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Toxic Mold Exposure Attorneys Serving Millersville, Maryland

An Overview Of Toxic Mold

Toxic mold exposure, sometimes known as “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS), is the focus of a growing number of lawsuits across the country. Mold is a tenacious, unwelcome house guest. It climbs up bathroom walls, invades carpet, and infests drywall. Certain molds are toxic, meaning they can cause serious illness to persons who come in contact with them. All mold found in buildings is not toxic. Unfortunately, it is impossible for homeowners to distinguish between toxic and benign molds.

Such cases may be early signs of a big, expensive wave of mold repercussions, ranging from what a home seller needs to disclose to the spawning of whole cottage industries that test for and remediate mold. In between, there may be mold issues for home builders, insurers, inspectors, appraisers, moving companies, relocation firms, and others.

In 2010, a Pennsylvania court awarded $4.3 million to two homeowners whose home was infiltrated with several different types of mold after a road resurfacing project caused flooding on their property. In 2009, a North Carolina court awarded $125,000 to a buyer after a real estate firm’s agents didn’t disclose that the property they purchased had toxic mold issues. Toxic mold claims can be brought on grounds of negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, and breach of warranty.

Toxic Mold Background

Mold contamination claims were virtually unheard of a few years ago, but people are becoming more aware of indoor air quality issues because of the expanding scientific and medical knowledge of the toxic effects of mold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five varieties of household mold that are harmful to your health: Penicillium, Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, Paecilomyces, and Fusarium. These molds are different from benign mold because they produce mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances that are produced by fungi. Mycotoxins tend to concentrate in fungal spores, and thus present a potential hazard to those who inhale these airborne spores. Toxigenic spores can have a significant effect on the function of the alveolar macrophage and be a health hazard to those exposed. Stachybotrys mold is particularly hazardous to children. Click on Stachybotrys, to learn more about this mold.

Although mold affects individuals differently and to different degrees, the following are some of the most common adverse health effects.

  • Muscle Cramps

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Respiratory problems – shortness of breath

  • Nose irritation

  • Dry skin irritation

  • Sinus congestion

  • Burning and watering eyes

  • Sore throat

  • Nausea

  • Aches and pain

  • Fever

People with weakened immune systems (i.e., immune-compromised or immune-suppressed individuals) may be more vulnerable to these health effects (as well as more vulnerable than healthy persons to mold toxins). Aspergillus, for example, has been known to infect the lungs of immune-compromised individuals. These individuals inhale the mold spores, which then start growing in their lungs.

Since toxic mold requires water to grow, buildings with moisture problems are highly susceptible to mycotoxin problems. Delayed maintenance, insufficient maintenance, and construction defects are common reasons for toxic mold growth.

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Toxic Fungus (Stachybotrys)

Stachybotrys is a greenish-black fungus that is typically wet and slimy to the touch. It can grow on material with high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.

Stachybotrys is known to produce potent mycotoxins under certain circumstances. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available, and in some cases research is ongoing. In fact, the EPA has set no strict regulations or guidelines for determining the health risks associated with Stachybotrys.

Stachybotrys has been linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hundreds of cases of lung disorder, including at least 30 cases of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, which led to death. The CDC does not completely know the specific cause of these deaths. However, they eventually concluded that significant exposure to, in addition to other hydrophilic molds, played a significant role in the development of this severe and fatal lung disease. In addition, preliminary reports from an investigation of an outbreak of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants suggested an association between pulmonary hemorrhage and exposure to Stachybotrys. A review of the evidence of this association at the CDC resulted in a published clarification stating that such an association was not established. Research on the possible causes of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants continues.

Stachybotrys growing in homes indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. Stachybotrys can be cleaned off surfaces with a weak bleach solution. Mold under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once Stachybotrys starts to grow in insulation or wallboard the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement. Removing cultures of Stachybotrys must be undertaken with great care to contain the spread of dangerous spores. In areas where flooding has occurred, prompt cleaning of walls and other flood-damaged items with water mixed with chlorine bleach, diluted 10 parts water to 1 part bleach, is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia. Moldy items should be discarded.

Toxic Torts

A toxic tort the legal term for the harm that results from wrongful exposure to a harmful chemical or biological substance through ingestion, inhalation, skin contact, or skin absorption. Examples of toxic tort litigation include but are not limited to cases concerning, lead- paint (causes brain damage, especially in children), asbestos (causes lung cancer, restrictive lung disease), pesticides (cause birth injuries), toxic molds (cause various symptoms), electro-magnetic fields from utility wires or major appliances (suspected to cause cancer), and toxic landfill/spill waste (causes leukemia and other syndromes).

Toxic substances are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA was enacted in 1976 to give the EPA the ability to track the 75,000 industrial chemicals currently produced or imported into the United States. The EPA repeatedly screens these chemicals and can require reporting or testing of those that may pose an environmental or human-health hazard. The EPA can ban the manufacture and import of those chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk. Despite government efforts to protect your health, millions of people at home, at work, and during their leisure time are being exposed to and injured by toxic substances every day.

Due to the nature of toxic substance accidents and long latency periods, many cases are often not brought up until many years after victims discover they were exposed to the toxins. Exposure to toxic substances is particularly harmful to industrial workers who may have been exposed to high levels of toxins over a long period of time. Exposure to toxic substances is also particularly harmful to children who are generally more sensitive to toxic agents and who have a greater likelihood of exposure as a result of play habits and behavior patterns. It is rare for toxic exposure to affect just one person, especially in cases of environmental contamination. It is very common for groups of people who have all been exposed to the same toxin because of the same event (for instance, an accidental release of radiation from a nuclear power plant) or because of the same occupation (for instance, repeated exposure to dry cleaning fluid by people in the cleaning industry) to bring legal claims as a group in order to seek redress for wrongful toxic exposure. As a result, toxic tort cases are often brought as class actions.

There are many different legal theories, including negligence, premises liability, breach of warranty, misrepresentation, and strict product liability that are used to establish liability. Proving that a toxic substance has injured a person, however, requires hard work and experience.

For more information on Toxic Fungus & Torts In Maryland, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking and talk to Arnold F. Phillips by calling today. We serve the areas of Millersville, Cumberland, McHenry, Garrett County, and Allegany County, Maryland.