molds by xiangpeng


									38          FEATURE ARTICLE

     The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When you enter the land of Canaan which I am about to give to
     you for a possession, and I put a diseased infection in a house in the land you are to possess, then who-
     ever owns the house must come and declare to the priest, ‘Something like an infection is visible to me in
     the house.’ Then the priest will command that the house be cleared before the priest enters to examine
     the infection so that everything in the house does not become unclean, and afterwards the priest will
     enter to examine the house. He is to examine the infection, and if the infection in the walls of the house
     consists of yellowish green or reddish eruptions, and it appears to be deeper than the surface of the
     wall, then the priest is to go out of the house to the doorway of the house and quarantine the house for
     seven days. The priest must return on the seventh day, examine it, and if the infection has spread in the
     walls of the house, then the priest is to command that the stones that had the infection in them be pulled
     and thrown outside the city into an unclean place. Then he is to have the house scraped all around on
     the inside, and the plaster which is scraped off must be poured out outside the city into an unclean
     place. They are then to take other stones and replace those stones, and he is to take other plaster and
     replaster the house.
       “If the infection returns and breaks out in the house after he has pulled out the stones, scraped the
     house, and it is replastered, the priest is to come and examine it, and if the infection has spread in the
     house, it is a malignant disease in the house. It is unclean. He must tear down the house, its stones, its
     wood, and all the plaster of the house, and bring it outside the city to an unclean place. Anyone who en-
     ters the house all the days he has quarantined it will be unclean until evening. Anyone who lies down in
     the house must wash his clothes. Anyone who eats in the house must wash his clothes.
       “If, however, the priest enters and examines it, and the infection has not spread in the house after the
     house has been replastered, then the priest is to pronounce the house clean because the infection has
     been healed.”                                                                        — Leviticus 14:33-48

     Susan L. Kite                                            There are molds that can grow on
     BOCA Staff Editor                                        wood, paper, carpet and foods. When
                                                              excessive moisture or water accumu-
                                                              lates indoors, mold growth will con-
     MOLD IS NOT A NEW substance. Or-                         tinue, particularly if the moisture
     ganic in nature, molds have been                         problem remains undiscovered or un-
     known to cure illness (e.g., penicillin),                addressed. According to the Environ-
     develop the flavor of foods and wines                    mental Protection Agency (EPA),
     (e.g., blue cheese), and assist with the                 there is no practical way to eliminate
     breakdown of organic materials. Mold                     all mold and mold spores in the in-
     can survive for years in a dormant                       door environment; as such, the way
     state, growing only when the condi-                      to control indoor mold growth is to
     tions are favorable.                                     control moisture.
        Considered a bacteria, mold spores                      In the last several years, unchecked
     are less than 4 microns in size. To put                  mold growth has been blamed for
     this in context, as many as 250,000                      damaging or destroying the homes
     spores can fit on the head of a pin.                     and buildings it infests, as well as
     When these tiny mold spores land on                      causing symptoms of physical dis-
     a damp spot indoors, they may begin                      tress in individuals. This, then,
     growing and digesting whatever they                      makes mold a concern to code en-
     are growing on in order to survive.                      forcement professionals, whose job it

