No one likes it. But it is a MUCH bigger health hazard than most people think, affecting many people without them even realizing it.
And when Hurricane Sandy swept through New York, though my home was barely affected, one of my first thoughts after it passed was about mold.
Having suffered through years of black mold in my apartment (due to leaks and retained moisture) I am very aware of the increasing mold problem in any part of America that isn't bone dry. I never really had to deal with mold when I lived in California. But when I moved to NYC I noticed two things: I got upper respiratory infections a lot more often and I had to deal with mold a lot more.
They may even be linked. Turns out allergies and asthma may to a large degree involve our body's reaction to a substance called "chitin." I wrote about this some years back (here's a fairly recent version). Scientists have found that a lot of allergic and asthma responses involve a large up-regulation of a gene called "chitinase" in our bodies...which makes a protein that breaks down chitin. What does chitin come from? Well, many people will think of insects and related arthropods (including things like bed bugs) all of which are encased in chitin. The "skin" of an insect is made of chitin. In fact people who work in crab or lobster processing plants often get severe allergic reactions that involve up-regulating chitinase. However, molds and other fungi ALSO contain a lot of chitin...and my bet is that the reason why allergies and asthma correlate so well with an up-regulation of chitinase is that the increasing mold problem in our damper cities (including NYC) is causing an increase in upper respiratory responses due to inhalation of mold spores which then become chronic allergies or asthma.
Currently a hypothesis, not proven, but a hypothesis that seems increasingly well supported. In fact, according to a 1999 Mayo Clinic study, nearly all chronic sinus infections (afflicting about 37 million Americans) are a result of mold. Again, discussed in more detail in this article, including a discussion of why asthma hits poorer neighborhoods so hard.
Mold, respiratory infections, allergies, asthma...all somehow connected with chitin as one of the links. I have to say that once I was able to get all the leaks in my apartment fixed and I learned how to best battle mold in my apartment (discussed here), my health has improved immensely. I used to have a chronic cough starting with my first cold of the winter and continuing until the next time I visited California. Literally! Now it doesn't really happen and I strongly suspect the mold in my apartment was the major cause of the chronic cough.
Any homeowner can do a lot to deal with mold, sometimes with help, often without it. Again, I have written the solutions that worked for me here and occasionally post it again as a reminder.
But NYC suffered a massive influx of water during Hurricane Sandy. I wrote at the time that in the aftermath mold would be an issue. It seems that at least some politicians in NYC have had the same idea. Bottom line is, if we all, with help from the government, don't work to prevent mold from taking advantage of the moisture Hurricane Sandy threw at us (and some of that moisture is still inside the walls of many buildings), respiratory infections, allergy and asthma will spike in NYC.
I was reminded of all of this by a press release from City Councilmember Lew Fidler. From Lew Fidler's office:
Councilman Lew Fidler Announces Local Trainings on Mold Remediation… and Calls on the Mayor to Help ALL of the Affected Neighborhoods
Councilman Lew Fidler has received word from the Mayor’s Office that training sessions on mold remediation will be held in our community.
“I applaud the Mayor for finally hearing what our communities have been calling for. Gerritsen Beach suffered tremendously in Hurricane Sandy and mold remediation is a real need for the neighborhood. But, I also must request that he bring these trainings to ALL of the communities that were affected by the storm – including both Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach and Canarsie. My entire District is on the coastline and the water wasn’t choosy about where it decided to come onto land. So thank you, but more is needed. Everyone needs access to this information and these supplies,” said Councilman Fidler.
So far, two trainings have been scheduled locally. Both information and mold remediation supply kits will be provided:
February 4th, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM - at Gerritsen Beach Fire Department, 43 Seba Avenue
February 13th, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM - at P.S. 277, 2529 Gerritsen Avenue
“Mold remediation has been a real concern from day one,” said Councilman Fidler. “When I held post-storm community meetings, across my District, this was one of the issues that kept getting brought up again and again. We raised it with the City agencies present and we asked them for additional support and I am pleased to see that we are finally receiving it. Mold is a serious long-term health concern and I do not want our community to suffer anymore than it already has. I encourage all of my constituents affected by the storm to attend these meetings.”
For More Information:
Councilman Lew Fidler – (718) 241-9330
I am glad Lew Fidler is on this. I have not heard similar press releases from my local Councilmembers (Levin and Lander) but then again my area didn't get hit so hard. Still, mold WILL still be a problem.
I urge people to pay attention to this issue. Moisture tends to collect and stay within walls for months. When weather gets warmer, mold thrives within the wall. In the worst case scenarios, buildings have had to be condemned because of mold within the walls, sometimes due to one major leak. And many who suffer from chronic allergies, asthma or respiratory infections, may well be suffering partly because of mold in their walls. Pay attention to Lew Fidler's press release and call 311 for more information for what is being done in your area. And for homeowners anywhere, pay attention to my tips for keeping mold at bay. It improved my health!
Tonight was the first Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting my wife and I felt accomplished anything.
