A two-part series by Maoshing Ni, D.O.M.,L.Ac.
and Gary S. Smolker, Esq. which illuminates health and practical
environmental considerations on the subject matter Excerpted
from an article by the same author. This article was originally
The Difficult problems of Mold Infestation By
Gary S. Smolker, Esq.
Mold can grow on any organic material (i.e.,
cloth, carpets, leather, wood, sheet rock, insulation) when
moist conditions exist. Indoor spaces that are wet, and have
organic materials that mold can use as a food source, can and do
support mold growth.
Any roof, wall leak or chronically wet areas from
plumbing leaks or high humidity from over-watering can create a
potential mold contamination problem.
The following symptoms can result from exposure
to molds and/or their products: headaches; sinus congestion;
coughing; sneezing; ear, nose and throat irritation (sore
throats); diarrhea; dizziness, decreased attention,
disorientation, diminished reflex time (central nervous system
disorders); nausea; general malaise, psychological depression;
skin rashes, dermatitis; respiration problems (onset of asthma,
exacerbation of asthma, wheezing, shortness of breath);
infections and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Some molds produce toxins called mycotoxins that can affect the
physical defense mechanisms. Exposure to mycotoxins can harm the
vascular system, the digestive system, the respiratory system,
the nervous system, the urinary system, the cutaneous system,
the immune system; and the reproductive system. A number of
toxigenic molds have been found during indoor air quality
investigations. Among the genera most frequently found are
Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys, and Cladosporium.
Certain species of these mold exposures can be the cause of
significant medical problems.
For example, certain species of Aspergillus produce aflatoxins (mycotoxins)
that are extremely toxic to the liver, brain, kidneys and heart.
Chronic exposure can be potent carcinogens to the liver.
The first step in preventing mold problems is to
ask the right questions to properly assess pertinent business,
legal and health issues. I have prepared a four page
questionnaire to be used by people who wish to identify
recognized environmental conditions that lead to mold growth and
health complaints. A copy of this questionnaire, entitled Mold
Risk Problem is available upon request.
Answers to questions in the Questionnaire can determine if
further investigation is called for. If Questionnaire answers
indicate the existence of a mold problem, a knowledgeable
attorney should be hired to put together a Mold Assessment Team.
Hiring a competent Mold Assessor is critical to the
determination of whether a mold problem exists. I have prepared
a two page document, entitled How To Hire A Mold Assessor, which
is available upon request.
Finding an appropriate solution to a mold problem
is not necessarily a simple matter. It is not unusual for people
with mold growing in their home to become so frustrated that
they raze their home, after trying to get rid of the problem by
other methods. Getting rid of mold can involve removing all mold
present and prevention of future water intrusion. In some cases,
the removal of mold impacted structural members is prohibitively
expensive. Endless complications arise when the person(s) with a
mold problem does not follow the logical steps required to solve
his or her mold problem. Removing the affected materials without
addressing the cause of mold contamination will often result in
recurrent mold growth. Incomplete or ineffectual
removal/treatment of mold impacted materials can reintroduce
mold to the newly remediated and other previously unaffected
areas of the structure. Finally, solving a mold problem includes
getting appropriate legal advice to ensure that your rights and
economic interests are protected.
Often the recipient of a mold assessment report
will not have expertise required to understand and evaluate mold
sampling issues, mold toxicity issues, mold remediation issues,
or the legal and business impact of mold contamination issues.
In that case the recipient will need expert assistance to
explain and evaluate what the report is reporting and
recommendations set forth in the report.
If the person hiring a Mold Assessment Team does not understand
the business, legal and health issues involved in responding to
mold contamination (s)he will not be able to write a thoughtful
or meaningful scope of work for the Mold Assessment Team to
perform. I have spent the last several years involved in mold
problems. It has taken me that long to assemble a qualified team
of competent professionals with the capacity to assess mold
problems, identify mold-related hazards, and to develop
solutions that are scientifically, financially, legally and
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. Gary S. Smolker is a practicing attorney with
a Master’s degree in Biochemical Engineering and a Bachelor’s
degree in Chemical Engineering.
He has personally suffered all of the problems discussed in this
article. He has written this article to give you insight into
the scope of the problem, potential solutions to the problem,
and to provide you access to critical tools you will need. He is
available at 310.574.9880
©Copyright 2003 by Gary S. Smolker.
Part two of this article will appear in the next issue of our