Toxic Mold in Condominium Corridors and Common Areas:

Sparring with Toxic Mold Spores in Florida

By Dr. Joyce Starr

Published December 28, 2005


Toxic mold is snaking its way through our condominium corridors and common areas.


I first discovered this mold and brought it to the attention of our condo Board President and property manager in February 2004. 


Almost two years later, our Condo Board has still failed to approve a contract for remediation work to address this health emergency.


The Miami Herald documented this battle in a special cover story on October 10, 2005.


Indeed, there is almost total agreement among unit owners and board members -- as confirmed by requisite tests and engineering studies -- that our corridor ceilings, walls and common areas are indeed mold toxic.


Engineering experts contracted by our board have stated unequivocally that this mold must be removed by professionally certified mold remediation specialists using sophisticated EPA-approved procedures and protective equipment.


Yet, on December 11, 2005, I noticed debris on our corridor floor. When I looked up to determine the source, I was dumbstruck by what I saw: a gapping 5 or 6 inch hole in the corridor ceiling.


Our condo board previously approved the installation of smoke prevention doors on each floor. Slicing into our ceilings is apparently part of the work plan.


I phoned our board president to demand to know why she let this work proceed prior to mold remediation. Her reply, "I don't know anything about it. I guess it's part of what they have to do. I'm busy now and can't do anything about it."


I insisted that she instruct the company to close the holes immediately and to clean up the debris. She replied, "I'm sure they will get around to it."


I explained that mold spores in our ceiling ducts were surely flying through those holes as we spoke and asked: "Do you think that mold spores cower in a little corner of the ceiling, awaiting a special invitation to enter the corridor?"


She said she didn't know.


My next action: I phoned the State of Florida Health Department. The person responsible for indoor air quality in apartment units and homes was on vacation.


I know that his statutory authority does not include condominiums -- indeed, no one at the Department of Health has statutory authority over mold remediation in condominiums. But at least he would provide a sympathetic ear and perhaps a telephone number I could call.


I was able to reach Mariano Fernandez, director of the Building Division of the City of Aventura.


Mr. Fernandez explained that the category 'environment' was not included in the Florida building code ( and that the Building Code does even not recognize the mold issue!


He explained that even where the Florida Building Code does refer to water leaks, it does not address resulting mold spores.


Mr. Fernandez said that he "receives many complaints about toxic mold in condominium common area" from distraught condominium owners, but has no authority to respond.


I then phoned the Deparment of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) of Dade-Miami County. I was informed that DERM's statutory authority is limited to outdoor air quality matters.


One government official I spoke with conveyed his personal frustration at the lack of an effective "address" in such cases.


He stated repeatedly that he wished he could refer me to an agency or individual who could help, but "frankly" admitted that there was simply no one I could turn to.


So here we are: Toxic mold is literally flying in our face from holes in our condominium corridor ceilings.


Our president and property manager will not be held legally accountable by the State of Florida for this health violation -- a hazard that could have been prevented had the mold been remediated before the smoke prevention work was undertaken.


Of course, the president and property manager surely failed to warn the smoke prevention company that its workers were being exposed to toxic mold spores when taking chunks out of our ceilings.


Where is the Governor? Where are our legislators? Where is the Environmental Protection Agency?


Condo Ombudsman Dr. Virgil Rizzo cannot press condo boards for speedy mold remediation, because his office plainly lacks the legislative authority to do so!


Our lives are at risk, and no one in the Florida Government will lift a finger, much less a hand, to assist.


What has to happen before somebody wakes up? 

Copyright by Dr. Joyce Starr, 2005.  All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Joyce Starr, author and environmental expert (, is producing a new work on toxic mold in condominiums (early 2006). Publishers, media and mold attorneys are invited to contact her.  Dr. Starr helps her readers create a healthy body, spirit and home at: Natural Wellness Solutions

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