What homeowners need to know about toxic mold exposure

The Baehr family had to abandon their home and belongings after being exposed to noxious mold.

Courtesy: The Baehr . Family

Kristina Baehr seems to have it all: a successful career as a lawyer and a lovely family with newborn twins. Together they live in a beautiful house that she considers her “forever” home. But a mysterious and insidious enemy is slowly destroying her health, career, marriage and family.

Baehrs’ 9-year-old home in Austin, Texas is unknowingly infected by an arch-enemy of America: toxic mold. Mycotoxins produced by mold cause health problems that are difficult to diagnose.

Kristina Baehr said: ‘I felt like I was hit by a truck. “I started getting migraines that I didn’t understand. I felt drunk in the middle of the day. I felt dizzy and lost. I was fading and forgetting everything.”

Across the United States, thousands of people struggle with mold growth in their homes. It is usually hidden behind walls, buried under the floor or hidden in air ducts. Although exact case numbers are difficult to come by, mold has been identified in all types of housing from army and public housing arrive dormitory in colleges nationwide. Social media groups devoted to mold exposure has drawn tens of thousands of people, who discuss how mold has disrupted their lives.

It took several years for Baehrs to figure out what was causing Kristina’s symptoms. But now she hopes to use the knowledge she has gained to help others in similar situations.

At first, Evan Baehr criticized his wife’s complaints about the struggles that come with balancing hard work with raising four children.

Evan Baehr admits: “I’m not super sympathetic. “I said ‘Hey, we run hard, we have careers, we have a baby at home. Just deal with it’, that’s not a great response.”

But then the kids also started getting sick. Their eldest son, Cooper, developed a sinus problem. Madeleine, 7, complains of frequent headaches, stomach problems and behavioral problems as well as severe anxiety. Her youngest son, Scott, is showing signs of developmental disabilities that have become so severe that teachers question whether he may have a serious disorder on the autism spectrum.

“[Scott] was melting for at least an hour a day, every day. And they couldn’t calm him down, and I think something is going on,” Kristina Baehr said.

A hunt for answers

Later, Kristina Baehr fainted and doctors found a benign tumor. “I broke down, I broke down physically,” she said. “I was committed to being better.”

Desperate for answers, Kristina Baehr quit her job as an associate at a law firm to focus on taking care of her family’s health. After nearly three years of tests and visits to different doctors, she discovered the whole family had some degree of mycotoxins, which is produced by certain types of molds and mildews.

“Scott’s mycotoxin score is just insanely high. The limit is said to be 8. He’s at 108,” she said.

Baehrs hired construction and mold experts to come to their home and survey their living space. The experts concluded that faulty roof repairs and improper construction in conditions of humidity permitting, and poorly installed heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems exacerbated the problem. problem. It is a perfect environment for the growth of microorganisms.

Joshua Rachal, CEO of Texas Mold Exposure, said: “During the time the Baehrs family lived here, there was a small leak that caused water to drip onto the wall of their daughter Madeleine’s room… , that no one can see,” said Joshua Rachal, CEO of Texas Mold Exposure. The Baehr family.

Mold was found growing in Baehr’s kitchen.

Courtesy: The Baehr . Family

Baehrs is living, breathing and consuming mold, he said. It is growing behind the walls and blowing through the air ducts. Mold was even detected on fruit in kitchen bowls and in their drinking water.

“Looking back at all of our health symptoms, having an elephant in the room was the source of all the different manifestations of health oddities,” says Evan Baehr.

Health problems may persist after exposure

2007, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information reported that 4.64 million cases of asthma in the US were caused by exposure to damp and mold. Other studies have found that chronic mold exposure can have wide-ranging effects on many organ systems, including the respiratory and nervous systems, as well as cardiovascular and reproductive health.

The researchers also note that there is strong evidence that early life exposure to humid environments, molds, and mycotoxins during infancy and childhood can cause developmental delays, reduced growth, and reduced growth. cognitive function and immune dysfunction. Children who live in damp homes during infancy or early childhood are twice as likely to develop lipomatous hypertrophy, an enlarged tissue that often leads to ear, nose, and throat problems.

In fact, the health battles can linger long after someone leaves a musty environment.

“Long-term exposure can lead to long-term sensitization, particularly in susceptible individuals,” said Jamie Lichtenstein, a biologist and professor of mold research at Emerson University.

Kristina Baehr says she still gets a severe body rash from even the smallest amount of exposure, but her biggest worry is how exposure to mold will affect her baby’s long-term health. .

For example, her son, Scott, continues to struggle with significant developmental delays. “He may never be the same. Because this is how he grew up in the world. He was in my room, in that house. And I raised him in that house. .”

Cooper hugs his younger brother Scott after being medically tested for possible exposure to toxic mold found in their home.

Courtesy: Kristina and Evan Baehr

‘All is gone’

And that house, Kristina Baehr says, is slowly killing them. The family abandoned it and everything inside to get rid of the mold. All their clothes, toys and personal belongings – even the family Bible – were lost. They also maintain a strict regimen of medications and therapies to detoxify the body.

Financially, the mold nightmare wiped out the family’s savings, Evan Baehr said. He estimates they spent more than a million dollars on demolition, repairs and reconstruction, along with relocation costs, medical copayments, and out-of-pocket treatment costs.

“You did everything you could to prepare your family financially – and then suddenly a year later, and it was all gone,” Mr. Baehr said.

The family filed a lawsuit against the companies that designed and built their home because they wanted to cover their losses. Kristina said it is a long and arduous legal process, but she believes it will be worth it.

Kristina Baehr said: “I will go to the ends of the earth and back to restore my health so our kids can go ahead safely and so we can rebuild their lives and have the resources to provide medical care for them”.

Mold isn’t something that’s usually covered by homeowner’s insurance, according to Insurance Information Institute, consider the issue a “home maintenance issue.”

There are exceptions if mold growth is the result of an overarching hazard, such as a fire, storm, or other similar event. Experts have predicted a spike in mold cases following widespread flooding from Hurricane Ida and its ruins – or from broken pipes from a crippling Texas winter storm in February last year.

“We would expect that with increased flooding due to climate change, there could be increased cases of water damage to homes and fungi,” said Lichtenstein, a mold expert from Emerson University. development milestone”.

The whole experience left Kristina Baehr on a new mission to help others who are trying to recover from mold exposure. She recently started a new law firm, Just Well Law, to give the form of representation she said she couldn’t find for her own family.

“So many families like us have experienced this across the United States, and we want to help people recover from the people who made them sick,” she said. What homeowners need to know about toxic mold exposure

Ryan Perry

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