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Queens Neighbors: Mold From Abandoned Sandy-Damaged Home Is Making Us Sick

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Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some Rockaway Peninsula residents say a house damaged by Superstorm Sandy and then left abandoned is posing a health hazard in their neighborhood.

Joyce Zoller, who lives next door to the Neponsit, Queens, home, told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez the home is filled with debris and mold and she is worried the mold spores are seeping into her house.

“We work hard for what we have,” Zoller said, crying. “It was destroyed. It was taken away. And now you have to deal with somebody else’s garbage. It’s just not fair.”

Zoller, a cancer survivor, said she is experiencing health problems that she believes are related to the mold next door, and her doctors have ordered her to move.

“It’s toxic to me,” Zoller said. “It’s affected my eye. My eye is always oozing. I’m back and forth to doctors. My lungs, I’m on inhaler.”

The former owner of the dilapidated home abandoned it immediately after Sandy, leaving everything behind. HSBC took over the house after it went into foreclosure.

The city’s Health Department received complaints and asked the bank to clean up the home.

HSBC told CBS 2 it is looking into the matter.

Photos taken last week showed that nothing had been done.

The Calamia family’s blue house on the other side of the abandoned home is literally inches away from the mess, and they say it’s making them sick, too.

“My asthma has really gotten bad since we moved back,” Sherry Calamia. “I have to use my steroids, my pumps every day.”

The Zollers had an environmental company test the air quality outside the abandoned home. Results showed the total mold spore count was 20 times higher than what it was on the Zollers’ property.

The family has hired an attorney and is looking for an apartment to rent until the house next door is cleaned up.

Gediminas Mainelis, an environmental science professor at Rutgers University, said more test should be done, but, “there are studies that have shown that sensitive individuals could be very sensitized and could very sensitive when they are exposed to high concentrations of mold.”

New York Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, D-Queens, said he’s so concerned about the health hazards of foreclosed Sandy-damaged homes that he’s cosponsoring legislation to penalize banks who neglect properties.

“They’d have to clean it up or suffer sanctions or fines,” Goldfeder said.

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