STACHYBOTRYS TOXIC MOLD:
HOW WILL THEY PAY FOR ABATEMENT and REMEDIATION OF THIS TOXIC MOLD?
Over the years, consistently low maintenance budgets resulted in poor building maintenance resulted in public buildings and schools with roof leaks, school portables not maintained properly, buildings and apartments with water and moisture problems that create Stachybotrys Mold.
The Serious Health Issues will cause a financial nightmare in the future it will touch all of us somewhere. Someone will have to pay for Mold remediation, not unlike UFFI-Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation that was banned. The problem with mold is it is a real proven health problem especially in children. All buildings can be infected, all Commercial and Residential Buildings. The affects financially are far reaching. It will affect all buildings, the public building sectors, Hospitals, Schools, Offices, Houses, Apartments including the Insurance, Property and Real Estate Industry!
Heavy growth of Stachybotrys Chartarum and some other fungi on sheetrock in a flooded school basement. This growth occurred within several weeks after the flood. It was removed before remodeling.
Stachybotrys Chartarum growing on the back side of water damaged sheetrock behind a basement shower stall. A high water table caused flooding in the basement.
STACHYBOTRYS CHARTARUM (ATRA)
Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra) is a greenish-black fungus found in Canada and the United States. Becoming a worldwide problem Stachybotrys Toxic Mold that colonizes particularly well in high-cellulose material, such as straw, hay, wet leaves, dry wall, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation, any wet materials etc. The fungus (mold), before drying, is wet and slightly slimy to touch. There are about 15 species of Stachybotrys, with a worldwide distribution. The toxic mold grows in areas where the relative humidity is above 55%. This type of fungus does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete products, or ceramic tiles. It is not found in the green mold on bread or the black mold on the shower tiles.
The mass of conidia of S. chartarum at the tip of the conidiophores. Parts of the whorl of phialides are visible. The fixative mostly removed the slime. Scanning electron micrograph.
A conidium of Stachybotrys Chartarum showing the ridged surface of a mature spore. Scanning electron micrograph.
MAJOR REAL ESTATE ISSUES
Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation-UFFI was banned in Canada in December of 1980, many U.S States have banned UFFI but the toxic mold environmental risk may be one of the next major real estate problems. Mold has joined asbestos, lead paint and public health problems. Assessment of the Mold Problem in commercial and residential buildings and the due diligence concerns, especially in property development areas where there has been major water leaks, continuing high humidity, poor building maintenance, fire and water damage or flooding has occurred. The problem is that this not only includes known residential and commercial flood areas incidents, but also numerous minor water releases due to plumbing failures, humidity problems, wet and damp basements, conductive condensation, roofing leaks, house water leaks and accidents. The toxic mold concern could also be a problem where fires occurred at commercial and/or residential properties.
The second major concern is finding and solving the water or moisture problem. Without a solution the Mold Problem will return, one might not be able to permanently eliminate the entire toxic mold from the structure. If
REMEDIATION Mold Abatement or Remediation is not done properly; there also remains a great propensity for future reoccurrence. The health risk/hazard could be back again. Therefore, we must recommend that great care be exercised to remove and dispose of all products, which have been contaminated by the toxic mold contaminated. Follow the New York City Fungi-Mold Assessment and Remediation Protocol Only use qualified Contractors.
The third concern is that all Health Departments will consider ambiguous and genetic disposition as a response to the publics inquiries. There will be some people, especially children, that will exhibit more adverse reactions, including death, lung tissue damage, and memory loss, than other persons exposed to the toxic mold. This may depend on the chemical sensitivity, genetic disposition, predisposing health history (such as allergies, asthma, smoking, etc.). For some, the exposure to the toxic mold spores may just be a health risk and to others, it may be a real health hazard (potential life-threatening and loss of quality of life .) Whether a potential liability concern is a risk or hazard will be paramount in defining the critical level of due diligence and disclosure response by responsible parties. There are already several major lawsuits concerning toxic mold exposure in residential and commercial buildings throughout the United States. Currently, most health organizations consider exposure to Stachybotrys Mold as a health hazard.
