Family Faces Huge Costs to Fix Mold Contaminated Home

Familiar news rears its head again: Daniel Island homes are contaminated with mold and have the families tangled up in a legal battle with mega home builder D.R. Horton. Toxic mold drives out the Allen family; the home needs upwards of $200,000 of remediation. Read more.

Dan Pauluk

Long time health inspector and environmental health specialist Dan Pauluk was literally eaten alive from the inside out by toxic mold, aspergillus and stachybotrys. According to his death certificate, he died from mixed mold micotoxicosis, a medical term meaning mold poisoning.

There were water leaks over his desk; in the Health District’s main auditorium parts of the ceiling collapsed. The roof design channeled water back into the existing roof which was never repaired.

The Pauluk family has an ongoing lawsuit with evidence dating back to 1998; the Health District’s own studies show the presence of mold in the building and the need for remediation.

“The regulations state that you will vacate the building, remove all occupants and then relocate them to another building and that no one will go back in that building without a full respirator and a moon suit and it will be cleaned up according to EPA standards.”

In 2004, Dan requested to be be relocated away from the building until the mold was addressed. Nine months supervisors noted another roof leak over Dan’s desk.
His doctor sent letters saying his illness “is a natural conclusion of his exposure to the toxic mold found present at his workplace.” Dan was never relocated away from the mold.

Dan still was not moved.

On July 17, 2007, 12 noon Dan was pronounced dead. The federal lawsuit that says the Southern Nevada Health District failed to protect their own employees in their own building may be continuing for a long time.

Tricothecene Mycotoxins

Tricothecene mycotoxins (toxic mold) grows on walls, behind walls, in the ceilings, under the carpets, in ductwork and crawnspaces.

Why do experts suggest you need to test after remediation to make sure it has all been removed?

Because common evidence of trichothecene toxicity are depression of immune responses and nausea, vomiting plus the usual respiratory culprits. Trichothecene mycotoxicosis was first recognized to be connected with alimentary toxic aleukia in the USSR in 1932. It is still dangerous but no longer has a 60% mortality rate.

Facts

  • Trichothecenes are 40 times more toxic when inhaled than when consumed orally.
  • Trichothecenes are found in air samples collected during the drying and milling process on farms, in the ventilation systems of private houses and office buildings, and on the walls of houses with high humidity.
  • Trichothecene is sometimes part of the “sick building syndrome”.
  • Trichothecenes include mycotoxins produced by Fusarium, Myrothecium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Stachybotrys.
  • Mycotoxin analyses of bulk environmental samples are now commercially available through environmental microbiology laboratories in the United States.

City-owned Gym Exposes Worker to Toxic Mold

Follow up:
John Craig died less than two weeks before Brooklyn City Controller William Thompson released a report that found unsafe conditions at the health club where Craig worked, including dangerous mold, blocked fire exits and exposed electrical outlets in the day care rooms. According to Craig/s family, long term exposure to dangerous mold contributed to his death. A lawsuit against city-owned Paerdegat Athletic Club is pending.

Mold Task Force Meets in NYC

The New York State Toxic Mold Task Force convened in Manhattan for a daylong meeting on economic and health impacts associated with mold. Concerned about adverse health effects connected to mold, demonstrators gathered outside the meeting, upset that they had been blocked from attending the open meeting. (The demonstrators said they had registered to attend, but were told there was no record of their having done so.)

In 2007, the New York State Toxic Mold Task Force prepared a report for the governor and the Legislature, it’s first act, though it has been in existence since 2005.

Speaking on behalf of his department, task force member (research scientist with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) Christopher D’Andrea presented an update on guidelines on how to find and get rid of mold.

New York received about 20,000 mold complaints each year and issued 14,000 citations. Professional remediators in appropriate protective gear were recommended in places where mold has spread over 100 square feet.

In the afternoon session, witnesses described their experiences, both professional and personal, with mold. New research was presented that associated mold with other disorders, from asthma, to depression and neurological conditions.

