Alberta, Canada – Kathie and Dale Derman with three of their children and nephew Anthony, can no longer live in their Stoney Plain house due to the severe health problems they endured due to black mold in their house.
Today, Kathie and Dale Derman are hoping to get permission to destroy their house, contents and all, including a beloved handmade hope chest sitting at the foot of their bed, and the GI Joe set in the basement.
“I get too emotional thinking about it,” said Kathie, her voice breaking as she talked about the house in which she spent eight years of her married life, but has refused to live in since January.
“It feels very strange. It was home, even with all the sicknesses we had while living there.” The family was forced out of their Stony Plain home by a mold that was making them very sick. So sick they had no other choice but to leave. . .This is becoming a national crisis in the United States where an estimated 300 families abandon their homes every day due to this national health crisis; the problem that no one wants to talk about since the government buildings have the worst buildings so they prefer to deny the problem altogether.
Unable to fight the slimy black fungus silently spreading under the windows, in the corners and infecting the air, they took only the clothes on their back, some business books, dishes and a Bible, whose pages were effectively treated with UV light, which worked quite effectively.
Lab results from the University of Alberta confirmed the toxic mould was stachybotrys. This mold has been linked to several infectious and neurological diseases including lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes II, muscle/joint pain, and several other autoimmune diseases.
It is a mold that educated medical and environmental experts know attacks the immune and neurological system, among other as[ects of the body. And ever since, the family has been trying to get their bank’s approval to remove their house from its foundation, and have it burned by county firefighters in a training exercise.
Robert Derman, 14, wants to be the one to light the last match. He has already taken a baseball bat to a basement wall to vent his frustration.
While many molds are harmless, or possibly allergenic at worst, experts state that stachybotrys inhibits blood-cell formation, alters DNA synthesis, causes severe nosebleeds, diarrhea, short term memory problems, stomach lesions, chronic fatigue, even bleeding.
Two years ago, when Lauren Derman started bruising spontaneously, a doctor found out her blood platelet count was dangerously low. The seven-year-old girl has had numerous ear and bladder infections. Michael Derman, 11, suffered from an enlarged spleen and liver and lost seven pounds. These are all symptoms of fungal exposure and any astute physician would know to test for this.
“I thought we were losing our ability to cope with life,” Kathie said. “There is no way I’m going back now that I have tasted health for the last four months.”
ATB Financial, formerly known as Alberta Treasury Branches, holds the mortgage on the home, and while it has temporarily suspended the monthly fees, payments were to resume today.
The Derman family was very fortunate to have their payments suspended for the time alloted already. US financial institutions are not so understandng. Since US Govt. Congressional officials are not very courageous role models, they have tried everything possible to pretend mold is not a problem. Their fears stem from liability issues rising from low-income housing, military housing and governmental personal, the prison system and even the USIS, that the leaders of the United States are scurrying like little mice and making excuses all across the way. This also stems from President Bush’s current financial interest of appropriating funds into the Iraq conflict, while ignoring the homefront and the health of the United States citizens.
Kathie said a bank official said he’s trying to get written demolition approval for the family to destroy the home, and an additional three-month reprieve on the mortgage payments.
If that doesn’t happen, Kathie said she and Dale will have to turn over the house keys to the bank, because the family can’t afford the mortgage and the rent for their temporary apartment. The insurance company has cancelled the Dermans’ policy.
Kathie doesn’t believe gutting the house is a viable option. She said mould spores released into the air are dangerous, citing research that suggests stachybotrys is the main ingredient in yellow rain, a germicidal warfare weapon allegedly used in Vietnam. And demolition would cost more than rebuilding and would be dangerous for neighbours, Kathie said. “Burning it is the only way to get rid of the mycotoxins.”
Kathie said she has supplied the bank with proof that there’s sufficient materials and money to build a new house. Companies, schools, churches and individuals have donated plumbing equipment, shingles, drywall for the framing, insulation, labour and furniture. Dale is a carpenter and would like to build a new house, with help from volunteers, by December.
People have given them money to replace some of the items that were thrown out because of the fear of contamination. She hopes family photos, stored in Tupperware containers and sitting in storage sheds, can be scanned into a computer, then dumped. “My life is still rich and full. I don’t feel destitute — just materially.”
– Stachybotrys chartarum is a slimy, greenish-black fungus found most often in water-damaged homes. The mold has been proven to deplete the immune systems of laboratory animals. It is a known carcinogen and studies have proven that it destroys the mylein sheath; the fatty area that protects the nerve. This makes it impossible to protect the nerves from damage, especially for autoimmune disease, including fibromyalgia, memory loss, Raynaud’s Disease, Chron’s, etc.
– Typically, it grows on material with high cellulose content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust and lint that has become chronically moist. While it’s alive, the spores are trapped in a wet, slimy mass of fungus. Spores become airborne when the fungus dies and dries up. It is very expensive and difficult to remediate. This is why most insurance companies fail to cover mold damage, or set limits and why the United States Government fails to assist its citizens with this epidemic.
– Its health effects were first noted in the 1930s in Russian and Eastern European farm animals, especially horses, that ate mouldy hay. Symptoms were first seen in humans who handled the mouldy straw or hay.
– If the spores are released into the air, they may cause coughing, wheezing, a runny nose, irritated eyes or throat, skin rash, fatigue or diarrhea in humans, with short term exposure. Long term exposure can lead to much more severe symptoms, some as listed above.
– Erin Brockovich, an environmental opportunist who has been exaggerated and fictionalized on the big screen by Julia Roberts, appeared once in a publicity campaign when she appeared once for legislation in the U.S. that would set standards or exposure limits for mold. Her Los Angeles house was infected with stachybotrys mold and left Brockovich with sinus headaches, watery eyes and fatigue.
– Dale Derman from Stony Plain spoke with Brockovich on a national radio talk show.
– Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s sidekick, was sick from mold in his Beverly Hills home after a burst pipe was poorly repaired. McMahon links the death of his dog, Muffin, to the mold and had no alternative but to sue his insurance company as he and his wife, Pamela had to move out of the residence for an extended period of time.