Pittsburgh, PA – Tests confirm that there is toxic mold in a building where a group of employees have complained of the typical symptoms of toxic mold, including rashes, shortness of breath, and hair loss, but their employer claims there’s no proof that the mold is making them sick.
“Independent experts have found no causal relationship between the work environment and employee symptoms…”
— Statement released from Mercy Hospital
Last week, a group of people who work on the fourth floor of a lab operated by Mercy Hospital became sick with similar symptoms; but after extensive testing, Mercy Hospital claims it didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.
Now, Mercy’s own tests indicate that a toxic type of mold, called Stachybotrys is present in the building. Stachybotrys, which is sometimes called “black mold,” has been linked to serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, seizures, and cancer.
Former lab employee Belinda Schmidt took photographs inside the building that shows mold growth around ceiling vents and door frames. “I have gone through the entire lab — in an effort while working on site,” Schmidt explains, “to find what the possible problem could be.”
Recently discovered documents show for the first time that Mercy Hospital’s own tests have found mold in ceiling tile that has been identified as Stachybotrys, contrary to what they stated previously.
“It causes all of the symptoms exactly like what we’re experiencing — such as the hair loss, skin rashes respiratory symptoms…” — Belinda Schmidt, Former Mercy Employee
In a statement, Mercy claims in testing for mold it found “four, small, isolated, water-damaged areas that show evidence of mold growth,” but they found “no airborne concentrations of mold.” This is a common tactic done in indoor air quality testing to downplay the presence of mold. Mold doesn’t always appear in air samples and tests are often conducted by air in hopes of not finding any spores, so the test can be deemed “inconclusive.”
To date, Mercy still claims “independent experts have found no causal relationship between the work environment and employee symptoms.”
The victims of the mold exposure don’t agree with these statements, especially due to the fact that the government has failed to set any definitive guidelines for mold counts or indoor air quality standards due to the consequences they would face. Schmidt says that’s not good enough; she says photographs of her hair falling out should be enough to force the hospital to move all of the employees from the lab.
“I’m hurt by it and I’m actually disgusted by it — because I expect people to do the right thing… I guess I’m an idealist and I just expect people to make the right decisions.” — Belinda Schmidt, Former Mercy Employee
Mercy has tested for other volatile organic compounds, radiation, lead, mercury, possibly in hopes of finding a less expensive problem to remediate; but to date, all the results are within normal limits.
Sadly, many organizations and corporations do not want to face the responsibility and high costs of having to remediate mold contaminated buildings and hope that the ignorance of this public health crisis will keep people from discovering the horrors of fungal exposure and the health problems that it causes. Unfortunately for them, the public is becoming more distrusting of these cover-ups and more educated about this epidemic and horrendous threat that toxigenic mold can cause.
At this point, it’s not clear what will happen now that the building has tested positive for toxic mold and the truth has finally been discovered.