Mould is also known as fungus (plural fungi) and mildew. It is a microscopic organism which, until a large enough mass has accumulated, can only be seen with the aid of a microscope.
Mould is so small that it can look like a very thin film of dust and debris. It often looks like a stain and comes in a variety of colours. In some cases, however, mould may not be visible but may have a musty odour. Mould is ubiquitous, meaning that it is everywhere. Unless there is a sterile environment, mould is present in the air and on the surface of everything. Mould problems have existed for millions of years and are even mentioned in the Bible at Leviticus in the 14th chapter.
Mould (Mold) Becoming Serious Issue For Home Buyers
In order to reproduce, moulds release very tiny “spores” into the air that float like visible or invisible dust and these spores are small enough that people can actually breathe them in. Mould spores are continuously in the air and migrate with the wind, but they can also move through air circulation systems in buildings or be tracked by human beings with dust and dirt. Mould can settle on virtually any surface. The spores require moisture to germinate and for mould to grow. The humid conditions for mould production are always present from cooking, bathing, laundry, air humidifiers, condensation and leaks from the outside. In addition, there is always a food source available in the indoor environment and almost all commonly used construction materials and furnishings can provide nutrients to support mould growth. Mould will feed on the filler which has been added to many building materials such as drywall, carpeting/under-padding, panelling, ceiling tiles, insulation, paint, wallpaper, draperies, doors, drains, upholstery, plastics, adhesives, caulking, paper products and other organic materials.
Mould Infestation and the Insurance Industry
People are experiencing widespread health concerns due to “toxic mould syndrome” and the problem is gaining much media attention. Although there have been a limited number of insurance claims in Canada, Toxic mould insurance claims and related litigation are increasing in the United States. In recent years, these claims are becoming a serious issue for the insurance industry. “Nationwide in the United States, mould claims have more than doubled from $1 billion in 2001 to an estimated $2.5 billion in 2002, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Today, that figure is growing at the rate of the debt growth in the United States. Mould infestation leads to hundreds of lawsuits each year, resulting in billions of dollars in claims settlements. According to an August 2004 article, “Mold and Fungi Insurance Claims” that appears at http://www.irmi.com/expert/articles/2004/zalma08.aspx, lawyers and others in the insurance claims industry have stated that “Mould in gold.” The growth of these claims has been exponential, with more than 10,000 mould claims currently (2004) pending in the United States. Much like the insurance companies experience with asbestos-related claims, the industry is taking action to insure that mould claims do not mount exponentially — and drive up insurance costs for every business. The insurance industry is adopting stricter wordings in insurance policies to exclude certain kinds of mould related claims. Over the past decade more that 10,000 firms have been established to provide mould elimination and building restoration services due to the recent proliferation of infestation.
A Danger to Health
Over one hundred thousand different species of moulds have been categorized and each is responsible for a variety of ailments. As moulds feed on their food source, they discharge agents called mycotoxins. There are hundreds of mycotoxins. When they develop enough volume there is a likelihood that the toxins will cause harm to some people depending upon the extent of exposure and immune system sensitivity. When breathed into our lungs, the toxins cause cell disruptions and interfere with essential cellular processes. Some mycotoxins are considered to be carcinogenic. Others may result in adverse health effects that irritate the eyes, skin, nose and throat in certain individuals and damage nervous systems, the liver, kidneys, lungs, stomach, intestines, blood, skin, sinuses and other body parts. Infected people will also suffer allergies and breathing problems, rashes tremors, tingling fingers and toes and chronic fatigue. The allergens in spores can be more severe for people with underlying asthma and other respiratory conditions and weakened immune systems. Although more and more of the general population is becoming sick, the likely cause being mould is not fully recognized because sometimes we cannot see or smell them. However, long before it is visible, mould has infested the home.
Prominent Persons with Cases of Mould Related Illness
National Post December 21, 2009
The Long Lake First Nation reserve in December 2009 launched a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government for massive mould infestation and the resulting serious sicknesses that was caused by relocating the band to an area of swampy land. The lawyer representing the group, Won Kim, said “This [mould] problem exists in each and every reserve across the country.” The residents suffered from a range of problems that they blame on the mould including skin rashes, runny nose, eye irritation, coughing, congestion, respiratory infections, nose bleeds, headaches, fatigue and nausea.
New York Daily News
February 26, 2009 – Campbell Brown
Campbell Brown, evening news anchor for CNN News, and husband Dan Senor were forced to flee their mould-ridden apartment without their belongings after months of struggling with their baby’s unexplained illness. Her newborn son, Eli James developed a cold that wouldn’t end. “He would wake himself up with these horrible coughing attacks.” Once they were out, her son immediately got better.
Los Angeles Times
May 9, 2003 – Ed McMahon
Former Tonight Show co-host, with Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon was awarded $7.2 million in damages from home contractors for their failure to properly clean up toxic mould from his home following water damage. McMahon and his wife both fell ill from the mould infestation that caused lung infection and their dog Muffin died. Ed later dies of pulmonary complications.
