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Toxic mold news tracked by insurance industry Web site

How hot is the topic of toxic mold in the insurance industry?

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To learn more about toxic mold, see Killer mold is nothing to sneeze at.

Hot enough for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) to launch a new Web site entirely devoted to the black, slimy stuff.

MoldUpdate.com provides news, education, scientific links, and litigation, and state legislative updates relating to toxic mold, including Stachybotrys (pronounced "stack-e-botris"). Stachybotrys is a toxic mold that has been found in all 50 states and grows in areas that are constantly wet. Leaking roofs, leaky plumbing, sewer backups, and frequently overflowing washing machines can create environments for this dangerous (some say deadly) mold. The mold produces "mycotoxins" or poisons that researchers say can seriously damage the lungs and central nervous system.

The insurance industry has been tracking toxic mold issues carefully since June 2001, when a jury awarded a Texas family $32 million in a highly publicized toxic mold lawsuit against Farmers Insurance Group. The jury said Farmers Insurance failed to promptly cover the necessary repairs for a water leak, thus allowing toxic mold to overrun Melinda Ballard's 22-room estate. The family was forced to flee their mold-contaminated home with just the clothes on their backs when their 3-year-old son began spitting up blood. Ballard's husband, suffering from memory loss, also lost his job as an investment banker.

10 things you should know about mold
  • Mold can be found almost anywhere. There are molds that grow on carpet, foods, paper, and wood.
  • Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions and asthma.
  • There is no practical way to eliminate all indoor mold. The way to control indoor mold growth is to inhibit moisture.
  • In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting.
  • Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  • If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate the sources of moisture.
  • Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30 to 60 percent) to decrease mold by: Venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture generating sources to the outside, using air conditioners and dehumidifiers, increasing ventilation, and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  • Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and diluted bleach, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, exterior walls, roof, or floors may need to be replaced.
  • Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces, such as windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors by adding insulation

 

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

According to NAMIC President Larry Forrester, the nonprofit site will be a "21st century clearinghouse" for all mold-related issues.

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