CDC is not yet credible with regard to mold and health, but getting there, slowly....
Our letter-writing campaign to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is causing gradual, significant, positive change in the CDC's mold information. We have noted new additions to the CDC mold website, added recently - finally mentioning the WHO's findings more prominently, though these still are not integrated into the CDC guidance documents for mold and asthma as fully as we think they deserve. It is encouraging to see the newly reorganized CDC, with its new Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, appointed by President Obama, being more responsive to the public and outside research. The performance of CDC during the Bush era was dismal, at best. There is a long way to go, and we hope the new CDC, under Director Frieden, will take swift and informed action to protect Americans from indoor dampness and mold, particularly in our schools. So far, federal programs have been flawed and ineffective, rendering our population, particularly in the schools, languishing in unhealthy indoor environments, leading to extensive chronic disease. CDC really has hated to admit that mold harms health, as it claimed for years that this isn't so. It is time to tell the facts straight - all of them. Millions are sick as a result of CDC's poor handling of dampness and mold information. (SMH)
March 19, 2010
Upon visiting the Centers for Disease Control's Mold website, http://cdc.gov/mold/ , one will now see its righthand sidebar includes, thankfully, the groundbreaking WHO Guidelines to Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould direct link plus a newly added (CDC) Summary of this WHO report that includes only direct excerpts, without comment by CDC. Further, the Mold and Your Health section has added the sentence, in its third paragraph, " In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.52 MB]".
We feel that it should not be necessary to continually lobby the CDC to promptly post important research findings that pertain to the public health. This is a situation that must be resolved by Congress, the President, and the CDC.
CDC's website, in its heading, states, "CDC, Your Online Source for Credible Health Information."
We disagree, to date, but have hopes that it will "get there" soon. (SMH)
from the CDC page http://cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm
Color-coded to show sequence of changes:
yellow areas added in Dec., 2009 in direct response to SMH requests, acknowledged in written correspondence with the CDC. Time it took to post these CDC-sponsored research findings: 5.5 years
green areas added in Feb., 2010 following letters from SMH that started in Sept., 2009, related to WHO publication July 2010. Time it took to post these WHO-sponsored research findings: 7 months
Facts about Mold and Dampness
There is always some mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years. Mold grows where there is moisture.
Mold and Your Health
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
In addition, in 2004 the IOM found sufficient evidence to link exposure to damp indoor environments in general to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.52 MB].
A link between other adverse health effects, such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), has not been proven. Further studies are needed to find out what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage and other adverse health effects.
From Basic Facts (about mold, CDC)
How do molds affect people?
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.52 MB].
SMH Note: (IOM) Summary [DOC, 35 KB], below, was written by CDC. We feel that the first page does a very poor job of warning the public about mold and misrepresents the IOM report, in doing so.
Damp Indoor Spaces and Health [PDF, 608 KB]
Executive Summary of Institute of Medicine report. Summary [DOC, 35 KB] Also see the Full Report.
Mold Cleanup Fact Sheet [PDF, 114 KB]
After a flood, mold will grow in your house.
WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.5 MB]
World Health Organization review of scientific evidence on health problems associated with building moisture and biological agents. Summary [DOC, 439 KB]
Examples of several of many CDC online mold documents
and practices that need attention:
- CDC has NOT informed health care providers about the symptoms and conditions caused by dampness and mold
- CDC has not adequately informed local, county, or state health departments about the dangers of dampness and mold
The EPA Guidelines for cleaning up mold in schools are ten years old and may be dangerous to follow.
I'm sure that mold in my workplace is making me sick.
If you believe you are ill because of exposure to mold in the building where you work, you should first consult your health care provider to determine the appropriate action to take to protect your health. Notify your employer and, if applicable, your union representative about your concern so that your employer can take action to clean up and prevent mold growth. To find out more about mold, remediation of mold, or workplace safety and health guidelines and regulations, you may also want to contact your local (city, county, or state) health department.
You should also read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines, Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/mold_remediation.html.
More reasons the following is advice that needs improvement:
1. health care providers not informed by CDC and school districts not required to support doctors' advice - for instance, if a doctor says to remove child from the school, school districts often fight this stance
2. school administrations and school boards are more concerned about liability than your child, in most cases, though they do need to be informed
3. state and local health departments and IAQ offices have not been informed by CDC of their changed stance nor of WHO's most recent findings.
4. the links listed have not been reported to be helpful to parents or teachers with mold concerns - EPA Tools for Schools program is preventative in nature and relies on the goodwill of the school district. Parents and teachers report that Healthyschools.org, primarily EPA-funded, focuses on green cleaning and healthy schools designs (not what to do about existing mold). On a positive note, the healthy schools designs are notably helpful if moldy schools are to be torn down and replaced.
I am very concerned about mold in my children’s school and how it affects their health.
If you believe your children are ill because of exposure to mold in their school, first consult their health care provider to determine the appropriate medical action to take. Contact the school’s administration to express your concern and to ask that they remove the mold and prevent future mold growth. If needed, you could also contact the local school board.
CDC is not a regulatory agency and does not have enforcement authority in local matters. Your local health department may also have information on mold, and you may want to get in touch with your state Indoor Air Quality office. Information on this office is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/indoor_air.htm.
You can also read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/mold_remediation.html. Also, see these Web sites for more indoor air quality tools for schools: