Last month, a panel of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that toxic mold in homes was not likely to cause serious health problems for most people.
The panel of epidemiologists, toxicologists and pediatricians said that respiratory problems and symptoms of asthma in some cases could be linked to mold and dampness, but the panel found no evidence that neurological damage, reproductive problems or cancer could be associated with mold. Although the government experts reviewed hundreds of scientific studies, they agreed that the research was limited and more studies were needed. The study comes amid increasing public concern and litigation about health problems linked to mold. U.S. insurance companies paid approximately $2.5 billion in claims related to mold in 2002.
“The insurance industry is pleased with the results of the report, but frankly not surprised,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.
“Governmental bodies have been saying for quite some time that there are very few case reports that mold can cause unique or rare health conditions,” continued Worters. “Yet misinformation and an astounding array of ailments have been attributed to mold. This public fear and in some cases hysteria about mold has resulted in profiteering by trial lawyers and remediators, and has had regulators struggling with the issue. A general abuse of the tort system has created an ideal environment for growth of mold suits which has impacted the homeowners and commercial markets – including property, construction, workers compensation and liability issues. Even media misrepresentation of mold has intensified the public’s fear about health concerns; so we hope these findings might allay those fears.”
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