Also, keep in mind that most responses leading to testing, investigations, and abatement of the Stachybotrys toxic mold are due directly to occupant complaints or documented detrimental health effects. Stachybotrys mold may evolve to a point where it is regarded with the same cautions, response and liability concerns as those attributed to lead-base paint and asbestos. Health hazards and risks associated with concern to exposure to Stachybotrys are currently considered as short-term effects. Exposure to radon gas in houses is considered a long-term health risk and is not considered a short-term hazard.
HEALTH PROBLEMS Stachybotrys produces a mycotoxin that causes animal and human mycotoxicosis. This type of mold is thought to be a possible cause of the sick building syndrome.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE In May 1997, the Journal of the American Medical Association carried a news article titled Floods carry potential for toxic mold disease . Children s exposure to air-borne Stachybotrys spores is thought most likely to cause pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs).
NO LEVELS Please be aware that there is no threshold dangerous spore exposure level by the U.S. EPA or any other health administrations. There are ongoing new epidemiology studies being conducted.
SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN There is reference information related to a 1994 incident in Cleveland, Ohio where 45 cases of pulmonary hemorrhage in young infants occurred. Sixteen of the infants died. In addition, many states s department of health administrations as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists the following as symptoms associated with exposure to Stachybotrys mold spores
1) Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
2) Nasal and sinus congestion
3) Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
4) Dry, hacking cough
5) Sore throat
6) Nose and throat irritation
7) Shortness of breath
8) Chronic fatigue
9) Skin irritation
10) Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
11) Aches and pains
12) Possible fever
14) Possible hemosiderosis
15) Immune suppression
PREVAILING CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR THE GROWTH OF STACHYBOTRYS BLACK MOLD
1) Water soaked wood housing material.
2) Condensation inside (especially bare water pipes and clothes dryer)
3) Wet decaying leaves (outside but the dry airborne mold could re-entrain into the living volume space of the house).
4) Wet drywall, floors, and carpet from water flooding or exposure, especially in the basement areas prone to flooding. Be aware that the Stachybotrys mold can grow behind drywall or in hidden areas of the house such as air ducts with organic debris.
5) They grow in areas where the relative humidity is above 55%.
6) Stachybotrys chartarum grows and sporulates in temperature range of 2-40°C (35.6-104°F).
VISUAL DETECTION AND HOMEOWNER DISCLOSURES
1) The Stachybotrys fungi cannot be identified by a routine visual inspection. Remember all black mold is not necessarily Stachybotrys. It could be non-toxic black mold. The only method to determine the type of mold present is by sample analysis by an accredited laboratory. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the mold is only a toxic risk or hazard if a person breathes or comes into contact with the spores. Wet mold is not an indoor air quality health risk, but there is a significant potential for the mold to dry and released into the air.
2) There may be visual appearance of black mold in a visible water damage area, but be aware that there may be areas of water damage and mold that can be hidden (behind dry wall, under organic thread carpets).
3) The home inspector may notice or note water damage areas, but the majority of home inspectors are not aware of the water-damage environment and toxic mold relationship or concern.
4) Perhaps a question should be added on the homeowner disclosure which related to any water damage, water leaks, or flooding in the house or around the structure
5) Historical records of flooding in that geographic area may be used.
6) The standard ERC inspection form should perhaps contain an addendum, which would note any evidence of water, mold or mildew in or around the structure.
RECOMMENDED RELOCATION AND REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY RESPONSES AND CONSIDERATIONS
1. Require a disclosure question as to owner awareness of any water damage occurring while living in the house. This would include flooding from weather conditions, plumbing leaks, water intrainment from walls and floors, and fires. One might also ask the current owner if any insurance claims had been submitted. The date of occurrence and location of the water exposure and damage should also be included in the disclosure information.
