Mould growth on walls and bedding after radiator leak

This inner city London apartment has suffered from two unfortunate incidents of leaking radiator pipes. The apartment is relatively small and consists of one bedroom, a study room, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. The property was situated in a larger residential complex and is used only occasionally as a holiday home. I have been appointed to evaluate the extent of the water damage to the property, evaluate the levels of mould elements in the indoor air and evaluate the risk to health of the property occupants.

I have visited the property approximately two month after the incident. Immediately after entering the property it became obvious that the leaks must have been substantial as the water damage to the decorative finishes was extensive.

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Visual inspection of the property quickly identified that one of the internal partition walls in the property must have been thoroughly saturated by water shortly after the incident and kept in this state for a long time. The decorative finish to the wall was completely warped and in some placed completely pealed of revealing substantial areas of mould growth. The room has a number of antique soft and hard surface furnishings. The water leak has caused water staining to the decorative plaster ceilings and water saturation of the internal partition wall. As a consequence the decorative wall paper lining has been damaged and has peeled of the wall. Due to the high level of moisture in the wall material a substantial mould growth has developed between the wall plaster and decorative wallpaper. The extent of the mould contamination is approximately 15m2 and the mould contamination is partially exposed. At the time of the inspection the ceiling plaster appears to be dry. The brown staining on the plaster surfaces was caused by mineral deposition and was not biological in origin.

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In the bedroom the situation was much more serious. The room’s plaster ceiling has suffered from a significant water damaged and has partially collapsed. The water leak has caused water staining and damage to the decorative plaster ceilings and water saturation of the soft furnishings. As a consequence a significant mould growth has developed on the soft furnishings. The extent of the mould contamination is approximately 20m2 and the mould contamination was fully exposed. At the time of the inspection the ceiling plaster appears to be dry around the perimeter of the wall approximately 10-20cm into the room but showed elevate moisture level in the central part of the room. The elevated plaster moisture level suggested that the drying process of the construction materials have not been fully completed or that the original service pipe leak has not been satisfactory resolved.

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To assess the level of mould spore contamination in the indoor air I have decided to collect samples of air from both the rooms to be compared with he environmental background sample. The evaluation of the samples showed significantly elevated concentration of mould spores and fragments in the indoor environment. The indoor air is mainly contaminated by Aspergillus/Penicillium mould genera closely associated with water damage in buildings. Small amounts of Chaetomium and Stachybotrys/Memnoniella spores have also been detected in the indoor environment. Chaetomium and Stachybotrys genera are closely associated with long term water damage in the buildings. The absence of these genera in the outdoor air is indicative of their indoor origin.

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I have also collected surface samples for both the water damage wall and bedroom’s soft furnishings. The surface samples taken from underneath the wallpaper lining show presence of several water damage species including Chaetomium, Stachybotrys, Alternaria, Penicillium and Cladosporium.

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In conclusion to my investigation I have reasoned that due to the fact that the apartment suffered from a significant water damage; the extent of mould contamination to walls was expected to be in excess of 20m2; soft furnishings in the room were damaged by extensive mould growth; significantly deteriorated indoor air quality; the apartment was not suitable for habitation. It is also our opinion that prolonged exposure to mould spores and metabolites was likely to results in adverse health symptoms.

By Tomas Gabor

Link through to Sysco - Nationwide specialists in hazard exposure monitoring
Hi, I have been working in my job as an Indoor Air Quality Investigator for a number of years and decided to share my experience with you. You can find lot of related information on my website toxic black mould
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