If one watched the documentary “Moldy” that is linked in Part 1, they would understand that countless U.S. citizens have been seeking help for debilitating neurological illnesses after exposure to biocontaminants in water damaged buildings (WDB). Help is rarely found within the mainstream medical community.
Instead, the sick are typically deemed mentally ill or suspect insurer scammers by uneducated and miseducated mainstream physicians of America. Their friends and family don’t understand why they can’t function and typically believe that if the doctors say they are nut-jobs, they must be nut-jobs. They are sick, fearful for their future and that of their children, financially devastated and shunned by those who they need most, in their time of dire need.
The typical complaint of symptoms which are wrongfully deemed psychological or deceptive in origin, rather than appropriately physiological by cause, are: newly acquired blurred vision, memory loss, concentration loss, numbness of limbs, digestive problems, sudden weight loss or gain, inability to tolerate certain smells, breathing difficulties, extreme fatigue, joint pain and a whole host of other symptoms which are indicative of neurological complications from exposure to toxic substances. The sick are bounced around by referral from uneducated doctor to uneducated doctor with little to no relief found and with the symptoms becoming worse as time goes on.
Again, this history is being written for the purpose of causing accurate environmental public health policies and advisories by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Accurate information needs to be provided by agencies which fall under HHS’s supervision to state and federal agencies, policy-writing NGO’s, medical schools, insurers, real property related industries and to the general public.
The CDC comes under the HHS. It collaborates with NGO non-profit medical and industrial hygiene associations as a means to educate (or miseducate) U.S. physicians and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) professionals as to the causes of environmental illness.
Two of the key NGOs which assist the CDC in educating (or miseducating) U.S. physicians with regard to environmental illnesses are the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU). They are located at taxpayer funded medical schools around the country (and a couple in Canada and Mexico). They receive funding from federal agencies which come under the supervision of the CDC. AOEC oversees the funding for PEHSU. So…occupational physicians control the funding for pediatric physicians in this scenario as the monies are used to educate U.S. physicians in medical schools regarding the causes of environmental illnesses.
Two of the sub-CDC agencies which fund the AOEC and PEHSU are the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry (ATSDR). What is determined by the collaborative effort of the CDC and the NGOs, then becomes “evidence based” environmental public health policy taught to U.S. physicians all across the United States. Medical science which is deemed to be “evidence based” is then used to influence U.S. physician practices of how to treat patients, including children, made ill by environmental exposures.
Many physicians affiliated with the AOEC are also members of the NGO, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). ACOEM writes occupational medicine policy that workman compensation physicians must follow when treating injured workers. This policy is then used to determine if workman’s comp insurers and employers are financially responsible for the care of workers claiming injury from their place of employment.
If the worker illness/injury is wrongfully determined not to be the responsibility of a workcomp insurer, based on flawed policy and erred physician education, the burden of care for the injured worker and their family then shifts to the taxpayer via social service programs. The term for this is “cost-shifting”. Because of the intertwined relationships of the HHS, CDC, NIOSH, ATSDR, ACOEM, AOEC, PEHSU and publicly funded medical schools around the county – policies which are written to influence whether or not workcomp insurers are liable for care of environmentally injured workers also influence the treatment of children made ill from environmental exposures.
According to the CDC, the government funded PEHSUs practice what is known as the Precautionary Principle as a matter of policy when treating America’s children for environmental illnesses. “Consistent with the clinical imperative to ‘do no harm,’ the precautionary principle states, ‘When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” When it comes to the Toxic Mold issue, it is a false concept that the precautionary principle is being taught and practiced with the use of taxpayer funded U.S. physician education via PEHSU.
So, REMEMBER THESE ACCRONYMS: CDC, NIOSH, ATSDR, ACOEM, AOEC, PEHSU. They are key to the Political History of the Toxic Mold issue and why those injured by biotoxins and biocontaminants in WDB can get no help from mainstream U.S. physicians. It should be noted that there are many honorable men and women in these government agencies, NGO organizations and other organizations, who have fought hard against politics taking precidence over public health and safety in the Toxic Mold issue. To date, there has been no apparent success of helping those with neurological complications and systemic inflammations resultant from WDB exposures, as a matter of public health policy.
I have a degree in marketing. By 2004, I could see that there was a dangerous disconnect between reality of illness and what America’s physicians were being taught — that causes physicians to treat the Toxic Mold injured with utter distain. By 2004, I knew it had to be caused by mass-marketing of misinformation among policy decision makers. The number of children being harmed is what caused me to spend so much time in Washington D.C. to try to stop the mass marketing of misinformation.
So back to the key year of 1999 in the Political History of the Toxic Mold Issue.
As stated in Part 1, the late Melinda Ballard did a great job raising public awareness that people are experiencing debilitating neurological complications, etc., after exposures in WDB. With the advent of the Internet, what she exposed spread like wildfire among the general population who were seeking answers for why they were so sick. People began putting two and two together on their own. Those with financial stakes in the buildings were extremely concerned for their potential liability, particularly if it became understood as a matter of policy that the buildings were causing these illnesses.
In 2006 (or 2007/8?), I received a phone call from an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) professional who told me that another IAQ pro told him he had attended a meeting in Washington D.C. in 1999. The first IAQ pro gave me the second IAQ pro’s phone number. I called him.
What he told me was that the 1999 D.C. meeting he attended was sponsored by five Republican legislators. There were several IAQ pros and others at the meeting. He said that they all had to sign confidentiality agreements. What the legislators wanted to know from the pros was if it was plausible WDB could cause these debilitating illnesses.
