History of Mold & Building Related Illness

Scientific and clinical studies have evolved over the years to show that certain species of mold and their byproducts can cause adverse health reactions in certain individuals. As the years tick by, more evidence comes to light showing how environmental contaminants can affect health. As this understanding advances, the demand for improving indoor air quality similarly grows.

At HomeCleanse, we take scientific research seriously. So far, we’ve helped over 500 families with acute to chronic mold sensitivity and we’re just getting started. Some of these families couldn’t live in their homes comfortably anymore because of the symptoms they continued to experience. Working closely with these individuals has shown us firsthand how different the quality of life can be by improving indoor air quality.

Our work is far from over, though. We’re committed to continue pushing for more awareness and to show the world how much indoor air quality impacts health. The effects can be minimal at first. Such a slight downward decline that it takes months or years before an individual notices how unwell they actually feel. The length of time can make pinpointing the cause incredibly difficult. Add in the lack of knowledge and awareness for air quality and you can often feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

Not everyone agrees with these principles, though. Despite years of overwhelming studies showing the effects of mold exposure, arguments are still ongoing regarding how molds impact our health. The same situation exists for mold presence and indoor air quality standards.

Below is a list of studies and legal cases outlining the progress of mold exposure. By reviewing the history, you can see how mold acknowledgment progressed and then regressed over the years. One thing that hasn’t been disputed is that if you have mold present, it’s a good practice to remove it!

By taking a look at the past, we can get a good idea of how to proceed with creating better indoor environments for all.

1837 – Stachybotrys Chartarum (known as “toxic black mold”) is first described by Corda from wallpaper collected in a home in Prague.

1920s – Toxic effects of Stachybotrys Chartarum reported in Russia.

1940s – Reports of Stachybotrytoxicosis in humans reported in Russia.

1969 – Pontiac Fever involving 144 cases of building related illness in Pontiac Michigan

1979 – Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (journal) – P.P.Kozak – Currently Available Methods for Home Mold Surveys. Factors of importance in determining the prevalence of indoor molds.

1980 – Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (journal) – Currently Available Methods for Home Mould Surveys: II. Examples of Problem Homes Studied by PP Kozak.

1983 – Annu Rev Public Health – Health Effects of Indoor Pollutants by MD Liebowitz

December 9th, 1983 – Martensen v. S & S Constr. Co. No. 30-58-07 (Orange County, Cal. Dec. 9, 1983) – verdict awarding $125,000 to three plaintiffs claiming emotional distress, pre-existing allergies, pneumonia, and asthma from mold growth caused by water seepage in their family room.

1984 – Incline Village Chronic Fatigue Syndrome outbreak, also known as the “Yuppie Flu” overtakes the Lake Tahoe, NV area.

1986 – Atmospheric Environment – W.A. Croft – Airborne Outbreak of Trichothecene Toxicosis. Potential problem with stachybotrys chartarum. Family in Chicago home with complaints of medical problems, traced to stachybotrys and trichothecene toxicosis. Accumulation of data over past 60 years tells us that we should not handle materials contaminated with stachybotrys. Commonly found in homes with water damage. Can grow behind walls undiscovered, can grow profusely on sheetrock.

1987 – Anderson v. Kennedy No. 610643-8 (Alameda County, Cal. Super. Ct. 1987) – settlement awarding $33,000 to tenants who alleged that they suffered emotional distress because roof leaks resulted in extensive mold and mildew contamination

1987 – American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), Bioaerosol Committee developed Bioaerosol Guidelines.

1987 – Proceedings of IAQ 87 – Approaches to the Control of Indoor Microbial Contamination

1987 – Canada – Federal-Provincial Committee on Occupational Safety & Health – guidelines for indoor air contaminants in residential housing

April 22nd, 1988 – Holbrook v. Barratt American, Inc. No. 43-95-29 (Orange County, Cal. April 22, 1988) – verdict awarding plaintiffs $30,000 for respiratory infections, allergies, and aggravation of diabetes and hypertension allegedly caused by mold growth related to roof leaks from negligent construction

1989 – American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), Bioaerosol Committee revises Bioaerosol Guidelines. Recommended a protocol for evaluating mold and introduced idea of remediation.