                                                   The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

is to ensure the public health,                fants, children, elderly persons       p ulm o na r y      h e m or rh a g e /
safety and welfare with respect                or those with weakened immune          hemosiderosis was reported in
to the built environment.                      systems may be affected by in-         Cleveland, Ohio, where 27 in-
                                               door mold more severely and            fants from homes that sustained
POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS                       sooner than others. When in            flood damage became sick. After
ASSOCIATED WITH MOLD                           contact with certain molds, sen-       nine of these infants died, pre-
The first reported cases of health             sitized individuals, including         liminary research suggested
effects attributed to mold spores              those with a predisposition to         that there was an association
were found in agriculture.                     asthma or allergies, most com-         between S. atra and the ill-
“Farmers’ Lung” is a noninfec-                 monly exhibit symptoms such            nesses. Deficiencies in the origi-
tious allergic disease caused by               as runny noses, headaches, si-         nal study have since caused the
inhaling dust from moldy hay or                nus infections, coughs, watery         Centers for Disease Control to
grain. Working in silos with                   eyes, breathing difficulties, and      reverse its position on this case.
high-moisture content and poor                 general discomfort. Other reac-
ventilation resulted in the inha-              tions might include asthmatic          TOXIC MOLD
lation of vast quantities of mold              symptoms such as labored
                                               breathing, chest constric-              According to the EPA, there is no
spores by many farmers. Initial
                                               tion and coughing. In a          practical way to eliminate all mold and
symptoms of Farmers’ Lung,
similar to those of a common                   small percentage of cases,       mold spores in the indoor environment.
summer cold, were often ig-                    skin rashes may develop. It
                                               must also be noted that                According to public health offi-
                                               these same symptoms can be             cials, the term “toxic mold” is
   Cases of Farmers’ Lung are on
                                               caused by dust mites, pet dan-         used to describe molds capable
the rise, and many believe this
                                               der and other microorganisms           of releasing a toxin. Whether or
can be attributed to the in-
                                               found in homes and public              not that particular type of mold
creased size of modern silos. Be-
                                               buildings.                             will release the toxin in a specific
cause the only controllable
                                                  Prolonged exposure to molds         home or building is unclear.
factor in abating mold infesta-
                                               may result in chronic fatigue,            In regard to the determination
tion is moisture, grain must be
                                               dizziness, shortness of breath,        of toxins causing health issues,
dried properly before it is placed
                                               headaches and nosebleeds.              there are no tests currently
in the silo for storage. Storage
                                               Other symptoms might include           available that will positively de-
buildings also need to be venti-
                                               muscle cramps and the inability        termine whether or not an indi-
lated adequately to keep them
                                               to concentrate, as well as edema.      vidual was exposed to any mold
cool. Recent studies show that
                                               Too much exposure may cause            toxins. Everyone agrees on prin-
the amount of moisture needed
                                               or worsen such problems as hay         ciple that indoor molds are not
to permit mold growth is less
                                               fever or asthma, but the most          healthy and that sensitized indi-
than originally thought.
                                               common symptoms are those of           viduals will have adverse reac-
   The extreme conditions in si-
                                               a cold or upper-respiratory in-        tions to mold spores and toxins,
los are not normally found in
                                               fection. Usually symptoms dis-         but there is no way to prove ex-
homes or public buildings, and it
                                               a p p ea r a ft er t he m o ld is      posure.
should be noted that mold infes-
                                               removed.                                  Most types of mold that are
tations in homes and public
                                                  Surprisingly, with all of the       regularly discovered in homes
buildings do not affect all indi-
                                               studies of molds and their ef-         and public buildings are not
viduals. In many cases, the
                                               fects on individuals, there are no     hazardous to individuals. Of the
body’s natural defense systems
                                               documented cases of life-threat-       thousands of molds intrinsic to
(such as mucous lining, cough-
                                               ening conditions or deaths             the environment, studies indi-
ing and sneezing) will help re-
                                               caused by mold. In January             cate that only a few are in any
move some of the contaminants.
It is generally believed that in-              1993, a cluster of cases of acute                       (Continued on next page)

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.
40           MOLD (cont'd.)

     way toxic to humans and animals, in-
     cluding Stachybotrys Chartarum
     (atra), Aspergillus versicolor, and sev-
     eral species of Penicillium. These par-
     ticular molds are usually more
     hazardous when they infest air-han-
     dling systems than when they are dis-
     covered behind walls or in other areas
     of structures. Stachybotrys atra is the
     least likely variety of mold to occur be-
     cause of its need for an extremely high
     humidity level as well as cellu-
     lose-containing materials such as
     wood, cotton, drywall and other
     building materials. It is a green-
     ish-black fungus that is typically
     slimy and wet to the touch. It is not
     found on such things as ceramic tiles,
     cement, vinyl or plastic. The spores of
     this type of mold are often unable to
     become airborne because they are
     part of a slimy cluster. Once the mold
     is allowed to dry, spores are able to
     break away and become airborne.
        The EPA has not determined strict
     guidelines for determining the health
     risks of Stachybotrys atra. Collecting
     mold cultures is difficult because of
     the prevalence of other types of molds
     in the same area, so it is not always
     possible to determine the extent of in-
     festation. Attempting the removal of
     Stachybotrys atra is extremely diffi-
     cult since every effort must be made
     to prevent the spread of the spores.              Above, Top, Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra), as
                                                       view ed und er a m i c r o sc o pe . Mi ddl e ,
     MOLD IN SCHOOLS                                   Aspergillus versicolor. Bottom, several species
                                                       of Penicillium. These photographs and the
     Occurrences of mold in schools are
                                                       cover photos are courtesy of the University of
     making headlines nationwide. From
                                                       Minnesota, Environmental Health and Safety,
     the Chicago T ribune, August 20,                  Minneapolis, Minnesota (,
     2001, “Northbrook High School                     and are used with permission.
     Fights a Problem with Mold,” the
     Cincinnati Enquirer, Friday, January
     25, 2002, “Students Relocated Over
     Toxic Mold Fear,” St. Petersburg
     Times, February 24, 2002, “Mold At
     School Stirs Concern,” and from the
     Daily Southtown, March 17, 2002,

                                            The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

“Checkup For Mold Expanding.”

