In recent years, there has been substantial media coverage on the health risks of exposure to indoor mold despite the fact that numerous health claims of mycotoxicity are inconsistent with basic toxicological principles at the low-dose inhalation exposures typically encountered in commercial and residential buildings. It is not that mold never has a health impact; rather, the personal injury claims explosion far exceeded the provable illnesses. The media has sensationalized this threat by using the term "toxic mold." As a result, many people's perception of the health risks from exposure to mold has increased. A blend of the right medical and scientific knowledge, as well as practical experience, will help ensure that mold-related health risks and building health risk cost drivers are properly addressed. The result: fewer personal injury and workers' compensation claims; less worker downtime; lower physical and psychological health risks, and reduced remediation costs.

Student Ill with Aspergillosis

A child developed bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (a serious mold-induced lung disorder). When the school was found to have some Aspergillus mold growth, the parents and faculty panicked, certain that the school was the source of the child's illness and a pervasive threat to all in the building. The community demanded that the school be closed immediately. Several physicians concurred with closing the school, further fueling the panic. A more in-depth evaluation of the child and his medical records by the medical doctor revealed two critical facts: first, the ill child had cystic fibrosis, making him susceptible to this fungal disease; second, he had been playing in a mulch pile all summer, providing the near certain source of his infection. Effective medical communication with the school and its occupants explained these facts and why the school was not causal in this case. The actual threat to others was minimal. The school was permitted to reopen following limited, focused remediation.

Medical Decision Made to Not Relocate Occupants During Remediation

Following the flooding of an assisted-living facility, significant mold growth developed, including Stachybotrys. Decisions had to be made about the occupants, their accommodations and their possessions with respect to the extent of remediation required. Several town meetings with physician communicators revealed that the residents were more fearful of being forced to vacate their rooms than they were of the potential health risks associated with the mold. Although ambient levels of mold were higher than customary, the medical doctors concluded that the health risk of relocating these elderly occupants was greater than the risk from the mold. A health-based remediation plan was developed such that the remediation could take place with no resident relocations. The remediation plan was communicated to the residents. Remediation went forward with medical oversight and the occupants remained in place with minimal inconvenience. The cost was reasonable and everyone remained healthy.

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