Family Experiment

We’ve been conducting a family experiment this month. It’s a dietary experiment. The experiment involves a no grain/no fruit eating plan drawing on such diets as GAPS, SCD, BED, Paleo, Phase 1 Antifungal, and Bee's, as well as other candida diets.

We’ve been following a diet free of sugars and processed foods for quite some time now. One of my daughters and I tried a hard-core version of GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) several months ago. Her digestive tract was severely hit by the mold, and GAPS offers a way to slowly heal and rebuild the gut flora and cellular structures surrounding the lining. The diet revolves around homemade bone broth, vegetables, and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, and fermented vegetables.

I noticed an immediate improvement for myself. The increase in energy was followed by a severe period of die-off. This occurs when the fungi/viruses/bugs, etc. die and leave the body. It is common to feel much worse. (See this previous post.) My daughter noticed improvement in her brain/gut connection, but also experienced intense die-off.

The diet felt too restrictive for the others in our family. Suggesting it to the remaining 9 members seemed out of the question.

Until my friend’s 5-year-old son had open heart surgery. He came through the procedure well, and in the hours following the surgery he could not drink water. I watched as his mom painfully dabbed water onto his thirsty lips.

Then it happened. I had an awakening. Water is a good thing. For the sake of her child and his fresh incisions, however, she held back until he was healed enough to drink.

I thought of my 10-year-old son with type 1 diabetes. What if we removed sugar in the form of fruit and grains for a period of time? What if this gave his body the opportunity to heal and stabilize in a way mold avoidance and whole foods has not?

If a doctor told me to take sugar out of his diet, I would listen. I decided to listen to my instincts.

My husband, my 10-year-old, and the remaining members of the family agreed to a one-month trial. Some had already experienced the healing benefits of the bone broth and were eager to move forward. Removing the food source for our fungus-infested bodies made sense.

We began the experiment on Sunday, August 1. We fasted on chicken soup for 24 hours. Nothing but soup for 11 of us!

Several members of the family had severe die-off response immediately. One even vomited. Others felt intense sugar cravings. There were fits of rage. High levels of irritability. Rashes appeared in the days following the fast.

I kept picturing our little friend in the hospital. "Do the hard thing," I told myself. My husband and older kids agreed.

Then something amazing happened. For the first time in the three years since Colin was diagnosed, he went an entire day without a shot. His blood sugar stayed in range all day.

We’ve added more foods since that day. Some of our family members are sensing the need to stay with the limited bone broth/probiotic foods, adding avocado, different vegetables, specific oils, and wild-caught salmon. Others have graduated to seeds and salads. All of us are refraining from fruit and grains.

This week our acupuncturist commented on the improvement he has seen in us. Specifically he noted the change in me. "I can see evidence that the lining of your digestive tract is indeed healing," he said.

I cannot believe the change in my energy level. My skin is much softer.

I’m grateful for the extra energy, because the demands of this diet are enormous and the expected time frame for healing the gut flora is two years or more. For some of my kids I can see that it will take at least this long.

I have been in tears numerous times in the kitchen this month just trying to keep up. I’ve questioned and doubted. Wondered what mistakes I’m making. I cut my finger severely two weeks into the diet and felt defeated.

Somehow we’ve made it through. Everyone has become an expert on cutting vegetables and creatively using them in recipes. The behavior of our two youngest has improved dramatically. (Though I’m not suggesting they’re angels.)

Colin’s insulin use has decreased by 70% since the fall of 2008 when we left the home. His blood sugars are the most stable we’ve seen. He still experiences sugar cravings but loves to make his vegetable stir-fry snack.

We’ve decided to continue with the no grain/no fruit for two more months. A three-month period makes sense because of the nature of healing and regeneration in the body.

Three months puts us at Halloween. A perfect time for a treat. Like a strawberry fruit smoothie.

