Mold Warrior Attacks Yours Truly

Interesting: a couple of weeks ago I linked to an LA Weekly story about the battle over mold. I thought it was a fascinating piece, but Sharon Kramer, the controversial "mold warrior" at the center of the story, most certainly did not like it. In her defense (see her comment to the link above) she cites a Wall Street Journal article called "Amid Suits Over Mold, Experts Wear Two Hats," from January 9, 2007, that unfortunately does not appear linkable except in pdf form. Kramer sees the story as vindication: I see it as a writer raising questions (are expert witnesses who question claims of toxic mold truly objective?)

This is the nature of a controversy: Definitive answers are hard to find. Classic example. In the LA Weekly last week, editor Jill Stewart, attacked by Kramer, posts that Bruce Kelman won his libel suit against Kramer on August 27th in a jury trial. Definitive, no?

But the only confirmation I can find on the web is a post at Overlawyered, by a writer who complains he was somewhat misquoted in the original Weekly story, and suggests that if Kelman does win the case, it will be a "Pyrrhic victory." So I honestly don’t know if that counts as vindication for Kelman or not.

Readers can judge for themselves if the comments by Kramer fit her description in the original LA Weekly story linked above. She certainly resorts to invective at the drop of a hat. In many years of journalism, in many forms of commentary, this is the first time anyone has ever called me a hack. (In an email) Ouch!

6 thoughts on “Mold Warrior Attacks Yours Truly

  1. Dear Kit,

    I am a blunt and direct woman. That’s why I have gotten so far at speaking out on behalf of those made ill from mold in water damaged buildings. That’s why the insurance industry hates me so much. That’s why true hack, Jill Stewart, wrote that horrid and false hit piece on me. I have effectively caused an increase in the medical and scientific understanding of the more serious mold -fungal induced illnesses. I have helped legitimate scientists and researchers have their words better heard by legislators and decision makers. So…if you don’t want to be called a hack, then do a little research before you write.

    What you, of all people should know is that in many cases I am dealing with the canaries in the coal mines in the war on global warming. Fungal diseases are on the increase in humans, plants, animals, coral reefs, Rain forest frogs, Vancouver island, and African dust clouds. These little buggers (mainly aspergillus) are loving even the slightest increase in temperatures. That is one reason we are seeing an increase in these illnesses in airtight, energy efficient buildings. They are loving our construction standards that were established around the late 70’s.

    What do you want to know about the issue or the lawsuit or whatever? I will tell you everything. But do you really want to know, is what I question.

    The LA Weekly intentionally got the story completely wrong. That was nothing more than a sensationalist hit piece with a two fold message sent by the insurance industry:
    1. Mold does not harm prior healthy people.
    2. Mrs. Kramer is crazy, so don’t listen to her.

    To set the record straight, I do not think mold is the scourge of the earth. However I do recognize that excessive exposure to mold in water damaged indoor environments can and sometimes does cause severe illness in prior healthy people.

    It is not me who is keeping this issue in litigation. I work hard to push for physician education so that people do not become severely ill, so that they receive proper medical treatment early before the illnesses become anything worth litigation. Early detection and diagnosis is the key.

    These are the types of people who know I write the truth of the matter. The following article ran on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2007. Seasoned investigative reporter, David Armstrong, flew to my house in mid 2006. We hooked our computers up and downloaded files for an entire day as we talked of the deceit in science over the mold issue. After interviewing over 50 people, including Kelman, Armstrong wrote, “Court of Opinion, Amid Suits Over Mold Experts Wear Two Hats”.

    Click to access WSJOnlineJan92007.pdf

    Jill Stewart of LAWeekly is a real piece of work. The way they portrayed me in such a false light is disturbing that this could actually be published as journalism. I have documentation showing they flat out lied on many points of that article. Several people they quoted said they were never even interviewed. Things like they failed to mention we received a sizeable settlement in my suit with my insurer for bad faith claims handling practices and cross contamination of our home which was falsely cleared for occupancy by the lab they sent to us. Or that it was my daughters’ physicians who determined she could not be in the house. It is my new house that is bigger than my old and has the lake view. The “black spot” I was so fearful of was about 20 ft x 20 ft after the remediators let water sit for six weeks. I have never owned a trailer in my life and couldn’t keep one in my front yard even if I wanted to. My homeowner’s association would never allow it. I have never forced my daughter to sleep in a trailer or held her out as a “starring victim”. The only thing she is a victim of is LAWeekly. She is a great kid who just graduated from college and started her first job in her field of education.

    They also failed to mention that I do occasionally leave my dark hovel where I purportedly obsessively blog lies and fear. I have traveled extensively over the past four years even keeping an apartment in Washington DC from time to time. Senator Kennedy ordered a Federal Government Accountability Office audit into the issue at my request. It is due out right after Labor Day.

    In detail: What stakeholders of moldy buildings want kept quiet is that Dr. Kelman, who is an old tobacco scientist, simply applied math to a single inhalation study of rodents to conclude (spin) that it is implausible people could ever be exposed to enough mold toxins in a water damaged building to cause human illness. This conclusion has NEVER been duplicated. It belongs in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. He knows better than to form this conclusion based on such limited info as he used to oversee rodent inhalation studies for Big Tobacco. See 1987 letter from RJ Reynolds, Chief of Toxicology to Dr. Kelman.

    In 2002, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, (ACOEM) which is a medical association with a long and dubious history of being in service to industry (read “Doubt is their product, how industry’s assault on science threatens your health” by Dr. David Michaels) legitimized Kelman’s little feat of scientific magic by making it a position statement of their org. Position statements carry much weight in the eyes of the court because they are portrayed to be the scientific opinion of thousands of physicians.

