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38 FEATURE ARTICLE THE GROWING PROBLEM OF MOLD 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. 39 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- nored. 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 (www.dehs.umn.edu), 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. 41 “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 problem 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- COMMUNICATE WITH BUILDING OCCUPANTS AT ALL STAGES OF PROCESS, AS APPROPRIATE 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 appropriate 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 www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/checklist.html (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. 43 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. 45 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. 47 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 TIPS FOR PREVENTING MOLD GROWTH • 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. 49 • 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.
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