Toxic DMV

I heard from a friend this week who had an eventful trip to a suburban Chicago branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles. This friend lost her home to toxic mold several years ago. She and her family members continue to experience health ramifications from the exposure. She has trouble any time she encounters damp, toxic indoor environments. In her words,

I got to the window and the woman helping me was coughing pretty badly. She had to excuse herself and went to get hand sanitizer. She said she had a tickle in her throat so I wouldn't think she was contagious. Then I noticed the woman next to her coughing and I turned around to see the other employees and there was a man sniffling. I told her, "I am not feeling well from being here." She said, "Yeah, it's this building," and then the other woman working there said, "They just keep coming in to clean the vents, but that doesn't help." I then said, "I noticed all the stained ceiling tiles here and I am now having trouble writing and I'm dizzy; this place must have mold." I knew it did for sure. The woman helping me said, "There are so many people that have developed cancer, lung diseases, etc. from working here." I told her, "Yes, I believe mold can do that to you." I told her about the website TruthAboutMold. My lymph nodes in my neck are swollen from being in there for 20 minutes, my ears hurt, and I was coughing (which isn't normally a symptom for me), I was having trouble reading the form to fill out and calculating a simple figure, and I was shaking uncontrollably.

Yet again, another illustration of the importance of connecting the dots between our environment and our health.

Back to School

As summer vacation winds down, school mold problems have been reported in several states across the country. The following four news stories demonstrate the increasing awareness of the importance of air quality in schools.

Mold to Delay Opening of Elementary School

GILLETT, Wis. (AP) -- An elementary school in eastern Wisconsin will have its start date pushed back after mold was found throughout the building.

School was scheduled to start Sept. 1 for the Gillett School District in Oconto County. But mold has taken hold in nearly every room.

The district says it was apparently caused by the humid summer. It's mainly on the carpeting and isn't believed to be airborne.

It was discovered last week just before summer school ended. There haven't been any reports of illnesses.

Secondary school principal Jeremy Pach tells WLUK-TV the district is working with the Department of Public Instruction to determine a start date.

Mold Delays Start of School

ROSSVILLE, Kansas -- A mold problem is causing one school in the Kaw Valley school district to delay its start date.

According to Superintendent Jim McDaniel, mold was discovered at the Rossville Junior and Senior High School building, and while clean up and restoration is continuing on getting rid of the mold, it means that school for those students won't start until August 26th.

Mold Found in More Iowa Schools

SPRINGVILLE, Iowa (AP) -- Mold has delayed the start of class in more Iowa schools.

Officials in Springville, near Cedar Rapids, say mold has been found in an elementary school. The mold was found on Thursday, and students were sent home early.

No classes were being held on Friday.

There was no immediate word from school officials on how bad the mold problem is and how long it would take to clean it up.

Mold has also delayed classes at West Branch Middle School in West Branch and at Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City.

Both schools postponed the start of classes from this week until Monday.

Mold Delays School for W.B. Students

WEST BRANCH, Iowa -- Students at West Branch Middle School have been getting a few more days of summer vacation this week after mold was found at the school, delaying the start of the new year.

Superintendent Craig Artist said the mold was found in a couple of classrooms earlier this week, but spread rapidly to other parts of the building as workers tried to clean it up. That prompted him and other district officials to delay the start of school, originally scheduled for Wednesday, until at least Monday, he said. Students at Hoover Elementary in West Branch and West Branch High started on schedule Wednesday, he said.

Artist said the mold is not toxic, but could cause problems for anyone with allergies or asthma. Teachers have remained on the job, either subbing in other district buildings or wearing masks and gloves as they work in the middle school, he said.

Non-Toxic Back-to-School Supplies

The Environmental Working Group has published a list of 11 tips for keeping our kids away from harmful chemicals, solvents, and other toxins. A list like this can seem overwhelming, but every little bit helps, and every small change can make a difference in the life of a child. The website offers helpful links along with these 11 tips. The full article can be viewed here.

