Risks of Black Mold Exposure

A Documentary Film by Michael Roland Williams

This documentary begins with the camera panning through a couple's sparsely furnished house where every item is covered in plastic. The chairs, the tables, the computer keyboard, and every other item is sealed in plastic and covered in cloth. As the story unfolds, we discover that this almost obsessive sterilization process is absolutely required for this couple to exist in their environment. Any type of slight contamination sends their health into a tailspin, causing anything from skin rash to migraines to vomiting. The couple spends hours washing articles of clothing (especially when they are new), dusting, cleaning, and plastic-wrapping every new item they introduce to the home to prevent off-gassing. They spend an entire weekend tediously wrapping and rewrapping a new couch they bought, but nothing prevents them from having a reaction and they must return it.

Imagine being so sensitive to every odor in household products, food, furniture, clothing, carpet, your car, and even outdoor air, that you become ill to the point of dysfunction. You must isolate yourself from other people because of the products they wear. You are unable to work because your work environment makes you ill; the doctors don't believe you and neither does your family. This fi lm documents the daily struggles of real people with these extreme sensitivities to everything in their environment, all because they were exposed to high levels of toxic mold.

Mold and fungus are critical to a balanced ecosystem, but overgrowth of mold in living spaces can be inhaled, and over time exposure can cause multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Molds such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium are some of the offending factors that can be toxic. The symptoms that mold exposure can cause are common and non-specific, such as fatigue, asthma, abdominal pain, dizziness, vomiting, hearing loss, and skin rash.

MCS can be caused by chronic exposure to any kind of toxin, including mold, chemicals, heavy metals, and more. It is not a widely-accepted diagnosis within the medical community, due in part to lack of education in medical school as well as the fact that the American Medical Association hasn't given it credibility. Some of the doubt continues because patients present a long list of non-specific symptoms and there is no definitive lab test to determine a diagnosis. As a result, a person suffering with MCS symptoms may get passed from doctor to doctor without getting any help. During the course of this unproductive process, people with MCS may instead become labeled as mentally ill, liars, money grubbers, or whiners. The skeptics may argue, why is it that only some people become ill when living in an environment contaminated by black mold or other toxins, and others have no symptoms at all?

Some researchers believe that genetic susceptibility explains why some people are sensitive and others are not. In this documentary, several experts weigh in, including Dr. William Rae, pioneer of environmental medicine and director of the Environmental Health Center of Dallas. His experience shows that people can recover from MCS, but everyone's physiology is different, so treatments and successes will vary.

This documentary is valuable to anyone. If you suffer from MCS, it is a great movie to share with friends and family, and if you are healthy, it shows us how we should be both careful and aware about hidden dangers lurking in our environment.