                                                   MOLD REMEDIATION CHECKLIST
Moisture problems in school
buildings can be caused by a va-
riety of conditions, including roof
and plumbing leaks, condensa-                                    For Schools And Commercial Buildings
tion, and excess humidity.
Changes in construction prac-                      INVESTIGATE AND EVALUATE MOISTURE AND MOLD PROBLEMS
tices resulting in more tightly                      •   Assess size of moldy area (square feet)
sealed buildings are also a cause                    •   Consider the possibility of hidden mold
of moisture problems.
                                                     •   Clean up small mold problems and fix moisture problems
   Complaints of breathing diffi-
                                                         before they become large problems
culties and asthma among stu-
                                                     •   Select remediation manager for medium- or large-size mold
dents in the nation’s schools
have brought about calls for test-
                                                     •   Investigate areas associated with occupant complaints
ing for indoor air contaminants
such as molds. In some cases,                        •   Identify source(s) or cause of water or moisture problem(s)
parents       are     opting     to                  •   Note type of water-damaged materials (wallboard, carpet,
home-school their children to                            etc.)
avoid the perceived health risks                     •   Check inside air ducts and air handling unit
of mold in school buildings. In                      •   Throughout process, consult qualified professional if
one Chicago-area school, more                            necessary or desired
than 50 students staged a walk-
out in protest of what they con-
sidered to be unsafe conditions.
                                                     •   Designate contact person for questions and comments about
                                                         medium- or large-scale remediation as needed
   With no federal guidelines as
to what are acceptable levels of                   PLAN REMEDIATION
mold, the EPA is advising                            •   Adapt or modify remediation guidelines to fit your situation;
schools that any amount of mold                          use professional judgment
is unacceptable. The school dis-                     •   Plan to dry wet, nonmoldy materials within 48 hours to
tricts have been placed in the po-                       prevent mold growth
sition of attempting to eliminate
                                                     •   Select cleanup methods for moldy items
all mold found in school build-
                                                     •   Select Personal Protection Equipment—protect remediators
ings and preventing it from re-
curring. Since mold is a living
                                                     •   Select containment equipment—protect building occupants

organism and grows anywhere                          •   Select remediation personnel who have the experience and
there is warmth, moisture and a                          training needed to implement the remediation plan and use
                                                         Personal Protection Equipment and containment as
food source, this will be a
never-ending, time-consuming,
and expensive task; in some                        REMEDIATE MOISTURE AND MOLD PROBLEMS
cases, schools have already been                     •   Fix moisture problem, implement repair or maintenance plan
closed because of the inability to
                                                     •   Dry wet, nonmoldy materials within 48 hours
remove all mold.
                                                     •   Clean and dry moldy materials
   Exacerbating this situation is
the failure of many school dis-
                                                     •   Discard moldy porous items that cannot be cleaned
tricts to pass referenda to pro-
vide the necessary funding for                     This checklist does not list all potential steps or problems. For more information,
r o ut ine m a intena nce a nd                     go to

                  (Continued on next page)

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.
42           MOLD (cont'd.)

     cleanup of mold infestations as well              found in the building: aspergillus and
     as pending litigation brought by stu-             stachybotrys. This award was upheld
     dents and parents injured by such in-             by a Florida appellate court.
     festations.                                          Homeowners and apartment rent-
                                                       ers have also been awarded damages
     LITIGATION ISSUES                                 in toxic mold cases. The largest settle-
     During the last 10 years, toxic mold              ment to date was in the case of
     lawsuits have been filed in such                  Ballard vs. Fire Insurance Exchange
     states as Califor nia, Delaware,                  (Farmers Insurance Group). The state
     Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio and             court in Austin, Texas, awarded
     Texas. These suits, involving bodily              $32.1 million in June 2001, to
     injuries and/or property damage,                  Melinda Ballard and her family. The
     have resulted in an insurance com-                breakdown of the settlement is as fol-
     pany response of no longer including              lows: $6.2 million for replacement of
     mold coverage in their normal prop-               the home and its contents; $5 million
     erty insurance coverage.                          for mental anguish; $12 million in pu-
        Personal injury lawsuits attributed            nitive damages; and $8.9 million for
     to toxic mold or sick building syn-               legal fees. The jury said Farmers In-
     drome have described symptoms                     surance Group failed to respond
     ranging from burning and watering                 promptly and cover the necessary re-
     eyes, coughing and sore throat to se-             pairs for a water leak, thereby allow-
     vere edema, nausea, cancer, preg-                 ing mold to overrun the home.
     nancy problems and miscarriages.                  According to newspaper sources,
     Unchecked mold infestations in                    Ballard intends to continue legal ac-
     homes and buildings have resulted in              tion against the insurance company
     not only personal injury claims but               for health-related claims.
     also structural damage. Lawsuits                     A story published in the Indianapo-
     from infestations have resulted in                lis Star in 2001 recounts a lawsuit al-
     hundreds of thousands of dollars in               leging that ServiceMaster did a poor
     judgments.                                        job removing moisture from a home
        In Polk County, Florida, a court-              and this resulted in mold growth. Ac-
     house built in 1987 was evacuated in              cording to the article, attempts to re-
     1992 because of the presence of toxic             move the mold have already cost
     mold. The courthouse was built at an              $43,000. It is estimated that total cost
     initial cost of $37 million; by 1997,             will be $100,000 and the home-
     the total payout by the county was                owner’s insurer will cover only a por-
     $50.4 million. The sum included                   tion of it.
     $33.7 million in building repairs, $10               In October 2000, Allstate Insurance
     million in defense expenses, $4.1 mil-            company was ordered to pay a policy
     lion in relocation costs and $2.6 mil-            holder $18.5 million in a coverage dis-
     lion for worker’s health claims.                  pute over mold in a plaintiff’s home in
        A construction defect suit against             California. The award called for
     the builder of a courthouse in Martin             $500,000 in damages and $18 million
     County, Florida, resulted in an order             in punitive damages. The judge re-
     for the contractor to pay the county              duced the award to $3 million and the
     $11.5 million in damages plus $2.9                case is being appealed.
     million in interest. In this case, it was            In New York, residents of an apart-
     alleged that two types of mold were                                         (Continued on page 44)

