“Mold is gold,” according to some in the claims industry. The growth of these claims has been exponential, with more than 10,000 mold claims currently pending in the United States, particularly in Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona.
Mold and fungi exist everywhere. The spores they release as part of their reproductive process are claimed to cause illness and injury to humans and destroy property containing cellulose. Wood, paper, and the paper coverings of drywall are all vulnerable to mold. Mold growth can destroy, by slow rot, buildings designed to withstand major earthquakes. As a result, litigation claiming injury due to fungal or mold contamination is a growing industry.
When mold grows in moist organic materials, building occupants may begin to notice odors and suffer from a variety of health problems associated with mold exposure. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that endanger humans and animals. Some toxic molds such as aspergillus, cladosporium, penicillium, stachybotrys, and trichoderma produce mycotoxins capable of causing severe health problems. Mold spores and fragments can produce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals regardless of whether the mold is dead or alive. Repeated exposure to mold or mold spores may cause previously nonsensitive individuals to become sensitive.
Mold has been documented to weaken people’s immune systems, leading to a variety of infections and problems. People with weak immune systems (i.e., immune-compromised or immune-suppressed individuals) are more vulnerable to infections by molds (as well as more vulnerable than healthy persons to mold toxins). Healthy individuals are usually not vulnerable to opportunistic infections from airborne mold exposure. However, molds can cause common skin diseases, such as athlete’s foot as well as other infections, such as yeast infections.