Chronic Sickness? 5 Signs Your Building May Have Mold - PropertyBlawg

Chronic Sickness? 5 Signs Your Building May Have Mold

by jamicajdb on July 20, 2013


Chronic Sickness? 5 Signs Your Building May Have Mold

(US law) Mold is a fungus that grows and spreads in damp or decaying conditions. It can grow anywhere – outside on decaying plants, dead animals or wood, or inside on drywall, wood, carpet, insulation and clothes.

Sick Buildings Equal Sick People

While there are hundreds of species of mold, only certain ones release mycotoxins that are harmful to humans and animals. The mycotoxins create what has been called, “sick building syndrome,” which is when you develop a chronic sickness because the building you live or work in has mold.

You may first notice such symptoms as the following:

  • Watery eyes
  • Itching eyes
  • Headaches
  • Sneezing
  • Rashes

If the mold problem is not remedied, your symptoms can become more serious over time and cause you to have the following complications:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight and hair loss
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Chronic sinus issues
  • Nose bleeds
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

In severe cases, prolonged exposure to mold can cause the following:

  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain damage
  • Liver damage
  • Miscarriage
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Death

Most symptoms go away after people leave a building with mold, but the more severe symptoms can become permanent.

Determining the “Health” of a Building

Here are five signs to look for to determine whether your residence or office is suffering from the “sick building syndrome:”

1) Stains

Water stains or discoloration around a leaking water pipe, ceiling tiles or floor tiles.

2) Peelings

Peeling paint or wallpaper on cracked or bulging, discolored walls.

3) Condensation

Heavy condensation that settles on window frames and the seal of the window, which is between the wall and frame.

4) Dirt

Excessive dirt, dust and moisture underneath floor or carpeting.

5) Discoloration

Green, black or other discolored spots spreading on baseboards, wooden beams or other parts of a wooden wall.

Remedy for Sick Buildings

An inspector can be called in to determine just how bad the situation is in a building. This professional will advise employers and landlords on what action to take. Many major cities have an influx of sick building syndrome, such as New York (see our property attorneys guide), Detroit, Atlanta (see our real estate Atlanta attorneys guide here), Chicago, etc. Local attorneys can help advise clients about what to do. For instance, information found online at will advise Chicago renters who find mold in their units to contact their landlord. Under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance:

  • Renters should submit a written request to the landlord to remove the mold. The request should include what the renter believes is causing the mold, such as a leaky water pipe or ceiling tiles.
  • The landlord, after receiving the request, has a specific time frame in which to remove the mold.
  • If the landlord does not do the work, the renter can call in a professional to remove the mold and subtract the cost from the rent payment.

There have been instances where renters have withheld their rent, sued their landlord, or broken their lease because the landlord either did not respond to the mold problem, or responded once, but not again after the mold returned.

If you are a renter and have developed a chronic illness due to exposure to mold, do not take these drastic steps until you contact a personal injury attorney. An attorney will advise you of the legal options you have and your landlord’s legal responsibility for making your “sick building” well again. Mold can cause chronic health problems in a short period of time, and renters should resolve the issue as soon as possible, even if it takes legal action to do it.

Jamica Bell is a blogger and freelance writer. She contributes this article to provide recourse for victims suffering from sick building syndrome. Helpful resources like has provided solutions, comfort, and peace of mind to countless individuals adversely affected by mold contamination.

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