1. Art supplies. Many contain toxic chemicals that are not suitable for children -- especially younger ones. Pay special attention to these: Paints should be water-based to avoid solvents and colored with natural, non-metal pigments. Don't buy polymer clays that stay soft at room temperature or can be hardened in a home oven -- they're made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and often contain phthalates. Consider making your own "clay" out of common baking ingredients instead. Note: A label that says "Conforms to ASTM D-4236" simply means the product is labeled as required, not necessarily safe.

2. Hand washing. Choose sanitizers with ethanol (ethyl alcohol) but no fragrance, and liquid hand soaps without triclosan, triclocarban or fragrance. And remember: Plain soap and water is often just as effective!

3. Backpacks. If it's time for a new one, look for natural fibers and skip those made with PVC. If natural fibers aren't an option, polyester and nylon are better than PVC. (Check the label for #3, the symbol for PVC, or look for "no PVC" on the label.) Labels don't always list the material, so you may need to contact manufacturers or visit their websites.

4. Lunch boxes. Because they hold food, it's especially important that lunch boxes be made from non-toxic materials with NO lead paint, PVC, BPA and antimicrobial chemicals. Some options are: cotton lunch bags, BPA-free plastic or unpainted stainless steel. Reuse utensils from home and pack food in reusable, rather than disposable, containers (such as lightweight stainless steel or #1, 2, 4 or 5 plastics).

5. Beverage bottles. Skip commercial bottled water -- it's expensive, wastes resources and the water quality isn't necessarily better than tap. Instead, send your child to school with filtered water and other beverages in a reusable bottle made from BPA-free plastic, BPA-free aluminum or stainless steel, such as Klean Kanteen.

6. Markers. Common crayons often contain paraffin wax, which is made from crude oil. Look for alternatives like soy and beeswax. Don't buy dry-erase and permanent markers, which contain solvents. Be wary of plastic-encased crayons or scented markers -- scents encourage kids to sniff them, and the chemicals used in the fragrances are not listed on the label. Try a pencil highlighter instead of the familiar plastic ones.

7. Pencils and pens. Pick plain wooden pencils (no paint or glossy coating) made from sustainable wood or recycled newspaper. Skip the scented ones. Try to use recycled ballpoint pens.

8. Notebooks and binders. Avoid plastic covers on binders and spiral notebooks; they're usually made from PVC (#3 plastic). Opt for recycled cardboard or natural fibers instead, or look for "no PVC" on the label.

9. Paper products. Look for recycled paper made from at least 30 percent post-consumer waste (PCW) that isn't whitened with chlorine bleach. Or consider virgin paper made from alternative fibers or sustainably managed forests. Choose 100 percent recycled tissues and paper towels made with PCW and without chlorine bleach. Avoid added lotion, fragrance and dyes.

10. Glue. Try to minimize kids' exposures to extra-strong or instant adhesives like epoxies, model and "super" glues; they contain toxic solvents. Water-based glues are safer bets, though most are made from petrochemicals. Some better options are: glue sticks, white/yellow/clear "school" glue. Children should not use rubber cement.

11. Cell phones. A lot of kids have cell phones. If purchasing a new phone, choose one with lower radiation ("SAR" value) by searching EWG's cell phone database. Teach your child that when she's not using it, she should turn it off, store it in her backpack or somewhere else away from the body, and text instead of talking.

Pets and Their Environment

Our pets experienced numerous health issues in the years we lived in our Colorado home. Our Bichon Frise was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes several years before our son Colin was diagnosed. Our cats urinated blood, and several birds died. One bird actually chewed his foot off! We made no connection with our environment.

According to this veterinarian, toxic black mold poisoning is a very real health concern for pet owners. This article appeared several years ago in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Douglas Mader, a veterinary specialist in Marathon, Fla., was performing routine dental procedures on two cats when he noticed frothy blood within endotracheal tubes used to supply anesthesia to the animals. The veterinarian immediately stopped the procedures, but both animals died - one the following day, the other about two weeks later.

