Albany, NY – In 2005, the State Legislature found that “certain forms of mold pose an unacceptable risk to New York State’s health and environment” and that “indoor toxins, specifically toxic mold, have been an under-recognized health and environmental problem.” The Legislature passed a law, effective Aug. 2, 2005, that called for the creation of a 14-member Toxic Mold Task Force to “assess, based on scientific evidence, the nature, scope and magnitude of the adverse environmental and health impacts caused by toxic mold in the state.”
But more than two years passed, and nothing was done. No task force, no assessment. Lawmakers, led by State Senator Liz Krueger, Democrat of Manhattan, urged Gov. Eliot Spitzer to implement the law. The governor listened. The state’s Toxic Mold Task Force will hold its first meeting on Dec. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., in the boardroom of the New York State Nurses Association headquarters in Latham, N.Y.
Mold is no joke; ingesting, inhaling or touching spores can seriously injure infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with asthma, allergies or compromised immune systems. Mold can trigger asthma attacks, cause allergies, impair vital organs and increase susceptibility to colds and flu.
The Times Topics page on mold contains links to a variety of mold-related resources. (“Haunted by Mold,” a 2001 cover article by Lisa Belkin in The New York Times Magazine, helped focus public attention on the problem.)
The new task force will be led by Dr. Nancy Kim, interim director of the Center for Environmental Health at the State Department of Health, and Thomas Mahar, assistant director of code enforcement and administration at the State Department of State.
The other task force members are:
- Susan Anagnost, associate professor, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
- Terry Brennan, president, Camroden Associates
- Ginger Chew, assistant professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
- Christopher D’Andrea, research scientist, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- Robert Denz, director of environmental health services, Broome County Health Department
- Melanie Desiderio, assistant director of environmental health, Erie County Department of Health
- Eric Faisst, public health director, Madison County Health Department
- John Haines, emeritus scientist, New York State Museum
- Dr. Meyer Kattan, professor of pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center
- Joseph Laquatra, professor in family policy, Hazel E. Reed Human Ecology Extension, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
- Dr. James Melius, administrator, New York State Laborers’ Health and Safety Trust Fund
- Dr. Jianshun Zhang, professor and director, energy and indoor environmental systems, Syracuse University
- The Dec. 4 hearing will include a 30-minute public comment period. The task force may decide to hold subsequent public hearings in different parts of the state.