Toxic Gym Implicated in Man’s Death

John Craig, 36, was a personal trainer who worked six days a week for six years at the city-owned Paerdegat Athletic Club in Canarsie, died there in March after collapsing. The family believes exposure to toxic mold over long hours at work contributed to Craig’s death.

Larry Kramer, the lawyer for the Craig family, filed a $20 million notice of claim against the city on Thursday as the city owns the parkland where the club is located. The operation of the gym is contracted out.

Less than two weeks after Craig’s death, City Controller William Thompson released a report that found unsafe conditions at the club, including dangerous mold–among other findings.

To Ensure Safe, Effective Cleanup

Specialists offer the following suggestions

  • Wash all items that came in contact with floodwaters with a chlorine bleach solution of no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
  • If you have electricity, use a dehumidifier or a fan in front of open windows or doors to help with the drying process, and be sure that fans blow outward, rather than inward to avoid spreading the mold.
  • Throw away all moldy items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned. If in doubt, throw it out. This includes carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals.
  • Take out any drywall or insulation that has been dampened by floodwater.
  • Most antiseptics, including chlorine, are toxic to humans — rinse the skin quickly and well if there is accidental contact with the solution.
  • Remember, chlorine bleach no longer is effective when the chlorine smell disappears.
  • Have professionals check heating/cooling ducts and wall insulation for mold growth. If the system has mold inside, it will spread mold throughout the house.

For more information on mold or mold clean-up, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm

Mold Moves In-Families Move Out

D.R. Horton Home Builder has built an unidentified number of homes which have forced out residents after the houses have developed dangerous levels of toxic mold.

By law the seller of a home must tell the buyer if there is a problem with the house like mold before the sale is made. If an inspector misses obvious signs of mold they too can be found at fault. So the residents of the evacuated homes do still have some recourse. They will have to get in line. Currently there are four law suits against D.R. Horton Inc. on behalf of residents of Daniel Island and one family in Moncks Corner.

The allegation is that defective construction and building code violations in four homes has led to mold damage.

Sick Buildings

Mold is just one of the foreign bodies we’re breathing in varying levels every day. Remedies to improve indoor air quality can be simple, especially when you know what you’re up against.

It’s you against stachybotrys. It’s the greenish-black substance in their walls or floors which is called “toxic black mold.”

For help, refer to I-BEAM (Indoor Air Quality Building Education and Assessment Model), the Building Air Quality Action Plan (BAQ) a guidance tool designed for use by building professionals and others interested in IAQ in commercial buildings; and BASE, the Building Assessment, Survey, and Evaluation study, which collected data from 100 randomly selected office buildings in the U.S. to create a set of basic statistics regarding HVAC features, pollutant concentrations, and occupant symptoms.

  • IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM)The Indoor Air Quality Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM), released in 2002, is a guidance tool designed for use by building professionals and others interested in indoor air quality in commercial buildings.
  • BAQ Action PlanTo be used with
    Building Air Quality: A Guide for Building Owners and Facility Managers
    (EPA/400/1-91/033, DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 91-114)
  • IAQ EPA developed the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools (TfS) Program to reduce exposures to indoor environmental contaminants in schools through the voluntary adoption of sound indoor air quality management practices.

Mold Assessment

Even if you are not located in California, you might be eligible to have your flooded property assessed by ByeByeMold.com Even if you are outside of the California service area Bye Bye Mold’s toxic team will travel for special cases. Ask about a consultation here.

Fema Aid available

• Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)

• Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)

• Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)

• Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)

• Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $1.5 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)

• Loans up to $1.5 million for small businesses that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $1.5 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)

• Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)

• Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

Assistance for the state and affected local governments can include as required:

• Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

• Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

• Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state, tribal and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to apply for assistance:

• Those in the counties designated for assistance to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at http://www.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.