"The circumstances of these cases are just not heard of," Mader said. "Anesthesia doesn't cause pulmonary hemorrhage [bleeding from the lungs.]" These were healthy, indoor cats. Examinations conducted prior to the dental cleanings showed no indications of illness. Blood collected prior to the cats' death was tested and demonstrated the presence of the toxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as "toxic black mold." Exposure to the mold can cause respiratory-related health problems, pulmonary hemorrhage and death in people.

It had not previously been associated with disease in pets, Mader said.

The toxin from the black mold causes a weakening of the capillaries in the lungs. When the capillaries are stressed, they burst and bleed. The cats died from complications arising from the pulmonary hemorrhage.

The cats lived in a home that sustained water damage during a hurricane in October 2005, seven months prior to the development of pulmonary hemorrhage. After Mader discovered the presence of the toxins, he urged the cats' owners to check their home for mold. "Sure enough, they had very severe mold contamination in their walls," Mader said. Mader hopes the report will raise awareness that illnesses associated with mold can also affect pets, particularly those living in flood-prone areas. He also suggests pet owners share more information with their veterinarian.

"I think the most important thing is for clients to be aware of things in their environment that could potentially impact the health of animals," Mader said. "They need to let their veterinarian know."

The AVMA and its more than 75,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Louis Gossett Jr. and Toxic Mold

Add Louis Gossett Jr.'s name to the growing list of celebrities with a toxic mold story. Not only was he given six months to live at one point, he also fought through kidney and pancreatic cancer. The actor writes about his triumph over death and mold in his newly released memoir, An Actor and a Gentleman.

An interview with 74-year-old Gossett is featured this month on the website Black Voices:

When did you discover you were ill?

About two years ago while I started writing the book. There was toxic mold in my home. My pets were dying and I didn't know why. They were affected first because they were closest to the ground. Then I started to get sick from just sitting on the couch and it prevented me from working. I stayed there long enough for it to really get to me. I was sick but the doctors didn't know what was wrong.

The doctor said, "You really don't have long to live – about six months." Fortunately, I went to a Chinese doctor. He looked at me, ran some tests and said, "You have mold and an infection in your system that I haven't seen in a long time." I started transfusions and massive antibiotics, which takes all of your resistance away. Slowly and surely I started to come to life.

Eventually, the six months I had to live passed by. Then I wound up with cancer of the kidney. They took one kidney out. I kept on fighting and they found cancer in the prostate. I got over that and slowly but surely I started to come to life and today is the best day of my life.

What happened to the house?

I tore down the house and rebuilt it. I treated the wood, that way the mold would not come back. The mold came from mildew beneath the wall-to-wall carpet so I threw that out. There was a slow leak underneath the house over the last 15 years that caused the mold to develop. I had no idea because I was hardly home.

You always look so strong and vibrant in front of the camera, how do you manage that?

It's what saved me, I guess. You saw the results of the mold illness when I filmed 'Jasper', 'Texas' and 'Lackawanna Blues.' I was getting old real quick. The uphill is when you see me in 'Why Did I get Married, Too.' Other than that, I was able to mask it.

So the mold was attacking you for a long period of time?

Yes, I just didn't know it.

To read the interview in its entirety, click here.

More Health Stories

I continue to hear daily from those impacted by toxic mold. I share these excerpts of recent exchanges to help others who may be making a connection between their environment and their health.
  • "We vacated our home almost 2 weeks ago. My daughter has had mysterious health problems for several years such as abdominal pain and vomiting, my son's asthma increasingly got worse, two of my kids have had to follow a gluten-free diet, and one of my sons and myself have developed extreme joint pain, rheumatoid nodules, and joints that seem to pop in and out of place. This past year we all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, significant fatigue, a heaviness in our chest and a difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections."
  • "My family and I have lived in this rental home for 1 year but soon after my daughter started having digestive problems. Then she went thru a period of heart palpitations and her doctor referred us to a pediatric cardiologist that said her heart was healthy. Well the list goes on from coughing episodes to shortness of breath, and A LOT of muscle/joint pain and diagnosed with asthma/allergies. She has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal. Recently my daughter has lost her appetite and I started having only in the mornings sneezing episodes with a runny nose also I get itchiness all over my arms and I can't stop scratching. My daughter's doctor finally sat me down yesterday to advise me to check for mold in our home."
  • "I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I've seen a sleep specialist, a gastroenterologist, and now an allergist. I believe I've been sick due to the water leak and mold problem in the basement of my rental unit. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."
Mia Harrod and her family left their home last month after realizing the HVAC unit in the attic was making them sick. She wrote this days before they made the decision to leave. At the time her two-month-old kitten was urinating blood.

