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Link To Articles

Allergy Sensitivity Doubles Since 1970s
Woman Sues Condo Association Over Alleged Toxic Mold Damage
Mold Sickens Students at Local School
Toxic Mold Victim Founds Fungal Disease Resource Center
Warming Above Dew Point Helps Prevent Mold Problems
Mold in My Apartment--A Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities
Mold Inspection & Testing Reveals Problem Size and Scope to School Officials
Air Purifiers and Ozone
Daily Downpours Can Lead to Mold, Mildew, and Allergies
Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Brings Relief to Thousands of Indiana Families

From USA Today [www.usatoday.com]
By Elizabeth Weise
Article Date: August 07, 2005

Allergy Sensitivity Doubles Since 1970s

More than half of all Americans test positive in response to one or more allergens, double the percentage who did 30 years ago, a new study reports.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that 54% of people tested positive to at least one of 10 allergens. The highest response was to dust mites, 27.5%. The lowest was to peanuts, 8.6%. The findings appear in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Researchers analyzed data from skin-prick allergy tests on 10,500 people by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of positive reactions is much higher than cases of actual allergic disease, notes lead researcher Samuel Arbes of the National Institutes of Health. Though a positive skin test for allergens such as ragweed or cats doesn't necessarily mean a person has or will develop allergies, there is a strong association between the two.

About 20% of U.S. residents have allergies or hay fever; 8% to 10% have asthma.

The doubling of the prevalence of the six allergens tested in the earlier survey corresponds to a period during which there also was a 74% increase in asthma, Arbes says. Though there is evidence asthma rates have peaked, allergy rates appear to still be increasing, he says.

The testing was part of CDC's third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988 to 1994 and is considered the most complete national data available to scientists. The previous survey was from 1976 to 1980.

Those at highest risk of showing allergic response were people ages 20 to 29, males, minorities, people living in the West, people living in old homes and people who were not exposed to cigarette smoke.

Skin tests involve applying an allergen extract to skin, which is then lightly scratched. If the area swells, the patient has antibodies to the allergen.

Researchers don't know why positive skin tests, allergy and asthma are increasing. One theory is that people simply don't go outside as often — Americans spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors — and have higher exposures to indoor allergens.

Another theory is that children become more vulnerable when they are exposed to fewer bacteria and viruses. Some researchers believe that has an effect on the developing immune system.

From bonitanews.com [www.naplesnews.com]
By Kristen Zambo
Article Date: August 04, 2005

Woman Sues Condo Association Over Alleged Toxic Mold Damage

Tamara McCreedy says her hair fell out; she coughed up blood and became sleepless after toxic mold grew in her Bonita Springs condo complex.

Those health effects and many more are alleged in a civil lawsuit filed this week by McCreedy in Lee Circuit Court against Pine Haven Condominium Association Inc.

McCreedy's suit says a fire on Sept. 2, 2002, in the condo directly below hers caused extensive damage to that unit. Compounding the fire damage was that done by water used to douse the flames at 28180 Pine Haven Way, unit 43.

"As a result of the fire and water damage, unit No. 43 was locked up and left in the dilapidated condition for approximately eight months," McCreedy's suit said.

Because the condo association locked and didn't clean up the damaged unit, "an ideal situation for the growth of mold was created," the suit said.

"We didn't do it," Carol Dawe, a member of the Pine Haven Condominium Association board of directors, said Wednesday. "We tried as best we can, but that's not our job. That's up to the people who owned it at the time (to clean it)."

The owners of the damaged unit aren't named as defendants in this lawsuit.

McCreedy, who Lee County Property Appraiser's Office records show still owns unit 47, couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment. Messages were left for her attorneys, Stephen C. Bullock and Foye B. Walker, but they were unavailable for comment.

Dawe said she knows it took awhile to clean the unit, and that toxic mold can grow in areas where water sits. But it wasn't the condo association's job to clean up. That's up to the owners, she said.

An inspection conducted Dec. 12, 2002, on the two units showed that mold and mold spores were in unit 43 and the air handler of McCreedy's condo, the lawsuit said.