Apply for Fema emergency aid online here

• Application procedures for local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

When Politics Lie about public health

The Environmental-expert.com released an article quoting the medical community as saying “Although molds release natural toxins, called mycotoxins, these don’t cause problems to people who live in moldy houses because the toxins don’t diffuse into the air. The only way to be exposed to them is to swallow them.’ “

I would really like to see that original document. It is hard to believe that a member of the medical community actually said this…

Especially since the EPA documents state “‘Many symptoms and human health effects attributed to inhalation of mycotoxins have been reported including: mucous membrane irritation, skin rash, nausea, immune system suppression, acute or chronic liver damage, acute or chronic central nervous system damage, endocrine effects, and cancer.’ The EPA added, ‘it is clearly prudent to avoid exposure to molds and mycotoxins,’ “

Midwest Toxins Rival Katrina

When levels of arsenic, cadmium, vanadium, and lead were tested in flooded Midwestern homes, totals were substantially higher than the maximum levels that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. It is not unexpected, since floodwaters are known to contain sewage, industrial waste, petroleum products, bacterial poisons such as E. coli and Vibrio vulnificus, biohazards (asbestos, PCBs and dioxin ) as well as construction material dissolved or degraded into standing water.

After the toxic soup dries, in the course of mud and debris removal, it is crucial to treat the area as a toxic zone and wear appropriate biohazard protective gear. Inhalation of toxic dust is obviously bad for your health. In addition to the sediment, mold growth of species such as the hazardous Stachybotrys chartarum will be difficult to control, especially if there are damaged roofs and plumbing, permitting water access to the area.

As any mold growth indoors is going to be destructive to construction materials–after all, mold feeds on cellulose–it is crucial to remove mold infested walls, roofing, etc. However professional mold assessment reports provide documentation on the type and quantity of mold for insurance purposes. Such documentation can prove very important from the courtroom to the hospital ward.

FDA Publishes Mold Guide

The FDA’s mold guide talks about mold basics, cleanup and provides guidelines for how to clean up mold once you’ve been infested. The guide is available as a .pdf file English and Spanish Although the document presents recommendations, it also comes with a warning that the EPA does not regulate standards regarding the concentration of mold or mold spores in indoor air. This is probably because there is significant litigation involved as well as controversy as to how the degree of effect mold has on individuals.

Part of the problem might be traced to the terminology. Mold itself is not necessarily toxic, though there is a black mold which is “named” toxic. The real toxin in mold is a product called mycotoxin, a substance produced by many molds. Mycotoxins cause allergic reactions to many if not most people when they are exposed to them; but mycotoxins are most severely toxic to infants, the elderly or infirm and individuals with breathing problems such as pneumonia. However, most people exposed to high levels of mold develop sensitivity (allergies) so the controversy should really be a moot point. No one is immune.

Katrina over? Not by a long shot

Mold is the heritage of standing water.

Toxic mold.

They say the mold in New Orleans smells like death.

Parts of the lower ninth ward still look like a war zone. Razed lots, debris, house after ramshackle boarded over house. These are the parts of the city where tourists don’t go.

Moisture Ideal for Mold Growth. Stachybotrys chartarum. The physical destruction you see. THe walls and ductwork packed full of mold and spores waiting to be launched in the air conditioning.

Protect your House from Toxic Mold

Industrial Nanotech makes a coating resistance to mold growth, lead encapsulation, chemical resistance, and fire resistance in an environmentally safe, water-based, coating formulation.

Bye Bye Mold does assessment, not remediation; but we do recommend that in most cases, it is healthier NOT to cover up affected areas with a coating. Now, if you want to put that resistant coating on some new resistant greenboard for double protection, that sounds like a good idea.

If remediation means that you are going to have to remove molded, mildewed and/or decomposing building supplies, it is safer to rely on a professional. Removing such debris recirculates it into the property’s air supply, so special care must be taken to make sure the no residents or workers are exposed to mycotoxins or other toxins released by the remodel.

ByeByeMold™

 

When you suspect mold, step #1 is a professional mold assessment: surveying moisture levels of walls, ceilings and floors, locating visible mold growth, and testing the air for the quantity and variety of mold spores. Determining the variety of mold is important because some types of mold are indicators of water damage and are potential health hazards. A Bye Bye Mold â„¢ professional mold assessment is your first step towards a healthy indoor environment. 

 

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