UPDATE

Laboratory confirms black mold in Chandler apartment

Posted: Updated:
An independent laboratory confirmed that black mold was growing in Jessica Ford's apartment. (Source: CBS 5 News) An independent laboratory confirmed that black mold was growing in Jessica Ford's apartment. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Ford and her 6-year-old daughter - who suffers from asthma – were given the choice of  moving to another unit or getting out of their lease immediately. (Source: CBS 5 News) Ford and her 6-year-old daughter - who suffers from asthma – were given the choice of moving to another unit or getting out of their lease immediately. (Source: CBS 5 News)
CHANDLER, AZ (CBS5) -

Jessica Ford's ceiling caved in with water during last week's powerful storm.

And when a maintenance man opened it up, the single mom said she saw black mold.

Managers with Laguna Village Apartments in Chandler denied there was a problem – but now there's proof.

"I'm feeling even more scared than I was before, to know that it was confirmed and that is what it was that's what we've been inhaling for a couple months," Ford said.

CBS 5 News sent a sample of her ceiling sheet rock, provided by Ford, to Southeast Environmental Microbiology Laboratories – where it tested positive for stachybotrys, a black mold that can produce toxic spores.

The discovery is a far cry from what management told Ford last Thursday in a voicemail.

"The drywall has a colored backing on the back of it, and that is what the discolored spots are," said a manager with P.B. Bell, the company that owns Laguna Village. "It's actually not mold, and there's no mold that's been seen."

After sending the SEEML report to P.B. Bell, CBS 5 News asked why Ford was told it wasn't mold.

Through email, marketing director Kira Bell wrote, "The response was based on a preliminary conversation prior to any investigation or professional testing."

Yet that comment on voicemail was made after Ford's ceiling was patched up on Wednesday.

"It's a complete joke," Ford said. "It's negligence."        

CBS 5 News asked for a list of work done in Ford's apartment and the names of the companies used.

P.B. Bell refused to name its "partner vendors" and said they don't have invoices yet for the work.

CBS 5 News was at the complex Monday when management sent someone in to test the air quality in Ford's apartment.

But according to Adam Carity, owner of Arizona's Restoration Experts – which is not working with P.B. Bell – that's not enough to ensure a safe living environment.

Carity used sensors and thermal imaging to detect moisture content in Ford's walls and ceilings, which registered levels as high as 100 percent.

"Anything above 20 percent moisture content can create an environment where mold can grow," he explained. "Professional remediation needs to happen at this point."

Carity said that means several ceiling and walls in Ford's unit need to go – and other residents who've had leaky ceilings should be concerned.

"If things weren't taken care of correctly in this particular unit, logical thinking tells you there's probably some stuff going on somewhere else," he said.

On Monday, management finally agreed to move Ford and her 6-year-old daughter - who suffers from asthma – to another unit or let her out of her lease immediately.

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