Toxic Illnesses

Brain Cancer Cluster

Clusters of illnesses, groups of people with seemingly similar disorders (i.e., cancers), commonly prompt neighbors to seek a common cause. In one instance, an ICTM senior physician/toxicologist was asked by a major Fortune 500 company to speak, at several sessions, to a group in Maine. They were concerned that arsenic, allegedly coming from our client's operation, had caused a number of area residents to develop brain cancers. We discussed cancer clusters, arsenic, causes of brain cancers and had several productive, effective communication sessions with the area residents and the company's executives. No legal actions were taken against the company.

PCB Exposure

A group of firefighters and police officers in Shreveport, LA, responding to a fire at the Louisiana State Medical Center, became concerned when they encountered a "Warning PCB" sign on a transformer which had exploded. Many of these first responders were sent to California for unnecessary "treatments." Many other responders wanted to go and get "treatments" in California as they complained of various symptoms. In a room of 100 hostile firefighters and police officers, and with all of the television and print media outlets in Shreveport, ICTM's senior physician/toxicologist explained PCB toxicity, reviewed their blood PCB levels (all within background range) and helped them understand that they were not, in fact, poisoned. We had successful answers for such questions as: "If I wasn’t poisoned, why am I having all of these symptoms?"

"Toxic Mold Exposure" at an Elementary School

Parents of children attending an elementary school in which water intrusion events had resulted in some mold growth under the stage in one of the music classrooms were frightened that their children were experiencing symptoms of "toxic mold exposure." This was despite the fact that the children did not enter the area under the stage. Fears had been fueled by misinformation several of the parents had found on the internet and by a "mold physician," located in another state that had popularized the notion of mold-induced brain damage.

Children were being kept at home; teachers were reporting illnesses they attributed to mold. Staff members and parents were demanding that the school building be closed, in spite of remediation of the water sources and mold removal. Newspapers and local television reporters were supportive of the concerned parents' and school staff demands for school closure.

When ICTM became involved, our physicians and toxicologist visited the building, toured the classrooms and reviewed the medical records of the ill children and faculty members. They were experiencing routine infectious diseases and seasonal allergies. We concluded that there was essentially no exposure pathway by which the mold spores could have migrated from under the stage into the occupied space. Our physicians and toxicologist decided to meet with the parents in small groups, broken down by individual classes. Careful, reassuring discussions were carried out in the music room, emphasizing the pathways by which naturally occurring mold exposure occurs everyday in our homes, schools, commercial buildings and the out-of-doors. We also informed them of the well-known health effects of mold, its ubiquitous presence in our environment and the limited possibility that any school-related mold exposure had actually occurred.

We toured the parents through the previously affected area. The illnesses and symptoms the faculty and children had experienced were discussed in detail, with explanations of the likely sources. Public health measures, such as the use of anti-bacterial wipes to sanitize toys, books, desks, art and musical instruments, as well as cafeteria tables and utensils, along with the teaching of personal hygiene approaches were recommended to reduce the incidence of communicable, infectious diseases. Parents were asked to reinforce these well-publicized public health measures at home. The parents were given ample opportunity to ask questions about the "mold physician" and internet information they had gathered, as well as what ICTM had presented and recommended. Threatened lawsuits did not materialize.

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