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More Cases of Moldy Military Housing
Stars and Stripes  |  By Seth Robson  |  June 06, 2007

Family Says Mold in Kaltenbrunn Military Housing Made Child Ill

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — More cases of moldy military housing have emerged in Germany following revelations of Iraq-bound 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment troops and their families sickened by it at Kaltenbrunn.

Several families from the regiment, which is to deploy to Iraq in August, moved out of the military housing area near Grafenwöhr Training Area last month after Army inspectors discovered mold and contaminated timber in some of the units.

Last week, other U.S. personnel still living in Kaltenbrunn complained that the Army has been slow to deal with the problem.

Debbie Backhaus, one of several people who contacted Stars and Stripes about mold in military housing following a story last week, said she complained to U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr officials about mold in her house in March but had yet to see any work done to fix it.

“We have mold down in our heater room all along the ceiling. It is visible black mold. You can’t tell the extent of it because they won’t pull the wallpaper back to see.

“We have it all around the shower in the bathroom. It is also in our main bathroom,” she said.

Backhaus, whose husband works for the Department of Emergency Services at Grafenwöhr, blames the mold for making her 3-year-old daughter, Alexis, sick.

“She always has a runny nose. In winter it is worse. As soon as it gets cold, she gets sick. I took her to the health clinic and they told me it is unlikely the black mold is causing it, but I think it contributes,” she said, adding that her daughter’s symptoms disappear whenever the family leaves the house for more than a day.

Backhaus said she doesn’t want to move out of housing; she wants the Army to fix the problem.

The mold problems in military housing are not limited to Kaltenbrunn.

Jennifer Crooke, a military spouse in Katterbach, Germany, said she moved out of a moldy apartment on Bismarck Kaserne, near Ansbach, in April.

Crooke said a doctor blamed the mold for her daughter’s respiratory problems, which have disappeared since the family moved.

Melissa Horn said she also moved out of an apartment on Bismarck Kaserne, in February, because of severe mold problems.

Horn said she was glad to be out of the moldy building but worried about families still living there and in another moldy building next door.

“Those buildings need to be condemned,” she said.

U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr did not respond Tuesday to Stripes’ questions about the moldy houses.

U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Director of Public Works Timothy Richardson said the garrison received complaints of mold in bathrooms of the end units of building 5983.

“The repairs to the bathroom were done, treating the mold and covering it with wall material,” Richardson wrote in an e-mail.

In two apartments, the occupants were provided air cleaners and they remained, he said. Another family was more sensitive to the mold and was moved out.

Richardson said the climate in Ansbach is cool and humid, so small amounts of mold should be tolerated. He said mold can be kept in check with conscientious ventilation and cleaning.

People with mold complaints should call the DPW or housing, Richardson said.

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