Mold forces Duluth family out of apartment, causes illness - CBS46 News

Mold forces Duluth family out of apartment, causes illness

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GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Fighting mold in Georgia is not an easy battle. It has caused one metro Atlanta family to get sick in their own home and they said their landlord has done very little to address the issue.

"We have no living room, we have no dining room. We can't even sit at the table to eat dinner. Water may come down on us if we try to," tenant Tiffany Pharr said.

So CBS Atlanta called on Heaton Environmental to investigate, after Pharr complained about the living conditions in their apartment.

She said a water leak at the apartment complex caused their ceiling to cave in twice during the past two months and management has only patched the problem.

Concerned the moisture would lead to mold, they bought a home test kit for about $10. They put one petri dish on the carpet, the other next to the hole in the ceiling. The results were shocking.

"We've all now been sick pretty much since this all happened with sneezing, runny nose, itchiness, all of us, all four of us," Pharr said.

Pharr said she asked management to move her family to another apartment to avoid exposure to the mold, but they told her only if she renewed her lease for a year.

"It's stressful and I'm pregnant and I shouldn't be going through this much stress while being pregnant," Pharr said.

Because petri dish results are unreliable, CBS Atlanta asked Heaton Environmental to run over $700 worth of air quality tests.

They checked the walls and floor for signs of moisture.

Lab results showed elevated mold spore counts in the dining room and excess moisture in several areas.

"There's always a liability with mold because no two people have the same sensitivity, and if someone in the family were extremely sensitive it could create a problem," Heaton Environmental owner Terry Heaton said.

Heaton recommended that the apartment complex take immediate action to dry out the apartment and properly eliminate the mold.

"We would want them to bring in a HEPA filter which is an acronym for a high efficiency filtration system in here and scrub the spores out of the air," Heaton said.

CBS Atlanta News contacted the corporate office for Landmark at Bella Vista to inform them of our findings. The executive vice president of operations told us he would work to resolve the issue immediately. As for Pharr, she's upset it took a call to CBS Atlanta to get something done.

"Hopefully I can get some kind of action. I just want a safe environment for my children," Pharr said.

After CBS Atlanta got involved, the corporate office for the apartment complex sent out a mold remediation contractor to treat the unit and agreed to pay for the family to stay in a hotel until the work is complete.

Landmark Apartment Trust released the following statement:

"The safety and well being of our residents is our top priority. Upon learning of a maintenance request on December 28, we responded promptly to identify the source of the issue and repair any damages. We determined the water intrusion came from a washing machine in the above unit that had overflowed. We called a water extraction company and the unit was treated that night. Repairs to the unit's ceiling were completed January 3. On the evening of January 5, our answering service received a second maintenance request for water intrusion and ceiling damage. A contractor inspected the unit on January 6 and it was determined there was no leak. Management communicated this to the resident and the contractor finished repairing the ceiling damages on January 8. Only yesterday were we made aware of a mold investigation report dated January 9, 2014. We have thoroughly reviewed the report which indicates there is no immediate danger. Out of an abundance of caution, we have contacted a qualified mold remediation contractor that will begin treating the unit today."

If you're worried about mold and get no action from your landlord, you can contact your county health department as well as the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

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