"I am currently very ill and I feel like I am 88 years old, but I am only 38 years old. I have been sick for years, probably since 2004. We had some water leaks in our home and we fixed the problem, but we never thought that we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling or the drywall. Instead we put tile on the floor and painted the ceilings to cover up the brown water stains.

"My 2 small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home.

"I have had chronic bronchitis and lung infections, they found fungus in my lungs. I became allergic to things that I was never allergic to before like cats, dogs, dust, dust mites, mold spores, trees, pollen etc... I was never allergic to these things before, but at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything and I got asthma at age 36, which I found to be very odd. I went to doctor, after doctor, after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

For more on Mia's story, see this news article.

The Health/Mold Connection

The following story offers a dramatic illustration of the relationship between health and the environment. Jonathan Papernick was diagnosed with celiac disease in his mid-20s. He managed the disease just fine by avoiding gluten. His health spiraled downward, however, when he moved into his future wife's apartment. His symptoms included growing food intolerances, acid reflux, tongue swelling, canker sores, and rapid weight loss.

According to Papernick,

My future wife was afraid I was dying and wondered seriously whether I was somehow allergic to her. By the time we were married a year later, several allergists had told me that I had no allergies at all. Gastrointestinal doctors blamed my mysterious affliction on stress. An acupuncturist said my chi was out of whack. I was tested for parasites and came up clean. More than a few friends and family members suggested indelicately that my problems were all in my head, or worse still, that I was simply seeking attention. I couldn’t even look at the skeleton resembling myself in the mirror anymore.

Illness can do strange things to an ordinarily rational mind, and I was desperate to find a solution. A friend told me about a new-age treatment that claimed to resolve undiagnosed health problems. After shelling out several hundred dollars for a consultation, I was informed that my problems were caused by “energy blockages,” disruptions in the normal flow of energy through my body’s electrical circuits. The practitioner said she could permanently cure me simply by treating my pressure points while I held in my hand a vial of charged water containing the same properties as the allergen. Apparently, a minimum of 30 to 40 treatments would be necessary to help me gain back chicken, potatoes, rice, beans and other staples that I had relied on my entire life. For more than six months I paid good money for treatments that did nothing to help me, the practitioner always promising that next time I was due for a breakthrough that would allow me to once again eat my favorite foods. I should have been more skeptical of this miracle cure. But with more and more foods finding their way onto my blacklist, I could not afford cynicism. I needed a miracle and nothing less.

My wife had had enough of my indulgence in expensive, unproven “voodoo” medicine, and she put out a frantic call to her friends and colleagues asking for help. A friend passed along the name of a doctor known to have success with people thought of as incurable — the last resort for many seemingly hopeless cases.

Within minutes of meeting the doctor and explaining my symptoms, he was certain that he had pinpointed the source of all my problems. Yeast.

Papernick was ordered to cut out all sugar, alcohol, fruit, starch, peanuts, and mushrooms, and told to eat protein and vegetables with low sugar content. He faithfully followed the protocol, which incorporated 12 supplements, including probiotics and digestive enzymes.

But he didn't progress the way his doctor anticipated.

When I didn’t improve as quickly as my doctor expected, he sent a mold remediation specialist out to our apartment to check out our living situation. There was black mold in our closets and on our walls, and the air shaft that was supposed to provide fresh air to three of our rooms was full of pigeon feces and filth. I was shocked to learn that our New York City apartment was slowly killing me.

