By Therese Doksheim and Lina Sennevall
Kingston students are coughing up blood, have permanently damaged lungs and rely on costly medication after living in flats covered in mould.
Mould experts have warned about the health issues that can occur when living in damp flats or houses for a long period of time.
Creative writing and film student Annapurna Barry, 22, who had the lung condition pleurisy, which causes painful breathing, moved into her flat and became permanently ill from living in damp conditions.
“The air was very damp and everything was wet,” she said. “At one point the mould reached halfway up the ceiling. My lungs are now permanently damaged.”
Malcolm Richardson, a professor of medical mycology, or the study of mould, at the University of Manchester, said: “It can be very dangerous living with mould, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. It wouldn’t be a very good idea to live in a mouldy environment.”
A 20-year-old Kingston student, who wants to remain anonymous, also suffered similar health issues. She said: “I was sick, coughing up blood and passed out. I already had a lung condition but it got worse from the damp in my flat.”
The student was forced to move back home three months before the end of her first year at university, as her doctor advised her not to live in her student flat.
Journalism and creative writing student Hanna Erskine, 22, also had mould in her flat and was diagnosed with a skin condition.
She said: “The condition I got was perioral dermatitis, which shows as red spots, blisters and dry, flaky skin around the mouth. It could be itchy, and it was very visible so it made me quite self-conscious. Even makeup didn’t cover it and it made it dryer, so there was no way of making it less visible.”
Miss Erskine explained how she is now on medication to heal her skin.
“I tried several other things to try and clear it up – various face washes, scrubs to try and clear the dry skin.
Eventually I went to my GP, who diagnosed the dermatitis and prescribed antibiotics. It’s costing me £7.40 every two months. It’s frustrating,” she said.
Creative writing and English literature student, Christina Marrero Oeveraas, 22, has also experienced problems when living with mould.
“I had green spit every morning after living in the flat for a while. At first I thought I had a cold but I didn’t have any other symptoms. It went away whenever I went home for a while and returned whenever I got back. It was really uncomfortable.”
A Kingston University spokeswoman said: “Every year some students have very serious problems with black mould growth on walls and around window frames. It can affect your health and ruin possessions.”
Professor Richardson added: “Something has to be sorted out. Whoever it is, the landlord or the university, they have a responsibility to sort it out. You would do the same if you are renting a property, you would try and get some compensation until the property is fixed.”