1990 – American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), B.B. Jarvis – “Mycotoxins and Indoor Air Quality” – found in: Biological Contaminants in Indoor Environments (ASTM STP 1071), H.A. Burge – “The Fungi” – found in Biological Contaminants In Indoor Environments (ASTM STP 1071)

1991 – Miller v. Lakeside Village Condominium Ass’n, Inc., 2 Cal. Rptr.2d 796 (Ct. App. 1991) – affirming summary judgment for defendant condominium association in 1986 case alleging that its negligence in failing to repair and maintain the plumbing system in plaintiff’s condominium caused plaintiff to suffer allergies, asthma, and immune dysregulation

1991 – Journal of Applied Bacteriology Symposium Supplement – Allergenic and toxigenic microorganisms in houses.

1991 – Article entitled “Sewage Backflow Remediation” written by IICRC Water Restoration Technician Advisory Committee, EPA and Research Triangle Institute and used as basis for IICRC s500 “Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Restoration Certification – per Jeff Bishop of Clean Care Seminars, Inc.

February 1991 – Enviros – Sick Building Syndrome & Building Related Illness. By Frank A. Lewis. Biological contamination by fungi following water damage.

March 1991 – Enviros – Aerobiology of the Office Environment – Microbiological Agents: Overlooked Indoor Air Pollutants. By Chin S. Yang, Ph.D. Water damage can lead to fungal spores and fungal growth within 24 hours.

1992 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – Sick Building Syndrome. Polk County courthouse in Florida evacuated 600 employees after discovery of Aspergillus versicolor growing due to construction defects. [Jury later awarded $40 million in personal injury claims in cases involving Reliance Insurance Company. In addition, there were 200 workers comp claims and 180 separate lawsuits against the builder and the county.]

October 13, 1993 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Martin County, Florida. Lawsuit against contractor filed for sick building syndrome and construction defects. [Recently a $14 million verdict affirmed by Florida Court of Appeals.]

1993 – National Academy of Sciences reports that all species of mold are allergenic.

1993 – B. Flannigan – Health Implications of Fungus in Indoor Environments, an overview.

1993 – Proceedings of Indoor Air – E. Johanning – Clinical Epidemiological Investigation of Health Effects Caused by Stachybotrys Atra Building Contamination.

January 1993 – North Carolina State University – Mold, Dust Mites, Fungi, Spores, and Pollen: Bioaerosols in the Human Environment. Molds and fungi can cause health problems, grow following water damage, in crawl spaces, walls, etc.

1994 – Harvard University School of Public Health study of 10,000 homes in US and Canada found half had “conditions of water damage and mold associated with a 50 to 100 % increase in respiratory symptoms.”

1994 – Chenniliaro v. Kaufman & Broad Home Sys. of La., Inc. 636 So.2d 246 (La. Ct. App. 1994) – amending and affirming a jury verdict in a 1988 products liability case alleging personal injury and property damages from mold growth in a mobile home.

1994 – American Journal of Industrial Medicine, P.L. Auger – Clinical Experience with Patients Suffering …Airborne Mold.

1993-1994 – Cleveland, Ohio – infants died, stachybotrys following water damage found in homes.

September 1994 – Enviros – Toxic Effects of Some Common Indoor Fungi. By Chin S. Yang, Ph.D. There has been an explosion of cases related to toxigenic fungi in US and Canada over last 3 years, courthouse in Florida, schools, etc. Water intrusion must be taken care of within 24 hours. Large contaminated areas must use asbestos-like remediation procedures.

December 1994 – Enviros – Regulating Indoor Microbes. By Frank A. Lewis. Indoor microbes represent over one-third of the IAQ problems in buildings.

1995 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – Sick Building Syndrome. Dr. Dearborn of Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital publishes findings to show link between stachybotrys and death of infants exposed to stachybotrys.

January 1995 – IICRC Water Damage Standard S500-94 is published.

January 1995 – Invironment – Microbial Issues Under Consideration for the Revision of ASHRAE Standard 62-1989

March 10, 1995 – Edward H. Cross & Assoc. – Lawsuit filed in Alameda, Condo complex in Fremont, water pipe breaks, leaks, drainage problems, mold, failure to remediate. Settled for $545,000 in 1998 before trial.

April 25, 1995 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Lawsuit filed. Polk County Florida courthouse, 1992, construction defects, mold – [Jury recently awarded $40 million against Reliant Ins. Co.]

Fall 1995 – North Carolina adopts IICRC publication S500-94 as the recommended protocol to mitigate flood damaged buildings.