Property records show McCreedy bought the condo in 2002. Its taxable value that year was $59,000, according to property records. McCreedy says in her lawsuit that her unit and its contents "drastically reduced or became worthless as a result of toxic mold infestation."

The condo in 2003 was listed at a taxable value of $42,000 and in 2004 at $43,270, property records show.

From 6News [www.wlns.com]
By Tetiana Anderson
Article Date: August 09, 2005


Mold Sickens Students at Local School

The Howell School District is working to clean up mold found in one of its elementary schools after some students and adults became sick. A Livingston education service agency employee say the symptoms are a headache and respiratory problems, but only a handful of children and adults have been affected, and they say the whole problem started because of the hot weather.

Rick Terres, Associate Superintendent of Howell: "Mother nature has caused that building basically because of the high humidity and due points and heat to bring in more humidity in the building then would typically be."

The district says it's really just a humidity problem that showed itself about 3 weeks ago and that it impacted some of the 150 special needs children who are there for summer classes more than others.

Rick Terres: "We've got some medically fragile kids in there, and those kids would be particularly impacted if the humidity levels are really really high."

A Livingston Health Department official said over the phone that the mold attacked the school's heating and cooling system. The school district says it's not an uncommon problem and that students may be partly responsible too.

Rick Terres: "They have a tendency to be outdoors splashing water or rolling in the grass, and we know that mold levels are high in the state and they can bring it into the building."

And though we can't show you, there are a number of dehumidifiers set up inside to tackle the moisture. Howell School District officials say they will have the problem cleaned up by the time school starts on Sept 6.

From eMediaWire [www.emediawire.com]
The author was not noted.
Article Date: August 03, 2005


Toxic Mold Victim Founds Fungal Disease Resource Center

Adventure sports photographer Jonathan Lee Wright, a recovering toxic mold poisoning victim himself, saw a need during his own battle with the illness and launched the Fungal Disease Resource Center.

Adventure sports photographer Jonathan Lee Wright has founded a national charitable nonprofit to aid victims made sick by toxic mold.

Wright, himself a recovering toxic mold poisoning victim, saw a need during his own battle with illness and launched the Fungal Disease Resource Center (FDRC) to help solve an issue recently described by senior congressional staff as a public health emergency.

"After years of disabling illness, and with no help from doctors, I finally determined that mold from a home I lived in years before had contaminated all of my possessions, and was literally killing me,” said Wright. "In November of 2003, I threw out nearly everything I owned, including my commercial photo library, and decided to go camping in the fresh air of the outdoors to recover."

The FDRC is a Colorado-based nonprofit corporation and has received expedited emergency application processing for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. FDRC will raise nearly a million dollars in its first year for victim services and research support.

"This amount of money won't solve all the problems in the next year, but it's going to be a good start" said Wright. FDRC has recruited help from a variety of disciplines – doctors, Congressional staff, and legal and media professionals, among others – and has a vast support network consisting of recovering victims.

“The talent base we have for this effort is invaluable; we’re thankful for their support, guidance and commitment to solving this problem,” said Wright.

Wright’s personal story is one of the reasons FDRC has attracted its initial support. Wright estimates he spent over 300 nights outdoors in 2004, many times in subfreezing temperatures. Here, he found breathing clean air gave his immune system a rest, and that he was able to slowly recover from what he now recognizes as poisoning.

"For people who are susceptible to this -- and new research shows that means almost 25% of the population -- mold in your home can slowly poison you, and then your immune system goes berserk," he said.

In September of 2004, Wright testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in support of a bill intended to aid victims of toxic mold. But it has been an uphill battle. Despite hand-delivering materials and the written testimony of hundreds of victims across the country to virtually every office of the U.S. House and many members of the Senate, there has been little response from lawmakers -- either in Colorado or the rest of the country.

Joel Segal, Public Affairs Director for Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), has acknowledged the problem. In a public statement during a national forum conducted by the US Surgeon General in January 2005, he said, "We've had more calls on this than any other single issue, including universal health care -- since sponsoring House Resolution 1268 (in support of aid to toxic mold victims), we have been receiving at least 10 calls per day for the last three years from victims who are displaced, calling from motels, sick and living in cars," he reports.