2. If visible water damage is cited by home inspector or disclosed by the seller, then a confirmation Stachybotrys sampling determination should occur. This would show proper due diligence. Be aware that the home inspector or other real estate inspectors cannot be responsible for hidden or unknown water damage or presence of black mold. Especially in areas behind drywall or above thermal insulation. A professional industrial hygienist or indoor air quality professional with mold sampling experience and an accredited laboratory should be utilized for this inspection.
3. A moisture test of suspected water exposed or damaged walls could be performed in determining the conductive conditions for Stachybotrys mold (similar to termite inspections). There may some potential connection with water-damage and stucco properties.
4. If the suspect Stachybotrys material is confirmed as Stachybotrys mold, then the effected material should be removed. Professional Environmental Abatement Contractors using proper protection equipment (respirator, gloves, cleaning agents should HEPA Negative Air Filtering Units perform this).
Repairs must be made to prevent the water damage and moisture leaks in future. Considerations for repair and replacement of materials should be made. If an abatement company is selected, the abatement will be very similar to a full-scale Type 3 Operational Procedures asbestos removal project with US/EPA AHERA adherence to HEPA negative pressure containment with HEPA filters, a high level of personnel protection, absence of all occupants doing the abatement and until air clearance tests are performed. The concern is that improper or inept Stachybotrys abatement could result in the spread of spore contamination throughout the house or building. Under no circumstances should the homeowner attempt Stachybotrys Mold abatement.
5. REMOVE ONLY SMALL AREAS HIRE QUALIFIED CONTRACTOR Very small areas of mold (less than 2 square feet) may be cleaned by the homeowner with a proper respirator/mask (can be purchased at any Safety Supply Company), rubber gloves and a bleach solution. Taking into account also that the cause of the water damage can be eliminated.
6. SOLUTIONS To Moisture-Water Problems If contaminated materials are removed, it is absolutely necessary to correct the water exposure problem or possibly use a non-cellulose and low nitrogen replacement building materials. Even under the best of circumstances, there is an excellent chance for reoccurrence.
7. INSURANCE There is some question as to whether the Homeowners insurance will cover the damage and repair of Stachybotrys contaminated house structure components and contents.
LAWSUITS The 48 Hours CBS TV show on the Stachybotrys toxic mold, indicated that the lady in Texas was suing her insurance company for recovery costs to her $2,000,000 plus home and contents.
PREVENTION OF MOLD IN DWELLINGS
1. MAINTENANCE As part of routine building maintenance, buildings should be inspected for evidence of water damage and visible mold. Conditions causing mold (such as water leaks, condensation, moisture problems, roof leaks, drainage problems, infiltration, or flooding) should be corrected. In addition, reducing the humidity by the addition of dehumidifier in a room could prevent the growth of the Stachybotrys mold.
2. Call Restoration Environmental Contractors 1-800-894-4924 Wash down any effected water areas with bleach-water mixture (1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water ratio), to assist in preventing mold growth.
In final conclusion, the key concern is intent of discovery through due diligence by building owner, property manager or homeowner disclosure documentation and any available water damage/flood history in the area. This information may be obtained from the real estate appraisers, available area newspapers archives or from FEMA.
ISSUE The home inspector can only verify by visual inspection an apparent water damage or mold condition that visible and readily accessible at the time of the inspection. In most cases, home inspectors would not and could not comment on the presence of Stachybotrys mold. Once the conductive conditions are present and documented, an accredited lab should perform confirmation sampling.
RESPONSE and ABATEMENT COSTS The question of proper response and policy is dependent on the extent of mold area, abatement, cost, and effect on the property value. Remember, that this environmental concern is similar to asbestos, except for short-term health response and undefined and growing liability.
Under no circumstances should the homeowner be encouraged to abate a confirmed Stachybotrys contaminated wall.
The State of New York Department of Health recommends that the homeowner might clean a small Stachybotrys effected area (less than 2 square feet) with proper gloves and low level respiratory protection with a bleach water solution. A very strong paper trail should be generated when Stachybotrys becomes an issue.
Call Restoration Environmental Contractors at 1-800-894-4924.
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