*This page and information are subject to changes or additions as the corrective plan develops.
The Navy notified Kitsap-area military housing residents of mold that was found in a limited number of homes in one of 12 neighborhoods at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, which is managed by Forest City, Navy Region Northwest’s Public Private Venture (PPV) partner, June 3.
In mid-May, Forest City conducted a preventative maintenance inspection of 330 homes on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. During this inspection, attic ventilation issues were found that appeared to be causing varying amounts of mold growth, including disconnected exhaust fans, lack of proper insulation, blocked gable and other vents, and obstructed bird blocks.
Visual inspections identified a thin layer of mold growth — in varying degrees — on the interior plywood roof sheeting in approximately 60% of attic spaces in the Bonefish-Albacore-Tullibee neighborhood. Inspections of the ceilings were also made of the homes with suspected mold growth and there were no indications attic mold was affecting resident living spaces.
The quality of life for our service members and their families is the Navy’s top priority and, in coordination with Forest City, the Navy is committed to providing healthy and safe housing to our service members and their families. According to Forest City’s internal policy for handling mold, these areas will be cleaned by a professional mold remediation contractor.
Black mold, which can cause allergic reactions and respiratory issues, has not been found in any residence attic spaces or living areas.
This inspection was prompted by two similar neighborhood resident service calls to Forest City in March and April 2013. Similar findings in these calls prompted a broader inspection of 30 accessible, vacant neighborhood homes. Due to suspected systemic issues, inspections were expanded to all occupied homes in the neighborhood.
The Navy is working with Forest City to keep residents informed and rapidly address material health and safety concerns associated with privatized housing, as well as ensuring a level of customer service that Navy families deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
*Information subject to changes and additions as the corrective plan develops.
1. What is mold?
Mold is a fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.
2. Where are molds found?
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing.
Indoors, they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers and can be due to leaking air conditioners, leaking windows, poorly vented bathrooms, or it may be a plumbing problem or roof leak.
3. How do molds affect people?
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to indoor or outdoor molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
4. What should a resident in PPV housing do if they believe conditions in their home are affecting their health?
If a military member or their family has a concern about their health, they should seek medical attention from their health care provider.
If they believe their health concerns stem from conditions in their home, they should promptly bring this to the attention of the property management team. Each resident signs a lease, including a mold addendum, noting that it is important for the owner and the resident to work together to minimize any mold growth on the premises and outlining the responsibilities of both the resident and the owner. The Navy’s role is to ensure that the business agreements, which require compliance with applicable laws, are followed and resident concerns are fairly and appropriately resolved.
If a resident has a concern about their unit or neighborhood, the first thing he/she should do, as a tenant, is to contact their property manager (not unlike if living in an apartment complex that is
a non-Navy PPV). If that does not yield expected results from the tenant, the member can contact a representative at the Navy Welcome Center. Navy Housing will work with the PPV partner to try and resolve any issues. If the issue can still not be resolved, the tenant can seek assistance with his/her command or from the Navy’s Legal Service Office (NLSO). This is the case with all military members and their landlords, not just PPV.
5. How many homes have mold been found in? And where are these homes located?
Preventative maintenance inspections were performed on approximately 300 homes recently on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. A little more than half of those homes showed some signs of mold or areas of concern in the attic space. Of those, most had less than 25% of the interior attic roof sheeting showing areas of concern. Up to 60% of the homes inspected showed varying degrees of mold in attic spaces.
6. Where in the homes was the mold found?
Attic areas only, for reasons associated with ventilation. The issue is not apparent in living spaces.
7. Do you know the cause of the mold? And, what is the Navy doing to fix the problem?
Attic ventilation issues were found in nearly every home inspected and included variations of: disconnected exhaust fans, lack of proper insulation, blocked gable and other vents or obstructed bird blocks. All of the homes with areas of concern that have more than 10 square feet of suspect fungal growth will be cleaned by a professional mold remediation contractor. This is also in accordance with Forest City’s internal policy for handling mold. Forest City and the Navy are working with contractors for attic mold remediation, as well as follow-up attic ventilation improvements this summer.
8. What actions follow these inspections?
Following the inspection, letters were sent to affected — as well as other unaffected — area residents to make them aware of the findings. The next steps for corrective action will be decided based on those findings, to include the best way to remove the mold through a process referred to as mold remediation or if deemed necessary, ordering further testing and inspection to determine needs for any further action.
9. How many homes does Forest City operate at Naval Base Kitsap? How many at Bangor?
Forest City, our Pacific Northwest Public Private Venture (PPV) partner, operates and maintains 1,340 privatized homes at Naval Base Kitsap (Bangor, Keyport, and Bremerton). Forest City also is our Pacific Northwest PPV partner for the 1,504 privatized homes at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and 153 privatized homes supporting Naval Station Everett.