                                            The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

                                        WHAT THE CODES SAY
        FIGHTING THE PROBLEM of mold requires a                    it may be trapped and subsequently con-
        three-fold approach. Although the model codes do           dense. Further, water-resistive barriers and
        not contain the words “mold resistant,” the intent is to   weather coverings are required on the exte-
        minimize the conditions which could produce mold           rior of all buildings and structures along with
        and its associated effects. The codes require the          the necessary flashing. These requirements
        proper ventilation of all interior habitable and           in Chapter 14 of the IBC and Section R703 of
        occupiable areas along with specific concealed             the IRC are intended to prevent rain and
        spaces. Secondly, the exterior envelope of all build-      wind-driven moisture from entering the build-
        ings must be provided with vapor retarders, wa-            ing or structure.
        ter-resistive barriers and the necessary flashing.            The 2000 International Property Mainte-
        Lastly, the maintenance of existing buildings and          nance Code includes requirements for all
        structures is most important. This includes not only       existing residential and nonresidential struc-
        the exterior of the structure but also its plumbing and    tures to maintain their viability and safety.
        mechanical systems. Such an integrated approach            Section 303 requires the exterior of all struc-
        lessens the likelihood that mold could form unno-          tures to be maintained in good repair, struc-
        ticed.                                                     turally sound and in a sanitary condition for
           The interior habitable and occupiable environ-          the benefit of not only the building occupants
        ments of all buildings and structures must be              but also the public. The building owner must
        provided with either natural or mechanical ventilation     provide dedicated upkeep of the building and
        as required by Section 1202.1 of the International         its plumbing and mechanical systems.
        Building Code (IBC). Historically, residential build-         As can be seen, the model codes provide
        ings have only been provided with openable win-            requirements to build and maintain all struc-
        dows and doors. This allows the building occupants         tures safely. Through a complete and de-
        to access a fresh air source to dilute the stale air       tailed plan review, the code official can
        within the dwelling unit. For bathrooms and water          evaluate compliance with these require-
        closet compartments without an exterior window,            ments. Builders and contractors must care-
        Section R303.3 of the International Residential Code       fully construct buildings in accordance with
        (IRC) requires mechanical exhaust fans with specific       those approved plans and follow good con-
        ventilation rates to exhaust moisture-laden air di-        struction practices in assembling the building
        rectly to the outside. Additionally, enclosed attic        components. Building owners and tenants
        spaces, rafter spaces, crawl spaces, etc., are re-         must be observant and take immediate steps
        quired to have vents to dissipate any accumulated          to maintain existing buildings and their sys-
        moisture via cross ventilation.                            tems to prevent moisture from accumulating.
           Both the International Building and Residential         Such a concentrated effort will certainly en-
        Codes contain provisions that require the application      hance a building’s “mold resistance.”
        of a vapor retarder over the inside of cavity framed
        walls prior to the installation of interior sheathing or
        wall coverings. This vapor retarder is intended to
        prevent moisture-laden air within the building or
        structure from entering the wall cavity spaces where

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.
44          MOLD (cont'd.)