CBS 48 Hours
July 26, 2002 – Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich, the paralegal whose crusade against toxic polluters was made into a movie played by Julia Roberts has sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging mould damage. Since the movie bearing her name appeared, everyone knows who Erin Brockovich is: the working mother who traced illnesses in a small California town to groundwater contaminated by Pacific Gas and Electric. She lives in a million-dollar home near Los Angeles, with her third husband, Eric Ellis, and the youngest of her 3 children – 11-year-old Beth. Brockovich says it is the house she always wanted. The bonus she got from winning the lawsuit made her dream possible. But then it turned into a nightmare. Brockovich is suing the builder of her house, subcontractors and the former owner, claiming faulty construction caused water leaks that led to the mould. “I could not function,” she says. “It was like this hanger-onner kind of flu. Achy, night sweats, headache. And I had been on antibiotics month after month.” She says her whole family suffered from it. She says she sees the irony of her position: “I do a major toxic case, I get a bonus for that toxic case, and I bought a toxic home,” she says with a laugh.
October 26, 2009 – Suzanne Somers
Suzanne Somers appeared on Larry King Friday night promoting her book “Knockout” which has soared to number one on New York Times best seller list. The book is critical of doctors who use untested cancer therapies, including drugs and dietary regimens that include large amounts of enzymes coupled with coffee enemas. She had a health problem coming home on an airplane, checked into an Emergency Room unable to breathe properly, and was given cutting-edge testing. She was then diagnosed by six separate doctors who determined that she had multiple masses throughout her lungs and liver with full-body cancer. They recommended full-body chemotherapy and told her to get her affairs in order immediately. A second opinion based upon a biopsy indicated that her immune system had been severely compromised with a dormant mould that had spread throughout her body which she says “all of us in Southern California could have.” She was treated for fungus and released days later. Her book describes her battle with life and the learning curve she received about mould.
Michael Roland Williams
Michael Roland Williams is the producer/director of a recent documentary movie “Black Mold Exposure which he made following his own illness caused by mould exposure. The apartment community in which he lived was evacuated. The documentary presents life story interviews with victims who have become seriously ill from mould, their properties bulldozed due to mould infestation, microbiologists, physicians, writers and politicians. The movie is currently being featured in theatres nationwide. A trailer may be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dkMK8Mbts8 and also on the Rx100 website at http://rx100.com/youtube_1dkMK8Mbts8.
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
In Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) incubates ideas that revolutionize the international research community and change the lives of people all over the world. CIFAR has assembled a team of leading researchers from across Canada and around the world that to explore the relationship of moulds, bacteria, viruses, and other microbes to help eliminate their effect upon human and animal illnesses. See http://www2.cifar.ca/research/integrated-microbial-biodiversity-program.
Other Resources for Information about Mould
- A number of websites provide information about mould and it effect on humans.
- A scientific paper on mould is available athttp://www.cancerfungus.com/pdf/fungi-nexus.pdf.
- Help with mould is available from Project Human Awareness athttp://www.moldsickness.org.
- The Allergy Relief Center provides advice athttp://www.theallergyreliefcenter.com/mold_allergy.htm.
Another important website is presented by Dr. Tullio Simoncini who claims that cancer is mould and if caught early can be treated with outpatient treatments. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers comprehensive advice on its website athttp://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html#Health and Mold. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) presents “A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace” at its website athttp://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib101003.html. In Canada, the Globe and Mail reported that the real estate industry is worried about claims concerning mould athttp://www.environmentalhazards.com/mold-fungus/mould-worries-realestate-sector.htm.
There is an Extraordinary Proliferation of Allergic Diseases Caused by Mould
The Allergy Asthma Information Association (http://www.aaia.ca), a Canadian charity dealing with allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis, reports that an estimated 30% of Canadians are affected by allergies. The escalation of allergies over the past thirty years far exceeds the rise in population. Health Canada (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/air/in/poll/mould-moisissure/what-quoi-eng.php) attributes the mould problem to damp building materials in the home such as drywall, carpeting, paint and caulking. Simply, Health Canada provides “The Mould Equation” whereby the combination of spores plus building materials plus water equals mould growth. However, the true reason for the unusual escalation in mould and accompanying sickness is insidious, hidden and harmful because of calcium carbonate filler that has been added to building materials.
Some Interesting Facts about Mould
- There are over 10,000 mould lawsuits filed every year, with tens of thousands pending.
- The president of the Insurance Information Institute testified before the U.S. Congress that mould claims have reached “crisis proportions” and have become a serious problem.
- Mould or water damaged environments double the likelihood of a child developing asthma.
- 94% of all respiratory ailments are caused by polluted indoor air.
- Workplace mould study estimated that 35% of adult-onset asthma is attributable to mould exposure in the workplace.
How Mould Affects Your Health
If you are exposed to mould it can be very hazardous to your health, depending on the type and severity. People are mostly exposed to mould by breathing spores or other fragments. You can also be exposed through skin contact by touching mouldy surfaces or by swallowing mould contaminates.
Certain mould our known for causing infectious tissues diseases by invading and infecting human and animal tissue and mucous membranes. Mould related sinus infections appear to be common in many persons living in mould contaminated homes. Certain cancers can also be caused where exposure occurs over an extended period of time.
Most Common Health Problems
- Allergy symptoms
- Nasal and chest congestion
- Wheezing, coughing and breathing problems
- Sore throat
- Skin and eye irritation
- Sinus and upper respiratory infection<
- Triggers asthma attacks
- Endocarditis (heart disease)
- Extreme cases and long term exposure to mould may cause death
Who is Affected?
- Infants and children
- Elderly people
- Individual with respiratory conditions
- Persons having weakened immune systems
- Anyone who feels that there health has been affected by indoor mould should contact a medical professional immediately