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Scranton Family, Habitat for Humanity Lose Home, Hope To Toxic Mold
Scranton Times-Tribune ^ | 7/18/2004 | DAVID SINGLETON

Posted on 07/26/2004 5:35:14 AM PDT by Born Conservative

For both the Wassel family and the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, the rehabilitated home at 925 Maple St. should have been the American dream.

Instead, William and Shelley Wassel say the modest, three-bedroom home in South Scranton became a toxic-mold nightmare they and their three children are still trying to recover from seven years later.

Habitat for Humanity of Lackawanna County views it much the same way, for very different reasons.

The nonprofit group, whose mission is to help low-income families achieve homeownership, says it did everything possible to help the Wassels: It made significant repairs to the Maple Street home; it spent thousands of dollars to assess and correct mold issues there, and it offered the family a new home.

Nothing satisfied the family, officials say.

Not so, say the Wassels. The real problem, they insist, was that the group was ill-prepared to deal with their crisis.

A former member of the Habitat board agrees.

"There was nothing purposeful to what happened. We had no idea there was mold in the house," says Dawn Brennan, the former board member who became the family's staunchest ally within the local Habitat organization.

"For the Wassels' part, they were just innocent victims in all this." The Wassels, who finally fled the house in 2002 after five years, taking only their clothes and their children's medications, believe Habitat let them down. In the end, they say, their children's health had been compromised by long-term mold exposure and the family was left with virtually nothing.

Acknowledging they have talked with lawyers but found no one willing to help them pursue legal action against Habitat, the Wassels say they agonized over whether to make their story public. They know, they say, it could embarrass both them and an organization they still believe in.

But the local Habitat's sale of the Maple Street home to a new owner late last year clinched their decision, they say. In June, Mr. and Mrs. Wassel started sending a detailed e-mail about their Habitat experience to media outlets, public officials and other Habitat affiliates.

"We're the mold family. ... It's not something you wanted everybody to know, but I was just fed up with the local Habitat," Mrs. Wassel says.

The organization, wary of the potential fallout from publicity about the Wassels, launched a counter-offensive. An e-mail sent last week from Habitat's Northeast Regional Support Center -- and forwarded to a Sunday Times editor -- advised affiliates not to respond to questions from the media or the public specifically related to the Wassels or the Scranton-based affiliate.

It may be a dispute without a resolution.

Local Habitat officials say they have tried to re-establish contact with the Wassels and set up a meeting to discuss their grievances. Gloria Tansits Wenze, Ph.D., president of Habitat's current board, says the Wassels have not responded.

"This is in a holding pattern until they talk to us. ... We do have compassion for the family," she says.

The Wassels, noting the local Habitat's interest in sorting out their differences coincided with their decision to go public, want no part of it.

"We tried for two years," Mrs. Wassel says, "and I don't trust them." DISCUSSIONS ... DECISIONS

The rehabilitation of 925 Maple was the sixth project undertaken by the local Habitat organization, which has put 26 partner families into homes since 1990.

As part of their agreement with the nonprofit organization, each Habitat family pays no interest on its mortgage but must contribute "sweat equity" by assisting with construction or rehabilitation of their home.

Habitat officials declined to take part in a full interview about the Wassel family.

Dr. Tansits Wenze, after the Habitat board's July 8 meeting, said she could speak only in general terms about the organization's relationship with the Wassels unless she talked with the family first. But she agreed to respond in writing on behalf of the board and executive director Robert "Ozzie" Quinn to specific issues raised by the Wassels.

Through all of its dealings with the Wassels, she says Habitat relied on experts to guide decisions, consistent with the mission and integrity of the organization.

"We had extensive, extensive discussions of what was in the best interests of the Wassels," says Dr. Tansits Wenze, a board member since 2001 and president since January. "We made the wisest decisions we could make at that time." Adds Mr. Quinn: "I feel I did everything physically and morally that a human being could do for that family." Joedy Isert, spokesman for Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, Ga., says each Habitat affiliate is an autonomous entity, and the parent organization prefers that affiliates handle cases like the Wassels' at the local level.

"From what I know of the case, they seem to be aware of the situation and are dealing with it appropriately," he says.

MOVING DAY

Mr. and Mrs. Wassel remember the 1997 spring day when they moved into their Habitat home. It was April 1 -- April Fools' Day. A day earlier, the worst snowstorm of the season had buried Scranton under 10 inches of snow.

"It was like someone was trying then to tell us something," says Mr. Wassel, 36, a repairman at Vac-Way Appliance & Service Inc. on Cedar Avenue.

Habitat purchased the small, one-story house from Citimae Inc. for $25,000 in January 1996. Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat's records do not reflect whether the vacant house was tested for mold, but adds, "We had no reason to believe there was a problem with the home." The Wassels, who'd applied to become a Habitat partner family in 1993, say the most obvious deficiency was standing water in the basement, which had a dirt floor. Habitat's construction manager assured them the project was doable.

