The governor of Iowa packed up and moved out of his mansion in Des Moines last week after an outbreak of black mold was discovered on the third floor of his official residence.
Governor Terry Branstad and his wife Chris were forced to evacuate the house after Mrs. Branstad reported feeling ill and a home inspection was conducted that revealed a massive presence of the toxic fungus.
The Branstad family relocated to their home in a rural part of Boone, a town outside of Des Moines, until removal of the mold is completed. Officials told Reuters that they estimate it will be at least three weeks before the home is ready for habitation.
The historic house, the official residence of the governor of Iowa for the past three decades, has allegedly been the source of health concerns in the past. In 2007, several attendees of a fundraiser hosted by former governor Chet Culver were diagnosed with histoplasmosis, a fungal disease often linked to bat and bird feces as well as certain kinds of molds. At the time, officials linked the outbreak to soil used in landscaping the property.
Black mold usually develops in buildings that are prone to flooding or high levels of moisture in the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Though the governor's mansion has not been directly affected by flooding, Iowa residents have witnessed several severe floods in the past few years, making homes in the state especially vulnerable to mold outbreaks.
The Des Moines Register reported that the Iowa River had produced a record number of floods in the summer of 2011 that caused widespread property damage, including the costly destruction of a multi-million dollar art facility at the University of Iowa.
Homeowners who live in areas prone to flooding should call upon a home inspector to conduct mold testing, as their properties might have a fungal outbreak that could be hazardous to their health.