10. What is the Navy’s role and responsibility with a PPV partner when residents are not satisfied with the PPV Partner’s response to their concerns?
The Navy and our PPV Partner work together, but each has a specific role in support of residents. If a resident has a concern about their unit or neighborhood, their primary contact is with the local PPV community/property manager, similar to a landlord or property manager if living in housing in the local surrounding economy.
If the resident is dissatisfied with the property management response and has exhausted other avenues with their landlord such as raising the issue to higher levels within the company, the member should contact a Navy representative at the Housing Welcome Center. Navy Housing will work with the PPV partner and resident to resolve any issues. If the issue is still un-resolved, the tenant can raise the concern with his/her chain of command and seek assistance from the Navy Legal Service Office (NLSO). This is the case with all military members and their landlords, not just PPV. The Navy provides oversight of the project by conducting annual condition inspections of the property with Navy Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). The Navy monitors development, construction and renovations, as well as reviews financial statements of the PPV to protect the DoN’s investment. The PPV Partner has responsibility for day-to-day management of the business entity and running the company, in accordance with the business agreements that were developed.
11. How often does the Navy check on or monitor complaints by service members and/or their families about their living conditions?
As an advocate for military families, we check 100% of the issues brought to our attention by military families. When families let us know of issues, we can track and monitor issues on their behalf more closely.
12. What are residents told about moisture intrusion or mold before they move into a Forest City home?
Each resident signs a lease, including a mold addendum, noting that it is important for the owner and the resident to work together to minimize any mold growth on the premises and outlining the responsibilities of both the resident and the owner. Forest City personnel walk the resident through the lease.
Navy Region Northwest Housing Management
Forest City Military Communities
Navy Family Housing
Commander, Navy Region Northwest
Additional Mold Facts and Information
Mold Information and Resources
Source: Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center
Mold and Moisture
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Facts About Mold, Including Frequently Asked Questions Below
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1. I heard about “toxic molds” that grow in homes and other buildings. Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?
The term “toxic mold” is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.
A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home.
2. How common is mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) in buildings?
Molds are very common in buildings and homes and will grow anywhere indoors where there is moisture. The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. We do not have precise information about how often Stachybotrys chartarum is found in buildings and homes. While it is less common than other mold species, it is not rare.
3. How do molds get in the indoor environment and how do they grow?
Mold spores occur in the indoor and outdoor environments. Mold spores may enter your house from the outside through open doorways, windows, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems with outdoor air intakes. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors.
4. What is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra)?
Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.
5. Are there any circumstances where people should vacate a home or other building because of mold?
These decisions have to be made individually. If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in a building, you should consult your physician to determine the appropriate action to take.
When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
6. Who are the people who are most at risk for health problems associated with exposure to mold?
People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections.
7. How do you know if you have a mold problem?
Large mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled.
8. Does Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) cause acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants?
To date, a possible association between acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants and Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) has not been proved. Further studies are needed to determine what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage.
9. What if my child has acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage?
Parents should ensure that their children get proper medical treatment.
10. What are the potential health effects of mold in buildings and homes?
Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors. However some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Immunocompromised persons and persons with chronic lung diseases like COPD are at increased risk for opportunistic infections and may develop fungal infections in their lungs.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
11. How do you get the molds out of buildings, including homes, schools, and places of employment?
In most cases mold can be removed from hard surfaces by a thorough cleaning with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Absorbent or porous materials like ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpet may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. If you have an extensive amount of mold and you do not think you can manage the cleanup on your own, you may want to contact a professional who has experience in cleaning mold in buildings and homes. It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
• Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
• Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
• Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
• If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
12. What should people to do if they determine they have Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) in their buildings or homes?
Mold growing in homes and buildings, whether it is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds, indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem that needs to be addressed. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Mold in or under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once mold starts to grow in insulation or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement. We do not believe that one needs to take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), than with other molds. In areas where flooding has occurred, prompt drying out of materials and cleaning of walls and other flood-damaged items with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. If a home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. (See: After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water) Moldy items should be removed from living areas.
13. How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?
As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold. The conditions causing mold (such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) should be corrected to prevent mold from growing.
• Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%–all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
• Use air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
• Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms.
• Use mold inhibitors which can be added to paints.
• Clean bathroom with mold-killing products.
• Do not carpet bathrooms.
• Remove and replace flooded carpets.
14. I found mold growing in my home; how do I test the mold?
Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the reaction of individuals can vary greatly either because of the person’s susceptibility or type and amount of mold present, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.
15. A qualified environmental lab took samples of the mold in my home and gave me the results. Can CDC interpret these results?
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the building’s characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
In summary, Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and other molds may cause health symptoms that are nonspecific. At present there is no test that proves an association between Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and particular health symptoms. Individuals with persistent symptoms should see their physician. However, if Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds are found in a building, prudent practice recommends that they be removed.
*This page and information are subject to changes or additions as the corrective plan develops.