Dampness, mold and moldy odor are all signs of excessive moisture, water intrusion, and/or poor ventilation, and signal potential health risks for occupants. Excess moisture also provides a more attractive environment for pests, such as cockroaches and rodents. Dampness and mold are most often linked to asthma but have also been connected to a range of respiratory conditions such as allergies. Under certain conditions some molds can produce toxins called mycotoxins, which can cause serious illness.
While California law does not require enforcement for mold, health risks and property damage can be minimized if excessive moisture and damp conditions are effectively resolved and if mold is safely and successfully removed. Excessive moisture and dampness of livable spaces are code issues. Orders to remedy these conditions can be issued by code enforcement, housing and environmental health inspectors.
California Breathing's Healthy Homes Program has developed a factsheet to help identify solutions to excessive moisture and mold and the relevant housing codes. Recommended steps for tenants, property owners and building managers are also outlined. Dampness, Mold, and Code Enforcement Factsheet: California Health and Safety Codes.
Dampness and Mold in California
Collecting data on mold levels is difficult since there are no federal or state standards for what level of mold is known to be unhealthy. Data on complaints to local code enforcement agencies or housing programs are maintained locally and vary by jurisdiction.