After learning that one of her three children has asthma, a mother of three expresses her sadness about the mold infestation in her house.
Kym Austin, a resident of Salford, said that she often visited the doctor’s office with her other two kids, who had chronic coughs and chest infections.
She said that a doctor had forewarned her that the mold infestation in her three-bedroom house is probably to blame for the patients’ ailments.
Even Ms. Austin’s landlord, the housing cooperative Clarion, received a letter from the doctor outlining their issues.
Three little blue inhalers are neatly arranged in a row in the family’s kitchen, next to a variety of medications and cough syrups.
Now, all of the kids are sleeping in the downstairs living room. Their mother forbids them from sleeping in their own beds because they are covered in a thick layer of black mold.
The painting upstairs has dark wetness trickling down it and broad streaks of mould running along the tops of the walls.
Brown and black gunge has stained the window sills and drapes.
In the bathroom, a child’s toothbrush has mold flecks in it, and the shower curtain, which was formerly white, has developed black and brown stains.
The family’s unfortunate circumstance occurs at a time when social housing circumstances are top-of-mind on the national agenda as a result of the untimely passing of Awaab Ishak.
After extended exposure to mold in his house on the Freehold estate in Rochdale, two-year-old Awaab passed away in 2020.
Just 10 miles away, a terrifyingly identical situation arises when the government vows to penalize landlords who fail to address problems like mould swiftly.
When Ms. Austin read the story on Awaab Ishak, she exclaimed, “I felt goosebumps.” I’ve tried everything, but I simply can’t keep my kids out of it.
In February 2021, she and her kids moved into the Clarion Housing-owned and -operated home.
The mother-of-three yearned for a place to call home where she and her kids could feel secure.
She said that less than four months after moving there, she started to observe black specks moving over the walls and ceilings of her bathroom and bedroom.
She immediately phoned Clarion, and a mold specialist came to her house.
She alleges that she was instructed not to use her heater as much after being informed that there was dampness in the building.
She said that she had previously complained about her boiler’s malfunction and now thinks the mold is really a result of her windows’ improper window seals.
According to Ms. Austin, the mold became worse as the winter months approached. She also noted that Clarion dispatched a contractor to clean the walls, and for a few weeks, it seemed that the mold issue had been resolved.
The mother said that when the mold reappeared three weeks later, it was worse than before and had taken over all of her children’s bedrooms.
She said that by this time, the children were becoming ill.
Clarion returned and cleaned it, she said. The expert said that painting over the walls would never work and that they needed to be properly treated.
They informed me that a three-day mold course was required, which would require us to vacate the premises.
In January 2022, the third inspector was published. He questioned our desire to paint it since he believed that doing so would just serve to spread the mold.
I told him he had to fix it since I had kids and there was mold everywhere, but it came back 20 times worse.
It’s across the whole upstairs, not just one bedroom, as stated.
She alleges that since the beginning of the year, the children have seen the doctor every two to three weeks for coughs, chest infections, or colds.
They’ve all been handed inhalers now, the three of them.
“My kid has undergone chest x-rays since they weren’t sure why he was so wheezy,” the mother of three added.
He was examined last month, and it was determined that he had asthma.
He hasn’t had issues previously, but for the last two weeks, he’s been using an inhaler three times each day.
“The other two struggle without an inhaler and are the same.” Even though she is just two years old, my daughter has to see the doctor often for checkups.
In a letter sent to the housing association of January, their doctor requests that the circumstances in Kym’s son and his family’s house be urgently assessed and managed.
I saw him today for a chest infection and low oxygen levels.
The property’s severe dampness and mold are probably the primary causes of this acute illness, and unless the dampness is treated, it is extremely likely to reoccur again.
There are three children living there, and because of the substandard housing, they are all sleeping downstairs.
Unless this is fixed, “they are all at danger of respiratory issues.”
The majority of Ms Austin’s belongings are still in neatly labeled bin bags and boxes in the bedroom upstairs.
The non-covered items had to be thrown away since they were coated with black and green mold.
She can hardly afford to spend £10 every time for enough boxes with lids, and even the garments in the trash bags had to be thrown away since they weren’t watertight.
She claimed: “Our neighbors have taken images of the moldy furniture we’ve been instructed to keep in our yard and have posted them on social media. As a result, my kid is being tormented at school.”
“My stress levels are so high, they’re hurting my body.” Now since there is no more space upstairs and I am beginning to feel terribly unwell, I am the only one sleeping there.
“I am afraid to be alone because I’m worried one of my kids may choke since they are coughing so much,” the woman said.
“The coughing won’t stop, and I’m freaking out.”
Ms. Austin asserts that she became so desperate that she sought the assistance of a lawyer, but alleges that no deal has yet been made between them and Clarion Housing.
She threatened to talk to her local newspaper if quick action wasn’t done in an email to Clarion earlier this month and through the Housing Ombudsman.
She alleges that shortly after writing this email, the housing association made her an offer to vacate the house a week before Christmas so the mold could be cleansed and covered with paint.
She has agreed to be temporarily relocated from the home in January, but she is concerned that if the house is not properly repaired, the dampness and mold may return when she returns.
I’ve been emailing them about this problem for over two years, and nobody responded until I threatened to call the media, she said.
“I don’t believe the problem will be remedied when I re-enter the home.” I just need a new place to live permanently.
The health of Ms. Austin and her children is our first concern, and we’re dedicated to getting rid of the mold and finding a solution as quickly as we can, according to a Clarion spokeswoman.
‘We’ve made various offers in the past to handle the task and relocate the family at this period.
Senior colleagues will make contact with her as soon as possible on November 29th to try to figure out a time for finishing the task early, which will take around a week to accomplish.
‘Exposure to mould and moisture may be particularly detrimental to our lungs, since mould emits spores that can be breathed in, producing symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing, or watery eyes,’ according to Sarah Woolnough, CEO of Asthma + Lung UK.
“Mould and fungus are a significant cause of asthma episodes, and they may exacerbate the symptoms of those with other lung diseases, leaving them gasping for air.”
Babies, young children, the elderly, and those who have allergies are particularly susceptible.
Because of issues like mold and dampness, there is a connection between inadequate housing and asthma.
Cold and flu viruses, which may cause respiratory illnesses, can also flourish in colder climates and poorly ventilated, wet surroundings. “Mould and damp in homes are worse as temperatures drop in the winter.”
‘Asthma + Lung UK is advising people to be cautious of mold and moisture, including keeping your house properly aired, in especially those with lung diseases.
More guidance is available at asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/moulds-and-fungi/ on the Asthma + Lung UK website. For assistance and information, you may also phone the Asthma + Lung UK hotline at 0300 222 5800, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.
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