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Toxic mold is harmful, expensive, and in some cases, can be deadly

The beautiful scenery and year-round warmth make South Florida an appealing place to live, but there’s something in the region that can pose serious risks: mold.

The warm temperatures and high humidity levels make south Florida the prime location for mold growth, which thrives in moisture and warmth. Two Boynton Beach fire stations have possible been contaminated with mold infestations and homeowners throughout the region have been affected, too.

Indoor mold growth can cause structural damage, and even worse, it can cause health issues.

“I have whole families I’m treating,” said Dr. Harlan Bieley, a physician who practices in North Palm Beach and specializes in treating patients who are suffering from the effects of mold exposure.

“What happens is the mold produces spores, which release mycotoxins that block or deplete antioxidants. And so when the antioxidants decrease, it accelerates any kind of disease  – autoimmune diseases, cancer, anything.” Dr. Bieley said.

Bieley first became interested in treated patients who are affected by mold exposure after a friend of his died of lung cancer and her son was diagnosed with lupus. The unit above his friend’s apartment was infected with Stachybotrys mold, a form of black toxic mold. “She never smoked and young boys don’t often get lupus,” Dr. Bieley said.

Two of the five fire stations in Boynton Beach had to be closed down as a result of suspected mold contamination. The closures have lead officials to voice their concerns regarding response times to emergencies. Firefighters, who are always at risk of respiratory illnesses, now have to worry about getting sick as a result of mold exposure in their workplace.

The city of Boynton Beach is covering the cost of lung X-rays and blood work for the firefighters, if they’re needed. The city is also paying for physical examples that will be performed by a doctor in Port St. Lucie.

Two firefighters at Station 3, one of the firehouses that have been shuttered, have been found with high levels of feces and feathers in their lungs, which is an indication that Station 3 was likely a sick building in more ways than just mold growth. The mold was discovered when investigators found dead mice in the air ducts.

The Director of Public Works and Engineering for Boynton Beach, Jeff Livergood, said that the city doesn’t conduct routine air quality tests in city buildings. “We would check for mold-based upon identification, if we see instances where we believe in may exist,” Livergood said.

The three other fire stations in Boynton Beach have not been affected, and officials are hoping to have Station 3 opened soon.

Mold contamination can also be found in city and county buildings throughout South Florida; courthouses seem to be particularly susceptible.

Mold Inspection & Testing Palm Beach has years of experience performing mold assessments in commercial and residential buildings throughout South Florida. We strongly recommend all property owners arrange for regular mold testing to ensure the safety of residents, employees, and the public at large. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 561.910.0881.