This is embarrassing to write about. I've written about mold before. I've interviewed people who've become ill from working in offices with it. I've researched it. And still it happened to me.
Years ago I lived in a very cheap cottage that had no heat. About the same time I worked in an office in which my desk was next to a closet full of mold. Although I had a large air purifier running constantly, I became ill. I've had an allergy to mold ever since, and I also get bronchitis every winter. One doctor even diagnosed asthma as a result of the exposure to mold.
Two months ago, shortly after I moved into a new apartment, I found that the screens covering the windows had been painted shut. I also discovered severe mold on the windows (shown in the photos). My reaction is unprintable here.
Although I'm normally scrupulous about checking potential apartments for mold, after weeks of searching for a pet-friendly rental, I'd been exhausted and desperate. The apartment seemed clean, and I didn't pull up the window blinds. It was a serious mistake.
When I mentioned the mold to the property manager, she said she'd seen it but thought it was just dirt -- which doesn't explain why it was ignored by cleaners and painters. The company's handyman recommended sandblasting, as did mold remediation experts. I was told I'd be let out of my lease.
After finally finding a new place to live, I had to wait for it to become vacant. I started experiencing some of the symptoms of mold exposure: Memory loss, an inability to concentrate, fatigue, a general "brain fog", headaches, coughing, eye irritation, sinus infections, depression, and an acute sensitivity to scent (mildew, perfume, gas leaks, and new carpets). I'm literally counting the days until I move.
I can't imagine not opening up windows for ventilation, but it's obvious the previous tenant, who lived in the apartment four years, didn't. I can't imagine not cleaning the windows (they can't be cleaned now without risking more spreading of the mold spores), or ignoring the mold -- but the previous tenant, the property management company, the cleaners, and the painters all did. My advice: Ventilate, open windows, run fans, clean condensation off windows. Keep an eye out for mold -- if you see it, do something about it right away. And always check the windows when looking at potential rentals.