A. Niger

Here is another thing us ambulance people do – house inspections.

Working solo on the car I'm sent to a one year old with difficulty in breathing. It's on the ground floor of a large block of flats. I'm happy as it's half past six, so the night is nearly over and I'm ready to head home.

The ambulance crew turn up while I'm waiting for the door to open. I'll still come into the flat as, if the child is terribly sick, an extra pair of hands is always helpful.

Walking into the shared bedroom the child is laying in it's cot, the parents getting dressed ready to go to hospital.

The atmosphere in the room is incredibly oppressive, it's like being in a greenhouse. One wall of the room is taken up with a huge black furry shape. I've seen damp cause mold and fungal growth before, but this is the sort of growth that would have Quatermass quaking in his boots.

It was no wonder that the child was having trouble breathing, us healthy adults were struggling somewhat.

I ask the parents what they are doing about the mildew that is threatening to grow so large that it'll soon start eating small animals.

“The council knows about it, but they aren't doing anything”.

The crew and I agree that one of our 'vulnerable child' forms needs to get filled in – hopefully the social workers will kick someone in the council into doing something about the situation. I'm sure it's only a matter of time until the child gets Aspergillosis.

If he didn't have it already.

My foot is still buggered (technical term I know), but I've got an appointment to see my doctor today. I'm just hoping that he's happy to sign me off sick – I can't carry 20st patients downstairs when there is a risk of my foot giving way.

23 thoughts on “A. Niger”

  1. …thought about it and read up about Aspergillosis, still feel that some clarification may be required. Just seems a little bizarre (one is trying not to judge you understand).

  2. Just trying to be clever. Give the botany folks a chance to know what I'm writing about early.Aspergillus Niger is one of the breeds of mold that makes up mildew, shortened to A. Niger.

  3. I can't understand how someone could be wreckless and irresponsible enough to leave their child in those kind of conditions.Fine, maybe the council aren't sorting out for you; well f**king well scrub off all the mold/mildew and apply some anti-fungal treatment yourself, or go stay with someone else until it's sorted.What kind of pathetic victim mentality does it take to just sit there and say “The council knows about it, but they aren't doing anything”? It's your child, you're responsible for his/her safety, *you* do something about it!

  4. I may only be from the States, but here if an entire wall is covered with some sort of growth, I'd be expected to take care of it myself. (Scraping the worst parts and applying bleach to the rest seems appropriate.) If I was going to wait for the council to act, I'd expect to keep waiting. …and people here wonder why I'm not in love with the concept of the welfare state.

  5. Its when the heating breaks, the drains block (in the street) or a pipe bursts that the 'welfare state' shows its better side – fast help with no cost to the tenant. Especially for the people that cant afford professional help.I do except that it can promote laziness and inaction as with the mould, but there is nothing stopping the parents helping themselves is there.

  6. Hope you get on okay at the Doctors, hope he doesn't sit you in the waiting room with no letter just a sticky note telling the crew which foot it is, and no details of current meds or BP, while a blue light whizzes to you. Never mind if he does you can help the query PE of MI sitting next to you, tee hee.

  7. The study of fungus & moulds etc is Mycology.There is the animal kingdom – zoology

    Plant kingdom – Botany

    And fungus is a separate kingdom hence Mycology!



  8. PSA.niger causes fungal infections in the lungs – aspergillosis and can be associated with asthma.

    Another horrid lung lurgy is pigeon fancier's lung

    The spores from fungus are often smaller than pollen spores from plants hence they can get deeper into the airways.

  9. Well, assuming a council flat, the council would be their landlord and, welfare state or no welfare state, I'd expect my landlord to do something about mould on the walls.In fact, looking up at the mould on my ceiling, I *am* sitting here expecting my landlord to do something about it, or at least the management company. Of course I don't have a baby with breathing problems – but how many people without a medical/mycological background would associate mould with breathing problems? It's not 100% obvious, especially to those without access to the internet…

  10. …And as I hit enter I realised that I'd used the wrong speciality.Mea culpa.

    (But I bet you are a real 'fun guy' to know)


    (And I bet you've never heard *that* one before)

  11. A one year old child is still under the 'care' of a health visitor, so why has he/she not got this sorted out?? Letters from health visitors are about the only thing that get council's to make repairs to a damp house.

  12. I agree with David Precious, (above). Most people know about bleach and mould. Many of the more expensive brand named bleaches are labelled as containing 'Mould and Mildew Remover'. I don't understand why people don't do it themselves OR sleep in the damned room themselves instead of giving it to young, underdeveloped lungs. So irresponsible.In my student days my house-mates and I had to bleach down the freezing cold bathroom walls (3 outside walls; lean-to) weekly at a mimimum. Cheap bleach is affordable on any income.

  13. The council I work for makes lots of repairs to damp houses. Unfortunately a lot of them are damp due to condensation, which a lot of tenants do nothing to alleviate, whether it be ventilating the room(s) properly, wiping down the windows or getting out the rubber gloves and bleach.Our budgets are tight, and they certainly don't stretch to replacing several rooms-worth of wallpaper / plaster / glazing for those who are too damn lazy to clean up after themselves.

  14. Hi. I have a buggered foot too. I went to the doctor's today to sort out a totally different problem and went over on my ankle in the waiting room. Now I can't walk! Owww! So, be careful in that doctor's surgery, you might come out with more problems than you go in with….

  15. A couple of years ago I lived in a student house. I was on the ground floor in the front, right on the street. As a young lady, in not the most fantastically salubrious of areas, I almost never opened my curtans, much less my window! So my room developed a mould problem. I let my landlord know about it, and his wife let me know about bleach. It worked. Although it did continue to give me breathing problems. I had a cold for the whole first semester, which was eventually diagnosed as chronic rhinitis but maybe it was mould-caused.

  16. absolutely agree with you here… my reaction was exactly the same…. wouldn't you rather make sure your child was healthy than sit on your arse complaining that the council did nothing…. all of a sudden your child is a pawn in a weird lazy game of “who can be arsed”….

  17. That poor kid, I hope s/he gets better soon but I do agree with the others, if it was affecting me and mine that bad I wouldn't be waiting for some council jobby to sort it outLiz & Josh (19 weeks & 3 days)

  18. I agree with all the above – last time I bought any, thick bleach is about 1, and cheapo bleach starts at 30p.Worst case, if they think they need to leave it to PROVE there's a damp problem, why not photograph it, THEN scrub it off?

    Weird, but having lived in council accomodation I agree that is usually the attitude – let the council/state fix it.

    (Am I the only person who thought the subject line was GEOGRAPHIC in nature, thus meaning that when I read “One wall of the room is taken up with a huge black furry shape,” I had a very brief vision of a gorilla?)

  19. It's not as easy as all that!I'm an advocate supporting a lady with post natal depression, who's living in a house that sounds really rather similar to this, except with the added fun of a faulty boiler…. her 18 month old has been diagnosed with asthma (damp related) and hospitalised twice this winter with attacks, and more recently sleep apnoea – related to the cold house conditions…

    The council have 'lost' a lot of correspondance from the health visitor, the social workers involved etc which all say what the effect the poor housing is having on the child.

    Even with the involvement of an advocate acting on her behalf it's a slow slow process, and for someone with PND, difficult to the point of wanting to give up.

    And if the problem is hazardous to health, then it is the council's responsibilty to do something, but unfortunately the council's environmental health will not get involved, as they cannot serve notices on themselves! If the council are not doing the repairs its a case of taking them to court (without legal aid) which is a costly process out of the remit of most council tennants! It's a no-win situation.

    What i'm getting to is don't judge without knowing the whole situation!

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