     ment complex are seeking approxi-               ous owners are also being sued.
     mately $180 million from Glenwood               Owners of a house in California filed
     Management Corporation and the                  suit against the seller of the house.
     complex operator, East 77th Realty              The case was settled for a little over
     LLC, for injuries and personal prop-            $1.25 million.
     erty damage allegedly caused by mold               School districts are also being sued
     exposure while they were living in the          by students, parents and staff mem-
     complex. The complaint revolves                 bers for alleged injuries caused by
     around the fact that the defendants             molds. In DuPage County, Illinois,
     knew of the mold but did nothing to             1,700 students, parents and teachers
     remediate the situation and failed to           have filed a suit alleging that the
     notify tenants.                                 school district was negligent for not
        Homeowners associations have                 properly remediating the school after
     also been sued. In one case, three              a flood that precipitated mold growth.
     families filed suit alleging that toxic            Litigation involving mold infesta-
     mold caused a variety of ailments.              tion causing property damage and
     The case was eventually settled for             bodily injury has been or is being ad-
     $550,000.                                       judicated in such jurisdictions as
        In 1999, an Ohio builder was forced          California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois,
     to sell all of his company’s assets be-         New York, Ohio and Texas. While
     cause of the cost of remediating mold           these and many other cases are cur-
     damage caused by excessive moisture             rently on court dockets, toxic mold in-
     in new homes. The situation was dis-            jury claims still face evidentiary and
     covered when homeowners began to                causation issues. There have been no
     complain of wet carpeting. Then mold            standards issued as to what is an ac-
     was discovered on the subfloor.                 ceptable quantity of mold and what
     Finally, holes were cut in the drywall          quantity is harmful to people. There
     to inspect the framing and a quarter            must also be a determination made as
     of an inch of standing water was dis-           to the type of mold, since so few molds
     covered in the bottom of the stud cavi-         are actually capable of producing
     ties. At first it was thought that poor         “toxic” mycotoxins. With no guide-
     detailing of the brick veneer was the           lines as to “how much exposure is too
     cause, but this was proven not to be            much” or until health issues caused
     the case. The actual source of the wa-          or aggravated by mold are proven, law-
     ter in the wall of the new homes was            yers are looking for issues involving
     exterior vapor. The vapor entered               professional malpractice, such as con-
     through the sheathing and con-                  struction defects. Other issues involve
     densed on the back of the polyethyl-            workers’ compensation, fraud and
     ene under the drywall because of the            failure to disclose problems at the time
     cooled inside air. To fix the moisture          of sale of the property, indoor air qual-
     problem in hundreds of homes would              ity and sick building syndrome issues,
     result in a cost of $50,000 to $70,000          and negligence on the part of archi-
     per home. The company did not have              tects, plumbers, and roofers for defec-
     the assets to correct the situation.            tive design or workmanship.
        Not only are insurance companies,
     property management firms and con-              WHY NOW?
     tractors being sued over mold issues,           Many believe that the energy crisis of
     but, in some cases, a property’s previ-         the 1970s and the desire to construct

                                          The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

more air-tight, energy-efficient               which faulty remodeling work          dustry is looking at include the
buildings has resulted in the                  had been completed. Some be-          following:
increase of poor indoor air qual-              lieve that the mold epidemic in        • Education regarding the
ity and mold-related problems.                 Texas can be attributed to that          newest remediation
Construction practices in the                  state having the most new                techniques must be a
1950s provided for the introduc-               homes in the United States (de-          priority.
tion of outside air — whether or               mographics) and, possibly, a           • Preventative maintenance
not doors and windows were                     lack of experienced or trained           programs must be
opened. In homes and buildings                 workers doing the construction.          developed for all buildings.
constructed with air-condition-                Some of the mold problems were           Buildings should be
ing and high-efficiency heating                caused by improperly applied             constantly checked for
systems, fresh air is not intro-               synthetic stucco which trapped           water leaks and, if found,
duced as often and stagnant air                moisture inside the structure            the area must be
conditions develop. The addition               and faulty grading and drainage          thoroughly dried and
of moisture from condensation,                 systems. Incorrect installation          properly treated for mold
cooking, showers and normal                    of vinyl windows also caused             prevention.
household activities without                   moisture problems in that state.       • National standards must be
fresh air interchange has caused                  It is considered by many that          developed for exposure to
the buildup of moisture which,                 new construction is waterproof,           mold.
when combined with drywall, in-                but this is not always the case.        There are three main issues in
sulation, wood and other con-                  The builders may not have prop-       mold cases which can cause
struction materials, leads to                  erly applied sealants or the          problems with insurance cover-
mold infestation.                              building may have been en-            age. According to Bob Travis,
   High-risk buildings a r e                   closed after a heavy rain, before     partner at Leonard, Street and
schools, office buildings, nurs-               the systems had the opportunity       Deinard, Minneapolis, Minne-
ing homes, hotels, municipal                   to dry completely. Once the           sota, the three main issues in-
buildings, homes and apart-                    building has been sealed, the         clude, “First, a policy might
ments. The reasons these are                   moisture is locked inside.            cover physical damage to prop-
considered high risk are the ven-                                                    erty, but the carrier can argue
tilation systems, improper venti-              INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESPONSE           that mold does not constitute
lation of the exterior system, and             The insurance industry is             physical damage in some cases.
water trapped behind the build-                caught in the middle of the mold      Second, the insurer could cover
ing wrap. The ideal conditions                 issue. It is dealing not only with    only new losses, and argue that
for mold growth include temper-                property damages caused by            the mold had been in the build-
atures between 50 and 70 de-                   mold infestations (including, on      ing for years. And third, policies
grees Fahrenheit and a humidity                a catastrophic level, collapsing      typically exclude damage from
level of 40 percent or higher. The             floors and structural walls) but      fungus. That means a policy
addition of humidifiers in homes               also the health issues attributed     might cover secondary losses if a
was designed to make the air                   to the inhalation of spores. In       building is uninhabitable, but
temperature feel warmer and re-                principle, it is agreed that insur-   will not cover mold removal.”
sult in more energy-efficient                  ers and risk managers need to be        Dr. Robert Hartwig of the In-
heating. No longer is mold                     trained in the assessment of          surance Information Institute
growth hampered by dry air.                    mold claims. The timing of an as-     summed up the industry con-
   According to research on mold               sessment is a critical factor, as a   sensus as follows:
occurrences, many of the severe                damp wall, if left untreated, can        “The costs of cleaning up
mold problems occur in new                     become infested with mold                mold caused by water from
houses that were improperly                    within 24 hours.                         a burst pipe are covered un-
built and in older homes in                       Other steps the insurance in-                     (Continued on next page)

