Sunday 27 May 2018

Mother of boy (6) twice hospitalised with pneumonia claims mouldy home is to blame

Tara Smith claims her young son is suffering because of mouldy conditions at their home
Tara Smith claims her young son is suffering because of mouldy conditions at their home

Cate McCurry

The mother of a young boy who was twice admitted to hospital with pneumonia has blamed mould in the bedroom of their Housing Executive property.

Tara Smith from the Carrickfergus area of Co Antrim says she has been warned by medics that her six-year-old son is susceptible to recurring chest infections because of mould growth on walls.

Angry at the situation, the 28-year-old has stopped paying her rent in protest, but now she says the Housing Executive has issued an eviction notice that will leave the family homeless.

The Housing Executive said a survey carried out last October found no indication of penetrating or rising damp, and indicated the problem was caused by condensation. However, photos of Tara's home appear to show mould and damp covering walls, window frames and bedroom furniture.

Tara said she raised the issues with the Housing Executive more than three years ago after her son Callum developed chest problems and asthma.

"Within a year of us living there he started having issues with breathing through his nose at night - he got one chest infection after another," she said. "I told the GP about the black spots around his room and he said that would be connected to it."

Tara says an independent damp survey found that damp was in every room and that the wooden window frames needed to be replaced because they were rotten.

A letter to the Housing Executive from a consultant at Antrim Area Hospital, seen by this newspaper, confirmed that Callum was twice admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

The letter continued: "His mother brought along some photographs and an independent damp survey, which states Callum's bedroom is uninhabitable because of mould growth on walls. I would appreciate your prompt attention to this request for remedial action. It is my professional opinion that Callum's bedroom accommodation is unsatisfactory and damaging to health."

Other letters sent to the Housing Executive from his GP and paediatric consultants also raised concerns.

Tara added: "Callum ended up in hospital last March with pneumonia in his right lung and it was really bad. Then he was back in hospital in May with pneumonia in the other lung."

A Housing Executive spokeswoman said the issue was first reported by the tenant in March 2016 and an official found evidence of condensation. "The walls were treated with an anti-fungicidal solution and the tenant was advised on methods to combat condensation.

"Following further complaints from the tenant and advice from the local council's environmental health officer we arranged for our specialist team to carry out a damp survey and this was completed in October 2017. The survey found there was no penetrating or rising damp recorded. Mould was observed.

"The affected areas were checked and the walls were showing as dry beneath the surface. This indicates condensation from living conditions."

Belfast Telegraph

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