October 1995 – International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health – Prolonged and intense exposure to toxigenic stachybotrys chartarum and other atypical fungi associated with reported disorders of respiratory and central nervous system, immune system, etc.

November 1995 – Edward H. Cross & Associates – Filed lawsuit in San Bernardino, home, sewage backup, negligent cleanup, failure to warn, toxic mold contamination. Settled for $600,818 in Oct 1997 just 10 days before trial.

1996 – American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) – Field Guide for the Determination for Biological Contaminants in Environmental Samples. Sampling is important because half of microbial problems are not visible. Growth of mold in buildings is no longer just a cosmetic problem but is a potential threat to human health.

1996 – International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health – E. Johanning – Health and Immunological Study Following Exposure to Toxigenic Fungi (Stachybotrys chartarum) in a Water-Damaged Office Environment. Growing concern of adverse health effects of fungal bioaerosols. Water damage, found stachybotrys, adverse health effects.

1996 – Invironment – Microbial Issues. Article on revisions of ASHRAE Standard 62-1989, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. Association between moisture, fungi and building related illness has been demonstrated repeatedly. One side of a gypsum wall board covered with fungi requires hazardous waste containment procedures.

1996 – American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal – Exposure to Airborne Microbes During the Repair of Moldy Buildings. Concentrations of airborne fungi increased during repair work. Construction workers are exposed to high concentrations of microbes, possibly causing health problems.

April 1996 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Indian River, Florida. Jury award to Martin County for $11.5 million (property damage, not including injury) against construction manager and 3 surety companies for two buildings evacuated in 1992 because of water leaks and mold.

August 5th, 1996 – American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Conference – Paper 253 – Toxins Produced by Fungi in Water-Damaged Buildings. Water damaged buildings can harbor toxigenic fungi which threaten the health of occupants.

December 1996 – Invironment – Assessing and Sampling Fungal Contaminants in the Indoor Environment. Many fungal growths are not detected because they are in wall cavities. Water is single most important factor in fungal growth. Superficial removal may only temporarily reduce fungi because they have a root-like structure (mycelium) that penetrates deep into the substrate of contaminated materials. Consensus of many experts is that people should not be allowed to work or live in an environment contaminated by fungi.

1997 – Journal of American Medical Association – Floods Carry Potential For Toxic Mold Disease, by C. Marwick.

1997 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – Sick Building Syndrome. A Beverly Hills doctor and his wife reportedly recovered over $9 million for water intrusion and fungal contamination of their custom luxury home and art collection.

January 1997 – MMWR – Update: Pulmonary Hemorrhage/Hemosiderosis Among Infants – Cleveland, Ohio, 1993-1996. Follow-up investigation documents association between illness in the cluster of cases and mold in the water damaged homes.

February 1997 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Malibu home recently purchased, mycotoxins from Stachybotrys, repair costs of $662,000, recovery of $2.5 million.

February 1997 – Thomas Anderson water loss with mold contamination. (Anderson v. Allstate)

February 24th, 1997 – Doe Homeowners v. Roe Seller, Confidential Report for Attorneys (settlement Feb. 24, 1997) – alleging water intrusion into plaintiff’s home from leaking exterior balconies, the roof and windows.

March 1st, 1997 – Claims People magazine – Indoor Air Quality. By Alan C. Buck, Ph.D. A home, after a fire or flood, may harbor fungus, etc., which prompts illness or asthma.

April 3rd, 1997 – CDC – Molds in the Environment. Concise information on molds in the environment: mold types, their possible human health effects, where molds are found and recommendations for decreasing indoor mold exposure.

April 9th, 1997 – ABC PrimeTime Live – Air of Mystery – Poisonous Mold Links Illness and Death of Infants. Mold infestation, water damage, infant deaths. Also Stachybotrys was found in a courthouse in Florida and in EPA headquarters in Washington, DC.

April 22nd, 1997 – BBJ Environmental Solutions, Inc – “Indoor Environment ‘97” – Growth in microbial litigation. Only about 2 suits reported 5 years ago, there were hundreds in 1996

May 1997 – Journal of American Medical Association – Marwick – Floods Carry Potential For Toxic Mold Fungus.

June 30th, 1997 – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and CDC, NIEHS PR # 12-97 – Stachybotrys linked to Cleveland infant deaths, found in homes with water damage.

