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After being exposed to black mold removal for four years in a friend’s house in Niagra Falls, Susan Crane-Sundell stated: “It’s very close to killing me now.”

Crane-Sundell began getting sick after about 18 months of living in the house. When she got sick, she saw a dozen doctors and underwent expensive medical tests. Recently, she found out that the cause of her sickness was black mold which has poisoned her system to the point that she is bed-ridden.

Can Toxic Black Mold Kill?

This is an interesting question and one that was posed this summer by a reporter in New Orleans, Jed Lipinski,

The article poses this question because four SUNO professors, who died within three months of each other, all worked on the second floor of the Multipurpose Building on the SUNO campus:

Officially, toxic mold is not linked to their deaths because the Centers for Disease Control states that there is no scientific evidence linking mold exposure to pulmonary embolisms, heart disease or breast cancer recurrence. In addition, according to the article:

No federal guidelines exist for what constitutes a safe quantity of mold removal, making it difficult for inspectors to know whether occupants of a building or home are at risk. Building managers say they often are forced to rely on occupant complaints to determine that a remediation was unsuccessful.

Lipinsky questions the official cause of the death for several reasons.

Background: Water Damage Lead To Significant Mold Infestation

After the levee breaches in late August, 2005, the Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) campus was one of the hardest hit institutions. In fact, the campus was submerged under water for three weeks and the power plant was not functional, meaning the air conditioning in all 11 buildings was shut off. Power was not restored for two years.

In response, SUNO moved its faculty, students, and staff to temporary buildings that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided. Efforts to renew SUNO stalled because initial plans to rebuild the campus in another location were rejected by FEMA due to a lack of funding. Conditions inside the 11 buildings continued to worsen as mold spread throughout because the air conditioning was not yet functional.

Three years later, in 2008, work began to clean up the affected buildings.

The Multipurpose Building, a two-story concrete structure, was flooded with 4.5 feet of water after the levee failures during Hurrican Katrina. The state claims the building was deemed safe to occupy before faculty moved in because a licensed contractor, Zimmer-Eschette Services, performed a full environmental remediation during the summer of 2008 and the indoor air samples were deemed “acceptable.” The building was re-opened in August, 2008 so staff could move in for the Fall session.


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