Virginia residents hampered by mold growth

A dispute between residents of military housing units in Virginia and the officials operating the facility perhaps could have been avoided if mold testing had been conducted sooner by a certified home inspection service.

In November 2011, eastern Virginia television station WTKR first discussed reports of mold in buildings operated by Lincoln Military Housing, such as those near Oceana Naval Air Station and Norfolk Naval Station. Specifically, these residents said that homes contained visible mold growth, collapsing ceilings and wet walls. Some residents even complained they had begun experiencing allergy symptoms as a result of the mold.

After residents claimed the housing provider did not adequately address the problems, they appealed to local law enforcement officials. At this point, Lincoln conducted an inspection for mold in 14 of the homes that reported mold growth or water infiltration. Although Lincoln has moved some families away while home inspections are being conducted, senior military officials have accused local news organizations of sensationalizing the story.

"It's not extensive mold," Don Hagen, director of industrial hygiene at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, told The Virginia Pilot. "If you listen to WTKR, it's like a science fiction movie – there's mold monsters growing everywhere. And that's just not the case."

While the two sides are currently working toward a resolution, the lesson homeowners can take away from this incident is that constant vigilance is required by residents of homes to prevent mold. Household humidity levels should be kept low, perhaps through the use of a dehumidifier, if necessary. In general, residents should try to avoid home humidity levels in excess of 50 percent.

These actions may help curtail mold spore proliferation, but spores may grow anyway, especially during the winter, when proper ventilation is difficult to achieve. Should mold begin to grow, homeowners in the Tri-State area should consult with a Washington, D.C. home inspector who can conduct a thorough mold inspection.