Mold a growing problem in Fairbanks homes

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, November 7, 2010:

Mark Sampson had been renting a house in Fairbanks for about four months when he found black mold creeping up the walls of his 18-month-old daughter’s room. His wife was clearing off a shelf of DVDs and found streaks of black, gooey mold along the wall and rotting the window frame. An environmental lab identified the mold as Penicillium aspergillus, a black mold linked to respiratory problems. Air samples from the room revealed 62 percent humidity and a mold concentration eight times higher than outdoor levels and well above the amount considered safe by the lab.

“That was a big concern, and then it kind of dawned on us why we were getting sick and I said, ‘We’re not staying here.’ So we moved into a motel,” Sampson said.

Sampson is not alone. More residents in Fairbanks are facing mold problems because they are sealing their homes without ventilating properly, and many don’t understand the nature of mold, according to local building experts. And while a small amount of mold around your windows or bathtub isn’t uncommon, a big or exposed colony can cause structural damage and health problems, such as hay fever or respiratory difficulty.

“People are still too often addressing one side of the energy equation … making walls thicker, increasing R-values and tightening homes. They are not addressing ventilation,” said Steve Shuttleworth, building official for the city of Fairbanks.