Work on the house started March 23, 1996. A story the next day in The Sunday Times reported 40 volunteers turned out to help. The second paragraph also contained an ominously prescient line: "The odor of mildew was noticeable in the kitchen ... as long strips of wallpaper were torn from the walls." Habitat poured a concrete floor in the basement, but Mr. Wassel says the water problem persisted, even after they moved in. Habitat installed a sump pump and reluctantly agreed in 1998 to place rain gutters on the house, the Wassels say. The Wassels themselves later replaced an exterior basement door and built a retaining wall to divert runoff.

Water finally stopped coming into the basement, but the Wassels now had another, more pressing worry: Their children seemed to be incessantly, and often seriously, ill.

'CONSTANT SICKNESS'

The Wassel children -- Billy, 16, Mathew, 15, and Cami, 13 -- have medical conditions their parents and their pediatrician concede are unrelated to the home at 925 Maple. All three are asthmatic, and Mathew and Cami have diabetes.

Dr. Tansits Wenze says the children were ill, and the family lived with mold, prior to partnering with Habitat. She cites a 1994 family selection committee report that notes the children "suffer from asthma due to the living situation in which they previously lived -- no central heating and lots of mold." Mrs. Wassel says her children had problems when the family lived in another house on Maple Street. The problems mostly disappeared, she says, when the family moved to an apartment on Pittston Avenue four years before moving into the Habitat house.

Mrs. Brennan, who took part in the initial interview with the Wassels at the residence where they lived before moving to Pittston Avenue, says she recollects a musty odor in the home but no visible mold.

By any measure, the Wassels say, the frequency and intensity of the children's illnesses increased dramatically after the family moved into the Habitat house, and have decreased -- though to a lesser degree -- since they moved out.

"After we moved in, it was constant sickness, but you know, we never considered it might be the house," says Mrs. Wassel, who turns 40 on Tuesday. "We just thought they were being hit with a ton of medical problems." She says there were infections, rashes and headaches; the children "were living on antibiotics." Their pediatrician, Dr. Anders Nelson, acknowledges his frustration in trying to keep the children healthy. The Chinchilla physician says the children were experiencing multiple recurring illnesses "really far in excess of what any child should have." "And it was all three of them," the doctor says.

TESTS CONFIRM MOLD

Dr. Nelson eventually asked the Wassels if they'd had the home tested for allergens. He argued the family needed to eliminate the house as a potential cause of the children's ailments.

"We were kind of in denial," Mr. Wassel says. "When he first suggested it, we sort of looked at him and said, 'No, no, that can't be it. It's silly.'" In November 2001, an inspection by Cocciardi and Associates Inc. of Mechanicsburg identified "the presence of visible molds in the basement and the recurrence of molds in the bathroom and kitchen areas," according to its report. An air sample collected in the hallway near the bathroom at the rear of the house found two types of fungi: amerospores and cladosporium.

On Dec. 10, 2001, at a cost to Habitat of $1,250, the company sanitized the house, including wiping visible mold areas in the basement and attic with a bleach solution.

It also collected another air sample, this time in a rear bedroom near the bathroom. Although the company's report describes the spore concentration as low, the air sample identified molds not found in the initial test: aspergillus/penicillium, curvularis and torula.

Other companies would later evaluate the house, including TechClean Industries of Charlotte, N.C., and Datom Products Inc. of Dunmore.

Hired by Habitat, TechClean confirmed the continued presence of mold in April 2002. The organization paid the company $7,080 to remediate the problem by applying a sealant to the affected areas.

Datom initially evaluated the home for Habitat in September 2002. Dr. Tansits Wenze says Datom estimated mold assessment and remediation would cost more than $18,000, which was judged prohibitive by Habitat.

"With each company contracted ... to assist in the mold remediation, each in succession suggested and requested more remediation than the previous company," she says.

In November 2002, the Wassels borrowed $3,500 to have Datom test the house on their behalf. In addition to molds identified in earlier tests, that evaluation found others, including stachybotrys in both airborne and surface samples.

"The samples collected clearly indicate a significant fungal problem in this house," Datom's report said, noting the allergens were "of a type capable of causing significant health effects." 'SOMETHING ON BREAD'

When the Wassels received a copy of the Cocciardi report in February 2002, they knew little about mold.

"We thought it was something you see on bread," Mrs. Wassel says.

Their re-education -- and a chain of events that would quickly unravel their lives -- began April 7, 2002. That day's Sunday Times carried a front-page story about the Gleason family of Moosic, who had lost their house and their health to mold. Among the molds found in the Gleason home was aspergillus/penicillium, one of the types identified in the Wassel home.

"Why didn't anybody tell us any of these were dangerous?" Mr. Wassel asks now. "It makes me mad that no one made us aware of the potential danger." As the Wassels read the Sunday paper, the phone rang. It was Mrs. Brennan, asking whether they had seen the Gleason story.

"I'm calling Ozzie right now," she said, referring to Mr. Quinn. "You are being exposed to the same things that made the people sick down there." Five days later, the Wassels left the Maple Street house. They never lived there again.

OPTIONS OFFERED

Mrs. Brennan says Habitat didn't ignore concerns about the Wassel children's health. But she believes no one in the organization initially realized the seriousness of the problem.

