Linda’s Story as told by Susan Lillard-Roberts
Linda from California contacted me shortly after CBS aired their special on 48 Hours in autumn of 2001. The network broadcast a story on toxic mold and she saw my link on their website. I had thousands of e-mails to respond to but I stopped short and listened intently as my heart went out to Linda since her story was particularly disturbing due to the extreme severity of her illness and her desperate pleas for help. Her husband, a wealthy executive in the San Francisco Bay Area, had recently abandoned her in this current state. Linda was so utterly vulnerable as she was left single-handedly to deal with a ten acre ranch, several sick animals, and no income while being totally frustrated with the medical community as she was not receiving adequate medical care; not even a diagnosis.
Linda had patiently discussed her symptoms, illness, and chronology of events with several well known physicians, yet they failed to make a connection and ignorantly prescribed some benzodiazepines instead of the meds that she so desperately needed. A common complaint among mold patients is that they are commonly misunderstood by their doctors and often prescribed tranquilizers, anti-depressants, or inhalers in lieu of a medication to actually treat the illness at hand.
Any mold victim would tell you that their story is an absolute nightmare as they lose their health and home with no agency support or government help whatsoever. Linda’s story was worse than most I had encountered due to her strange series circumstances. Indeed, she lost her health, home and belongings due to fungal exposure in her home; but unbeknownst to her, the worst culprit lived over a mile away from inside what one might think was an innocent composting dumpsite owned by the local power company and the county.
Linda required immediate expert medical attention. This was much easier said than done. I suggested to Linda that she see Dr. Vincent Marinkovich in Redwood City as soon as possible. Dr. Marinkovich, an associate professor at Stanford at the time, who has years of skill in treating patients with fungal disease and allergies, knew immediately by Linda’s symptoms that her situation was much more complex than an average fungal exposure case. He told Linda that her symptoms reminded him of a situation in Santa Clara involving a composting dumpsite that harvested power. Several people became very sick from that dumpsite. Unfortunately, after Dr. Marinkovich heard Linda lived near a composting dumpsite and all about her symptoms he tested and diagnosed Linda with the very same thing; thermophilic actinomycetes (ther-mo-fil-lik ak-tin-o-mice-sees).
Linda’s prognosis is not a favorable one. She will be on a course of at least five years of antifungals and ampicillin, as well as a specific combination of other costly, invasive, weekly treatments. The side effects of these are awful, and she is constantly weak, ill, and nauseous. She calls me every day, and at times I know she is trying to cover up her pain but I realize she just needs to hear a bit of reassurance on the other side. I feel so bad for her at times.
Her illness actually proliferated from an Aspergillus Fumigatus and an anaerobic bacteria (with similar dimorphic properties to fungi; in a parachute-web shaped form; only one to two microns in size). These diminutive microorganisms are called actinomycetes, and some types live in ambient temperatures of 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. On many days this is the typical temperature within an average compost heap.
The actinomycetes flutter up in the air, with their parachute shapes wafting about wherever Mother Nature takes them; sometimes two miles or more in distance, according to Robert Hill, an attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota who has successfully tried these composting dumpsite cases in the Midwest. Currently, there are no federal regulations such as ventilation fans here in the United States. In countries such as The United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia, proper ventilation, volcanic ash, and air filtration is mandatory around such dumpsites.
Understandably, when inhaled, these actinomycetes enter the lining of the lung tissue, the cell and replicate inside, causing scarring. According to Robert Hill, thermophilic actinomycetes can cause permanent fibrosis of the lung.
One hypothesis is that this creates pulmonary hypertension. Actinomycetes also adversely effect the immune system. Some of Linda’s symptoms include severe chest pain, increased blood pressure in the left arm, shortness of breath, sheer exhaustion, severe cough, muscle aches, pain radiating down the left arm, fever, chills, anxiety, and general depression.
Since then, through more intense testing, we have discovered that Linda has suffered from radical brain damage, neurological trauma, altered DNA, sarcoidoma, and she is suffering from permanent and severe lung and nasal damage that can be directly attributed to the composting dumpsite exposure. She now has a team of top physicians working with her in order to stabilize her health, documenting everything with the latest medical technology. Her medical bills total approximately $4,500 a month.
Previous litigation has been filed in these types of situations. The problem is that a vast percentage of the victims die before their cases come to trial; many are misdiagnosed and die of unknown causes, and others are reported as asthma deaths, or of septic shock with an unknown etiology.
When Linda found out about the dumpsite and what a danger it was, she began to reflect on her experience in that neighborhood and little red flags began to flash inside her head . . . The previous owner of Linda’s home in California told her his wife died under mysterious conditions; asthma, an enlarged heart and internal bleeding; as did Linda’s former neighbor’s husband. In fact, others had attributed their deaths and illnesses in the outlying area to asthma or medical malpractice. Several animals died mysteriously including one of Linda’s prized Borzois. He died with an enlarged heart, pleurisy, and severe internal bleeding. When Linda had her house tested for toxic mold, the industrial hygiene team couldn’t even take an accurate base level reading for exterior air levels as the outside air was so lethal
Ironically, as a prerequisite for Linda’s divorce, the judge ordered the toxic house and property to be sold to another party. Much to Linda’s horror and well beyond her control, the property was sold almost immediately to a single woman and her daughter. Linda, in her full property disclosure and concern for any future occupant, stated each and every health problem she had allegedly incurred as a result of the property as well as all of the fatal flaws it had as due to the down wind of the dumpsite. According to the State of California, there appears to be no evidence of danger from thermophilic actinomycetes past a distance of 1,600 feet or greater as a result of a composting dumpsite. There are over 150 of these dumpsites in the state of California alone.
Do you have a composting dumpsite near you?
What you don’t know can hurt you. It’s destroying my best friend.
I notice many foreign IP addresses visit this site. If any of you have information on composting dumpsites in other countries, please send any and all information to us. It would be much appreciated. Thank you, Dr. Chris Kent upon our recent discoveries during my last trip to England. Your input is most appreciated.
For more information on this subject, read what California says about Bioaerosols and Greenwaste Composting in California Report by The California Department Health Services and Aspergillus, Aspergillosis, and Composting Operations in California by The California Integrated Waste Management Board.