My doctor explained that others could live perfectly normal lives with this mold, but in my case, with a compromised immune system, the toxic mold was simply piling on a heavily taxed system and adding fuel to the Candida — the literal last straw. We were ordered to clean our walls with hydrogen peroxide and to purchase an industrial-strength air filter with an infrared beam to get rid of the mold. The hydrogen peroxide had little effect, as the tenacious mold seemed to reappear within days.

I slowly reintroduced foods back into my diet, starting with a simple forkful at a time. However, with every slice of potato, mouthful of rice, nibble of chicken, I felt my head throb, my throat tickle. My doctor suggested that we move, and before long, a job opened up in Boston. I packed up and left town — four months ahead of my wife, who still needed to wrap up things with her job.

Within weeks of living in New England, I started to improve, slowly, ever so slowly, and I found the courage to reintroduce foods back into my diet. It took years, not months, as I followed the doctor’s strict diet, which included egg whites and spinach and tuna for breakfast. Eventually, gradually, thankfully I got better.

Papernick has gained his weight back and has now started a family. He's also telling his story. As an author, he tells his story well, as you can see in this New York Times article.

More Than Meets the Eye

The following study, released in 2008, validates the reality that mold (or mould, as it's spelled internationally) is hazardous to our health. I've never heard of a picogram before reading this. Now that I have, I am reminded there's more than meets the eye when it comes to toxic mold and other indoor contaminants.

Mould toxins in buildings damaged by moisture are considerably more prevalent than was previously thought, according to new international research. Erica Bloom from the Division of Medical Microbiology at Lund University in Sweden has contributed to research in this field by analyzing dust and materials samples from buildings damaged by mould. Virtually all of the samples contained toxins from mould.

“Previously it was claimed that the occurrence of mould does not necessarily mean that there are toxins present. But they are! On the contrary, we can assume that wherever there is visible mould, there are also mould toxins,” says Erica Bloom.

And toxins produced by mould are more potent than was previously thought. It has now been shown, for instance, that mould toxins (mycotoxins) not only directly kill cells but can also affect immune cells in a way that increases the risk of allergies. Even incredibly tiny amounts of these toxins can do this, as little as a few picograms (a picogram is one millionth of a millionth of a gram).

New research also shows that mould releases extremely small particles that remain suspended in the air, and can get into our lungs much more easily than the spores that have previously been focused on. This can increase exposure to mould and mycotoxins hundreds of times over compared with previous calculations. And mycotoxins have further been shown in laboratory studies to have a synergistic effect: the effect of two toxins is not merely 1 + 1 but much greater.

Using methods from analytical chemistry, Erica Bloom analyzed dust sample and samples from construction materials such as molding, drywall, and wallpaper from buildings damaged by mould. She acquired nearly all of the samples from professional damage assessors.

“We looked at 6-7 different mycotoxins and found them in a majority of the samples. And since there are at least 400 sorts of mycotoxins, what we have seen is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” she says.

Mould in buildings is a phenomenon that has been known since the times of the Old Testament. In Leviticus mention is made of spots that constitute “a fretting leprosy in the house,” and should be scraped off and thrown away “in some unclean place.”

“Actually, we haven’t made all that much progress today,” maintains Erica Bloom. “We know that people are sickened by buildings damaged by moisture, but whether this is primarily caused by mycotoxins, bacteria, or gases given off by the moist building materials, this we don’t know exactly. We should therefore observe the principle of caution and renovate the building as soon as a moisture problem or mould is found.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Magnificent Childhood Loss

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Megan’s 22nd birthday. Seems like yesterday I wrote this post.

I’m glad we don’t know what a day holds, much less a year. It’s been a long year for Megan. Full of unexpected hurdles. Layer upon layer of detoxing from pathogens like fungus, viruses, and malaria. Sometimes it's harder to get the poisons out than it is to live with them.

Her hair changed color this year. From a dark brown to a reddish brown.

