Is Mold Causing My Health Problems?

by Celeste

From 2012 - 2015 I lived in a place with mold (I can't say if it is "the" dreaded black mold, but it looked black on the walls, ceiling, refrigerator rubber, and toilet seat - yes! It magically grew there). This mold could be seen on my basement walls, main floor (bathroom ceiling and fridge), and upstairs toilet. When I told the landlord, he did nothing. It continued to get worse and I began to worry about my health and that of my kids. I was terribly sick for half of December 2014 with the flu. I've never been so sick in my life! In bed and missed work for the whole 2-3 weeks. I can't recall when it was, but one day I was so upset and frustrated that I took a scrub brush and scrubbed the basement wall with bleach and water (because I'd read that would kill the mold). Shortly after this, the landlord did an air quality test - but he would never give me the results, even though I asked for them several times. Eventually, the landlord got tired of me and told me to move. When I was about ready to move, he came to my office with a piece of paper that he typed and wanted me to sign. It said something to the effect that I would not hold him or his family responsible (for any damages...something like that. It was in reference to the mold issue, anyway). I refused to sign it. When I tried to copy it for my lawyer, he started yelling at me and eventually left.

Since May 2015, I have been in a newly constructed place (so I'm hoping that it's mold free)! However, I've had an odd barrage of symptoms since 2012: dry, blurry eyes which require eye drops; costochondritis (rib pain and tenderness, which still continues 3-4 years later); excessive weight gain; pain, swelling, inflammation, and tenderness in joints and knees; face flushing; random rashes that come and go; memory issues; confusion/brain fog (I was in Walmart and I had no idea where to go to get what I needed); forgetting names of foods and my kids friends (when staring at the food or talking to the kid); blood clots for no reason; ongoing migraines (I had these prior to the mold exposure, though). There's probably more that I'm forgetting!

I've been on a month long course of antibiotics to treat possible Lyme's Disease (I had photos of a bullseye rash from 2008 that I was never treated for). The memory issues have cleared up since taking the antibiotic for possible Lyme’s. I've had about every blood test imaginable. I've seen about every "ologist" imaginable (neurologist, hematologist, rheumatologist...). While the rheumatologist acknowledged that something was going on, he did not think it was fibromyalgia, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, even though my symptoms mimic those diseases.

Currently, my left leg is swollen to about double its size and there is a red, itchy, burning kind of a rash on it. Interestingly, one or both of my legs usually looks like this after working for so many hours at one of my jobs - in a building where I've seen mold.

What do you think? I don't know where to turn because I can't afford specialists who don't take insurance. Even if I could, there aren't any in my area. I think doctors are beginning to think it's all in my head. Is it something caused by mold exposure - and if so, how can I find out and what can I do about it?


Hi Celeste,

Sorry to hear about all of these problems you are having. It is hard to know for sure what is causing your current problems, but it certainly could be mold. If you are getting exposed to mold at your job it certainly would explain your continued symptoms. Perhaps if you approach your supervisor and explain the situation, they would hire a professional tester to inspect the property and see if mold is an issue. If it is affecting you, it may be affecting others as well. You would be doing your company a favor by bringing this to their attention. If they are unwilling to do anything to help, you might want to consider finding another job as nothing is as important as your health. You could also speak with an attorney and find out what your legal rights are. Here are some resources that we recommend:

US Department of Labor - OSHA
Find a Mold Inspector To Test For Mold
Dangers of Mold Exposure

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