"It wasn't that Habitat wasn't doing some things," she says, specifically citing the work by Cocciardi. "But when that story came out, we all went to our computers and starting reading more about toxic mold." In the meantime, Mr. Wassel says the family, recognizing other parts of the house might be a problem, had basically settled into one room near the front of their home.

Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat had earlier suggested the family take up temporary quarters in a trailer on the property while it considered its options, but the family rejected the idea.

After the Gleason story appeared, and with Dr. Nelson advising the family to leave the house, Habitat agreed the Wassels should vacate. It offered to place them in a hotel, and the Wassels say they moved into Comfort Suites on April 12, 2002.

That same day, Dr. Tansits Wenze says, the Wassels and Habitat officials signed off on a handwritten agreement that said the organization "recognizes responsibility to re-house family if house is deemed uninhabitable." Mrs. Brennan recalls -- and Dr. Tansits Wenze agrees -- there was talk among Habitat officials around that time of razing the Maple Street home and replacing it with a new modular.

Mrs. Wassel says the family "would have been more than willing to accept that." But Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat's files do not reflect that the Wassels wanted the organization to pursue the modular home option.

"I don't know that they ever communicated that to us," she says. "Otherwise, we would have continued our exploration." Mrs. Brennan says she thought the situation was "moving along correctly," with Habitat following the lead of the doctors and moving the family out.

"It was at some point after that that things changed," she says. "It was a shock that the Wassels were effectively dropped from the program." 'TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT'

After three weeks in the hotel, the Wassels were notified Habitat would no longer pay for their lodging, they say. The family moved into a tiny apartment on the second floor of Mrs. Wassel's parents' home in the 700 block of Maple Street.

The Wassels say Habitat gave them two options: return to the Maple Street home, where TechClean had finished its remediation work, or build a new home in the Habitat subdivision on Meridian Avenue.

By this time, Mr. Wassel says, he and his wife were running everything past their children's doctors, who rejected both options.

In a letter to Mr. Quinn, Dr. Nelson said applying sealant to the mold -- rather than removing it -- would not eliminate the risk, and building on Meridian would expose the children to an active railway that could exacerbate their problems.

Dr. Tansits Wenze says the Wassels, in turning down the Meridian Avenue offer, told Habitat they did not wish to move into an "industrial area." But she says an environmental assessment of the Meridian site for Habitat in September 2000 found it complied with state air quality standards and noted there were no industrial sites nearby.

"It was basically to the point where they said, 'Take it or leave it,'" Mr. Wassel says of the two options offered to his family. "We were more concerned with our children's health, so we left it." Except for the clothing they'd taken to the hotel, all of the Wassels' belongings were still in the home. They say both Datom and their doctors advised against retrieving the items unless they were properly cleaned; even then there was no guarantee they would be mold-free.

"They said we'd be better off to leave the things there than take the chance," Mrs. Wassel said.

On Jan. 28, 2003, the Wassels say, Habitat padlocked the house. A few weeks later, a moving and storage company came and emptied it.

"Everything we accomplished -- it was just gone," Mr. Wassel says.

Mr. Quinn said the Wassels' belongings "were put in storage until December" and later "disposed of." He said some of the items were given "to people who wanted them." UNSIGNED MORTGAGE

The Wassels never signed a mortgage for the Maple Street home -- Habitat considered them tenants. That meant when the partnership fell apart, the family lost not only the home but the investments they made in it and the "sweat equity" they stopped tracking after 700 hours.

They say their original agreement with Habitat called for them to pay $40,000 for the property. That was later revised downward, and the family owed $22,500 as of June 1999, according a Habitat letter. Their monthly payments during the five years they lived there fluctuated between $152 and $183.

Dr. Tansits Wenze says all local Habitat families now hold the mortgages on their homes. She says a family can't move in until the closing is complete and they've signed off on a "punch list" during the final inspection.

But that wasn't the case when the Wassels moved into 925 Maple, and it wasn't the case in July 2002, when Habitat adopted its policy. At that time, it had seven families without signed mortgages, including one who had been waiting nine years to close on their home.

Mrs. Wassel says she had reservations about moving into the house in April 1997, mostly because it was unfinished and the water problem in the basement had not been resolved. By the time those were taken care of, Habitat was undergoing a leadership change, with Mr. Quinn coming aboard as executive director in January 2000.

Mr. Wassel says the family would ask about signing the mortgage every couple of months.

"One of the questions we always had was: Where's the paperwork? When are we going to sign?" he says. "And they'd said, 'Listen, our attorney works on a pro bono basis. He's backlogged. There's some red tape to be cleared up.'" In a letter related to a 2003 condemnation of the Maple Street property on file at City Hall, Mr. Quinn says the Wassels lived there as tenants because of "their refusal to close on the property." Both Mrs. Wassel and Mrs. Brennan say Mr. Quinn had made the same assertion during a conversation with an insurance adjuster who came to the house in early 2002. Mrs. Wassel says the adjuster asked why the homeowner's policy was in her and husband's names if they did not own the home.

"Mr. Quinn cut me off and said everything was not done when we moved in so we didn't want to sign the papers," she says.