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.
46           MOLD (cont'd.)

        der the policy because water                  State Farm Insurance, will no longer
        damage from a burst pipe is a                 write new property insurance in the
        covered peril. But mold caused                state. Representatives of the com-
        by water from excessive humid-                pany say they cannot afford to pay
        ity, leaks, condensation or flood-            $1.77 for each $1 paid for coverage.
        ing is a maintenance issue for the            According to Melinda Ballard, recipi-
        property owner, like termite or               ent of $32 million in a mold damage
        mildew prevention, and is not                 suit against Farmers Insurance
        covered by the policy.”                       Group and consumer activist, the
       His statement appears on the web               mold coverage cap without a reduc-
     site of the National Association of Mu-          tion in premium costs is unfair.
     tual Insurance Companies.                        Ballard’s lawsuit resulted from mold
       Nationwide, insurance companies                infestation which was the result of a
     continue to be inundated with                    small undiscovered leak. It did not re-
     mold-related claims. Here is a sample            sult from a catastrophic water event.
     of the insurance industry’s response               The state’s lending institutions are
     in two states, Texas and Florida.                worried that their loans will not be
                                                      purchased by the secondary mort-
     Texas                                            gage market because of the lack of ad-
     For years Texas has had insurance                equate insurance coverage. This
     coverage which differed from cover-              would force lenders to keep the loans
     age available in other states. The gen-          in their portfolios and cut into their
     eral water coverage offered by the               bottom lines.
     Texas standard HO-B homeowners                     The three largest insurance writers
     insurance policy reads that all types            in the state are State Farm, Farmers
     of water damage must be covered.                 and Allstate. These three companies
     This includes damage not only from               account for two-thirds of the insur-
     sudden water problems such as a                  ance written in the state. The cost of
     bursting pipe, but also from slow wa-            mold-related coverage went from $9.1
     ter leaks that are extremely difficult           million in early 2000 to $79.5 million
     to detect, and the policies do not spe-          one year later. State insurance regu-
     cifically exclude mold from insurance            lators dictate the type of coverage
     coverage. No other state requires this           companies must offer: the three types
     type of coverage.                                of policies are Homeowners A, B and
        A proposal was put forth to limit the         C. Type A offers the least amount of
     basic coverage for mold remediation              coverage and C the most. Most of the
     to $5,000. The proposal would allow              policies written are Type B. According
     for mold damage coverage but would               to statements by the three insurance
     place a cap on the basic coverage. In-           companies, State Farm will continue
     surers would be permitted to offer               Homeowners B renewals, but will not
     policies that would increase the cov-            issue to new clients. (Effective May 1,
     erage cap for additional cost to the             2002, State Farm will no longer write
     homeowners.                                      new homeowner policies in Califor-
        The proposal was not embraced by              nia, either). Allstate and Farmers are
     the insurance industry nor by home-              writing new policies but will not write
     owners and lending institutions in               Homeowners B. Some of the smaller
     the state. State Farm Lloyds, the                insurance companies are still offering
     Texas property insurance affiliate of            B and C coverage, but at higher rates.