Our first County Committee meeting (sounds so romantic!) was Clarence Norman's last meeting before he went to jail. We were recruited by a friend and had little warning of what we were in for. My wife was 2 weeks overdue in giving birth to our son (his fault, not hers...he refused to get into position...kind of gave us a sense of his personality right there!). We wondered if his birth might upstage Clarence Norman's last stand...but he held on and was born later.
But the meeting was a farce. A circus. It was literally scripted from start to finish and was as uninviting and undemocratic as could be. The only saving grace was Ken Diamondstone's determined effort to stand up to the farce and at least SHOW that it was a farce. I wish we had been warned in advance. We might have been able to help Ken in showing what a farce the official Democratic Party was in Brooklyn.
Here's the key. I despise corruption. It puts the self interest of a handful of powerful folks over the actual governance of our country, our state, our city. I cannot stand when people put their own self interest so blatantly and completely ahead of the community. That is what Republicans do these days. When I was a kid even Republicans didn't do that so much.
I spend a great deal of time fighting Republican corruption. So when I realized that the head of the Democratic Party in my own area, Clarence Norman, was going to jail, it kind of made me feel sick. Seeing County Committee in action made me realize the corruption went deeper than Clarence Norman.
From then on I got to watch the Vito Lopez machine replace the Clarence Norman machine. I saw no real change. No recognition that the corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party was an embarrassment to the Democratic Party in general and was potential ammunition for the Republican Party. I predicted early on that this would mean we would start losing to the Republicans here in Brooklyn because the local Democratic Party was more dedicated to perpetuating the power of a handful of corrupt sleazebags than actually electing Democrats in contested elections.
Now, though the dynamics are more complicated than this, having in many ways to do with developments within a segment of the Jewish community that puts intolerance before community-interest, but the Democratic Party in Brooklyn has indeed been falling apart. We are losing contested elections like crazy. The number of contested elections are still small, but the dynamics are changing and the slack and corrupt attitude that I have seen locally in the Brooklyn Democratic Party has meant that we will continue to lose unless we start changing how we do business.
THAT is the most important thing to learn from the last 8 years as well as from tonight's meeting. And in tonight's meeting SOME people got it and, really, really sadly, some didn't.
more below read more »
There is a special election in Brooklyn March 20th to replace the disgraced and disgraceful Carl Kruger.
This election pits moderate Democrat Lew Fidler against right wing extremist teabagger David Storobin. I highly recommend checking out Fidler's website, giving a contribution, and/or volunteering to help his campaign. His teabagger opponent has been very sympathetic to, of all things, an Afrikaner separatist movement and his writings have been picked up by sites like Stormfront. Believe me, we can't let a Republican extremist win this seat.
And if you live in the district, VOTE LEW FIDLER MARCH 20th.
More detailed info follows. read more »
I would like to highlight a critical special election that can help make a State Senate seat more progressive. Those of you who know Albany KNOW that we need better State Senators. The recent disgrace of Karl Kruger has opened up a Brooklyn State Senate seat to a special election March 20th. It pits a relatively progressive Democrat against a batshit crazy teabagger with white supremacist sympathies. The Democrat is Councilman Lew Fidler who I know personally. He comes from a conservative district but manages to take relatively progressive stands and his conservative constituents accept it because they like him. I have written about Lew before and I highly recommend checking out his website, giving a contribution, and/or volunteering to help his campaign.
His teabagger opponent has been very sympathetic to, of all things, an Afrikaner separatist movement and his writings have been picked up by sites like Stormfront. He also has been very pro-Vladamir Putin. Much of this has been well documented and covered by Gatemouth over at Room 8.
Lew Fidler is well respected in the community, but some of the religious Jewish community is again trying to push for the Republican (against their own self interest, I might add!) because Lew Fidler has been sympathetic to marriage equality. It was this same kind of intolerance by religious Jews that helped lose a Congressional seat to a teabagger last year. Yet countering this crazy intolerance by religious Jews is an anger among the Russian community (which leans towards the Republican) over Republican redistricting efforts screwing over the Russian community in Brooklyn. At least one block of Russian voters is pushing for Fidler because of the Republican attempt to destroy the Russian vote in Brooklyn.
Believe me, we can't let a Republican extremist win this seat. Please give Lew Fidler a hand and if you live in the district (SD-27) please vote for Lew Fidler, the sane and responsible candidate over the Republican teabagger.
Lew Fidler has finally officially announced his bid for the March 20 special election to replace the corrupt Carl Kruger. And let this be my official endorsement of Fidler and my call for my fellow reform and progressive Democrats to give him a hand.
Current City Councilmemer and candidate for State Senate Lew Fidler has intrigued me for some time. He and I are often on the opposite side of some of the divides in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, but his ability at times to bridge those divides and at times be a better spokesperson for the reform side than I am has impressed me. At two County Committee meetings in a row he was one of the strongest reform voices and the one most critical of the machine despite his machine ties. Of course it put at risk his machine ties, but he had no fear of that risk and preferred standing on principle rather than take the easy route. Not sure he ALWAYS does that, but it is clear that he has little fear and does not care too much about the easy route. read more »