Mrs. Brennan says she later questioned Mr. Quinn about the remark.

"He said he didn't know what else to tell the guy," she says. "He couldn't tell him it was our lawyers." Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat records indicate it made several attempts to close with the Wassels. Despite a punch list showing work "done" at the house, she says, board meeting minutes "referred repeatedly to more work completed and the desire to have the family close on the property." "We do not know," she says, "why the Wassel family did not respond to ... numerous attempts to close." Mrs. Brennan, who severed her ties with Habitat in July 2002 because she was being shut out of discussions about the Wassels, says the family did have concerns about unfinished work. But on the question of whether they refused to sign the mortgage, Mrs. Brennan is firm: "Absolutely untrue." LONG-TERM EFFECTS

With their immune systems weakened by long-term mold exposure, their doctors say the Wassel children face uncertain medical futures.

The three now take a total of 43 prescription medications daily, and 12 more on an as-needed basis. Those medicines fill a six-drawer plastic storage unit in a corner of the family's five-room apartment at Rear 726 Maple St.

The Wassels rely on medical assistance to pay for the medications and most, but not all, of the children's physician visits in Pennsylvania. Consultations with out-of-state specialists -- and the Wassels have seen several throughout the Northeast -- are paid for out of pocket.

Dr. Nelson, given written permission by the family to talk about their medical conditions, says the children suffer an exceptional gamut of health issues: severe asthma and allergies, recurring sinusitis and upper respiratory infections, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches -- the list goes on and on.

He is not qualified to draw a cause-and-effect conclusion between the children's illnesses and the Habitat house, he says, but he has no doubt long-term mold exposure contributed to the severity of the problems.

"That kind of chronic grind to your immune system is going to cause some serious long-term consequences," he says.

Dr. John Santilli Jr. of Allergy Associates Inc., of Bridgeport, Conn., a recognized expert on mold-related illness who has treated the children, says their mold exposure made them susceptible to other, secondary conditions. He expects the effects to be long-term if not permanent -- a prognosis Dr. Nelson shares.

"I don't see them being very healthy people," Dr. Nelson says. "My gut sense is we are not going to see them get much better." INSULT TO INJURY

In 2003, the local Habitat placed the Maple Street property on the market, selling it in December for $54,000 to Martin Noll.

Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat made full disclosure of the potential for mold in the house. She says the buyer signed a release stating he had been informed mold was found on the premises "and that Habitat has removed the mold to (his) satisfaction." Mr. Noll says he knows about the Wassels' problems -- the family says it sent him a letter after learning about the sale -- but didn't want to discuss it further.

"I have had the house tested, and I'm satisfied with the results. I've lived here for seven months. ... I'm fine, and I believe the house is fine," he says.

The Wassels say the sale of the house was the last straw, an insult heaped upon injury. Since they launched their e-mail campaign, their story has been posted on at least two mold-related Web sites.

Despite their differences with the local Habitat, they say they still support the mission of the international organization. But they feel an obligation, they say, to make others -- including other Habitat affiliates -- aware of the dangers of mold.

"I never want to see anyone go through what my family went through, and what my children are still going through," Mrs. Wassel says.

"They can't give us back everything that's been taken away," she says of Habitat, "but we can try to stop it from happening to other people." dsingleton


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: habitat; habitatforhumanity
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Previous FR post on this branch of Habitat: Family of 20 determined to keep condemned home

Scranton Habitat for Humanity

 

 

 

 

1 posted on 07/26/2004 5:35:16 AM PDT by Born Conservative
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To: Born Conservative

biting the hand....


2 posted on 07/26/2004 5:40:33 AM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: Born Conservative

....but they better pay us in NEW bills: none of that dirty circalated stuff.


3 posted on 07/26/2004 5:42:03 AM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: Born Conservative
There was standing water in the basement and they didn't check for mold? How very professional.
4 posted on 07/26/2004 5:43:19 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: grellis

Would you say, then, that both parties deserve one another?


5 posted on 07/26/2004 5:46:23 AM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: Born Conservative

They should grow up already. They're not the only folks who have had to deal with a mold problem, and those don't have the option of someone else paying for repairs. Talk about biting the hand that feeds them. Big whinies.


6 posted on 07/26/2004 5:47:55 AM PDT by mtbopfuyn
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To: Born Conservative
the presence of visible molds in the basement

The mold scare is junk science.

We live in a 111 year old house with plenty of "visible molds" in the ancient, unfinished basement.

None of the six in our family has been sick a day -- out of the eleven years we've lived in this gloriously moldy old house.

7 posted on 07/26/2004 5:49:02 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: Born Conservative

This isnt rocket science here, you see some mold, spray some clorox/water on it. Fix any leaking pipes. Put a sump pump in the basement if you have a leeky basement and buy a dehumidifier.


8 posted on 07/26/2004 5:50:46 AM PDT by Husker24
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To: shhrubbery!

"Junk science" is exactly right. Thanks to the mold scam claims, home owners insurance has tripled.


9 posted on 07/26/2004 5:55:59 AM PDT by gumboyaya
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To: Born Conservative

Mold is another weapon the the trial lawyers' arsenal. There's gold in those little black specks.


