'Very high' mold counts measured in Chicago area

Leah Hope Image
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Dangerous air quality alert
High mold counts in the Chicago area have many suffering from allergy symptoms.

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- High mold counts are creating dangerous air quality levels in the Chicago area.

Dr. Joseph Leija, who measures allergen levels at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, knew his results Wednesday morning would be bad news for allergy sufferers.

"The count is the highest it's been in the past several months," Dr. Leija said.

On Wednesday, Dr. Leija found 76,000 mold spores per cubic meter. To give you an idea of typical levels: 0 to 6,500 is "low"; from 6,500 to13,000 is "moderate"; from 13,000 to 50,000 is "high"; and over 50,000 is "very high."

"The humidity the past few days with large amounts of fog in the air creates a big problem with mold allergies," Dr. Leija said

Susan Pacocha didn't need charts to tell her it would be tough for her mold allergy.

"My head feels stuffy and my throat is drip, drip, drip and I'm very nasal," Pacocha said.

Dr. Leija also urges patients to control their environment indoors.

"A lot of the mold is not just what you can see," said Dylan McIntosh, a project manager at Indoor Science.

Indoor Science tests for mold and allergens in homes and businesses. Dylan McIntosh say sometimes it's the hidden mold that can be a problem for those with allergies.

"There might have been a chronic problem behind the scenes. They may not be aware of, then these big rains come in. They have four inches of water in the basement and call us out to make sure they don't have mold and discover a bigger problem going on behind the scenes," McIntosh said.

While mold remediation indoors could be costly, the high levels of mold outside will pass when humidity and heat go down.