July 1997 – Heating/Piping/AirConditioning (HPAC) – The Fungi: How They Grow and Their Effects on Human Health, by Harriet A. Burge, PhD. Many fungi produce toxic compounds that affect human health. Because of the potential severity of resulting diseases, a conservative approach to the control of toxigenic fungi is essential.

July 30th, 1997 – NIEHS & CDC – NIEHS, CDC Fund Study of Fungus Fatal to Cleveland Infants. Stachybotrys found on water soaked cellulose building materials.

September 26th, 1997 – BBJ Environmental Solutions, Inc – “Air Quality and Infection Rate” – More infections, studies and precautions needed.

October 1997 – Edward H. Cross & Associates – Filed lawsuit in Nov 1995 in San Bernardino, home, sewage backup, negligent cleanup, failure to warn, toxic mold contamination. Settled for $600,818 in Oct 1997 just 10 days before trial.

October 1st, 1997 – Claims People magazine – The Frightening Truth of Improperly Restored Water Losses. By Jim Holland, Restoration Consultants. Water damage, time of essence, 48 hours and fungus begins to grow within wall cavities, well documented that mold can cause health problems, remediation technology relatively new.

November 1997 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Rialto, CA family vs City of Rialto, sewage backup, neurotoxins, settlement of $600,818

1998 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – Sick Building Syndrome. A Los Angeles woman sued her homeowners association for failure to repair repeated water intrusion into common walls, trial, verdict of $497,000 plus repairs.

1998 – Journal of Toxicology, Clinical Toxicology – Stachybotrys, a Mycotoxin-Producing Fungus of Increasing Toxicologic Importance. Mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are capable of producing immunosuppression and inflammatory results to gastrointestinal and pulmonary systems.

February 1998 – Berry v. Mission Terrace Homeowners Association, Nos. H-182260-5, H-193421-8 (Alameda County Superior Ct.) Three condo owners in Alameda County vs homeowners association, mold in crawl spaces, $545,000 settlement. The families claimed that their psychiatric and numerous physical illnesses were caused by mold growth that developed from leaky pipes in their condominiums.

February 1998 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – Sick Building Syndrome. Homeowner settled claim against builder of beachfront custom home in Ventura arising from chronic water intrusion and fungal contamination for $559,000.

March 1998 – American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – Building-Associated Pulmonary Disease From Exposure to Stachybotrys Chartarum and Aspergillus Versicolor. Study of individuals exposed to fungi and illnesses reported. Moisture indoors represents a public health issue currently inadequately addressed by building, health or housing codes.

March 1st, 1998 – BBJ Environmental – Facts About Mold and Fungi. Mold grows on wet cellulose products. Mold is a health risk.

March 18th, 1998 – FEMA – Preventing Damage From Mold: Tips For Homeowners. Mold can be dangerous to humans, it can spread fast, isolate and dispose of moldy items.

April 1998 – American Academy of Pediatrics – “Toxic Effects of Indoor Molds” – 101 Pediatrics 712 (1998).. Cites Cleveland infant deaths reports in 1994. Stachybotrys found in 2-3% of homes in North American studies.

April 1998 – CA Dept of Health – “Health Effects of Toxin-Producing Indoor Molds in California,” by Sandra McNeel, etc. Several fungal species capable of producing toxic substances have been found in water-damaged California homes and offices. This article provides information about potential health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum (a.k.a. S. atra), a toxigenic mold that has received increasing attention recently among indoor air researchers and the public. Within the last 12-18 months several scientific reports (and media attention) have focused on Stachybotrys, a ubiquitous saprophytic fungus that grows on nitrogen-poor, cellulose rich materials such as hay, straw and building materials (ceiling tiles, wall paper, paper covering on gypsum wallboard). The statewide prevalence of this fungus in homes or workplaces is unknown, although one report found Stachybotrys in 2-3% of a small survey of southern California homes (Kozak, 1979).

April 1st, 1998 – BBJ Environmental – Toxic Effects of Indoor Molds. Stachybotrys found in 2 to 3 percent of home environments sampled.

May 1998 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Playa Del Rey, CA, custom home roof leaks, ceiling collapse, stachybotrys, $900,000 against builder.

May 1st, 1998 – Doe Homeowners v. Roe Builder, Confidential Report for Attorneys No. 10272 (settlement May 1, 1998) – claiming damages for water leaks in doors and windows

February 3rd, 1999 – American Phytopathological Society (APS) News Release – Household Fungus Contributes to “Sick Building Syndrome”. Over the past 20 years in North America evidence has accumulated implicating stachybotrys as a serious problem in water damaged homes and buildings. Commonly found following water damage.