As I understand it, the answer was “yes”. I was told it was then decided that steps would be taken to clean up the problem buildings caused by poor construction practices in the U.S. since the late 70’s; but that the illnesses caused should be kept under wraps until better construction policies could be established. (No. This history lesson is not a partisan bashing of the Republican party. Democrat legislators’ disgusting role in the matter comes into the story later.)
After Melinda raised awareness in 1999, the Toxic Mold issue made its way into multitudes of courtrooms of America. Many attorneys, scientists, physicians, IAQ pros, claims adjusters, various researchers, advocates and journalists suddenly morphed into experts on the complex subject. The stakes were high for both those concerned of the physical safety of the American public and worker; and those concerned for the financial well-being of industries with a stake in real properties (aka, property/casualty insurers, workcomp insurers, landlords, property managers, real estate brokers, mortgagors, builders, flood remediators and owners of government offices/hospitals/military housing and bases and universities.) The game was on of who was going to control public health policy over this issue, and thus control what would be perceived as the evidence based science in the courtroom when deciding if the illnesses were real; and, if so, who was liable for them.
Two other key matters occurred in the year of 1999: the Cleveland Babies CDC fiasco and the government backed harassment of a California physician, Dr. Robert Sinaiko.
Sixteen babies who were living in moldy housing in Cleveland, Ohio, died from pulmonary hemorrhaging in 1993-94. Dr. Dorr Dearborn of the Cleveland Rainbow Children’s Hospital and Dr. Ruth Etzel of the CDC, were able to tie the infant deaths to their moldy living environments as the most probable cause of death. One would think that this would cause the CDC to alert the public of the probable cause of a deadly environmental health threat. But it didn’t.
In 1999, a committee was formed and steps were then taken by the CDC to cast doubt on the probable cause. (Be sure to read the “CDC to cast doubt” link. Key names to the history of this issue are in it.) Dr. Etzel, a pediatric epidemiologist physician, left the CDC in disgust. To this day, the CDC has never provided the public with any alternative explanation of what most likely caused the Cleveland babies’ deaths. Both Dr. Dearborn and Dr. Etzel continue to this day, to fight for children’s safety as a matter of environmental public health policies.
In the 90’s Dr. Robert Sinaiko of California was treating adults and children experiencing cognitive difficulties with anti-fungals. He was having success among many of his patients. In 1999, the California Medical Board (with the assistance of early expert defense witnesses in mold litigation) went after his physician license for being one who committed malpractice. Dr. Sinaiko’s experts were not permitted to testify on his behalf.
Although he was ultimately cleared of the charges, Dr. Sinaiko was devastated by the experience. He was not able to practice medicine again until 2005. To this day, Quackwatch, which is run by one who many perceive to be an industry shill, still keeps Dr. Sinaiko’s name on the list of alleged quacks in need of watching, while acknowledging he was cleared of all charges.
To my knowledge, Dr. Sinaiko was the first of many U.S. physicians, researchers and advocates to be retaliated against with the assistance of government, for their roles in helping to establish that mold and other biocontaminants in WDB can cause neurological damage and a whole host of symptoms indicative of systemic, chronic and sometimes deadly, inflammations.
Also of worthy note in the history of this issue, I believe it was Dr. Barbara Sparks, Dr. Chin Yang and Dr. Eckhart Johanning who were the first government employees to say that there is something to the concept of WDB causing serious illness. I believe this occurred in the late 80’s or early 90’s, when they were all employed at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Next up in the Political History of the Toxic Mold issue is the year 2000. Circa this year, is when several Big Tobacco experts suddenly became Toxic Mold experts as they collaborated with employees of the CDC and NGOs. They were permitted by government funded NGOs to write public health and workers comp policies casting doubt on causation of illness. Many have made a fortune as expert witnesses based on the policies they wrote being promoted as solid, “Evidence Based Science” in the courtrooms and by the CDC, et.al. in policy.
As a group, the Big Tobacco scientists are commonly and erroneously referred to as “the Naysayers” in this issue. I prefer to call them “Defensors” — meaning expert witnesses for the defense in mold litigation who rely on bogus science and flawed public health/IAQ policies to make the bulk of their livings off the backs of the sick, injured and dying — “Defensors”.
The distinction between Naysayers and Defensors is necessary when telling the history, because not all Naysayers –who also curtail appropriate precautionary public health and IAQ policies over the mold issue — are Defensors. Sometimes, the two groups inadvertently work together while hampering appropriate policy and physician education. Sometimes, policy-writing Naysayers appear to act based on fear of retaliation by the Defensors and the industries/gov’t agencies which back them; or by shear ego of wanting to be the first to prove causation by the lofty standard of clear and convincing evidence.
Yet, common sense dictates that all that is required to save many lives NOW is the already attained standard of beyond a reasonable doubt when forming precautionary environmental public health policies geared toward proper physician/IAQ pro education over this issue. (more on this subject of Naysayers vs. Defensors in later years of the Political History of the Toxic Mold Issue).
And so that people with a little mold in their showers do not become unreasonably frightened from reading this History of Toxic Mold; it needs to be understood that mold by itself does not typically cause serious harm. Lack of physician awareness when an odd array of symptoms begin, does. This is because their miseducation causes minor and reversible symptoms to go undiagnosed and able to become long-term and in some cases, permanently debilitating; while the underlying exposure/causation unnecessarily continues to harm their patients.
Again, if anyone has anything they would like to add to this history or feels is in need of edit, please send a message to Katy’s Exposure, comment on Facebook or send me an email. Thank you to those who have already contributed behind the scenes. Part 3, the year 2000, will be out next week.
Sharon Noonan Kramer
Advocate for Integrity in Health Marketing
About Sharon Kramer
Hi, I'm an advocate for integrity in health marketing and in the courts.