Says Wright: "I'm not alone in Colorado -- every week, more people who have been affected by toxic mold poisoning find us though our advocate network. Their lives are utterly destroyed -- you lose your health, your home and everything you own -- and no one cares."

"Everyone from small children to the elderly are dying from this -- something has to be done. So we're going to step up and do the right thing until the government can see fit to do the same. But we can't do it alone.” The FDRC seeks public donations and public health grants to support its work.

Leading physician researcher and FDRC Medical Director Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, offers advice to fellow practitioners: "The acute and chronic illnesses caused by mold are easily diagnosed using a published case definition. We have effective screening, treatment and followup procedures -- no one should suffer needlessly from mold illness. For physicians, learning to identify these disorders is not only simple -- but also an insight into an exciting new field of medicine."

Wright concludes, “People need to know that when they support the FDRC they are not only helping others, they are protecting themselves and their families with knowledge of the true health risks from mold."

For more information, visit the Fungal Disease Resource Center on the web at:

Other sites:

Jonathan Lee Wright / Commercial photography site

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. / Link to legislation HR1269

From Daily News Transcript [dailynewstranscript.com]
The author was not noted.
Article Date: July 29, 2005


Warming Above Dew Point Helps Prevent Mold Problems

Alertness and quick action during hot humid summer days can do much to prevent indoor mold growth and potentially costly clean-up efforts.

While mold can grow inside any enclosed structure, locations that are especially vulnerable to indoor mold problems during the summer include empty commercial facilities and school buildings.

"Early detection is one of the most effective ways to control indoor mold growth, but an empty building means fewer people are available to spot early signs of mold," according to Charles Cochrane, president of Cochrane Ventilation Inc., Wilmington.

Most important to keep in mind is that high humidity combined with the right temperature can create the ideal conditions for mold growth as it did last summer in much of New England.

To help prevent indoor mold growth, especially where fewer people are around, Cochrane recommends turning on the heating system briefly when hot humid conditions arise.

Putting on the heat, he says, can warm interior building surfaces above the dew point and lower the relative humidity. This makes it less likely that indoor conditions will reach the dew point, and therefore reduces the risk of mold growth.

As a rule of thumb, one should be especially alert to the possibility of indoor mold growth when outdoor temperatures reach the mid 80s during days of high humidity.

Because turning on the heating system during a hot summer day may sound counter-intuitive, it is helpful to explain to interested parties that this is a cost-effective preventative measure.

Cochrane notes that the cost of starting up the boiler or furnace is often considerably less than the cost of investigating and cleaning up a serious mold problem.

From The Boston Globe [boston.com]
By Robert Griswold
Article Date: July 21, 2005


Mold in My Apartment--A Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities

Tenant Unsure of How to Initiate the Remediation Process

Question from tenant:  I have been renting my apartment for nearly three years now. My kitchen floor under the stove is coming up and there is mildew forming on the kitchen walls and bathroom, including the bathroom window inside the shower. While I have certainly seen it in my life, I am not a fan of mold, mildew or any other type mold or fungus. I am at a point to where I want to move just because of the disgust. I like the apartment though, but I cannot stand the mildew. I don't know who to call on this issue. The apartments are very old and I don't know my rights as a tenant. What do I do?

Property Manager Griswold replies:  This issue has received considerable media attention in the past few years, particularly since the Environmental Protection Agency issued its guidelines on mildew and mold in the spring of 2001. You should immediately notify the management company and the landlord in writing and ask them to immediately address this issue, as mildew or mold can be a serious health issue for certain persons, particularly children, the elderly or those with immune system issues. Mildew or mold can and do occur naturally, but one factor is they require moisture and a food source to develop. Therefore, mildew or mold and can be caused as a result of living conditions inside your unit, such as a lack of ventilation, hot steamy showers, or other activities that increase the overall humidity in your rental unit. These conditions can also be the result of water intrusion or leaking pipes. The minimization of mildew or mold is a joint effort between the landlord and the occupants. The landlord needs to make sure that there are no latent sources of water intrusion, while the occupants need to routinely maintain and clean all surfaces with appropriate cleaning products plus avoid activities that can raise humidity and thus increase the likelihood of mildew or mold developing.