10 posted on 07/26/2004 5:57:13 AM PDT by Fresh Wind (Uday is DU in Pig Latin)
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To: Born Conservative
The three now take a total of 43 prescription medications daily, and 12 more on an as-needed basis.

And wash them down with a glass of milk. Obviously such compromised immune systems are going to need a fundamental change in diet and lifestyle, not thousands of dollars worth of dubious chemical crap.

11 posted on 07/26/2004 6:00:38 AM PDT by palmer (Solutions, not just slogans -JFKerry)
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To: Born Conservative
That's what they get for allowing Democrat Party members to build those "houses for humanity" without bathing them first.

Oh ... the inhumanity of it all!



Social workers come with their own knee pads, and will supply you the whip ... free of charge.

12 posted on 07/26/2004 6:03:01 AM PDT by G.Mason (A war mongering, red white and blue, military industrial complex, Al Qaeda incinerating American.)
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To: Born Conservative

Acknowledging they have talked with lawyers but found no one willing to help them pursue legal action against Habitat,

Interesting.......I am on the board of a non profit that provides housing for released offenders. Even though my lawyer tells me that no one has successfully sued a non profit in the state of Iowa, The Directors and Officers insurance will cost us $1,500 a year, about 30% of our donations. Lawyer says we still need the insurance to cover the cost of defending ourselves.


13 posted on 07/26/2004 6:04:14 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple
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To: dasboot
It sounds like they do, although I admit I am a smidge more sympathetic to the homeowners than I am to H4H. As new homeowners (and I am assuming that they have never owned their own home before) they were probably dealing with scores of challenges that they had never faced before. It was up to H4H to make the determination that they house was safe. Its not a "buyer beware" situation like most of us deal with. When we buy a home on our own, its up to us to look the house over and decide if we want to pay an inspector to look the house over even better. H4H is supposed to do that on behalf of the people its helping. From what I've read here, they dropped the ball. Anytime you see standing water in a basement, the very safest thing you can do is assume that there is mold, find it (you will!) and have it tested. The testing is not cheap. In our area it can cost up to $5,000. However, the one-time expense of testing is far less than the long term cost of treating a fmaily that has been living in a house with toxic mold.

In case you hadn't guessed, I really can't stand H4H or its peanut farming cheerleader.

14 posted on 07/26/2004 6:05:21 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: gumboyaya

""Junk science" is exactly right. Thanks to the mold scam claims, home owners insurance has tripled."

That's because asbestos and radon gas have been tapped out.


15 posted on 07/26/2004 6:07:10 AM PDT by Rebelbase ( A majority of Europeans have lost the courage of their fathers and grandfathers.)
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To: shhrubbery!
My house just had its 200th birthday. Bought it with 400lb of bat guano in the attic; mouse and rat infestation; termites; cistern in the basement to hold rain water directed into it from the downspouts (laundry water); decayed chimney; rotted sills and joists; powder post beadle's; leaky roof. The previous owners lived in it from '45 to '92: both died at almost 100 years-old. The secret had to be air circulation: I think I've engineered it so the air only changes one a minute, now.

Did all the rehab myself: tripled my investment...lemons and lemonade, y'know!

16 posted on 07/26/2004 6:07:46 AM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: shhrubbery!
Our house is 113 years old and we have mold as well. All last year my oldest son was sick and nothing seemed to make him better. We finally found mold in our basement, called the pros to check it out, and were told that testing and clean-up would cost about $10 grand. Rather than spend what we don't have, we bought a heavy-duty dehumidifier for $200 and kept the basement at 0 humidity for two weeks. My son got better within the month and has not been sick since. We keep the humidifier set at 25% humidity now and the mold has not returned.

Most molds that you find in a house are NOT the toxic killers that we read about.

17 posted on 07/26/2004 6:12:01 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: grellis

Yeah, but you're all crazy from that evil lead paint, ain'tcha?


18 posted on 07/26/2004 6:14:19 AM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: Rebelbase
That's because asbestos and radon gas have been tapped out.

You got that right!

The media love "scares" -- over the years we've seen a succession of them: Asbestos, radon gas, and now "toxic" mold and chemically treated wood.

Sure, each of these substances can cause ill effects in very high doses; but in each case, the risk has been vastly overhyped. And costly abatement programs are often counterproductive.

As every scare gets debunked over the years, a new one comes along for lawyers and "abatement" scammers to profit from.

19 posted on 07/26/2004 6:21:41 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: grellis

Have you ever been to Pennsylvania? Its a Temperate Rain Forest Here... over 36" of rain on average every year... you don't need to test for mold every house has it, its a given, whether you have standing water in your basement or not.

I don't see this as habitat ignoring them.. hell they spent from what I see lots of money on mold remediation which of course is almost always money wasted. Cut off the source of the water, and remove the infected material.. pure and simple. You don't need to pay thousands of dollars to do that.

I tend to agree this comes off more of a dependency class family looking for the big check to me.


20 posted on 07/26/2004 6:26:46 AM PDT by HamiltonJay ("You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.")
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To: grellis
Most molds that you find in a house are NOT the toxic killers that we read about.