May 1999 – Robertson, Vick & Capella – “The Mold Monster” – Simi Valley, CA, homeowner association failed to repair water damage, mold, condo, condo owner recovered $350,000.

May 17th, 1999 – Hickenbottom v. Racquet Club Villa Homeowners Ass’n, No. SC 020 526 (settlement, May 17, 1999) – alleging water intrusion into the crawl space beneath plaintiff’s townhouse unit.

August 17th, 1999 – Stroot v. New Haverford Partnership- No. 95C-05-074-HLA, 1999 WL 753916 (Del. Super. Ct. Aug. 17, 1999). After finding a Delaware apartment building owner and property management company negligent (re mold), a jury awarded former residents over $1 million in personal injury damages for alleged aggravation of pre-existing asthma, cognitive deficits, bronchitis, and immune system “abnormalities” due to an alleged failure by the property owner and management company to remediate water problems and fungal contamination.

October 11th, 1999 – FEMA – Floods Carry a Hazardous Potential for Toxic Mold. Visible mold. Behind walls. Remove sheetrock.

November 1st, 1999 – Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has just released the Second Edition of their Standard S500, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration which focuses more on potential harm from mold growth.

December 3rd, 1999 – BBJ Environmental – Mold: A Health Alert. A 1999 Mayo Clinic study pegged nearly all chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to molds. A 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health study of 10,000 homes in the US and Canada found half had “conditions of water damage and mold associated with a 50 to 100 % increase in respiratory symptoms.”

February 7th, 2000 – 60 Minutes: Sick Building Syndrome (CBS television)

February 29th, 2000 – MedScape General Medicine – Stachybotrys chartarum: Current Knowledge of Its Role in Disease. Health risks from exposure are poorly defined but it is becoming clear that other potentially toxigenic fungi are more common than previously acknowledged.

March 9th, 2000 – Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Bulletin – “Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds.” It is not necessary to determine what type of mold you have. All molds should be treated the same. Problems – allergies, immune suppression or underlying lung disease. If you have extensive mold, contact a professional. Once mold starts to grow in insulation or wallboard – remove it. Moldy items should be discarded. If you find mold, prudent practice is to remove it.

March 15th, 2000 – OEM Forum – Stachybotrys revisited, by Eckardt Johanning. Surprised at the CDC report. Questions who they talked to. He and colleagues were not consulted. Questions reliance on sources that have not researched fungi. Disappointed. Need open debate and disclosure of CDC advisers. Referenced an insider report from Jim White, a former Canadian Health Official who speculates on pressures on CDC/government officials.

March 24th, 2000 – The Plain Dealer = Letter re: Committed to halting bleeding-lung disease. Letter by Case Western Reserve University re CDC report questioning linkage of mold to infant deaths in Cleveland. Research ongoing, urges protect children from mold.

April 12th, 2000 – OEM Forum – Comments regarding the CDC/WMMR Stachybotrys position/advisory, by Eckardt Johanning. Cautions against underestimating allergenic and toxigenic fungal exposures. Cites comments from European researcher/colleague – shocked by ignorance shown by CDC, building related mycotoxin exposure is great, studies in Finland.

September 29th, 2000 – Anderson v. Allstate Ins. Co. No. CIV-S-00-907-PAN (E.D. Cal. verdict Sept. 29, 2000). A Northern California jury awarded a 96-year-old man $500,000 in economic and emotional distress damages and $18 million in punitive damages after he sued Allstate, his insurance carrier, for refusing to pay for mold remediation and related repairs in his home.

January 14th, 2001 – Reno Gazette-Journal – “Toxic mold: Reports double since 1988” by Frank X. Mullen, Jr. – UNLV center, Ms. Stetzenbach says, investigated 72 mold cases in 1998, 92 in 1999, and 156 in 2000. Water saturated materials should be removed and replaced.

May 2001 – Jury verdict – Ballard v. Farmers Insurance Group – $32.1 million, even after the evidence of bodily injury was excluded from the trial for technical reasons. The damages were: Actual Property – $6.2 million, Mental Anguish – $5 million, Punitive Damages – $12 million and Legal Fees – $8.9 million.

“For the full list of all mold history from 1837 – 2001, please visit https://www.safeencasement.com/technical-info/history-of-mold.html

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