Opportunity | BioSmart®
Hidden Dangers of Mold Exposure
Federal guidelines for hazardous substances like radon,
asbestos and lead already exist, but for those with mold
lurking in their home, there's little warning.
No standards for the fungal growth have been set, despite a
warning from the U.S. Government Accountability Office in
2008 that "indoor mold poses a widespread and, for some
people, serious health threat."
That health threat turned into a real-life catastrophe for the
A Life-Changing Discovery
Until last year, Chris Fabry, his wife and nine kids lived in
a beautiful 5,500-square-foot home in Colorado. Fabry hosted
a daily Christian radio show for Moody Radio in his home
studio and pursued his writing career. All nine kids were
thriving in school, at church and at home. The family
seemingly had it all.
But in 2007, the Fabrys discovered mold in one of their
bathrooms. They cut into the wall, accidentally releasing
spores and set off a series of health problems ranging from
rashes to diabetes - and then worse.
Chris Fabry remembers 11-year-old Reagan's constant vertigo,
nausea and vomiting which doctors could not explain.
"This was a child I had to literally carry to the bathroom so
he could throw up and no doctor would say - they would say -
'you can't have vertigo all the time. That's not possible.'"
Ten-year-old Kaitlyn, a voracious reader, had to give up her
books after her vision began to blur. Her 7-year-old brother
Colin also became sick.
Andrea Fabry remembered, "He would be doubled over with
abdominal pain sobbing and having migraines that would be so
severe that he would literally just sit there and scream.
And then it was all four kids, every night was like that."
Little Help from Doctors
Part of the Fabry's problem, unknown at the time, was that
remediators used fans on the mold, spreading toxic spores
throughout the home.
In 2007 and 2008, the Fabrys would visit 30 specialists for
their family's growing health crisis.
For each child, doctors focused on symptoms and how best to
treat them. They never asked questions about the Fabry's
home environment, although they did challenge their
"I would have doctor after doctor look at me and say 'have you
thought of a psychologist? I think you need to take them
home and give them some tough love. I think that's what they
need,'" Andrea Fabry said.
In late 2008, an indoor air test confirmed Andrea's deepening
suspicion: dangerously high counts of mold spores in several
rooms. The toxicologist told the family they must leave
their home and everything in it. The Fabrys even had to put
down their two dogs to prevent future contamination.
The family soon discovered that only a handful of doctors in
the country have experience in treating mold-related health
After speaking with Dr. Michael Gray, a mold specialist in
Benson, Ariz., they decided to move. Chris' work could
continue in Arizona and the family could recuperate better
in the warm, dry climate with medical help close by.
Changing Medical School Curriculum
Gray told CBN News that urine tests confirmed high levels of
toxins in all 11 Fabrys. Their varying patterns of illness
reflect symptoms of hundreds of other mold patients he's
treated since 1994.
But Gray doesn't blame the Fabry's doctors, who failed to
identify mold as a primary issue. Instead, he cites medical
schools that give little or no class time to environmental
"It is an area that is not well-taught and not
well-recognized," he explained.
The American Medical Association and other leading health
institutions agree, calling on medical schools to devote
more time to the issue.
Dr. David Jacobs is the Director of Research for The National
Center for Healthy Housing and the former director of the
Office of Healthy Homes for the U.S. Department of Housing.
He estimates that up to 25 percent of U.S. homes have mold
But he acknowledges, research on mold is still in its infancy.
"We are still struggling to understand which species of mold
produce which specific health outcomes," he said.
Mold is a recognized hazard going all the way back to Bible
times. In Leviticus 14, the Lord commands Moses and Aaron to
follow-up on mold complaints.
Lev. 14:36-37 says, "The priest must go in and check it. He
must look carefully at the mold that is on the walls." (NIRV)
The passage then explains how priests must oversee repeat
examinations, cleanings and eventual tear-downs if mold
continues to grow in the home.
The World Health Organization has published a report on toxic
molds, known as mycotoxins, that notes significant health
It warned that "exposure to mycotoxins can produce both acute
and chronic toxicities ranging from death to deleterious
effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular and pulmonary
The Department of Defense is also up-to-date on toxic molds.
It has published a lengthy report on one type called "trichothecene
mycotoxins." The DOD says this mold is a proven warfare
agent and can cause vomiting, bleeding, blistering - even
Yet, the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site on mold
contains just one paragraph on its effect on health. In
essence, the EPA cites concerns about mold and allergies and
notes that research is on-going.
The problem, Jacobs said, is that Congress has not given
statutory authority to any one government agency.
The GAO's 2008 report makes the same conclusion, noting "while
current research activities on indoor mold conducted or
sponsored by EPA, HHS and HUD address identified
health-related research gaps to varying degrees, these
activities are largely uncoordinated within and across
"There is no uniform training curricula that's out there that
all the states can use and adopt," Jacobs said. "We do have
that for lead and radon."
Tip and Recommendations
Mold experts say the best prevention method is to keep your
home dry. Watch for leaking pipes under sinks, water coming
in around windows and unventilated bathrooms. When in doubt,
call a professional with experience.
For the Fabrys, it's unknown whether their Colorado home will
ever be livable again. For now, they are simply trying to
recover. Their goal: healthy eating and avoiding public
places which trigger new-found chemical sensitivities.
Inspired to share what they've learned, Andrea is chronicling
their journey on the Web.
"We as people living in our homes don't know this," she said.
"And I think we're going to wake up. I think it's coming
just like lead poisoning, radon."
Chris Fabry is now hosting his radio show in a make-shift
studio in their rental home. Off-air, he tackles mounting
medical bills that insurance won't cover, and is re-entering
the world of sports with his sons.
The Fabrys fully expect that their battle with mold will not
end anytime soon. For now, their story is God's faithfulness
in the midst of a life they would never have imagined could
happen to them.
"We're together," Chris said. "My wife and I are closer than
we've even been. We've been able to go through this tornado
of the rollercoaster--the emotions and the loss, all of our
stuff and the dogs and the illnesses of the kids and we've
really seen God work through that."
God's grace plus their deepening
understanding of mold is helping to restore them - and will
likely awaken more people to the dangers of mold.