Toxic mold plagues home of Bay Area family

DANVILLE (KTVU) -- A Danville family is trying to move on from a house they say has made them sick and trapped them in limbo as they seek to have the home cleared of toxic mold that permeates the residence.
 
The million dollar property is located in the 400 block of Triomphe Court  and city officials have restricted access to the high-end home because of the mold contamination. Municipal inspectors have yellow-tagged the property because of poor and unsafe air inside.
 
"I look back and we were here for 15 months," said Lori Bonavist as she and husband, John, toured the inside of the home with KTVU. The couple can only make short visits inside and they never bring their four children inside. 
 
This was the environment that made their kids sick for months: coughs, sore throats, nosebleeds, and wheezing. 
 
"Everything is here because anything we take out is contaminated," said Lori, pointing to neat rooms full of furniture and possessions. All of their belongings have been declared off-limits by cleaning companies because of toxic mold spores.  
 
Said Lori: "They found penicillium and aspergillas toxic mold spores in the air quality in high levels."
 
The couple discovered the problem only after numerous trips to doctors, who were unable to explain the health issues experienced by their children. They noticed at one point, however, that the exterior wall under their daughter's window never fully dried after rainfall and mold was visible in the bedroom window frame.
 
The family sent an inspector into the attic, where he found heavy amounts of black mold caked on the beams, growth that apparently stems from a leaky roof. 
 
The couple recalls that the night they took their 7-year-old daughter to the hospital because of severe breathing problems they vowed to find the source of the problem. 
 
"We had to do something," Lori said. "And we knew there had to be something wrong in this house that's causing this."
 
It turned out the mold readings, inside the house, were some 20 times higher than outdoors, and hazardous to the family's health. 
 
"The minute those results were in our hands and we saw them, we left," she said. "We took the kids and we left. 
 
Within days, Danville yellow-tagged the house: visits are OK but, no overnight stays. 
 
"I'm the one who posted the placard for their safety," Chief Building Inspector Mike Leontiades said. "But at the same time its difficult for a husband and wife and family to move out and have their normal lives disrupted." 
 
"We're essentially homeless, and relying on family to get us through this, so it's really challenging," John Bonavist said, adding that they are living with relatives while the matter is resolved. 
 
The family has asked Perchak Properties of Alamo, the property management company, to refund their deposit and reimburse them for relocation expenses and to replace ruined furnishings. But the family has been told the home owner wants to fix the problem through homeowner's insurance, a drawn-out process that leaves the family in limbo. 
 
The family just wants to leave and never return. The health of their children has not been a problem since the family vacated the home a month ago.
 
"If I was the property owner or the management company I would want people's health and welfare over anything else and that hasn't been the case," said John.
 
Officials from  Perchak Properties did not immediately return calls. 
 
By KTVU reporter Debora Villalon.
 

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