PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
The State of California is no longer referring physicians to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment” for guidance of how to (mis)treat mold injured Californian, including workers.
Commonly referred to as the ACOEM Mold Statement, the paper was authored in 2002 by toxic tort expert defense witnesses – toxicologists Bruce J. Kelman, PhD and Bryan D. Hardin, PhD of GlobalTox, Inc. (now Veritox, Inc.); along with Andrew Saxon, MD of UCLA.
It was promoted as ACOEM’s position statement on the illnesses caused by exposure to mold in water damaged buildings (WDB); as an “Evidence Based Statement”; and as the scientific understanding of ACOEM’s thousands of occupational physicians (aka workman’s compensation doctors who decide if workers’ claims of on-the-job-injuries from contaminated WDB will be covered by workcomp insurance).
In November of 2005, then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed that California physicians could refer to the ACOEM Mold Statement for guidance. This was via a state publication titled “Mold In the Indoor Workplaces”. It may still be found on private sector websites in its original form. https://www.slideshare.net/BlackMoldRemovalPro/california-mold-in-the-workplace
It’s first and fourth pages read as follows in relevant part:
Sometime within the last two years the document was changed without dating the change — making it appear that the State of California never endorsed the ACOEM Mold Statement. As seen on the California Department of Health website, the document now looks like this on its first and fourth pages with reference to ACOEM for guidance, omitted:
How I know California’s “Mold in Indoor Workplaces” was quietly changed within the last two years.
On March 9, 2015 WorkCompCentral published an article by Ben Miller titled “ACOEM Takes Down Position Paper Commonly Used To Defend Against Mold Claims” In most relevant parts the article states,
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine appears to have retired a controversial position statement on mold that critics say has been used to deny workers’ compensation claims for more than a decade.
The position paper, titled Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment, essentially stated that mold is not likely to cause many of the illnesses that employees mark down as job-related on workers’ compensation forms, according to mold activist Sharon Kramer.
The paper no longer appears on the organization’s website. A search for previous versions of ACOEM’s policies and positions page using WayBack Machine – a website that takes snapshots of web pages and preserves them so users can compare changes later on – shows the paper appearing no later than Dec. 29.
ACOEM representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But Kramer told WorkCompCentral in an interview last week that Michael Hodgson, medical director for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, received a statement from ACOEM’s publications director [Marianne Dreger] last year that the organization would sunset the position paper in early 2015.
Kramer said the sunsetting that appears to have occurred takes away any weight the paper might hold as a defense against workers’ compensation claims where the claimant is seeking benefits for mold-related illness.
“It’s sort of damning for anybody who tries to use that in court because they basically said, ‘Eh, this [is] no longer our understanding,’” Kramer said.
Kramer said the position statement was first published in 2002, then revised in 2011. Neither paper, she said, acknowledged mounting evidence supporting that mold can cause respiratory problems and inflammatory responses in the body.
“It was a litigation defense argument right from the get-go,” she said.
Ritchie Shoemaker, a mold researcher who has testified in more than 200 court cases related to mold illness, said the ACOEM paper was ubiquitous in litigation for many years.
“After 2003, there were no cases that I participated in where defense did not quote ACOEM,” he said.
Mold inhalation causes reactions of varying degrees, depending on the individual, Shoemaker said, and can present itself in an array of symptoms – confusion, memory problems, numbness and tingling, tremors, respiratory problems and even joint problems that look like rheumatoid arthritis at first glance.
“It’s fascinating to see the diversity of inflammatory responses that we have,” Shoemaker said. That position has been supported in literature from the World Health Organization as well as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Shoemaker said there are several ways to show that a patient has been exposed to the inhalation of mycotoxins, which mold produces. Blood samples, brain imaging and soon genetic tests can all be used to show a “fingerprint” that only mycotoxin inhalation produces, he said….
Shoemaker said that even though the ACOEM paper appears to have been sunset, he expects it to continue cropping up in court because ACOEM was the last organization to hold the position that mold inhalation wasn’t likely to cause medical problems.
“They don’t have anything else,” Shoemaker said. “The British were throwing rocks at Washington as he crossed the Delaware River because the Hessians were too drunk to fire their muskets.”
Dr. Shoemaker is right. “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Mold in the Indoor Environment” is still used in litigation as a deceitful weapon against the sick, disabled and dying. It is used by high-paid toxic tort defense expert witnesses and the defense attorneys retained by insurers who hire them. It is frequently discredited, but the experts are paid — win or lose; and it still serves to delay justice for the mold-disabled.
The only reason they are able to still use the junk science, is because even though ACOEM sunset it as a position statement in 2015, they never retracted it from publication in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM).
For a greater understanding of how the ACOEM Mold Statement has been (and still is) used to greatly harm people, please read the January 10, 2007 Wall Street Journal article titled “Amid Suits Over Mold, Experts Wear Two Hats, Authors of Science Paper Often Cited by the Defense Also Help in Litigation” by David Armstrong. A couple of key quotes:
Dr. Craner maintains, is that “a lot people with legitimate environmental health problems are losing their homes and their jobs because of legal decisions based on this so-called ‘evidence-based’ statement.”
The paper’s authors say their conclusions are validated by the Institute of Medicine’s paper. But the author of the Institute paper’s mold toxicity chapter, Harriett Ammann, disagrees, and criticizes the ACOEM paper’s methodology: “They took hypothetical exposure and hypothetical toxicity and jumped to the conclusion there is nothing there.”
Because I was aware that the paper “Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Mold in the Indoor Environment” was still being promoted by the CA Department of Health and Industrial Relations Board in late 2015, and that it was still being used against mold injured workers to deny their workcomp insurance claims; I contacted an associate who I knew had worked in setting policies over this issue for many years.
On December 8, 2015 this person sent me a reply email that said (redacted) “Ms Kramer- I have added a few generally favorable comments and forwarded your email to a friend at the CA Dept of Public Health.” [I have no idea who this wonderful CDPH person is. My associate did not tell me.]
Two weeks later, my associate sent me another email that said (redacted) “Ms Kramer – Here is the response I received from my friend at CDPH. Happy Holidays, XXXX —
XXXX, thanks for your email. It was good to chat…A few responses below.
Molds in Indoor Workplaces
Physicians can refer to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) statement, Adverse Human Health Effects Associated with Molds in the Indoor Environment. www.acoem.org/guidelines/article.asp?ID=52.
I checked, and the webpage for the Occupational Health Branch, HESIS at CDPH still does refer to the ACOEM position paper, which I always thought was not a good document for various reasons. However, it seems that the link is dead and will not connect.
So that’s how I know California’s “Mold in the Indoor Workplace” was not edited any earlier than 2016 to cease marketing the litigation defense argument that was concocted in 2002 by the prolific expert defense witnesses at Veritox, Inc. — Bruce Kelman and Bryan Hardin — along with Andrew Saxon of UCLA.
This Public Service Announcement is another nail in the coffin of the epic insurer fraud scam, based on the junk science of Veritox, Inc., that it’s allegedly proven mycotoxins in water damaged buildings cannot plausibly reach a level to harm anyone.
Sharon Noonan Kramer