For example, it is important to minimize moisture in the air by running the fan or opening a window when taking hot showers. If you see condensation beginning to form on windows or walls be sure to regularly air out your rental unit by opening windows or doors during the day, use the fan in your heating or cooling systems or even portable fans to create air circulation. Another common cause of mildew and mold in rental units can be the unauthorized installation of a washer and/or dryer in a rental unit that was not designed for such use and the equipment is not properly vented. Always contact your landlord in writing immediately about any condition in your rental unit that is of concern and be sure to do what you can to avoid the reoccurrence of the mildew or mold. If the landlord fails to adequately address the issue in a timely manner you should immediately contact your local code enforcement or housing inspection department and ask them to investigate and notify you and the owner of their findings in writing. Further, you should contact your health care provider if you have any symptoms that you attribute to the mildew and mold in your unit to make sure that you are not sensitive to these conditions. Also, be sure to notify the landlord about your kitchen floor so he/she can make the necessary repair or replacement. Landlords are not required to upgrade for cosmetic reasons, but your floor sounds like it is more of a health-and-safety issue, which must be addressed by the landlord.

This column, on issues confronting tenants and landlords, is written by property manager Robert Griswold (author of "Property Management for Dummies" and co-author of "Real Estate Investing for Dummies,"), and San Diego attorneys Steven R. Kellman (director of the Tenant's Legal Center) and Ted Smith (principal in a firm representing landlords).

From The Olympian [theolympian.com]
By Heather Woodward
Article Date: July 30, 2005


Mold Inspection & Testing Reveals Problem Size and Scope to School Officials

Olympia -- Mold testing is set for Thursday at the old John Rogers Elementary School as Olympia School District officials try to determine whether the problem at Capital High School represents an isolated case.

The district also plans to conduct mold testing in the coming weeks at six elementary schools: Boston Harbor, Centennial, Garfield, Hansen, Lincoln and McLane. Those buildings have the same type of vinyl-backed carpeting that could be partly responsible for trapping moisture in classrooms throughout Capital High School. Depending on the findings at those schools, district officials might decide to expand the mold testing to other buildings, said Bob Wolpert, Olympia's director of facilities and operations.

However, Rogers is of particular concern, district officials said Tuesday, because the building's roof had been leaking for an unknown period of time.

The leaks have since been repaired, and the building doesn't have a history of mold, Wolpert said. But without regular occupants at Rogers to alert the district to the leak, officials want to make sure the additional moisture didn't spur mold growth.

That's important because the building, which is vacant much of the time, is slated to house Washington Middle School's seventh- and eighth-graders throughout the 2005-06 school year while a $17 million renovation project occurs at the middle school.

"It's a precaution for us," Wolpert said. "We're not sure how long those leaks were going on before we got to them."

An investigation at Capital High School earlier this month by PBS Engineering and Environmental found there was a "significant" amount of mold -- spreading up from the floor as high as 3 feet -- in two classrooms, the district announced Thursday. The industrial hygiene firm also tested 14 other classrooms and found "minor" amounts of mold -- spanning as high as a few inches above the floor -- in each one.

District officials gave a tour of Capital to interested abatement contractors Tuesday afternoon and plan to hire a contractor to start work on Monday.

PBS Engineering and Environmental recommended the district remove the "significant" mold growth in two classrooms but said the "minor" amounts found in 14 other classrooms that were tested could wait if necessary.

However, district officials have decided to get rid of all of the mold they find in Capital High School before school starts.

The fact that the district plans to test for mold at the old Rogers Elementary School is a welcome decision for Washington Middle School students such as Mara Healy, an eighth-grader who will spend her days there in the fall.

"I really hope that there isn't mold because there's been mold in my house, and we've gotten sick before. ... We got colds way more frequently," the 13-year-old said.

"It's really not fun. I don't want to put our health at risk just because we're using a building."