    They specifically brought Kelman, his business partner Hardin and another old expert defense witness, Saxon, into their org to write this position paper. [A paper I co-authored about ACOEM for the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health: “ACOEM A professional association in service to industry” .

    One of my co-authors for the above paper is Dr. Huff, assistant director of chemical carcinogen, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.]

    From there, the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute (that also has a history in Big Tobacco) spun the “not plausible” stance based on never duplicated science of Kelman and Hardin, to mean all claims of mold induced illness were just a result of “trial lawyers, media hype and Junk science.”

    The US Chamber and a Congressman with strong ties to the building industry – who is currently under FBI Investigation- promoted it, used it to lobby and to “educate” judges. Voila! Instant current accepted science…with no scientific foundation.

    And the above is what I was writing about in my press release and what they wanted silenced. I was the first, but certainly not the last, to bring the mass marketing of false science over the issue to greater public light. I have a degree in marketing. I got it. I wrote about it.

    From my 2005 press release:
    “In 2003, with the involvement of the US Chamber of Commerce and ex-developer, US Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA), the GlobalTox paper was disseminated to the real estate, mortgage and building industries’ associations. A version of the Manhattan Institute commissioned piece may also be found as a position statement on the website of a United States medical policy-writing body, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.”

    So while I feel like LAWeekly just elevated me to the starring role in the play “Wicked”, I have absolutely no intention of shutting up about a mass marketing of a deceit in science that is causing many who are ill beyond simple allergy from mold to be unable to receive medical treatment, simply because stakeholders of moldy buildings are seeking to limit financial liability in court.

    Yes, Virginia, prior healthy people can and sometimes do become ill from excessive mold exposure in water damaged buildings. Just from asthma alone it is considered a national health threat by the EPA. “Berkeley Lab, EPA Studies Confirm Large Public Health And Economic Impact of Dampness and Mold: They estimate that number of asthma cases attributable to exposure in home is 4.6 million, at $3.5 billion annual cost”

    Personally, I think what has been done over this issue is nothing short of criminal. For the sake of saving money, the physicians of America have been intentionally misinformed. Tis I who is considered mainstream in my understanding of the science among legitimate researchers and physicians. But the marketing of industry is very hard to fight, even when you hold a degree in the subject of marketing as I do. I think the LA Weekly article by young Hempiel – whose career as a serious journalist was just ended by Ms. Stewart – is a prime example of the power and reach of industry. And I find journalism such as this far more scary and a greater threat to public health than mold could ever be.


  2. Sounds good. Please send me an email when you post your question(s) so I am aware. And..I am not a “Mold Warrior”. However I find that errorneous label better than “Mold Queen”. Mold is not the problem I fight against. The proliferation of conflicted science that has been used to establish public policy is where my true crusade lays.

    The mold issue makes a great vehicle to track this because the little twist of science with its broad usage and proliferation is so easy to track. I don’t think too highly of industry’s ethics in science, but I am in complete awe of their marketing ability.

    LA Weekly just opened up a whole new area of research. What exactly does the term “alternative news” really mean? Is there a double entendre there?

    Another paper I co-authored with physicians. This one is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. “Nondisclosure of Conflicts of Interest is Perilous to the Advancement of Science.”

    Global warming is not the only area of science that has been bushwacked over the last 8 years. And George Bush is not sitting in the White House making this happen all by himself. Its the Jill Stewarts of the world who will write and publish anything – factual or not -that help to make this happen. If you noticed this article appeared about two weeks before the trial date. It was suppose to be out in Sept. And I had no idea it was going to be such a huge lie of an article. When I told young Hempiel of the exact date of trial, two days later I got the message that LA Weekly was going to move the publication date up.

    Just one example of how bad that article really was: The picture of my husband and daughters that was suppose to represent happy days long ago (ya know, before I went over the edge) was of a family vacation we took to Lake Powell the summer before last. Nasty game!!!


  3. Kit,

    While you are trying to figure out what to ask me, maybe listening to this podcast of yesterday’s NPR show out of New York will help you to understand what is really going on here. They mention Dr. Kelman by name in conjuction with a “phoney” paper. They cite my IJOEH paper as excellent by people they trust.

    Podcast of WNYC Leonard Lopate Show regarding current state of understanding of mold induced illness and public policy. Well worth the listen!


  4. Mold queen,

    I thought you were done defaming people. You just don’t know when to quit do you?

    Anyone citing your ‘paper’ is an idiot.


  5. Kit,

    See how it works? I have internet trolls such as truthspeaker that follow me extensively. Very bizarre (and fascinating). The lawsuit had nothing to do with what I have written about Kelman’s “phoney” science. It was merely for 5 words, “altered his under oath statements”. Yet, they attempt to portray that because of this ruling one should not listen to what I (and scientists and researchers) say about a mass marketing of a deceit in science.

    BTW, we are appealing the verdict as I was not allowed to discuss the science or my research into the conflicts in my defense. As a result, the jury was not privvy to key info of why Kelman was altering when forced to discuss two paper – one of which was the legitimizing of false science and the other of which was the mass marketing of the matter.

    I have deeply wounded those who rely on this false science to defeat financial responsibility for injured workers and others by my shedding of public light on the matter. I have cost the insurance industry multi-millions of dollars.

    All I want is for the sick to be able to obtain proper medical treatment from properly informed physicians. That is all I want. And I have absolutely no intention of shutting up about Kelman’s “science”.

    As far as I am concerned, what Jill Stewart just KNOWINGLY did over this issue that was meant to legitimize a false scientific concept – that is harmful to the health of many – yet promotes the interests of industry over the health and safety of the American public – would cause me to ask the following question: “What’s the difference between George Bush and Jill Stewart?”

    Answer: “Lipstick”.


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