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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 deliberately misleading.

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 proceedings.

"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 workshop presenters:

"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 exposures".

"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.

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