Note:  though not about mold, this article presents information that may be of interest to individuals who are considering an air filter for their mold-related allergies. [A HEPA filter has pores small enough to capture many types of air-borne mold spores.]

From The Sacramento Bee [saccbee.com]
By Edie Lau -- Bee Science Writer
Article Date: April 24, 2005


Air Purifiers and Ozone

State and U.S. panels voice concern about household purifiers that produce ozone.

Bothered by dust from construction around her home in Sun City Lincoln Hills, Carole Russell ordered an air purifier she'd heard promoted by a popular radio talk show host.
Shortly after setting up the unit in her living room, Russell found that the air seemed even worse. A sharp smell like chlorine hung in the air. Her nose felt irritated, her throat raspy.

"I've almost turned the whole thing off, but it's kind of futile to spend $794 and turn the thing off," she said.

The experience was bewildering to Russell, but to scientists in the field of indoor air pollution, her story is not surprising.

For well over a decade, independent and government researchers have suspected that certain types of indoor-air cleaners actually pollute their surroundings, potentially harming the people exposed.

The types of air cleaners in question generate ozone gas, either deliberately or as a byproduct of a process called ionization. The federal and state governments regulate ozone as a pollutant outdoors, but for the most part, no rules apply to ozone in the home.

That may change. A booming consumer market in air purifiers - valued at $1 billion a year and rising - and new scientific evidence that even tiny increases in exposure to ozone may be unhealthy have at least two agencies seeking limits.

Last month, the California Air Resources Board - which long has been concerned about ozone generators but lacks the power to regulate indoor air - appealed to the state attorney general's office to step in.

The board asked the attorney general to determine whether air cleaners that emit ozone pose an environmental or consumer protection problem and if so, whether legal action is warranted. The attorney general's office is reviewing the request.

"Basically, we're asking, do these things work? Are they hurting people? Are they making false health claims?" said Gennet Paauwe, an air board spokeswoman.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to know, too. It contracted last fall with Richard Shaughnessy, head of an indoor-air research program at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, to summarize the science on the subject, determine whether standards are needed and if so, what those standards should be.

Shaughnessy said he expects to make recommendations by the end of summer. Depending on the outcome, the product safety commission could call for voluntary or mandatory emissions limits, safety alerts and/or labeling, said agency spokesman Steve Forde.

Air cleaners come in many varieties, including some that use filters, others a process called ionization, some a combination. Shaughnessy noted that not all are a potential source of trouble.

"There are many indoor air cleaners that are capable of providing improved air quality indoors," he said. "(But) it's a buyer-beware market right now."

Consumers Union weighed in on the subject in the May issue of Consumer Reports magazine, warning shoppers away from several models of air cleaners that it judged to be ineffective in cleaning and to have relatively high ozone output.

The types of air cleaners under government scrutiny produce ozone either deliberately or as a byproduct of ionization.

Depending on the type and the conditions under which measurements are taken, ozone emissions can vary greatly, from nearly zero to levels that would trigger smog alerts outdoors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found in a 1995 study that some ozone generators set on high in rooms with closed doors produced concentrations up to 300 parts per billion - well over the federal pollution standard for ambient outdoor air, which is 80 ppb averaged over eight hours.

Ozone is a gas produced in nature and through human activities. A layer of ozone above the atmosphere protects life on Earth from the sun's harsh ultraviolet rays. But down where people live, ozone stings eyes, burns noses and inflames lungs.

Ozone is a Jekyll-and-Hyde cousin of the oxygen we need to live. Oxygen is composed of two atoms of oxygen; ozone, three. That third atom makes it unstable and apt to react with other molecules.

That reactivity can be a useful tool. Ozone is considered an effective disinfectant for drinking water, for example.

At the same time, ozone's reactive nature does damage, cracking tires, fading blue jeans and reducing rubber bands to crumbs.

Advocates of using ozone to clean the air tout its ability to kill germs, but the EPA counters that at concentrations needed to kill viruses, bacteria, mold and other biological contaminants, the environment would be unsafe for people.

Simply put, ozone can be beneficial as long as you're not breathing it, said William Nazaroff, an environmental engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies indoor-air quality.

