You may have heard the horror stories of families who buy homes infested with toxic black mold, only to find out it is too late. Now there is a move in Congress to do something about it. This is a landmark piece of legislation that is be introduced Tuesday by Congressman John Conyers, (D) Michigan. It is a very dangerous, creeping, crawling fungus that grows inside your walls, underneath the carpeting, inside your ceiling, a substance known as toxic black mold. It can destroy your home and health as well, without you ever realizing it until it’s too late.
Pam Walker paid $115,000 for a house that was filled with it. “They said in certain rooms of our house that it was so high we would never be able to touch our belongings on the inside,” Pam explained. Even worse than losing her home, Pam’s 8-year-old daughter, Malina, has lost much of her ability to breathe. She now suffers from severe asthma attacks several times every day. “She lost 70 percent of the lung capacity before we determined what was really making her ill,” Pam said.
Now, Congressman Conyers is introducing a brand new bill, named after Malina Walker, designed to protect home buyers like her mother from unwittingly moving into homes infested with black mold, and provide a finical lifeboat for homeowners who are all ready stuck with it. “There is mold and then there is poisonous mold, which particularly affects young infants whose immune systems and lung capacities are still growing,” the congressman said.
The Malina bill will for the first time require the EPA to define what dangerous toxic mold levels are, create an emergency federal insurance program, like FEMA, to pay the astronomical costs of black mold clean up, and create a national database of homes infected with black mold. But it comes too late to help Pam Walker and her two daughters. “We’re responsible for tearing it down. And because it’s a contaminated environment, we’re supposed to pay $40,000 we don’t have,” Pam said.
Here are some of the major components of the federal legislation Mr. Conyers has proposed:
- The EPA must issue guidelines that define what levels of mold are acceptable and what levels are dangerous.
- EPA sets guidelines to set standards and government oversight over unregulated inspections and remediations by requiring states to license and monitor mold inspectors and remediators.
- CDC must authorize a long term study of the health effects of mold and publish these findings in a report to Congress and the President.
- States can tap into federal dollars to clean mold disasters.
- Create a federal toxic mold insurance program that would provide adequate compensation for families that do not have homeowners insurance or if their private homeowners insurance does not sufficiently cover the costs of mold removal and additional living expenses.
- Families and/or individuals diagnosed by a physician as having mold related illnesses due to toxic mold exposure would be eligible to receive Medicaid if they are (a) uninsured or (b) under insured at the time they suffered physical harm due to toxic mold poisoning.
- Mandate federal guidelines that states must follow that require homeowners and residential real estate developers to disclose mold problems prior to the sale of homes.
- This may be just a beginning, and it is realized that much more is needed, but at least it is a start in the right direction. There will be many problems in the future and we need to begin preparing ourselves for the major problems that will soon become reality.