Even with high levels of unhealthy mold in her house, a First Coast woman says she cannot afford to move her family out.
Mold can happen to anyone in a new or old home. Last February, First Coast News introduced viewers to Linda Armstrong. She had just tested her home for mold and the results confirmed the levels of toxic mold were so high that she was told to move out of the home. One year later, she’s still there.
“You feel trapped…like a prisoner in your own home,” said Linda Armstrong, living with mold in her house.
It’s been 15 months since we met Linda Armstrong. She’s still living in a house she describes as “a giant petri dish.” It’s filled with toxic mold.
It was first discovered with a stain on the carpet and grew into a breeding ground because of excessive moisture.
“I would love to be out of here but it’s not financially feasible,” said Linda Armstrong.
The financial situation of Linda and her family is keeping them living at the house.
“We cannot afford to pay for a house, pay all of the attorney’s fees and experts and then rent another house or apartment to live in,” said Linda Armstrong.
Linda has invested $70,000 into the mold problem so far. Despite what doctors and experts tell her, she is staying.
Toxicologist Dr. Richard Lipsey originally diagnosed Linda’s home as being “sick.”
“Every home has mold but not mold in the millions. That’s among the highest I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Richard Lipsey, toxicologist.
However, the only remedy Linda can afford is sealing off the rooms with the most mold.
“I tried to just ignore that area,” said Linda Armstrong.
Every few weeks, she religiously cleans with bleach. But even after all this, she says no one in her household is healthy including her 12-year-old daughter.
“She’s a very strong child,” said Linda Armstrong.
Her daughter has always excelled in school but now Linda fears the mold is hurting more than her health. She noticed a change in her daughter’s concentration levels in school.
There are constant trips to the doctor but answers are hard to come. So little is known about the effects of living in a house full of mold.
“To those people who say that mold can’t hurt you, just wait. If the levels are high enough and your immune system is low enough, you’re going to have symptoms,” said Dr. Richard Lipsey, toxicologist.
“I pray there are not going to be long-term health effects, but you’re always on edge because you really don’t know,” said Linda Armstrong. “When you have a house you can’t sell, you can’t move. It would be cheaper to demolish this house and start over.”
The outside mold levels tested at a 300 spore count. Inside Linda’s house, the toxicologist found 270 million.
At this time, there are no national standards by OSHA, EPA or the CDC on what a safe level of mold spores is inside a home. There hasn’t been enough research yet for this emerging problem.