As many residents of urban areas such as Sacramento know, ozone is created in sometimes hazardous volume when sunlight reacts with automotive exhaust. The federal government has treated ozone as a pollutant for 35 years.

But when it comes to ozone generators for household use, government action has been less decisive.

In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission won a $1.5 million judgment against Alpine Industries, a company in Tennessee that designed and sold ozone generators. A jury found that Alpine had made hundreds of unsubstantiated claims about its machines, including claims about health benefits.

The company went out of business shortly afterward.

But the suit did not address the central question now dogging the industry: Can any level of ozone be considered safe?

"It better be safe, because that's the world we live in. These are levels that you and I are being exposed to right now," said James Marsden, a food-safety researcher at Kansas State University.

Marsden recently was contracted by EcoQuest, a maker of ozone-emitting air purifiers that acquired some of Alpine's assets, to test whether its technology can successfully zap harmful bacteria in food.

EcoQuest maintains that when properly set, its home units produce ozone at concentrations of 20 ppb to 40 ppb - levels it calls both safe and refreshing.

The Sharper Image, which sells the market-leading air purifier, the Ionic Breeze, also strongly defends its product.

In documents provided by the company, officials maintain that the amount of ozone emitted is "insufficient to cause concern" and below existing federal guidelines.

Tom Lynch, director of sales for P3 International, a company in New York City that manufactures and imports a variety of electronic products, including ionizing air purifiers, said those existing government standards on ozone suggest low exposures to the gas are fine.

For example, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration limit for worker exposure is 100 ppb on average over an eight-hour workday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a limit of 50 ppb on indoor medical devices.

"I would have to believe that (it's safe), just based on what OSHA and FDA and all these other agencies say," Lynch said.

"We're just trying to follow government guidelines at this point," agreed Tom Ferguson, a public relations contractor for EcoQuest.

FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said the medical-device standard is decades old and should not be used as a guide for household units.

Many air pollution scientists say it's not a good idea to add even trace levels of ozone to the environment - particularly when the exposure comes on top of exposure to ozone from traffic and other industrial sources.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November by Yale University scientists linked increases in outdoor ozone as tiny as 10 ppb with a small but significant increase in the average daily death rate in 95 urban communities.

Dallas Hyde, a pulmonary researcher at the University of California, Davis, who studies how ozone affects the lungs of monkeys, said he and his colleagues have not seen obvious problems in animals exposed to levels below 80 ppb.

However, Hyde said, the researchers have not looked for subtle effects, such as whether levels of ozone as low as those discharged by some air cleaners might aggravate respiratory problems in people with asthma or similar conditions.

"If it were me, I wouldn't have one," Hyde said.

Nazaroff, the UC Berkeley environmental engineer, said the chemistry of air inside modern homes makes ozone potentially more dangerous indoors than out.

Ozone can react with gases from carpeting, furniture or household cleaners to produce secondary pollutants - things such as the carcinogen formaldehyde, as well as fine particles that can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream, triggering heart disease.

Seven weeks ago when she ordered her air purifier, Carole Russell knew nothing of the controversy over ozone. But after reading a recent Bee article that referred to some air cleaners possibly contributing to indoor pollution, Russell started doing some research.

She found that the EPA, the American Lung Association, the California Air Resources Board and the state Department of Health Services all warn consumers to avoid ozone generators.

Russell turned off her machine.

How to Get Help
For more information about air purifiers and ozone, go to:




From Black Mountain News [BlackMountainNews.com]
By Barbara Hootman, Staff Writer
Article Date: July 20, 2005


Daily Downpours Can Lead to Mold, Mildew, and Allergies

With daily downpours washing over the Swannanoa Valley, many homeowners are discovering mold and mildew in their homes. For many, health problems result.

People are exposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. They can be affected by skin contact with mold as well. The health risks vary from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.

Authorities agree that infants, small children and elderly people may be affected by mold and mildew more easily than healthy adults. Mold and mildew often wreck the respiratory systems of individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies, and asthma. Patients suffering such immune weakening diseases as HIV infection, chemotherapy, and organ transplant should never be exposed to mold or mildew.