Exactly right. I purposely leave the mold in our basement pretty much undisturbed beyond a little vacuuming now and then. I don't spray toxic chemicals all over it. Killing it off, I believe, might open the door to new growths than aren't so benign.

Glad your son is better, but we've had the reverse experience. One of my sons has asthma, but he developed it while we were living in a newer house with a finished, clean, dehumidified basement.

After we moved to the old house with the moldy basement, his asthma got better!

21 posted on 07/26/2004 6:30:47 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: shhrubbery!
You clearly don't have the molds that these homes have.

These molds can, in fact, cover the better part of a home. Some Texas homeowners have come home to a house filled with black mold after less than a week away. This severe mold damage can take tens of thousands of dollars to repair. And, yes, some molds will make people sick.
22 posted on 07/26/2004 6:32:51 AM PDT by sharktrager (The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the paving contractor lives in Chappaqua.)
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To: shhrubbery!

Your attitude is typical & I understand it but mold does make SOME people sick.

My husband & I had a weekend house that developed mold. Every night after sleeping in the house I would wake up with the most severe headache I had ever experienced, blinding in fact. Then I would have a upper respitory infection of some sort.

It took me about 6 months of spending an occasional night in the house & getting sick before I figured out what was wrong.

The mold was hidden in the walls & behind wallpaper so it was not obvious until the wall paper started peeling off.

I can't speak to the permanent damage that the children are said to suffer. My husband, who stayed every night in the house that I did, had no problems at all.

Consider yourselves lucky that you have not gone thru the problems this family has because for SOME of us, it is very real.


23 posted on 07/26/2004 6:37:23 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: sharktrager
I didn't say all molds were benign. (See post 22 above yours.)

I don't know what kind of molds you have in Texas, but here in the humid northeast/mid-Atlantic area, pretty much all houses are susceptible to mold, as poster #20 notes. I believe most of the molds you find here are completely benign in the doses most people get.

Where you run into trouble with toxic molds, I suspect, is in these highly insulated, air-tight houses built since the oil crisis in the '70s (and in older houses remodeled to be "energy-efficient.")

Older houses that leak air like a sieve are healthier, if less energy-efficient.

24 posted on 07/26/2004 6:41:55 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: Born Conservative

I have two friends in disaster restoration - BOTH concede that a mold problem, when discovered, must be treated as though there is a fire in the house. It must be dealt with *quickly*. They are hired by insurance companies and go through all kinds of trainings as to the health effects of different molds - paid for by the insurance companies.

If mold were *not* a problem, do we think the insurance companies, the ones getting slammed financially, would have paid trainings on the ill effects of mold and how to remedy it? I don't think so. Not everyone gets sick from mold.

And yes, Pennsylvania is brutal for mold occurance. Not only because of climate, but because of georgraphy - at least out here in the western part of the state. There is little table-top property to build homes, and 9 times out of 10, there is a hill with offending gravity on one side of a house. This creates a water problem and possible mold problem. You can spray all the bleach water you want on mold, but if there continues to be a water problem, the mold will come back.


25 posted on 07/26/2004 6:45:09 AM PDT by Dasaji (Uhhh,...Pat? Can I please buy a vowel?)
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To: Born Conservative

Did that mold come from peanuts??

Was Jimmy Carter working on the project?


26 posted on 07/26/2004 6:53:41 AM PDT by ZULU
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To: Ditter
I don't doubt there can be health problems associated with the presence of mold. But correlation is not necessarily causation.

There are many environmental factors that can cause problems. Is your summer home highly insulated? Vinyl sided? I.e., is there a lack of sufficient air flow? What about formaldehyde in the insulation, or in the carpeting or furnishings? Newer building products and materials, furnishings, and even household chemical cleaners, I suspect are probably more responsible for health problems than mold.

All of these things can cause health problems, particularly if their concentrations become high due to lack of fresh air exchange.

27 posted on 07/26/2004 6:55:54 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: Born Conservative
Those medicines fill a six-drawer plastic storage unit in a corner of the family's five-room apartment at Rear 726 Maple St.

It's more likely all those drugs being given to them that are making them chronically ill.

28 posted on 07/26/2004 6:57:45 AM PDT by FITZ
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To: Dasaji
If mold were *not* a problem, do we think the insurance companies, the ones getting slammed financially, would have paid trainings on the ill effects of mold and how to remedy it?

You make the mistake of assuming that those insurance company policies are driven by hard science.

They are not. They are driven by junk science and its associated litigation industry.

29 posted on 07/26/2004 6:57:53 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: shhrubbery!
We used to have a really bad mold problem in Texas. Ask any lawyer; they could tell stories that would keep you up nights.

Last year, mold ceased being covered by the typical homeowners insurance policy.

You don't hear any nightmare stories at all anymore. Mold....gone as quickly as it came.

30 posted on 07/26/2004 7:00:15 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: laotzu

Heheh. Fascinating how quickly that mold problem disappeared!


31 posted on 07/26/2004 7:07:34 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: shhrubbery!

