By some estimates, there are approximately 30 million apartment units in the United States. These units are managed by landlords and professional management companies and range from low income apartments to luxury living accommodations.
As is the case with virtually any type of building, water damage and elevated humidity levels can result in the growth of mold in apartment complexes. The presence of mold can cause a wide range of health concerns from triggering asthma and causing allergies to hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), infections and exposing people to toxins known as mycotoxins.
Since mold and mold spores occur naturally in the environment, they can enter an apartment from the outside through open doorways and windows as well as through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system's outdoor air intakes. Spores can even attach themselves to people, making clothing, shoes, bags, and even pets all convenient vehicles for carrying mold into an apartment.
If these mold spores land on surfaces where there is moisture, such as where leaks may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, or where there has been flooding or excessive humidity, they can begin to grow in as short as 24 to 48 hours. Many apartment building materials and tenants' furnishings and belongings provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow when moisture is present. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some types of mold. Other materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, also commonly support mold growth. Mold may even be on or in many building materials before they were ever even used to construct the apartment complex.
Because tenants do not typically know if there has been water damage in a unit before they move into an apartment, it is imperative that the property managers or landlord has previously dealt with any moisture issues in a timely and effective manner. It is also crucial that preventive maintenance is performed on the both the interior and exterior of the building to prevent problems.