Mold Inc.

Want to be on the frontlines in our nation’s fight against slime? The dark icky ooze that creeps up from our floorboards has pushed its way to the front of our attention due to the number of infestations of toxic mold and subsequent legal actions. A whole cottage industry has sprung up around the fungus—an industry that includes eradication specialists, educators and, of course, lawyers.

And journalists. We knew it was a story that needed attention when some of our fellow employees and contributors were stricken by mold and are seeking remedies. But do the increasing numbers of incidents reflect an outbreak of toxic mold or hysteria?

The question of how dangerous the mold actually is, and who should pay for it, is almost as difficult to define as mold is to get rid of.

This murky plague upon our house has prompted lawmakers to do what they do—put off any real action and call for a task force! This is supposed to calm our fears. But as writer Stephen James found out (see “When good mold goes bad,”), they forgot to fund the task force, so the government types in California are doing very little to define exposure limits and remediation standards. And don’t look to insurance companies or HMOs to step into an expensive quagmire and define a problem that will only cost them money.

If you talk with the people affected, as we have, the anecdotal evidence is clear: continued exposure to toxic mold makes people sick, especially those at risk.

The solution, we think, lies not in extended litigation and government inaction, but in long-term research into the toxicity of mold and its ill effects. That’s one aspect of the mold situation that should grow.