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12 On Your Side: Richmond Co. apartment resident battles mold

Mold OYS

If you suspect there's mold in your home or apartment, notify your local Code Enforcement Division, which is usually under your city's license and inspection office. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 10, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Some residents in a Richmond County apartment complex claim mold in their buildings is making them sick.

Elizabeth Mitchell says she has always had asthma but never felt crippled by it until she moved into Oakwood Village Apartments last year.

"When they did the breathing test on me it came back 48 out of a 100," she said.

Mitchell's mother, who lives in the same apartment complex, began suspecting that there was mold in their apartments.

"It's had kind of musty," Dorothy Taylor said. "It started getting worse about six or eight months ago."

Taylor advised her daughter to pull the wallpaper and flooring up to check for mold.

"It was black mold. Just really disgusting," Mitchell said. "It was in our bathroom, in our bedroom."

Mitchell took pictures of the mold she found in her apartment and contacted Augusta Code Enforcement to come take a look.

News 12 On Your Side obtained the letter from code enforcement. It states the property is "in violation," the structure is "dangerous to life and health" and "tenants should be moved."

Mitchell says management at Oakwood Village Apartments sent a maintenance worker to clean up the mold. She says she still felt sick about a month after they said they'd cleaned her apartment. She says she bought an in-home mold test kit when she began to suspect there was still mold inside her apartment.

"We got the little petri dishes from Home Depot and it's growing in them," Mitchell said.

She also found mold growing behind her bathroom mirror after she says management told her they fixed the problem.

News 12 tried to talk to management at Oakwood Villages Apartments but they refused to comment. We did some digging and found out that Oakwood Village is owned by Empirian Property Management, Inc. They own rental properties nationwide. The Better Business Bureau rates Oakwood Village Apartments with an "F."

Mitchell's doctor gave her a note so she can break her lease. In the letter, the doctor states that she is "extremely reactive to certain allergens such as molds" and that "it is necessary for her to remove herself from that exposure."

Augusta Code Enforcement told News 12 that moisture in the ground is causing mold to grow in Mitchelll's apartment. Oakwood Village Apartments have 30 days from Sept. 14, 2011, to fix or demolish Mitchell's apartment.

News 12 also visited a third resident's apartment in Oakwood and found mold growing behind her walls.

There is not a national standard set for mold but OSHA and the EPA do have set recommendations.

Here are some ways to prevent mold:

  • Eliminate sources of moisture.
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30 to 60 percent).
  • Vent bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
  • Use dehumidifiers.
  • Increase ventilation.
  • Use exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.

If you suspect there's mold in your home or apartment, notify your local Code Enforcement Division, which is usually under your city's license and inspection office.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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