;
- On a shower curtain;
- In a humidifier;
- Under a damp carpet;
- In an area with plumbing issues; or
- On a ceiling or a roof, especially if there is a leak present.
Mold issues may also arise in areas of a structure that have experienced water damage. In many cases, mold remediation is covered under a homeowners insurance policy under water damage.
Toxic mold is actually a sort of misnomer. This is because, although some types of mold may produce toxins, the mold itself is not toxic.
There are two types of mold, stachybotrys chartarum and toxigenic aspergillus, that may cause adverse reactions in individuals. These two types of mold are the types that mold remediation companies and mold attorneys often referred to as toxic mold.
Adverse reactions to these types of mold may lead to life-threatening issues. Stachybotrys chartarum is what most individuals refer to as black mold.
This mold has a dark green or black appearance. This mold produces spores that are released into the air as the mold feeds on organic material in the building or home, for example, drywall or carpet.
Symptoms that may be associated with an adverse reaction to mold may include:
- Chronic coughing and sneezing;
- Eye irritation;
- Irritation of the mucous membranes of an individual’s nose and throat;
- Chronic fatigue; or
- Persistent headaches.
What Is Mold Remediation?
Mold remediation is a process that removes mold from the affected area. Mold may be toxic and may lead to major health problems, including:
- Rashes; or
Toxic mold may affect places such as:
- Schools; or
Mold remediation is typically covered in a homeowner insurance policy, under water damage.
What Are the Laws for Mold Remediation?
Currently, no federal laws govern mold. However, there may be state statutes that address the issue, depending on an individual’s state of residence.
According to the remediation standards for landlords and landlord-tenant laws, all rental properties are subject to an implied warranty of habitability. This means that a landlord must provide a safe and habitable property and fix issues that they are notified about, such as mold.
Why Is Mold Remediation Necessary?
Mold remediation is typically considered necessary because exposure to toxic mold may lead to serious injuries. For example, mold exposure may lead to forms of lung diseases and chest diseases.
Mold-related injuries may be debilitating and may create long-term medical issues for the affected individual. In addition, mold exposure is a serious concern due to the fact that there may be many individuals affected by the same mold issue at the same time.
For example, if the mold problem is coming from the central air conditioning system, the toxic mold substances can sometimes be spread throughout an entire house or building. This may create a situation where many individuals are injured due to the air conditioning system distributing the mold in several places.
In some cases, mold can also cause severe property damage. For example, if walls have been affected by mold, they may be broken down or completely replaced if there is a serious mold issue.
This may cause a building manager or owner time and resources in order to fix the issue.
Does Mold Have to Be Removed Professionally?
There are numerous different types of mold that may be present in an individual’s home. In general, the homeowner or tenant may be able to remove small amounts of harmless mold.
However, an individual will probably need the expertise of hazardous materials removal workers when toxic mold infests their house or apartment. These individuals are trained to take special precautions to protect themselves as well as the surrounding areas from being contaminated by the mold.
These experts also use specific equipment that will protect them from exposure to hazardous mold materials and substances during the process of mold remediation.
Why Should I Trust a Mold Remediator?
In many states, there are laws specifically designed to ensure that mold remediators in those states are adequately licensed and trained. If an individual is still hesitant, they should check the mold remediator’s credentials against what the laws of the state require.
Are There Specific Laws About Mold?
There are currently no federal laws that provide standards for residential buildings. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides guidelines for mold remediation in commercial buildings and schools.
In addition, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provide the standards and guidelines regarding mold in the workplace. There are some states that have passed laws about mold standards.
These guidelines are specifically related to indoor-air quality. For example, California’s Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001 established remediation standards for:
- Owners; and
The Act also requires a landlord to disclose to current and prospective tenants regarding known mold problems.
What Are the Legal Remedies Available in a Mold Exposure Lawsuit?
In certain situations, a mold claim can be filed. For example, if a property manager or building owner fails to properly perform mold remediation measures when necessary, they may be liable for any injuries that are sustained by the occupants of the building.
In these types of cases, legal action may be necessary to remedy the situation. Legal remedies in these types of cases often involve a monetary damages award.
Monetary damages awards may compensate the injured party for losses, including:
- Medical expenses, such as:
- hospital bills;
- medical treatment;
- medication costs; and
- other similar costs;
- Costs that are associated with loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of the ability to generate income in the future;
- Lost wages during medical recovery time; and
- Pain and suffering costs.
Damages may also cover the costs of repairing damage to the structure, as property damage is often an issue in many mold lawsuits. Depending on the building structure, these damages awards may involve an extensive amount of time and resources.
Should I Get a Lawyer to Help Me with My Mold Remediation?
If you are a tenant and your landlord has refused to hire a mold remediator, you may contact your local housing rights group who can advise you of your rights. In many situations, these groups can offer free resources and guide you through paperwork and filing steps before you have to consider filing a private lawsuit.
If you are a homeowner who has a mold problem and your insurance company will not pay to fix the mold issue, it is important to consult with a property lawyer who can help you assert your rights and ensure your home is safe.