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Mold Chases Denver Family From Their Home After Clean-Up Job

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Mold in Dontrael Starks and Tiffany Jones' home (credit: CBS)

Mold in Dontrael Starks and Tiffany Jones’ home (credit: CBS)

CONTEST

DENVER (CBS4) – A northeast Denver family is fighting for a healthy home. They had a mold clean-up job done in December, but say the mold still exists.

The family contacted 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks for help. She organized different mold tests. CBS4′s test results confirm high levels of mold still in the home.

A bathroom tested high, and so did the master bedroom. CBS4′s test results now have the attention of the people in charge of the remediation project.

“It’s just crazy. It needs to end,” homeowner Dontrael Starks said.

“There’s still mold. There’s still a bunch of mold in here,” homeowner Tiffany Jones said.

Jones and Starks have three children — twins Aadyan and Honor, who turn 3 years old in March; and little Zaryia, who will turn 2 years old also in March. Jones and all of the children suffer from asthma, and Aadyan also has autism. So for the family, a healthy home is paramount.

“I couldn’t image someone else’s family going through this and being this patient for all this time,” Starks said.

For more than 80 days now the family has been living in temporary housing, refusing to move back into their home.

“We just wanted the job done right, and i feel that they just didn’t do that at all,” Jones said.

Jones and Starks volunteered for a research study conducted by National Jewish Health. The consent form provided to the family calls it a “Healthy Homes: Healthy Kids” study. Offering “no guarantees or promises,” but with the purpose of “improving your home environment” to “improve you or your family’s health.”

Northeast Denver Housing Center is a partner in the project along with Denver Urban Renewal Authority.

“It upsets me because I just feel like nobody cares. I just feel like they don’t care; like honestly do not care about our family,” Starks said.

Because after the work was done, and their case was officially closed, Jones and Starks strongly believed mold still existed.

“Even on your finger you have enough moisture to have it read in this case 24.7 percent moisture content,” Bob Woellner with Quest Environmental said.

Removing the moisture and its source is key in mold remediation,” according to Woellner.

“Anything less than 12 percent is considered to be dry,” Woellner said.

So with the moisture meter Woellner checked the bathroom and behind the laundry room.

“Pull up a tile, there’s a loose tile here. The wood and the grout underneath it is 40 plus moisture content. “I would not want to move back until all the work was completed, which means making sure the sources of moisture are eliminated.”

But the only way to confirm mold remains in the home is to test it. Weecycle Environmental Consulting based in Boulder did the initial mold tests back in July of 2011. CBS4 hired them again.

“I’d say we still have an issue,” Weecycle Environmental Consulting President
Judy Sawitsky said. “At this point I would say this is not a particularly healthy house to live in.”

One-hundred-twelve northeast Denver families have been enrolled in the National Jewish Health study. Sixty of those homes required remediation work and 40 of those 60 involved mold.

According to Dr. Mike Van Dyke of National Jewish the Jones and Starks home is the only home that continues to have issues.

“Every indication we had by multiple individual reports was that this job was fixed,” Van Dyke said.

But then Van Dyke reviewed the latest mold test results. He said the cause of the mold in the home was from a leaky water heater, a leak under the kitchen sink, and a leak behind the shower surround in the bathroom.

It’s clear the work is not complete.

“Oh we’re definitely committed to seeing what needs to be done and try to see where that mold is coming from,” Van Dyke said.

It’s a step closer.

“We can’t live like that,” Jones said.

National Jewish has been in contact with the family and plans to inspect the home this week. Anything they identify as a quality issue related to the work that had been performed will be corrected.

National Jewish says it will do its best to figure out the mold issue, but it cannot promise it will pay for all the problems.

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