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  Toxic Black Mold

"Most homeowners believe as long as they do not see visible signs of mold, that is, patches of green, blue, or black discoloration on surfaces, their environment is free of contamination.

What they don't realize, however, is that large accumulations of [hidden or concealed] mold may be growing in areas that they cannot see, like air ducts, remote attic or basement spaces, or wall cavities. Left to multiply, these infestations may produce enough organic compounds to cause allergic reactions, sickness and, in extreme cases, death (a possibility with infants)," Edward R. Lipinski, "HOME CLINIC: The Battle Against Mold and Mildew," N.Y. TIMES, 9/12/99.

"Fifty percent [50%] of homes contain problem molds. A new medical study attributes nearly 100% of chronic sinus infections to mold. A 300% increase in the asthma rate over the past 20 years has been linked to molds," Source: USA WEEKEND, Dec. 3-5, 1999

"Exposure to certain types of fungi, known as toxic mold, can cause a serious [allergic] reaction. If you're unlucky, this is the kind of mold you have. If you're really unlucky, your toxic mold will gird for battle and go to war, secreting chemicals called mycotoxins, which can find their way into your body, entering through your nose, mouth, and skin, lodging perhaps in your digestive tract, your lungs, or your brain. Among these toxins are trichothecenes, which were rumored to have been used as a biological weapon during the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam," Lisa Belkin warned, "Haunted by Mold," NEW YORK TIMES, Aug. 13, 2001.

"All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants. Potential health concerns are an important reason." The U.S. EP March, 2001.

"Even if mold in your house doesn't cause you any medical problems, if it becomes established in the wood in your home, 'dry rot' may form. Dry rot can result in a homeowner's nightmare. When the mold dies, the wood dries and then shrinks, breaking up into irregular chunks. Cracks in the wood fiber then act like straws, siphoning up moisture and carrying it to undamaged portions of the wood. Left unchecked, this process keeps recurring, continually rotting more wood, and can cause severe structural damage to your home," warned Vicki Lankarge, from: insure.com

"Mold problems have become more prevalent because of increased use of cheaper building materials like sheetrock and plywood, which are more prone to growing mold when wet...Mold, as always, is spreading. But so is mold litigation, to the consternation of the insurance industry. Last week a state court in Austin, Texas, awarded Melinda Ballard and her family $32.1 million in a case involving allegedly extensive mold damage to their Dripping Springs, Texas, house. The jury ruled that Farmers Insurance Group had failed to properly address Ms. Ballard's original water-damage and mold claim and committed fraud in its handling of her claim," noted Christopher Oster, "Insurers Blanch At Proliferation of Mold Claims," WALL STREET JOURNAL, June 6, 2001.

"Molds are microscopic fungi that comprise 25% of the earth's biomass. They can be found almost anywhere and can grow on virtually any organic substance as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Molds can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. Moisture encourages mold growth. People who are allergic to mold or whose asthma is triggered by mold usually react to the spores, the reproductive bodies for molds. The process by which these spores are released into the air becomes intensified when moldy material is damaged or disturbed. Sometimes mold can produce a toxic substance called mycotoxins, which also can cause illness in sensitive populations, especially those with substantial exposures, such as agricultural workers. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture. Many types of molds exist and they all have the potential to cause health effects. Molds produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks. Health concerns are an important reason to prevent mold growth and to remedy/clean up any existing indoor mold growth. The range of symptoms of overexposure to mold include cough, congestion, runny nose, eye irritation, and asthma symptoms. As is true of all environmentally-related illnesses, the sensitivity and vulnerability of the person will dictate the level of response to any given exposure."--American Nursing Association.

"We were able to find sufficient evidence that certain respiratory problems, including symptoms in asthmatics who are sensitive to mold, are associated with exposure to mold and damp conditions. Excessive dampness influences whether mold, as well as bacteria, dust mites and other such agents, are present and thrive indoors, the committee noted. In addition, the wetness may cause chemicals and particles to be released from building materials. A rare ailment known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis also was associated with indoor mold exposure in susceptible people," as reported in the almost 300 page report by the Institute of Medicine [division of U.S. Government's National Academy of Sciences], Tuesday, May 25, 2004. The study was financed by the U.S. Government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just a few hours of unprotected exposure to elevated levels of airborne mold spores can start mold growing inside one's body, and then possibly require medical intervention to cleanse the body of internal mold growth.

The food source for fungal growth in buildings may include cellulose, which can be found in ceiling tile, insulation, sheetrock, as well as wood and dirt. Clothing, carpeting and padding, draperies, upholstered and wood furniture, leather shoes, and other cellulose-based home contents are also favorites for mold to eat and grow. Mold organisms have three modes: (1) active, live mold growth when the mold has your house to eat and access to high humidity or water leaks; (2) dormant mold or inactive mold, when the mold spores and mold colonies go into sleep waiting for renewed access to high humidity or water leaks; and (3) dead mold [no longer capable of reproducing or living]. All three modes are dangerous to health. Even the smell of dead mold can make mold-sensitive persons sick.