December 17, 2012 update: We updated our position statement by adding an important new section titled "Global Burden of Indoor Air Contaminants." This new section presents statistics and financial costs relating to the health effects of indoor air contaminants and the impact on our global economy. It is staggering to comprehend the enormous impact on our global society as literally millions of individuals and families are harmed by contaminants inside our homes, schools and workplaces. The financial costs are equally staggering with estimates in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The statistics presented in this paper should catch the attention of every physician, every lawmaker and every layperson. It is time for our world leaders to address this very important, and costly, public health issue.
To read the GIHN position statement, click on the following title:
The entire press release announcing our updated position statement is provided here:
The Global Indoor Health Network (GIHN) announces its expanded and updated position statement titled “Common Toxins in our Homes, Schools and Workplaces.” GIHN added an important, new section that presents statistics and financial costs of indoor air contaminants and the impact on our global economy. This new section includes historical and recent information about indoor air pollution including key reports that were published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Massachusetts, Special Legislative Commission on Indoor Air Pollution, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
As you read this new section, you will understand the enormous impact on our global society as literally millions of individuals and families are harmed by contaminants inside our homes, schools and workplaces. The financial costs are staggering with estimates in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
If you look at the other side of the equation, billions of dollars could be saved if we implemented specific steps aimed at improving indoor air quality in U.S. office buildings. According to a 2000 report by William J. Fisk with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “the estimated potential annual economic savings plus productivity gains, in 1996 dollars, are approximately $40 to $200 billion.”
Imagine how big those savings would be if we also made these changes in schools, homes and other structures around the world.
The GIHN position statement highlights the main threats to human health hidden in our homes, schools and workplaces. The list of indoor air pollutants is extensive and includes mold, bacteria, mycotoxins, endotoxins, microbial particulates, radon, lead, asbestos, chemicals, pesticides, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants. Many of these contaminants occur inside water-damaged buildings (WDB), but some of these exist in buildings without water damage. Some sick buildings lead to slowly deteriorating disease while others can bring death quickly.
The new section of the paper mentions the findings of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010 study that was just announced by the WHO on December 14, 2012. Because of the significant number of research papers that have been published regarding the health effects of mold, including key reports by the WHO, we would have expected that the findings of the GBD 2010 study would include a discussion on indoor microbial contamination. Unfortunately, there was nary a reference to mold, mould, fungi, microbial or biological contaminants in any of the seven articles. This is a glaring omission. It’s very disappointing that they neglected to address this important public health issue in the study.
Written by treating physicians and researchers in the field, this paper is a collaborative effort which provides detailed information on the pathophysiology and diagnosis of illness caused by mold, as well as details regarding the treatment protocols used by some of the leading physicians. We have highlighted the extensive research which clearly demonstrates many of these principles.
The statistics presented in this paper should catch the attention of every physician, every lawmaker and every layperson. It is time for our world leaders to address this very important, and costly, public health issue.
The original press release when our position statement was first released on February 28, 2012:
On February 28, 2012, the Global Indoor Health Network released its position statement titled “Common Toxins in our Homes, Schools and Workplaces.” Indoor air pollution causes significant damage to health globally.
Changes over the years in building philosophy, construction materials, pesticides, usage patterns, etc., along with new awareness and improved testing capabilities, have brought us to the understanding that some buildings are sick and can make their occupants sick. Shoddy construction practices and environmental disasters also contribute. Americans spend, on average, 22 hours a day indoors. As such, it is a disconcerting thought that the structures we live in, work at and where we educate our children might lead to significant and even deadly health problems.
Radon, asbestos, products of combustion (such as carbon monoxide and cigarette smoke), volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde, benzene, pesticides and some personal care products), particulate matter, lead and a number of known and emerging disease-causing microbiological agents are discussed in this paper. However, the most space is reserved for the discussion regarding the secondary metabolic products of molds and bacteria released into the air of water-damaged buildings as these potentially may harm the most people and because of the disinformation war currently being waged suggesting that human disease from these toxins cannot exist.
Naysayer articles spend valuable print space suggesting that disease from mold can only occur after ingestion, or can only occur in the presence of large amounts of aerosolized toxin, or can only occur in an acute exposure. In light of the overwhelming peer-reviewed and journal-published evidence to the contrary, it is unimaginable that such papers are still being inked, are still being used in courts as “evidence” and are still considered relevant in any way. It’s the “Big Lie” all over again – say something long enough and loud enough and many will believe the lie.
“Big Business” has been shown repeatedly to use this tactic regarding the dangers of their products, and the histories of such substances as radium, asbestos and coal are evidence of the same. Workers in these industries, and other industries, were exposed to dangerous materials for decades while those making the profits knew the potential harmful health effects.
Mold illness, mold-related illness and biotoxin–related illness are euphemisms which are collectively referred to as Multi-system Exposure Related Illness (MERI, pronounced "meer-ee") in this paper. MERI is a multi-symptom, multi-system disease occurring in many people due usually to long-term exposure to the interior of water-damaged buildings. While a massive acute exposure can lead to MERI, the most common mechanism is chronic exposure to low level toxins leading to an inflammatory response in the body. Written by treating physicians and researchers in the field, this paper is a collaborative effort which provides detailed information on the pathophysiology and diagnosis of MERI, as well as details regarding the treatment protocols used by some of the leading physicians.
It is time to move beyond the focus of “establishing the fact of mold disease,” because it has already been established in numerous research papers and in the treatment of thousands of patients. It is time for our national and world leaders to develop a comprehensive public health response to this devastating epidemic that has the potential to cripple our individual and collective futures. We have highlighted the extensive research which clearly demonstrates many of these principles and look forward to collaborative efforts in this search for better health and safer living and working conditions.
"Working Together for Healthy Indoor Environments"