Cinnamon Kennedy has seen an acupuncturist for the past two months to conquer allergies.

“I do think I am getting better, and this is another avenue I wanted to explore after seeing a traditional allergist, and taking a lot of medication. My sensitivity to mold spores in the air is much improved, and I am taking about half the medication that I was taking. My head is not so stuffy, and the headaches are not so bad anymore.”

Whitney Williams, owner of Elements of Balance in Black Mountain, says it is a balancing of mind, body, spirit, and emotions that is necessary in treating allergies.

“When a person suffers allergies, it is the body that is out of balance,” she said. “Chinese medicine works to correct the imbalances. The time it takes to correct the imbalances varies with each person, because different people react differently. Along with correcting the imbalances within a person’s system, often there have to be dietary and lifestyle changes as well. These changes may not have to be for the rest of the person’s life, but at least temporary changes must be made.”

Illness may be related to mold or other organisms growing in the air-conditioning system. It can occur in cars that are just a year or so old. It is usually in the evaporator coils or the drain pan, but it can also be in the ducts themselves. The sound dampening foam used in cars is another place mold lurks.

Houseplants are another consistent source of mold in homes. Wherever there is plant life there is mold. Allergy symptoms may become worse just after plants are watered. Molds are necessary for plant life. Then, there are other molds that can harm plants and contribute to root rot. Others exist in soils in symbiotic relationships, aiding in the growth of the plant.

Mildew and various molds grow anywhere there is moisture, dirt, and heat. Molds like warm, dark areas like bathrooms, closets, basements, and crawl spaces.

Mildew prefers draperies, bed linens, clothes, shoes, books, furniture, and the exterior siding of homes. It rots fabrics and discolors walls and wood surfaces.

How do you know if a house is the victim of mold? Telltale signs of a moisture problem include musty odors, black, gray, white or pink splotches on walls, furniture, bathroom tiles or clothes.

Any kind of mold can make sensitive humans sick. All molds have the ability to produce allergens whether they are alive or dead. Both mold and mildew can be prevented.

All mold and mildew growing indoors should be removed to insure a healthy home.

The N.C. State University A&T State University Cooperative Extension Service recommends the following steps:

•Keep your home, furnishings and fabrics dry and clean.

•Prevent the flow of moisture around and through the home.

•Provide good ventilation in and around the home. It is important to keep crawlspaces ventilated.

•Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier when relative humidity is above 60 percent.

•Install sheets of polyethylene over 80 percent of crawl space. If it is an existing home, watch for signs of excess drying and wood shrinkage.

•Keep foundation vents open to provide cross ventilation.

•Ventilate the attic. Continuous soffit and ridge vents used in combination are recommended.

•Use ventilating fans that are vented to the outside in the kitchen and bathrooms.

•Make sure gas heaters and gas logs are vented to the outside. Use an approved flue.

•Make sure clothes dryers are vented to the outside of the house.

•Always hang damp clothes and linens where they can dry.

•Stretch out the shower curtains after showers are finished.

•Keep a low-wattage light bulb on in closets to dry out the area.

•Even in the hottest weather, turn the heating system on to dry wet areas in the house.

•Wax leather goods.

•Trim shrubs growing close to the foundation of house so that there is at least one foot of air space around the house.

•Clean mildew and mold from the exterior of the house before repainting the surface.

•Controlling mold rests on controlling moisture. One of the most important steps to be taken is to dry water damaged areas and items within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

• Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Use one-fourth to one-half cup bleach per gallon of water to wash mold off. Rinse the area with clean water and collect excess rinse water.

•Other home solutions that can be used to fight mildew and mold include detergent, ammonia, white vinegar, and washing soda.

•Dry the entire area as quickly as possible.

•Fighting mold and mildew is an ongoing effort. Be vigilant. Continue looking for signs of moisture problems or return of mold growth.

Wet carpets grow mold quickly. Having carpets dried professionally is usually the best way to solve the moisture problem.