It's been a year of juice fasts, energy medicine, acupuncture, and fortitude.

Megan is teaching English to Somali-Bantu refugees now...people who quietly carry their traumatic past. Just like she does.

Megan lost her adolescent years. She missed her college years. But ever so slowly, her life is being redeemed. Just like Victor Hugo describes Jean Valjean in Les Misérables:

"Poverty, we must insist, had been good to him. Poverty, in youth, when it succeeds, is so far magnificent that it turns the whole will towards effort, and the whole soul towards aspiration."

A picture of magnificence indeed. Happy Birthday, Meg.

Groundbreaking Research and Position Paper

An important new research paper has been unveiled giving validation and hope to many people who have experienced negative health effects due to toxic mold and other contaminants. The paper gives a name to this illness: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings (CIRS-WDB).

This groundbreaking paper was developed by the Action Committee on the Health Effects of Mold, Microbes, and Indoor Contaminants (ACHEMMIC), a unique group of experts working together to promote the truth about the health effects of exposure to water-damaged buildings. This is the first group of its kind.

The paper is titled "Research Committee Report on Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings." Topics include: animal health in water-damaged buildings, human health effects, re-exposure issues, treatment protocols, and much more.

The paper explains the recent rise in health issues related to water-damaged buildings.

Health problems have been associated with exposure to WDB since Biblical times (Leviticus 14:34-47: The Bible, King James version, Oxford 1888). Nonetheless there was little peer reviewed literature that implicated inhalation of bioaerosols as causative of human illness before the 1970’s in the United States. Several theories have emerged to explain the “new phenomenon” of buildings as a source of illness. Use of paper-faced gypsum board as wall coverings instead of plaster and lath saved time and reduced costs, but provided a wonderful source of food for indoor-dwelling microbes. Increasing use of flat roof construction, insulation and synthetic stucco surfaces each added to the potential for water intrusion into and through the building envelope of new construction.

A change in recommendations for air turnover may have played a role as well in reduction of exchange of indoor air for outdoor air. Demand for new housing and increasing availability of heat pumps made use of crawlspaces as sites of ductwork for forced air delivery into vents on the first floor.

Environmental conditions in crawlspaces, with a constant supply of moisture either from evaporation from the soils or condensation of warmer outside air against cool, earth temperature surfaces on interior surfaces in crawlspaces creates an ideal ecological niche for microbial growth. If the connections between segments of vent material, usually galvanized metal, fiberboard or flexible circular duct material, are not secured from air infiltration, over time the potential for distribution of microbes and their metabolites throughout the home is assured.

Changes in use of HVAC equipment, with return air ducts taking air from crawl/ceiling spaces and basements directly into heating and cooling systems may also have contributed to the circulation of organisms and fragments of organisms from these spaces to the rest of the interior of residences, schools and commercial structures. Indirect evidence suggests that genetic changes in indoor filamentous fungi may also have occurred with use of fungicides in paint beginning in the 1970’s.

Additional changes in construction methods took place as attempts to conserve energy and to promote energy efficiency. Efforts to make buildings more airtight in the 1970's led to increased use of re-circulated air in new construction. This resulted in reduced intrusion of exterior air through windows and doors. As costs of construction materials from natural sources increased, synthetic products such as oriented strand board (OSB) were cheaper to use than plywood. Unfortunately, there was often greater moisture retention if the sheets of OSB were stacked outside a job site and allowed to become wet before installation.

Moreover, even if dry when installed, these man-made materials easily wick moisture if present from leaks and floods. High rise construction techniques also contributed to the increasing incidence of WDB. For example, concrete takes months to fully cure. However, as soon as the concrete floors and columns are firm enough to support addition of the next structure, the concrete is enclosed. This process unfortunately provides a reservoir of moisture to interior structures for months that would otherwise have remained dry. Added to this potential for interior water intrusion is the absence of moisture barriers between soil and concrete/masonry used in slab, foundations and basement walls.

The paper is more than 160 pages in length and can be viewed here.