Texans' Worries About Mold Are Way Out Of Hand
By Gailen D. Marshall, Jr., MD, PhD
In Response to a Dallas Morning News Article published on July 14, 2002
What do these things have in common: wine, penicillin, cheese, beer and mushrooms? Can't guess? Here is a big hint: It also is the latest dubious health scare costing Texas consumers millions of dollars in higher insurance premiums and needless home "health" testing, and it is being used as a get-rich-quick scheme for some personal injury lawyers. Ah, now you know; it is called mold.
So how did this very common type of fungus, present in all sorts of good things we use on a daily basis and always present in our environment, grow into a major consumer crisis? The answer may surprise you.
As a board-certified allergist-immunologist, I have taught, done research and seen patients with a variety of immune-based medical conditions for 14 years. In the past several years, my clinical office has become increasingly populated by very frightened, sometimes angry individuals. They believe, or have been told, they have "toxic mold disease." But do they really?
First, let's examine some facts about mold.
There are many different kinds of mold, at least 10,000 common types. Mold is everywhere because it simply requires a source of water, sugar and oxygen along with a friendly surface to thrive and grow. In places where a lot of water is in the air itself (like Texas), mold easily finds comfortable growth sites and is especially prosperous.
Still, even though health risks may be vastly exaggerated, most people would rather not have excess, visible mold in their homes. If there is a lot of mold, it looks bad, and it has an unpleasant odor. But removing mold is relatively simple. If you have mold, you have excess moisture, and that needs to be eliminated, whether it is a roof leak, a shower leak or condensation. Often, the mold simply can be cleaned off and won't return if the moisture is removed.
If you see or smell mold in your home, simply clean it up and plug the water leak. If you need an expert to help, find a reputable person or company trained in moisture management to find and fix the water source. And perhaps most important, if someone comes to you to try to assess blame for the mold "exposure," ask yourself whether you want the aggravation, expense and frustration associated with trying to get compensated for the everyday risks associated with living on our planet.
The Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society (TAAIS) is a group of more than 220 board-certified Allergists/Immunologists in Texas.
An Allergist/Immunologist is a physician, usually an Internist or Pediatrician, who has had special training and experience in the field of Allergy and Immunology and who is considered to be an expert in the diagnosis and management of immune system disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), eczema, urticaria (hives), drug reactions, food allergies, immune deficiencies, and all general aspects of anaphylaxis.
A Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist is a physician who has passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. A list of Board Certified Allergists can be found here. Those with “ABAI” under Board Certification are Board Certified Allergists/Immunologist.