5 gallons of clorox, a scrub brush, and a couple of days of elbow grease and every member of my family suddenly was no longer sick.

No lawyers, no insurance and no unneccessary and outrageously expensive "mold remediation" needed.


32 posted on 07/26/2004 7:11:59 AM PDT by Gabz (Ted Kennedy's driving has killed more people than second hand smoke)
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To: Born Conservative

Dr. Tansits Wenze says Habitat had earlier suggested the family take up temporary quarters in a trailer on the property while it considered its options, but the family rejected the idea.

They would not have anything to whine about if they had to get away from the mold.

mold - open the windows once in a while


33 posted on 07/26/2004 7:23:12 AM PDT by mamalujo (stultus est sicut stultus facit)
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To: shhrubbery!

We owned the house for 10 years with no problems. The A/C pans rusted thru & the leaks were hidden in the walls. By the time we discovered the problem it was severe. Just spraying some Clorox on the problem would not have solved it. Also the house was on Galveston Bay with high humidity all the time.

We had the mold tested & found we had at least 6 types of mold including toxic. We sold the house "as is" with a check from the insurance co. We considered tearing it down & building another but decided against it.

I repeat, SOME people are made VERY sick by the presence of mold. I could not spend ONE night in my house without getting sick. I shutter to think what would have happened to me if that had been my permanent residence.

Do not scoff at people who tell you mold makes them sick, just feel fortunate that you & yours aren't one of them. BTW if you ever try to sell your moldy house don't be surprized if you must take a loss.


34 posted on 07/26/2004 7:24:13 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: Gabz
5 gallons of clorox, a scrub brush, and a couple of days of elbow grease and every member of my family suddenly was no longer sick

Good to hear that. But I'm skeptical of killing off mold that doesn't seem to be causing any problems.

On the model of oral antibiotics killing off good intestinal flora --and opening the door to bad flora-- might killing off benign molds be a bad idea?

Also, mold will return unless dampness is permanently eliminated. This is a very expensive proposition, involving running dehumidifiers for 6-9 months of the year, depending on where you live.

I'd rather just leave the mold there rather than spend thousands on my electric bill. It's not making anybody in my house sick.

35 posted on 07/26/2004 7:24:25 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: shhrubbery!

"The mold scare is junk science.

We live in a 111 year old house with plenty of "visible molds" in the ancient, unfinished basement.

None of the six in our family has been sick a day -- out of the eleven years we've lived in this gloriously moldy old house."

I agree, it's junk science. How the heck will anyone EVER prevent a "natural" occuring growth which inhabits the entire earth. Some people have serious sinus/allergy problems if you do it's not everybodies elses fault. These people should have made it known they were allergic to mold and given an alternative habitat home and screen a new family for allergies before moving them in. This latest mold sue craze is more litigation lawyers wet dreams since their asbestos meal ticket ran dry.


36 posted on 07/26/2004 7:31:00 AM PDT by SunnySide
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To: Ditter
BTW if you ever try to sell your moldy house don't be surprized if you must take a loss.

Heh. My house is worth well over double what I paid for it; and if anything, it was even moldier when I bought it, and scads of buyers got in a bidding war over it then.

People who value old houses are charmed by the basement with its hand-hewn beams and log pillars and aren't put off by a little mold.

And by the time I'm ready to sell, the mold scare fad will be long over.

I'm not scoffing at your health problems. I'm scoffing at the overhyped notion that mold is the big bad bugaboo that lawyers are making it out to be. And as I said earlier, correlation is not necessarily causation.

37 posted on 07/26/2004 7:33:00 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: PeterPrinciple
re: Interesting.......I am on the board of a non profit that provides housing for released offenders. Even though my lawyer tells me that no one has successfully sued a non profit in the state of Iowa, The Directors and Officers insurance will cost us $1,500 a year, about 30% of our donations. Lawyer says we still need the insurance to cover the cost of defending ourselves. )))

No good deed goes unpunished by lawyers. Filthy parasite class...

38 posted on 07/26/2004 7:36:44 AM PDT by Mamzelle (for a post-neo conservatism)
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To: shhrubbery!

I agree that it is the trial lawyers who have made such a mess out of the mold problem. In the beginning they got huge settlements from the insurance co. That is pretty much over now. But mold is still here, making some of us extremely sick just like it always did.


39 posted on 07/26/2004 7:43:03 AM PDT by Ditter
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To: Husker24
spray some clorox/water on it.

Nah, just flood the basement with all the mercury all the other states are hysterical about.

Mercury used to be to kept mold and fungi from forming in certain products, like paint.

40 posted on 07/26/2004 7:45:53 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: dasboot
Yeah, but you're all crazy from that evil lead paint, ain'tcha?

ROTF! The evil that nobody warned us about--pay attention, homeowners--was the dreaded daylilies!