From Mondaq.com
Information contributed by the firm of Plews, Shadley, Racher, & Braun
Article by Donna C. Marron
Article Date: February 08, 2005

Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Brings Relief to Thousands of Indiana Families

A recent class action settlement brought successful closure to a problem with drastic effects on the lives of thousands of Indiana families represented by Plews Shadley Racher & Braun. The families bought homes built by Trinity Homes, LLC ("Trinity") in Indiana between June 1, 1998, and October 31, 2002. Most of these homes are located in Hamilton County, Boone County, and Marion County.

The homes had a common construction defect. Trinity failed to include a moisture barrier within the exterior brick walls of these homes and failed to ensure the presence of a consistent one-inch air space between the brick veneer on the outsides of the houses and the exterior wall sheathing. Both steps are required by industry standards that are incorporated by the Indiana Building Code. This allowed water to collect within the exterior walls. Water damage to the exterior walls and in some cases to interior portions of the affected houses allowed mold and mildew to develop.

The problems became the subject of numerous lawsuits against Trinity, including a class action in the Hamilton County Court. Trinity and its parent company Beazer Homes Investment Corp. ("Beazer") were the defendants in the class action. Plews Shadley Racher & Braun together with the Indianapolis law firm of Cohen & Malad, LLP, represent the homeowners in the case.

The settlement requires Trinity and Beazer to investigate each home in the class to identify ongoing water intrusion resulting from construction defects, including defects that do not relate to the homes’ brick veneer. Where ongoing water intrusion due to construction defects is found, the source must be addressed and the affected area must be repaired and if necessary remediated. Trinity and Beazer must follow specific assessment and remediation protocols. A construction management firm selected by the class counsel will observe the assessment, repair, and remediation processes and will advise the homeowners on their sufficiency. Trinity and Beazer will pay for this service. If disputes arise during the assessment, repair and remedial activities, they will be resolved by a panel of three professional engineers. One of these engineers was selected by Trinity and Beazer, one was selected by the class counsel, and the third was selected by the parties’ selected engineers. Trinity and Beazer will bear the bulk of the cost of this alternative dispute-resolution process. Remediation construction performed pursuant to the class action settlement will receive a new warranty that will commence when the work is finished. Trinity and Beazer must complete its assessments and its repair and remedial work on a minimum of 216 homes per six-month period. Remediation construction must be completed within 16 weeks after the repair and remediation activities at that house commence.

Beazer’s SEC filing for the first quarter of 2004, before the settlement agreement was presented to the Hamilton County Court, indicated that Beazer had set aside warranty reserves of $24 million to address the water damage and mold-related problems that had arisen with respect to homes built by Trinity in Indiana. Class counsels believe that is a low estimate of Trinity and Beazer’s actual costs to fulfill their obligations under the class-action settlement. The terms of the settlement were very well received by the class members during the court-approval process for the settlement. Only eight class members, out of 2,085, submitted objections to the Hamilton County Court. Some of the objectors felt that the settlement should include damages for bodily injuries and for the diminution of value of the affected houses. The vast majority of affected families placed a higher priority on having their homes fixed, at no cost to them, on an enforceable timetable and with outside supervision, than in further litigation to obtain damages for personal injuries or diminution in property value.

Builders and consumers have much to learn from this case. From the builder’s perspective, the importance of measures that ensure compliance with building codes cannot be overstated. This includes involvement of and supervision by qualified personnel at all stages of the design and construction process. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. From the consumer’s perspective, awareness of possible water intrusion problems and/or mold problems is key during construction or in the purchase of an already-constructed home or commercial building. If a water intrusion problem exists, common sense and good engineering practices frequently can solve the problem. Where an extensive mold infestation has developed, the services of an industrial hygienist may assist in identifying whether remediation is required and, if so, how the remediation can be most cost-effectively performed. At a minimum, prompt attention to water intrusion and mold problems often will limit damage to property and perhaps more importantly can minimize the exposure of a building’s inhabitants to air-borne mold spores and by-products which can make them sick. If left unchecked, unhealthful conditions resulting from water intrusion and mold can expose builders and contractors to damages much higher than the cost of addressing the water intrusion and mold problems.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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