In Texas, a potentially fatal black mold has forced 19 families to evacuate their homes and move into hotels. The Gabberts have lived at the Residence Inn with their 3 children for 3 months, since they discovered their home in Lubbock was filled with black stachybotrys mold. ?It?s kind of stressful, but we?re making the best of it,? says Ashley Gabbert.
The mold can cause allergy-like symptoms, as well as skin rashes, respiratory infections, bloody noses, fever, headaches, tiredness and neurological symptoms. It can also suppress the immune system.
Before they discovered the mold, Ashley took headache medication every day while she was pregnant with her now 10-month-old son. Her 2-year-old has been hospitalized twice with respiratory problems.
It will cost the Gabberts $58,000 to get rid of the mold. It?s removed with a bleach-like solution, then all the damaged materials, including walls, ceilings and carpets, must be torn out and replaced. There have been cases where entire homes have had to be torn down.
Stachybotrys mold isn?t rare, but an unusually rainy spring, combined with heavy snowfall last winter, is behind the large number of outbreaks. The mold grows on anything moist, such as wood or sheetrock, according to David Straus, of Texas Tech University. ?The molds don?t care where the water comes from. A leaky roof can do it. It can be a high water table. All that matters is that building materials get wet. It doesn?t matter if it?s in a desert or the most humid place on earth.?
Black mold has been found across the U.S. on school campuses, in courthouses and fire stations. It was found in the Lubbock sheriff?s office in April and 8 county employees had to be relocated. It has even turned up in a daycare center being built for children of U.S. Senate employees.
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