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US ignores pleas of thousands of sick people due to fears of litigation and liability   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Posted by  
Friday, 28 January 2005

General of the United States is ducking the issue on questions concerning toxic mold


Surgeon General's Office Issues Conflicting Message on "Toxic

In a move that spells trouble for tens of thousands of sick and disabled
Americans, the Surgeon General of the United States is ducking the
issue on questions concerning Toxic Mold and ignoring people in the worst epidemic of the century. 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 office of Richard H. Carmona, Surgeon General of the United States, conducted a two day clinic for public health professionals, titled "Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment". The event, which was conducted at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, included panelists from public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with various university and medical researchers participating as well.

The presenting panelists maintained a focus on communicating the
positions of their respective organizations and research. Dr. Noreen
Clark, Chair of the highly questionable Institute of Medicine (IoM)
study, "Damp Indoor Spaces and Health", promoted the claims 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, but siince it was found to be quiite incomplete and lacking factual data, many have questioned who was really behind the fundind of this report.  Dr. Clark claimed, 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

"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 failed to return
calls after multiple attempts to contact him on the matter.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona warned the American public
about the risks of breathing indoor radon by issuing a national
health advisory today. The advisory is meant to urge Americans to
prevent this silent radioactive gas from seeping into their homes
and building up to dangerous levels. Dr. Carmona issued the advisory
during a two-day Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor

"Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the
United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a
significant health risk to families all over the county," Dr.
Carmona said. "It's important to know that this threat is completely
preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed
through well-established venting techniques."

Radon is an invisible, odorless and tasteless gas, with no immediate
health symptoms, that comes from the breakdown of uranium inside the earth. Simple test kits can reveal the amount of radon in any
building. Those with high levels can be fixed with simple and
affordable venting techniques. According to U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, one in every 15 homes nationwide
have a high radon level at or above the recommended radon action
level of 4 picoCuries (pCi/L) per liter of air.

National Health Advisory on Radon
Radon gas in the indoor air of America's homes poses a serious
health risk. More than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung
cancer every year. Millions of homes have an elevated radon level.
If you also smoke, your risk of lung cancer is much higher. Test
your home for radon every two years, and retest any time you move,
make structural changes to your home, or occupy a previously unused
level of a house. If you have a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more, take
steps to remedy the problem as soon as possible.

"Americans need to know about the risks of indoor radon and have the
information and tools they need to take action. That's why EPA is
actively promoting the Surgeon General's advice urging all Americans
to get their homes tested for radon. If families do find elevated
levels in their homes, they can take inexpensive steps that will
reduce exposure to this risk," said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, Assistant
Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).

"Based on national averages, we can expect that many of the homes
owned or financed by federal government programs would have
potentially elevated radon levels. The federal government has an
opportunity to lead by example on this public health risk. We can
accomplish this by using the outreach and awareness avenues we have, such as EPA's Web site, to share information and encourage action on radon to reduce risks," said Edwin Pi?ero, Federal Environmental Executive, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE).

A national Public Service Announcement (PSA) that was released to
television stations across America in January, National Radon Action
Month, is reinforcing this recently updated health advisory. In the
television spot, the camera scans a neighborhood with rooftop
banners that remind the occupants of the importance to test their
homes for radon. The television PSA can be viewed at:

For more information about radon go to EPA's Web site; or call your state radon office; or call a
national toll-free hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON (1-800-767-7236).

The Surgeon General's Workshop on Healthy Indoor Environment is
bringing together the best scientific minds in the nation to discuss
the continuing problem of unhealthful buildings. Indoor environments
are structures including workplaces, schools, offices, houses and
apartment buildings, and vehicles. According to a recent study,
Americans spend between 85 and 95 percent of their time indoors. Still, they prey on the issues of an ignorant society to make claims understating the truth about this edpidemic and the serious health problems that it can cause.

Many have posed a questiion to the EPA, CDC, and surgeon general directly which has never been answered.  If the United States Military recognizes T-2 mycotoxins as a biological warfare agent, then why do they say it is alright if it proliferates in our homes?  The problem is that unlike Radon, molds are expensive to abate, much more common, and they self-replicate.  This is the main reason these entities fail to tell the truth.  Liability is their worst issue.

In just the past 25 years, the percentage of health evaluations that
the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has conducted
related to indoor-air quality has increased from 0.5 percent of all
evaluations in 1978, to 52 percent of all evaluations since 1990.
This means that in those years, the evaluations related to air
quality concerns have increased from one of every 200 evaluations to
one of every two.

The problem is also adversely affecting our children's health as
millions of homes and apartments and one in five schools in America
have indoor air quality problems. This can trigger various allergies
and asthma. Asthma alone accounts for 14 million missed school days
each year. The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160
percent in the past 15 years, and today one out of every 13 school-
age children has asthma. Dr. Carmona is especially focusing on how
unhealthy indoor environment affects children, as he promotes 2005
as The Year of the Healthy Child.

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343
Surgeon General Releases National Health Advisory On Radon

For More Information, Contact:
Joel Segal, Public Affairs Director, Congressman John Conyers 
(202) 225-5126

Richard H. Carmona, Surgeon General of the United States  (877) 696-

Craig Stevens, Press Officer for Health and Human Services (202)

Last Updated (Saturday, 02 April 2005)

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