Examples of Mold in the Media – Exaggerations, Myths & Truths. Which news sources can you believe?
Article 1 – CBS news has an article titled “SILENT KILLERS: TOXIC MOLD – Stachybotrys Can Infest A House” written by David Kohn.
This article could create more of a panic for folks then necessary. First, it highlights a “celebrity” of sorts – Erin Brockovich- which is an immediate attention-grabber. Her situation was a lot more extreme than the norm. First, she talks about how her whole family was sick and repeatedly on antibiotics. Then, when she finds out the cause – black mold – sues the builder of her house, subcontractors and the former owner, claiming faulty construction caused water leaks that led to the mold. Erin also refuses to move from the house and had crews eliminate the mold, one room at a time. The price was roughly $600,000. The article then talks about another couple, Steve and Karen Porath of Forresthill, Calif., saying that they torched their house and gave it to firefighters for practice. A third couple, the Ballards, say that a doctor diagnosed him with brain damage.
First, the excessive and obscene amount of money – $600,000 in Erin Brockovitch’s case – the article skims across the part where her house is a mansion. The article does mention the Ballards had a 22 room 11,000 square feet mansion. Naturally, they would need to spend a fortune fixing the mold problem! How many people do you know that have 22 room mansions? While mold can be costly, the average American won’t spend near that for mold remediation.
Also, the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency say that some of the most extreme health risks of mold, such as brain damage and memory loss, have not yet been proven. There are certain instances of asthma mentioned in the article, and these are normal symptoms but not permanent.
It must be noted that this only talks about Stachybotrys, which is a poisonous mold but one of the least common. There are over 100,000 types of mold.
The article ends with the fact that Brockovich says “science just hasn’t caught up with reality.” This adds to the point that maybe this article isn’t highlighting reality and just the far-fetched aspect of it…
Article 2: DAILY MAIL: “Seen a Ghost? Then You May Have Inhaled Toxic Mold”
This article makes a smooth transition from the first; the title blatantly mixing the supernatural with reality! The article is actually very scientific and factual. It begins with the hypothesis that haunted houses/ghost sighting and mold are related due to the following:
- ‘Ghosts’ tend to be sighted in old buildings, which are often more likely to have damp and mold problems.
- No-one is exactly sure of the psychoactive effects of indoor molds on the brain. But spores have been linked with mood swings, hyperactivity, and irrational anger, as well as cognitive impairment.
- Recent reports indicate that exposure to toxic mould spores may cause brain inflammation and memory loss.
The article follows a team of researchers exploring whether the presence of mold may have caused people to think they have seen ghosts. They compare conditions in ‘haunted’ and non-haunted old buildings. They took samples from both haunted houses and non-haunted houses with mold to compare them both. In conclusion, they didn’t find anything to tie ghost sightings with mold.
Overall, the article is interesting and says nothing misleading whereas the title may not sound credible to some people.
Article 3 (a compilation) Mold Toxins Tied to AIDS Epidemic
The New York Times, Science Daily, and many other publications wrote articles about mold correlating with HIV during a big outbreak of AIDS in Africa in 2001. These articles talk about aflatoxin in foods being a major driver of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, as a result of immune system damage from the toxins making people more susceptible to the HIV virus.
-July 22, 2013
The New York Times
Mold Toxins Tied to AIDS Epidemic
July 23, 2013
Is a Common Food Fungus Worsening the AIDS Epidemic?
July 23, 2013
Study Reveals Fungus Coating on Stored Food May Worsen AIDS Epidemic
Since both aflatoxin and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cause immune suppression, chronic exposure to aflatoxin in HIV-positive people could lead to higher levels of virus replication. Mold does not cause HIV and is not part of it. It can merely worsen symptoms, just like it can most allergies.
A lot of people were probably worried they were going to get AIDs from mold after this, but that’s not the case. These people were just eating moldy peanuts that worsened their symptoms. American peanut-butter makers are always on the watch for them. Ground peanuts are a staple food of West Africa.
Article 4: Shocking New Brittany Murphy Claim Says Toxic Mold May Have Killed Star – by Alex Ben Block for the Hollywood Reporter.
This article was written purely for hype. Brittany’s Murphy’s mom Sharon Murphy tried to sue and get $600,000 for mold “killing” her daughter. At the time of Brittany’s and her husband’s deaths, Sharon did not believe those deaths had anything to do with mold. Brittany was deemed a suicide because it was pneumonia, anemia and an excess of prescription drugs. When her husband had pneumonia and anemia as well, Sharon probably saw the mold as an opportunity to be the bad guy. However, the article doesn’t mention any mold tests or work done to treat any alleged mold and the property was able to avoid a foreclosure and the mansion was sold for 2.7 million dollars!!
So, no, mold did not kill a beloved actress. A grieving mother just needed a reason and ability to avenge her untimely daughter’s death.
Article 5: Questions Emerge About the Mold That Hurricane Sandy Left Behind By SARAH MASLIN NIR for the New York Times.
This article is written reasonably and is something everyone can relate to and understand. Hurricanes are drastic and terrible tragedies that continue to hurt people and the economy long after they initially strike. This article points out that officials understand that the mold will not kill anyone and removes panic against that, but swift and dutiful action is taken to regulate and treat the mold that Hurricane Sandy nurtured and left in her wake.
“The fact that it’s not a major health threat, frankly, from my perspective, is beside the point,” said Caswell F. Holloway, the city’s deputy mayor for operations. “It doesn’t mean that mold is a good thing or that there’s no reason to address it.”