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Toxic Mold/IAQ Lawsuits on the Rise

The courts stated that the studies were "statistically significant" and demonstrated "that exposure to mold caused the identified ill-health effects" and the court concluded that "it is undisputed that exposure to toxic molds is capable of causing the types of ailments from which plaintiff suffers

Tampa 3/13/2012 11:12:21 PM

Mold and IAQ cases are on the rise and are occurring all over the country totaling in the billions of dollars. There have been over 10,000 mold/IAQ related law suits pending in the nation, a 300 percent increase since 1999 and with the Cornell New York appellate court ruling that indicated recent studies were “statistically significant" and demonstrated "that exposure to mold caused the identified ill-health effects” you can expect the number of mold/IAQ law suits to rise.

Some recent Mold/IAQ cases:

In Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., nineteen current and former Broward County employees have sued the county, alleging the building is "sick" and making them so.  The employees say the county's courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale is infested with toxic mold and that tiny asbestos fibers float through the air, exposing the public and the employees to health dangers. They want financial compensation for their illnesses, and they want the courthouse evacuated, among other requests

In New York, the appeals court suggests that opinions about mold science may have changed from within the courtroom.  Brenda Cornell had sued her ex-landlord for respiratory illnesses developed as the result of 6 long years of mold exposure. The trial court had dismissed her suit, relying on the appellate court’s 2008 ruling in Fraser v. 301-52 Townhouse Corp.

In Fraser, the court declined to accept scientific evidence connecting the plaintiff’s illness with mold. The plaintiff failed to prove that the scientific theory connecting mold and dampness to illness is generally accepted by the scientific community.

Cornell’s toxic mold lawsuit did not meet this roadblock. Fraser, the court wrote, does not preclude all such suits. The plaintiffs were able to prove that Cornell’s former apartment was above a mold-infested basement and that mold was growing under her floorboards. Medical experts had testified and relied on a number of studies.

The courts stated that the studies were "statistically significant" and demonstrated "that exposure to mold caused the identified ill-health effects" and the court concluded that "it is undisputed that exposure to toxic molds is capable of causing the types of ailments from which plaintiff suffers."

Obviously, the outcome is an important for plaintiffs bringing toxic mold lawsuits as it implies mold science may have finally reached a point where it helps, as opposed to hinders, litigation.

In Cleveland Ohio, the condo association that represents the owners has sued the developer, the K&D Group, claiming that the company and its affiliates should pay repair costs tied to defective construction materials and methods. The lawsuit claims that the entire exterior of the building has failed, allowing water into the walls and causing corrosion and mold growth.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health study:

A recent Finnish Institute of Occupational Health study concluded that indoor dampness and mold shows “new evidence of the relation between workplace exposure to indoor molds and the development of asthma in adulthood.” Mold exposure can trigger common allergic reactions ranging from wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, upper respiratory irritation, coughing, eye irritation, headaches, lethargy and more.

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Mycosis, Allergic Fungal Sinusitis, Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, Pulmonary Mycotoxicosis and Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis are examples of medically defined uncommon allergic syndromes.

These “toxic mold” cases are causing concern for landlords and building owners across North America many often wondering how their buildings could fall victim to poor indoor air quality conditions and what they can do to remedy the deficiencies.

What are the causes of mold degradation?

• Building construction deficiencies (resulting in water intrusion, inadequate window installation, improper exterior coating, negative pressure design condition, building materials, sloping landscape);
HVAC installation (over/under sizing, faulty drains, improper duct sizing);
• Reconstruction practices (build while tenant occupancy, water leaks not cleaned within 24 hours, deferred maintenance practices, no O & M practices, no containment protocols while remediation is occurring); adequate ventilation, maintain humidity levels near 50%;
• Insurance companies (slow response to water intrusion or bulk water intrusion, no concern for secondary issues resulting from occurrence, low budget mentality to identify or fix environmental deficiencies). The list goes on.....

What can be done?

Indoor environmental screening of the home or work environment is important to minimize risk and to understand if IAQ could be affecting those with allergies, chronic sinusitis, rhinitis, emphysema, asthma, atopic dermatitis, immune deficiencies, etc.  In keeping with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) 1997 recommendations, it is desirable to identify and remove common allergens and modify the office or home to reduce the level of ubiquitous (common) allergens, mycotoxins, pollutants, etc.... Before one can remove allergens and/or pollutants effectively, it is essential to understand if they exist and in what quantity.

Building and property owners can protect themselves and minimizing litigation by developing a proactive IAQ program by periodically evaluating their buildings for indications of poor indoor air quality conditions.  Observations with the naked eye are unreliable. Indoor environmental evaluations should be performed by well-trained credentialed professionals conducting evaluations before space is leased establishing benchmarks (baseline conditions) for the quality of indoor air.

For more information on developing a proactive IAQ program for your facility or for a professional assessment of your facility or home call Pure Air Control Services at 800-422-7873 ext 802. The Environmental Diagnostics laboratory (EDLab) is one of a few AHIA accredited environmental microbiological laboratories that is also CDC ELITE proficient, the highest laboratory standard in the country. 

About Pure Air Control Services:

Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a small mechanical contracting firm. Today, the firm sets the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis and remediation.

Pure Air Control Services  is a national provider of the following IAQ services: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check (USP 797 monitoring compliance); Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) an AIHA accredited micro laboratory (USP 797 Lab analysis); DIY IAQ Green Check test kits, Environmental Project Management; HVAC System Cleaning and Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services.

The company’s expanding valued client roster includes the General Services Administration (GSA); Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Walt Disney World, Allstate Insurance; Carrier Air Conditioning; Naval Air Warfare Center, Orlando; and Naval Air Station - King's Bay, Georgia, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air Control Services the reliable industry leader in IAQ.

For more information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Cy Garner or Alan Wozniak at (800) 422-7873  ext 802 or visit our website at

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  • 1 (800) 422-7873