Mold Damage Costs More Than Half A Trillion Dollars Per Year!

Mold Damage Costs More Than Half A Trillion Dollars Per Year!
Earlier this year, we published an article that examined What is the True Economic Cost of Mold?
Two key conclusions emerged from this article:
1. Mold adds $3.5 billion dollars to the annual US health care bill.
2. 21 percent of all asthma cases in the US are attributable to dampness and mold exposure. This figure may be higher after new research emerged this year.
These studies only addressed the economic impact of mold focusing on only one health issue, asthma.
New research shows that the actual costs are dramatically higher!
Recently, the Finnish Institute for Occupational Health concluded that health problems associated with mould and damp problems in Finnish buildings cost around 450 million euros each year.
The study also concluded that the cost of repairing the problems is 950 million euros.
This means the total cost associated with mold and damp problems in Finnish buildings is approximately 1.4 billion euros.
Finland is a relatively small country with only about 5.3 million people. Based on this population statistic, the average health cost per person in Finland is $84.91 euros and the average cost per person to repair the problems is $179.25 euros.
Applying these average costs to Canada and the United States and factoring in the respective populations and exchange rates, these are the costs:
UNITED STATES
Health problems associated with mold and damp problems in buildings costs the health care system nearly 35 billion US dollars per year.
The cost of repairing the problems is approximately 73 billion US dollars.
Total cost associated with mold and damp problems in US buildings is approximately 108 billion US dollars.
CANADA
Health problems associated with mold and damp problems in buildings costs the health care system nearly 3.8 billion Canadian dollars per year.
The cost of repairing the problems is approximately 8 billion Canadian dollars.
Total cost associated with mold and damp problems in Canadian buildings is approximately 11.8 billion Canadian dollars.
These statistics factor in the annual health cost and potential cost to repair issues.
WHAT ABOUT LOST PRODUCTIVITY?
How much does mold sickness cost business? According to the Finnish Society for Indoor Air Quality, National Technology Agency of Finland (TEKES):
The cost of bad indoor air has been estimated to be some 1200 euros a year per every Finn. This figure agrees closely with international research results.
The cost to Finland’s national economy is approximately 6 billion euros per year.
Assuming the cost of 1200 euros applied to Canadians and Americans, the additional costs of bad indoor air are as follows:
UNITED STATES: 485 billion US dollars per year
CANADA: 53 billion Canadian dollars per year
CONCLUSION
UNITED STATES: The yearly health care cost and loss in business productivity due to employee sickness is costing more than half a trillion dollars per year.
CANADA: The yearly health care cost and loss in business productivity due to employee sickness is costing nearly 60 billion dollars per year.
Considering the relative costs to repair the problems, one could make a fairly strong argument that this should be a government priority, particularly because the short term costs to fix the problem will result in long term net savings to the health care system and higher productivity amongst workers.

Penny Wise Pound Foolish: $32 Million Mistake

Penny Wise Pound Foolish: $32 Million Mistake
Recently there was an article about the Clackamas County housing officials negligence in dealing with water, moisture, and mold issues in the apartments that they managed.
The problems originated with the building siding that was compromised by fungus, water intrusion and absorption, swelling, bowing, warping and delaminating.
The situation was so bad that “you could take a pocketknife and stick it all the way into a two-by-four with no resistance.”

This is a clear indication that there were significant moisture issues. As we have written before, where there is moisture, the right temperature, and of course, food (materials high in cellulose content such as paper and wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, and ceiling tiles), mold will grow.
In this case, the housing officials knew there was mold and this became apparent by the many complaints that they received from tenants whose health was compromised.
What is most troublesome about this story is that the housing officials received an offer to replace the siding and windows where the water intrusion was entering and creating the moisture issues.
“It is our opinion that all the siding should be replaced; every building shows signs of damage both small and large,” wrote Glen Brown, the late president of the company. “We also discovered rot in places beneath the siding.”
“In 2008 Glen/Mar proposed to replace the siding and windows at an estimated cost of $1.6 million.”
Unfortnately, the Housing Authority declined the offer because of budget constraints.
Four years later, the cost to fix the problem has now escalated to $32 million because the building envelope has worsened. Mold is not just a health issue, but a structural one. In this case, it is clear that by ignoring the situation the structural integrity of the building worsened because mold feeds on the building, releasing toxins in the air that cause sickness.
This is a clear case of short-sighted thinking. Ultimately, the tenants paid the price in poor health. The true economic cost of this is not just $32 million, but most certainly, the health costs must also be taken into consideration.
“What is clear is that tenants reported water intrusion due to a variety of problems – plumbing leaks, faulty siding, condensation – and suffered the consequences of mold problems throughout the years of patchwork repairs.”
The cost to fix the situation may not be the only financial worry for the Clackamas County housing officials. If the recent ruling in New York is any indication, tenants in other US states may attempt to sue their landlords for negligence if they get sick. This ruling will likely encourage lawyers throughout the United States to pursue cases against negligent landlords who fail to maintain safe living conditions for their tenants. I guess we will have to wait and see.
What do you think? We look forward to your comments and feedback, particularly from tenants who have had health issues, air quality and mold remediation professionals, and lawyers that specialize in this type of litigation.

What is the True Economic Cost of Mold?

What is the True Economic Cost of Mold?
Up to now, I have written extensively about the health consequences of mold and also addressed the fact that mold destroys the structural integrity of property.
Recently, there was a news article in Ireland reporting on the fact that 90% of the children living in a Dublin housing complex suffered from asthma and other illnesses. The cause identified, mold.
After reviewing the article, I started to wonder what is the true economic cost of mold?
Fortunately, there were two US studies that attempted to answer this question.
The first study by William J. Fisk, Quanhong Lei-Gomez and Mark J. Mendell, all from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), concludes that building dampness and mold raised the risk of a variety of respiratory and asthma-related health outcomes by 30 to 50 percent.
The second study, by David Mudarri of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and William J. Fisk uses results of the first study plus additional data on dampness prevalence to estimate that 21 percent of current asthma cases in the U.S. are attributable to dampness and mold exposure.
Scientific studies show that mold in the walls and ceiling of homes substantially raises the risk of asthma and other respiratory problems and adds $3.5 billion to the annual national health bill.” (Berkeley Lab, EPA studies confirm large public health and economic impact of dampness and mold)
Of the 21.8 million people reported to have asthma in the USA, approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home.” (Public health and economic impact of dampness and mold)
It is interesting to note, these studies only addressed the economic impact of mold in the United States focusing on only one health issue, asthma.
Taking into consideration the fact that mold has been linked to other diseases like cancer and that mold sickness is a worldwide issue, then it’s clear that the true economic cost of mold is a multi-billion, perhaps even a trillion dollar problem.
Fortunately, mold sickness is preventable. Instead of simply treating with pharmaceuticals, the cause of the health issue needs to be addressed. In short, simple band-aid solutions with medication will cost us more in the long run.
Mudarri and Fisk suggest that “a significant community response” is warranted given the size of the population affected and the large economic costs. Preventative and corrective actions include:
1. Better moisture control during the building’s design;
2. Moisture control practices during construction;
3. Improved preventive maintenance of existing buildings to include a comprehensive moisture control program including control of water intrusions from outside; and
4. Plumbing leaks, condensation and humidity control, and other causes of moisture accumulation or mold growth.
Considering the economic cost of mold, can we afford not to take this issue seriously? What do you think?