                                           The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

  Unlike most states, Texas pro-               ify that they are not responsible     health officers, city attorneys,
vides policy forms and dictates                for problems that occur because       and employees of the Depart-
the coverage that insurance                    of a homeowner’s failure to per-      ment of Industrial Relations may
companies must offer. Accord-                  form routine maintenance. If the      respond to complaints about
ing to insurers, due to the broad              problem was the result of faulty      mold and may enforce the stan-
way in which Homeowner B pol-                  construction, it is up to the         dards developed by the depart-
icy was written, it was more like              homeowner to seek compensa-           ment. The law also amends the
maintenance insurance than ca-                 tion from that source, not the in-    state housing code to include the
tastrophe insurance. Because                   surance company.                      presence of molds and allows
the policy does not spell out that                                                   code enforcement officers to ad-
only sudden and accidental wa-                 THE TOXIC MOLD PROTECTION ACT         dress effectively concerns about
ter damage is covered, courts                  In an effort to address the grow-     molds. Just how the code en-
and homeowners determined                      ing problem of mold as a public       forcement officers are to do this,
that all forms of water damage,                safety issue, California Gover-       the law does not say.
some of which led to mold dam-                 nor Gray Davis signed Senate             As reported in the June 10,
age, were covered. Insurance                   Bill 732, The Toxic Mold Protec-      2001, edition of the Sacramento
companies were forced to pay                   tion Act of 2001, into law last Oc-   Bee, that city’s Human Rights/
damages when a small leak from                 tober. This bill directs the          Fair Housing Commission has
a pipe caused mold infestation.                California Department of Health       begun discussions with inter-
In most states this would be a                 Services (DHS) to develop and         ested parties, including city and
maintenance issue for which                    adopt standards for the assess-       county code enforcement repre-
homeowners must bear respon-                   m ent , id ent ifica t io n a nd      sentatives, on modifications that
sibility.                                      remediation of mold by July 1,        need to be made in the city and
                                               2003. The bill addresses com-         county code enforcement regu-
Florida                                                                              lations. The intent is to provide
                                               mercial, industrial, and residen-
Like Texas, Florida has a humid                tial buildings.                       code officers with the tools they
climate as well as wind and wa-                   Although the law became            will need to regulate or fine own-
ter issues but, so far, insurance              effective in January 2002, no         ers who are negligent in main-
companies in that state have                   changes take effect until new         taining their properties by
been spared the trend to sue in-               regulations are issued. Hence,        ignoring evidence and/or com-
surers for mold-related costs.                 most matters related to indoor        plaints of mold which may be
However, the state’s insurers do               mold, such as disclosure in           visible or may be suspected be-
not know how long this will last               properties to be rented or sold,      cause of smell.
and are preparing for a change.                remain unchanged at this time.           According to Betty Gwiazdon,
Fifty Florida insurers have filed              Unfortunately, the new law has        Director of Program Services, for
requests with the Florida De-                  yet to receive funding, and many      t he    Sa cr a me n to    Human
partment of Insurance for mold                 experts question whether there        Rights/Fair Housing Commis-
coverage exclusions from home-                 is enough information available       sion, the Commission has
owner and commercial coverage.                 to meet one of its key directives     “talked to hundreds of people
The insurers are not asking for                — setting indoor mold exposure        who are desperately seeking
mold damage to be completely                   limits.                               help to have repairs made or to
dropped but they are seeking                      According to the law, the DHS      have assistance in moving out of
some caps. They are asking that                will develop a reporting form for     a mold contaminated home. Al-
it be made very clear that the                 building inspection that may be       though, it is difficult to prove in
policies cover damage only when                used to document the presence         many cases, there is the undeni-
it relates to a sudden storm or                of mold. It also states that public   able fact that many of these peo-
sudden pipe break.                             health officers, code enforce-        ple are very sick. The medical
   The insurers also want to clar-             ment officers, environmental          world is struggling with defining

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.
48            MOLD (cont'd.)

     better tests and better treatment. The             wood on the underside of flooring or
     code enforcement agencies are strug-               in a cabinet may support mush-
     gling to find ways to force an owner to            room-like growth which should be
     cure, not band aid, the water intru-               remediated.
     sion which is creating the mold. Help                 After cleanup efforts have been
     is on the way but it may not be in the             completed, every effort must be made
     very near future.”                                 to reduce indoor humidity. Bath-
                                                        rooms, dryers and other mois-
     WHAT CAN A HOMEOWNER DO?                           ture-generating sources must be
     In an effort to be proactive, homeown-             ventilated to the outside. Air condi-
     ers should be aware of what to look for            tioners and dehumidifiers should be
     to protect themselves from mold in-                used as well to increase the ventila-
     festation. Code enforcement officials              tion. The use of exhaust fans when
     should also be cognizant of these con-             cooking is also recommended.
     ditions in order to determine whether                 The Insurance Information Insti-
     a property should be given an addi-                tute recommends:
     tional inspection.                                   • Keep the home’s exterior
        Separation of baseboard or trim                      painted;
     from the floor may be a sign of decay                • Keep plantings away from
     caused by unseen mold. Swelling or                      exterior walls to prevent soil
     crumbling of the drywall in specific                    from touching the home’s
     areas may signal the retention of wa-                   siding;
     ter in the material and be a precursor
     to a mold problem. Areas of rotting

