In over 50 years of living, I have never given much thought to mold. I've never lived in a building with a mold problem. I have never had allergies. I have never owned a dehumidifier or air purifier or even looked into owning one. All of that recently changed.
I recently rented a small house with a mold problem. The first time I toured it, it smelled a little musty but chalked it up to the windows being closed for a long time – i had been unoccupied for at least a couple of months. For the last three days before I moved in, it had been raining. When I arrived there was a strong mold smell. I opened all the windows. That night,, the smell of mold was intense and intolerable. I actually wore a scarf around my mouth and nose to breathe through in order to sleep. The mold is giving me headaches.
It is most intense in one room but not so that it seems localized, as it is strong throughout the length and breadth of the house. There is no visible mold in the interior living spaces. I suspect it is extensive either in the basement crawl spaces or behind the walls and attic crawl spaces. The building has a metal shell, and so I researched condensation. Whether it was basement or behind the walls or between the roof and ceiling, it was a major, extensive and had to have been ongoing for a long time. It odor was strong enough to sort of knock you out. My mold remediation research began the next morning, as soon as I woke and has consumed hours and hours and hours of my time.
The landlord sent a mold specialist who completely dismissed the notion that condensation related tot he metal shell could be the issue, pointing out that the problem always rises from below, and so he focused on the basement crawl space, which has a dirt floor. He said it needed to be remediated there, that because of the dirt floor, it needed a moisture barrier installed and then a dehumidifier installed to run pretty much all the time.
There may also be a leak in a water drainage pipe or water pipe under the floors/in the basement.
At first I thought I could make a go of it by addressing the air in the living space with a dehumidifier and an air purifier but unless the landlords do remediation in the basement, I am not so sure.
Maybe I have just been lucky, but I have never lived in a place where you can't leave a wet wash cloth on the bathroom counter for two days. I did an experiment here – I wet a thick piece of cotton jersey, wrung it out, folded it once, and left it on the bathroom counter. 48 hours later there were 8 round black mold spots on it at least a 1/4 inch wide each. I was horrified. Those spores are everywhere in the air inside and I am breathing them. I read that there is NO treatment for inhaling large quantities of mold spores and that they can get stuck in your lungs..
Luckily this is a rental and I am thinking I should just leave.
I think because of the difficulty of nailing down the science of mold exposure it gives rise to two things: 1) pseudoscience and quackery; 2) wrongly declaring there are no serious health effects caused by mold
But the fact is, from my research anyway, we have long known that moldy environments are not healthy for us and there is plenty of science on toxic sorts of spores as well. People with mold symptoms shouldn't be made to feel like they are crazy. As for me, I am looking to move. My gut is telling me that no air purifier and dehumidifier in the world (That I can afford anyway) s going to solve this for me if the landlords aren't going to remediate it at the source. I am having headaches from it on a daily basis – this is constant now. Sometimes very mild headaches but it is there, wearing my down. Moldy environments are not healthy to live in