We have a strip of property on the south side of our house that is pretty much useless. Its three feet wide and runs the length of the property, alonside the neighbor's driveway. There was no grass there, just tons of weeds that acted as a magnet for every piece of litter in the area. One of my neighbors suggested we plant daylilies there (then she promptly moved out of state). We cleared out the weeds, planted two dozen daylily bulbs, and paid no attention to what was going on for the next six years. That's when we suddenly found water in the basement, which had previously been very dry, considering the houses's age. That's when my son got sick and we found the mold. While we were cleaning up the mold, we searched and searched for the source of the water, which we knew had to be somewhere on the south side of the house. In six years, 24 daylilies became well over five thousand bulbs. We started tearing out the lilies and found that rabbits had been digging "scrapes" underneath the foliage, along the foundation of the house. We found a creeping vine had grown all across the foundation and worked its way under the siding--none of which we could see because of the lilies. We found at least ten spots where mice had dug through the mortar of the foundation, not only giving them access to the basement, but inviting the rain in as well. None of this was visible to us because of the daylilies.

Question: How do you kill daylilies?

Answer: You don't. You can't.

We used a warfare-strength vegetation killer on the lilies last summer. It killed the leaves. This year, not only did the lilies come back up but they are healthier than ever because the vegetation killer wiped out ALL of their competition. Each weekend, we are able to dig up about two square feet of our southside property. Out of just two square feet of soil, we fill a three gallon bucket with bulbs. Not plants--just the bulbs.

Daylilies are the flower of Morgoth, and I'm not kidding.

/rant

41 posted on 07/26/2004 7:47:46 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: Mamzelle

"Officers insurance will cost us $1,500 a year, about 30% of our donations. Lawyer says we still need the insurance to cover the cost of defending ourselves."

No you don't! Do not allow insurers and lawyers to scare you, it's legalized extortion. All you have to do is include a mold/lead base paint/asbestos disclosure & waiver section in your lease or property sales documentations where tenant/buyer signs it as acknowledged and won't hold you liable. Many insurance companies are dropping their mold coverage so save your money.


42 posted on 07/26/2004 7:51:02 AM PDT by SunnySide
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To: laotzu

I'm not so sure that the mold problem disappeared. Hubby interviewed for a job in Austin several years ago. He didn't get the job. At his current job, he met several folks who had worked for the company in Austin. One day they heard that one of their bosses at the Austin company had dropped dead. No previous illness. He had a mold problem develop rather rapidly in his not so old house, and he just keeled over. The cause of death was something like pneumonia due to toxic mold exposure in his house. He was the guy who had interviewed hubby. And he was in his 40s or early 50s.


43 posted on 07/26/2004 7:53:34 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: shhrubbery!
One of my sons has asthma, but he developed it while we were living in a newer house with a finished, clean, dehumidified basement.

Too weird! I usually let well enough alone. The only way, generally speaking, that an immune system will work properly is if it is first exposed to something unhealthy. Then it does its work and, for most people, that work is done quite well. I think my son was allergic to the mold, though...he was the only one in our family who got sick when we had the mold growing and got better as soon as it was all dried out and cleaned up.

44 posted on 07/26/2004 7:54:30 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: SunnySide

All molds are not created equal. Similar to humans. Some are deadlier than others. Some are no problem at all. Woe unto you when you come across one of the bad ones.


45 posted on 07/26/2004 7:57:47 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: Born Conservative

Surprised that article about Habitat for Humanity and a "fungus that won't go away" isn't about Jimmy Carter.


46 posted on 07/26/2004 7:58:30 AM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: shhrubbery!
Sure, each of these substances can cause ill effects in very high doses; but in each case, the risk has been vastly overhyped. And costly abatement programs are often counterproductive.

It's the liberal version of everyone is equal: since someone might be allergic to peanuts, we cannot allow any peanuts on airplanes; if someone pours spills hot coffee on her lap, every cup has to have a warning; if someone dies from smoking, noone can smoke inside any public building, or within 50 yards of a government office. I'm waiting for liberals to make the connection between homosexuality and AIDS, God help the gay people when that happens.

47 posted on 07/26/2004 8:00:17 AM PDT by webheart (Archer Shield)
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To: HamiltonJay
Cut off the source of the water, and remove the infected material.. pure and simple. You don't need to pay thousands of dollars to do that.

Exactly right. After we got the $10 grand quote from ServiceMaster, my husband looked up the EPA's suggestions for mold removal. Dry it out, bag it up, get rid of it. Worked like a charm.

The guy from ServiceMaster, when we told him we were going to do it ourselves, threatened to notify the Lansing housing board if we didn't have it professionally cleaned. I offered to dial for him. We never heard from him--or the housing board--again.

48 posted on 07/26/2004 8:00:37 AM PDT by grellis (No payments, no interest until June 2005! Hurry now and SAVE!)
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To: grellis

I like H4H, but they certainly dropped the ball here. The family sounds like whiners, but they really have a problem and sick children to boot! Toxic mold is a major problem and I can't imagine that any organization in the housing field would let any living creature into a structure with standing water without testing it!!


49 posted on 07/26/2004 8:00:50 AM PDT by twigs
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To: Ditter

You and I have had this discussion numerous times - so you know I am firmly in your camp on this issue.


50 posted on 07/26/2004 8:04:08 AM PDT by Gabz (Ted Kennedy's driving has killed more people than second hand smoke)
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