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Mould Problem in Edinburgh Increasing Health Problems

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It all started in 2021. What started off initially as a slight increase in gas and electric, soon turned a smaller, manageable situation to a catastrophic plumet in the living conditions of many across the UK. When the cost-of-living crisis plagued the country, soaring energy prices and weekly shops totalling to unprecedented totals, it is clear that the majority of the UK is suffering.


However, the problem is still affecting the everyday lives of individuals living in the UK. Devastatingly, many families are having to make the choice of either heating their homes of simply going hungry. 


For many, this has meant living in conditions that requires the windows to be closed, minimal use of the central heating, leaving moisture in the air. As a result, it is safe to say that the UK is going through a period which has been coined as a ‘mould epidemic.’ The budget restraints have been a direct consequence for an increase in mould infestation in homes across the country, having serious impacts on both mental and physical health of residents.


In Edinburgh, students have decided to rally together in their outrage by the responses of landlords to the problem. In an interview with Thesocialtalks, 21-year-old student Becky Everett stated, “It’s disgusting. I mean, there’s literally mould everywhere, on the ceilings, on the walls. Even one of my boots had started to mould from the inside.”


Pictures taken from The Tab illuminates Everett’s testimony, showing the infestation of mould that so many students are living with in Edinburgh. The pictures in question show mould spreading from bathrooms to kitchens to clothes and even furniture. As Becky emphasised, “It got so bad last year that I had to leave to go home. I could feel it, you know?” 


Suffering from asthma, the condition in her flat had gotten so bad that she could actively feel the effects of the black mould on her chest. Waking up in coughing fits and wheezing whilst being in her flat, Becky’s mother had demanded her to immediately return home. Sure enough, after two months of living at home, the problem had begun to cleat itself up.


Becky’s situation is just a drop in the ocean full of accounts about the dangerous consequences that mould can have on the body, especially when it remains untreated. The NHS states that mould produces allergens, such as toxic substances, that can intensify underling health issues such as asthma. In its most intense form, mould has been known for its hallucinogenic effects, and even a symptom that causes acute idiopathic pulmonary haemorrhages in small children and babies. 


It is clear to see why there has been increased attention on the problem since the beginning of the cost-of-living-crisis, whereby families are constantly having to suffer the consequences of improper governmentality. Growing on almost every surface imaginable, it is clear that the problem has now gotten out of hand.


Pair this with a crisis in student housing, individuals are paying high rent for properties with little to no support for the problem. Lilit Gupta is one of these people. In his second year of university in Edinburgh, the 21-year-old was paying £650 per month for rent and living in a mould infested flat for up to a year. 


Lilit explained that upon moving into his property in the summer of 2023, rented from a popular estate agent Glenham Properties, the central heating was broken. With multiple emails sent to the landlords to fix the problem, Lilit and his two flatmates had to endure the freezing Edinburgh winter by wrapping up in hats and coats in their home. As a result, the. Black mould spores had spread in his bedroom, already appearing prior to his move-in, but now getting even worse. 


The mould gradually spread from a corner of the bedroom across the whole ceiling. Eventually, the mould had encompassed almost all of the ceiling, during which time his parents had attempted to contact the letting agents endlessly. Both Lilit and his flatmate were feeling wheezy, and with a heaviness in his chest when he was in the flat, it was clear that he was experiencing some of the problems caused by black mould infestations. 


When an estate agent eventually came to inspect the issue, Lilit was given the solution of opening a window. Outraged, he demanded that the problem needed the attention of contractors. His window, as he had complained about previously, would not open and he was therefore unable to use it for the problem. Regardless, it has been evidenced that when black mould has spread past a certain point, it cannot be fixed simply with ventilation.


However, his claims were once again ignored, and he continued to live in these conditions whilst paying high rent. Months passed until a proper solution was reached to suffocate the mould. Now with only 3 months left of the tenancy, although stopping the problem, Lilit still feels the effects of the mould today. After his move-out, Lilit noticed that the skin on his arms was becoming flaky and upon closer inspection, deduced that he may be suffering from eczema.


Known to emerge from intense black mould infestations, he is currently experiencing skin problems which he is adamant is linked directly to the black mould in his flat the year before. This is a story known all too well by students across the country, whose requests for adequate living conditions are ignored, being a serious detriment to their health. For Lilit, this meant suffering potentially long-term health issues and for Becky, it means an already harsh condition that got worse. 


However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. With increased attention from student newspapers in Edinburgh, landlords and estate agents are being seen to pay increased attention in the requirements for standard living and taking requests for maintenance more seriously. Although there still may be a long way to go, student solidarity has brought light to the problem, with hopes to help the living conditions of many others in the future. 

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