Congress is Beginning to Listen to Mold Sufferers
While Government Health Agencies
Avoid Toxic Mold Realities
In a move that spells trouble for tens of thousands of sick
Americans, the Surgeon General of the United States is ducking the
issue on questions concerning Toxic Mold. Despite direct objections
by senior Congressional staff at a recent national health policy
summit, the presenting researchers at the event made statements that
mold presents no human health risks. However, Watchdog groups say
that not only are study results that are driving national policy
tainted by corporate influence, but that the follow up press
statement on the event proceedings from the Surgeon General is
On January 12th and 13th, the Surgeon General of the United States, hosted the "Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment." The event
was conducted at the National Institutes of Health and included panelists
from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Various university and medical researchers also participated.
The presenting panelists maintained a focus on communicating the
positions of their respective organizations and research. Dr. Noreen
Clark, Chair of the recently released Institute of Medicine (IoM)
study, "Damp Indoor Spaces and Health", promoted the findings of
that paper and made a bid for more funding. The IoM study was
sponsored at the request of the CDC after much public debate on the
issue. Dr. Clark stated, among other points, that indoor molds were
not found to have an association to serious disease symptoms, as
have been widely reported in the press on the issue of "Toxic Mold,
more accurately referred to as "Toxigenic Fungi". However, the
Institute of Medicine study has recently come under fire for issuing
a press release that failed to convey that the study was only
charged to investigate allergic and non-infectious respiratory
symptoms of fungal exposure, and that their findings never included
examination of other serious symptoms. The study was widely quoted
in the popular press and has since been used in defense litigation
in a case in Arizona where a woman claimed severe injuries from mold
exposure in a Phoenix apartment.
The event was attended by members of the public health advocate
community, including Joel Segal, Public Affairs Director for the
office of Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich). Congressman Conyers,
the ranking Democrat in the US House of Representatives, introduced
sponsorship of a Bill in 2001 (HR 1268), that proposes mold be
listed as a hazardous substance. At one point during the
presentation, Segal was moved to stand and take issue with some of
"The Institute of Medicine study does not reflect what we are seeing
in calls to my office." Segal said. "We are receiving complaints
from people who have experienced lung and organ damage, permanent
neurological problems and fatigue symptoms that are functionally
disabling after mold exposures in their homes. We've had more calls
on this than any other single issue, including universal health
care -- since sponsoring HR 1268, 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."
When contacted after the event, Segal went on to state, "We have had
inquiries from Senators Kennedy, Clinton and others on the issue --
they are well informed and very concerned. We need to sponsor a
multi-agency, non-partisan task force to study the human health and
economic impacts of this. At this point, it's not an exaggeration to
say that this is a public health emergency."
Other attendees were quick to add their takes on the workshop.
Sharon Kramer, a leading mold advocate from California who has been
personally affected by fungal illness, had this to say about the
"They know they have a big problem on their hands. They know they
are not properly addressing it. They know they need to get the
allergists out of the clinical control of the decision making
process and put some infectious disease doctors on it."
"I honestly think that, over the years, they thought we were a bunch
of neurotic whiners. This position has been perpetuated by those
occupational doctors who evaluate on behalf of the insurance
industry and worker's comp. Then there are companies like GlobalTox
that have infiltrated the government decision making process, yet do
expert insurance litigation support for a living."
Given the contentious nature of the event, it was anticipated that
the Surgeon General's office would issue some acknowledgment of the
concerns that were being expressed by senior government officials
and citizens. However, on Thursday, the press office of Health and
Human Services, on behalf of the Surgeon General, issued a follow up
media release that focused solely on the health effects of Radon,
and no other pathogenic agents.
The release appeared to imply that Radon was associated with the 160
percent rise in childhood asthma of recent years. In contradiction
to this, the EPA states on their website that "There is no evidence
that other respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are caused by Radon
"This is unbelievable! I think I heard the word "Radon" used five
times in the entire conference," Kramer said. "I sat there for two
days. I witnessed many scientists and professionals who truly are
working for a solution (to the mold problem)." she said. "I find it
impossible to believe that the only thing that is motivating this
stonewall is corporate greed. I think they are afraid of the issue
and don't know what to do."
Health and Human Services press officer Craig Stevens did not return
calls after multiple attempts to contact him on the matter. -
Jonathan Lee Wright.
It is unfortunate that those supposedly leading the way in medical research, are decades behind suffering patients and the clinician's treating them. To avoid the topic of indoor toxic mold is profound moral anemia, and an insincere portrayal of these two days of proceedings.