February 9, 2016
MACCHE receives a lot of calls about mold. Some of these calls are preventative with questions about small patches of mold and what symptoms may arise. Unfortunately, many calls pertain to parents trying to find any help to get out of moldy housing after their children have hospitalized multiple times.
The problem with these calls is the recommendations and resources vary vastly depending on location. Because most states do not have policies regarding mold, parents trying to remove their sick children from the moldy housing or schools that are making their children sick in the first place. Against all logic, these families face an uphill battle that they will probably lose. Landlord rights prevail as bleach can be a band-aid. Schools simply crack the classroom window. That’s frustrating. As of 2015, only four states have laws with civil penalties for failure to comply with mold policies: Kentucky, Lousiana, New York, and Texas. Only ten states have statutes for regulating mold remediation.
The consensus on mold is there isn’t one, even among environmental public health groups. Some committees don’t recognize mold as an environmental exposure worth mentioning in guidelines for establishing settings that will shelter children. Plus, the information on the risks of mold exposure is all over the place. One of our callers asked if his pediatrician’s advice that “mold is everywhere so don’t worry about it” was indeed sound. The reality is it depends on the mold and those exposed to it. Hastily grouping all cases of mold as benign is foolish as the health risks of mold are real.
With climate change, mold will become more prevalent in our region with increasing rainfall, humidity, and the occurrences of hurricanes or tropical storms. Though MACCHE has been able to pair families and health professionals with the resources to deal with their mold problems, the lack of policies regarding mold will make it harder for those who need to help protect their kids.
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