While I was gone, I missed a great (and long) story in the LA Weekly (here) about the mom who turned mold "toxic," creating a storm of lucrative litigation out of fear, misunderstanding, and greed.
Like those who would later join the cause, including Johnny Carson
sidekick Ed McMahon, [Sharon Kramer] saw a conspiracy funded by businesses out to
end mold claims while risking the public’s health. She believed that
the well-being of thousands depended on her exposing that deceit. Like
the fight waged by McMahon over the death of his dog purportedly from
mold, Kramer’s belief has consumed her. It has wiped out her
comfortable suburban life and financial security and caused her to lose
touch with many friends.*
But the great mold scare never rose to the level of accepted epidemic
among serious researchers. Despite public hysteria that continues even
now, science today finds no direct link between mold and serious
illness in people with normal immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control now says: "There are very few
reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or
rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss" —
the kinds of illnesses claimed in successful lawsuits at the height of
the mold rush. "These case reports," the CDC warns on its Web site,
"are rare, and a causal link between the presence of toxigenic mold and
these conditions has not been proven."
The story resonates for yours truly because we have a guesthouse/trailer that has begun to grow mold in spots during winter rains…meaning we can no longer rent it out. What to do? Destroy? Rebuild? (Or, as one former tenant suggested, simply find tenants with functioning immune systems who don’t freak out.)
But the story of Sharon Kramer is almost a Greek tragedy: a woman seemingly deranged by the near-loss of her beloved child. She appears utterly obsessed with mold, which for most individuals, whose lungs aren’t thick with mucus, is not a great menace. Even her husband seems fed up.
"Looking back at how a leak from a fridge complicated the last six
years of our lives is unbelievable," her husband says. "It doesn’t make
You said it, brother. But when it comes to fear, little does.