          •   Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope.
          •   Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture
              problem(s) as soon as possible.
          •   Prevent moisture caused by condensation by increasing surface
              temperature or reducing the moisture level in air (humidity). To increase
              surface temperature, insulate or increase air circulation. To reduce the
              moisture level in air, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is
              cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
          •   Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean,
              flowing properly, and unobstructed.
          •   Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside
              where possible.
          •   Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60 percent relative humidity (RH),
              ideally 30-50 percent, if possible.
          •   Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance.
          •   Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
          •   Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground
              away from the foundation.

                                             The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

 • Refrain from allowing sprinklers to wet walls
    for lengthy periods of time;
 • Do not pile wood in crawl spaces or up                                  IN MEMORIAM:
    against the sides of the house; and
 • Have the home inspected if there is evidence                             Susan L. Kite
    of fungus.
  If a mold situation occurs, immediate cleanup is            BOCA Staff Editor Susan L. Kite died suddenly on
recommended. Prior to beginning cleanup efforts,              April 9, 2002, shortly after finishing this article. A
make sure that the source of the moisture is                  prolific writer, Kite’s favorite part of being an editor
stopped. If this is not accomplished, the mold will           was being able to learn something new with each
retur n. Begin cleanup by washing with a                      assigned topic. She enjoyed not only the research
nonammonia soap or detergent and hot water.                   and fact checking aspects of writing, but the inter-
Scrub the entire area using a stiff brush or cleaning                                          viewing side as well.
pad on block walls or uneven surfaces. Rinse sev-                                              In addition to “Mold,”
eral times with clean water.                                                                   Kite’s articles featured
  The surfaces must be disinfected to prevent re-                                              in The Code OfficialTM
turn of the mold. To accomplish this, use a solution                                           include: “Playing It
of 1/2 cup of bleach to each 1 gallon of water. Make                                           Safe with Haunted
sure the room is well ventilated when mixing and                                               Houses;” “Ergonom-
using the solution. If dealing with a large external                                           ics;” “Wired for the Fu-
area, a garden hose and nozzle can be used. Let the                                            ture;” “Impact Fees:
area dry naturally, allowing the solution to perme-                                            The Cost of Develop-
ate the surface.                                                                               ment;” and “The Pass-
                                                                                               ing of a Proposal:
CONCLUSION                                                    NFPA 1710.” She also attended the Annual Confer-
Mold spores are almost always present in outdoor              ences, taking photographs and writing the daily
and indoor air, and almost all commonly used con-             newsletters.
struction materials and furnishings can provided                 Prior to joining BOCA in 1999, Kite worked with
nutrients to support mold growth. Cleaning and                t he W hi sper i ng O aks G i r l S c o u t Co u n c il
disinfecting provides protection against mold                 (LaGrange, Illinois), where she held positions as
growth, but it is virtually impossible to eliminate all       Communications Director and Field Director. As
nutrients. Simply removing the mold without elimi-            Field Director, she managed more than 100 troops
nating the moisture that caused it will soon result           and 1,400 scouts. She was also responsible for ori-
in more mold growth. Moisture control is the impor-           enting 200 volunteer leaders.
tant strategy in reducing mold infestations.                     A former teacher with a lifelong interest in political
   The type and severity of health effects that mold          science, Kite held secondary teaching credentials
may produce are difficult to predict. The risks can           in the State of Illinois. She was a member of the
vary greatly from one location to another, over time,         Nonpartisan Committee in Park Forest, Illinois, and
and from person to person. Except for relatively mi-          was a member of its Traffic and Safety Commission.
nor allergic or asthmatic reactions, there is no de-          She remained an active volunteer with the Girl
finitive scientific evidence that mold can cause              Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, and the League
serious harm to humans. Thus, many mold cases                 of Women Voters.
will boil down to a battle of the experts. And, with             Kite is survived by Michele (Patrick) McCarthy of
the noticeable lack of published exposure stan-               Indiana; Blake (Fran) Kite of Arizona; and two
dards, the debate won’t be ended anytime soon.                grandchildren. Her husband, Dennis, died in 1987.
                                                                 She is missed.

The Code Official, May/June 2002 • BOCA International, Inc.

To top