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My Turn: Encourage better mold legislation

Tricia Padden
Truckee

It is better to be homeless than sickened by your home or work place. I know. It happened to me and my children. I urge the residents of the Henness apartments who have suffered from mold and formaldehyde exposure to leave those units in question.

I also urge community support for the families who have become homeless and for those wishing to leave the contaminated apartments. Nothing is worth one’s health. Nothing. Not all humans are alike and not all will react to exposures in the same way. Many will not even be affected.

But for those who are sickened, symptoms could last a life time. Exposure sometimes leads to an immune disorder and victims could be set up for a hypersensitivity to a number of irritants, disease or even death.

Insurance companies deny claims because they are more interested in the bottom line, and doctors are hesitant to speak for patients in fear of censorship because the medical community and the government has failed to establish guidelines due to lobbying from builders, owners and insurance companies.

Attorney Mary Marsh-Linde and mold and contaminant expert Jack Goshow are heroes, who, at their own personal expense, have supported sickened residents at the Henness apartments. Their actions can be likened to those of Erin Brockovich who assisted survivors of another and more well know toxic exposure.

It is not surprising to me that the companies for the residents and those for the builders have found a large discrepancy in the toxin count. I spent 1986, 1987 and 1988 in bed due to a similar exposure. Experts on both sides came to opposite conclusions.

Illness caused by exposure is often blamed on depression which has similar symptoms, but depression is often the result of serious illness and not the cause. It took years, but the predominance of evidence was in my favor. I won my case but was poorly compensated for the suffering during those 3 years, and for a life- time sensitivity which predisposed me to arsenic poisoning from Truckee drinking water in 2002.

I have discovered that arsenic levels ebb and flow in this community. I may have been the only person poisoned, but a neurologist, aware of a past exposure, knew enough to order a heavy metal’s test, and I had to endure harsh and extended treatments.

The hardest thing for any parent is to see his or her child suffer. My son, likewise exposed in the 80s to mold, pesticides and formaldehyde, now suffers from a potentially fatal lymphatic disease that surfaced many years later. This disease has only two commonalities – Germanic descent and a chemical exposure in childhood. He was Phi Beta Kappa; now he lives at a subsistence level on disability. My daughter continues to be challenged by chemical sensitivities on a daily basis. Prior to the exposure, my family was perfectly healthy.

Sadly, money counts more than people ” especially poor people. Since only a minority of residents of the Henness apartments have been hurt, owners and their insurers don’t want to invest money to clean up the 3 buildings contaminated. When did the bottom line become more important than the individual?

Why do insurance companies get to decide who deserves a healthy environment and who gets to live in a toxic one? I urge this community to treat the sickened residents at the Henness apartments seriously and to support them.

Encourage the medical community and congress to establish specific guidelines for mold and chemical contamination by writing a letter. Help protect our fellow community members from illness and homelessness by insisting these units be cleared of high levels of toxins before more people are injured. It happened to my children and me; it is sickening some of our friends and neighbors, and it could happen to you and your family.


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