Silver Lakes, CA – There are still some ignorant people who laugh when opportunistic and misleading companies such as Clorox advertise people running out of their homes at the sight of mold in a shower. Although Clorox is only trying to profit from misleading information regarding mold, signs of a mold problem can start in the bathroom, among other places.
When John Kinsella woke up one morning gasping for air, he had no idea that a leak in a bathroom shower was about to turn his life around. “I had never been sick in my life,” said the 55-year-old building contractor and former Army helicopter pilot. “I didn’t know what was wrong. But I knew it was serious.”
Black Stachybotrys – One of the Most Toxic Substances
And serious it was. A laboratory report revealed the shower stall in the three-bedroom home contained toxic black stachybotrys mold, which medical studies link to fatal pulmonary disorders, neurological problems, cancer, and autoimmune disease. In fact, stachybotrys has been determined to be one of the most toxic substances to mankind. “Lab tests showed 40,000 parts of mold spores per cubic meter of air, or 40 times the outside air count for all molds,” said their mold inspector Joe Crotinger. “This level has the definite potential to be a health threat to anyone.” Mr. Crotinger is one of the few inspectors who knows that exposure to these types of mold can be toxic to the humans and animals alike, despite uneducated, biased, and uninformed people who claim that fungal exposure can only be a health threat to immuno-compromised, the elderly, and children.
In August 2004, four months after renting the house in Silver Lakes, Kinsella began to suffer headaches, watery eyes, ongoing breathing difficulties, and other symptoms. A physician at the Loma Linda Veterans Hospital prescribed antibiotics and an inhaler. The doctor’s diagnosis revealed that Kinsella had asthma and bronchitis. “I was shocked,” he said. “I’ve never had either before.”
Using his builder’s wisdom, he inspected the house which he shares with Lori Norick, 47, a property investor, and discovered that the grouting in the master shower was changing colors. “It was changing from dark to light colors, and kept expanding,’ Kinsella said.
A property management company sent a repairman to the house. He regrouted the lower part of the shower, but failed to cut into the wall to find the source of the leak. “We think he should have opened up the wall to an adjoining bedroom to check all the plumbing,” Norick said. This would be common sense to most, but apparently not to all.
Later, another repairman removed the tile over the shower pan, cut into the wall and found black mold. “With the opening in the wall, toxic spores were free to enter the home’s air-conditioning duct system,” Crotinger said. “This allowed the spores to contaminate everything from clothing and carpets to sofas and bedding”. Kinsella’s health continued to deteriorate, and Norick experienced headaches and fatigue, among many other symptoms.
They moved out of the house in July, on the advice of both Crotinger and Kinsella’s physician, leaving all of their contaminated furnishings behind. “It’s a substantial loss for us,” Norick said. “We had to move without taking anything that might be contaminated, including our chihuahua’s bed pillow and stuffed toys.”
Earlier this month, Kinsella underwent surgery to open severely congested sinuses. “I feel better now, especially since I’m not staying in the house,” he said. Heavy rain in San Bernardino County the past winter has increased the likelihood of black mold infestations in both new and older homes. “We’ve been swamped with calls,” Crotinger said. “In many cases, tenants who don’t have the money to move elsewhere are stuck with staying where they are with visible mold on the walls. Many who have lost their loved ones to this type of scenario state they would rather be homeless than exposed to such a toxic environment, but many are still ignorant to all of the ramifications and consequences of fungal exposure.”
Problem Too Big to Fix?
County spokesman David Wert claimed the county has failed to establish any regulatory authority on toxic mold in private homes. “That’s an issue between homeowners or tenant and the builders,” he said. This type of reckless irresponsibility has led to millions of ill people around the country since it is often assumed that mold is a sublime issue. “On the contrary, fungal exposure is the leading cause of cancer, disease, and undiagnosed etiologies in death. It’s just that the epidemic is so big, so expensive to repair, and so dangerous that state and governmental officials have taken a more cowardly approach and decided to ignore it,” states Dr. David Edwards, a leading pulmonologist who treats mold patients. “After reviewing the CDC original reports from the Cleveland infant deaths, and then viewing the altered reports, I know exactly what is going on. The problem is too big to fix, and the government has too much liability with all of their own moldy buildings.”
According to the mold inspector for the Kinsella-Norick home, leaks in interior piping are more common than rain seepage. But new energy-efficient houses invite mold colonization. “By constructing hermetically-sealed homes, we create a perfect environment for mold to thrive in,” Crotinger said. Construction defects are also more common than not, especially in the new cookie cutter homes that are so popular with middle class Americans.
Water Intrusion Equals Mold Proliferation
Since it can take only 24 to 48 hours for mold to proliferate, homeowners or renters find themselves living in a potentially unhealthful dwelling. Kinsella said many people are held captive by black mold in their homes, because they don’t know which way to turn. “I don’t want someone else to have to go through this like we did,” he said. This is so very commonly said with almost all mold victims, but until the government, home builders, and the insurance industry takes responsibility, nothing will ever happen. In fact, things will become much worse as you will most likely see within the next two to four years.