No activity in this Congress.


The presence of mold in residential and commercial buildings has spawned a wave of litigation claims against an array of different businesses.  Since asbestos cases were so profitable for the trial lawyers, it seems they are determined to make mold the next big payday.

Like asbestos, mold presents an opportunity for trial lawyers to manipulate the civil justice system.  Mold cases involve allegations of bodily injury, wrongful death, and property damage.  They also involve multiple plaintiffs, defendants, and third-party defendants in class action lawsuits alleging various causes of action.  Solutions are extremely expensive to undertake, with investigation and cleanup costs that can range into hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The litigation also leads to substantial expenses such as expert witness and legal fees.

The litigation potential is only one aspect of the mold issue.  Mold related claims have increased nationwide and have contributed to rising insurance rates.

Mold Facts

  • There are more than 100,000 known species of mold.  At least 1,000 species of mold are common in the United States.
  • Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce.  Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually.  When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive.  There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.  When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed.  There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  • When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores (reproductive bodies similar to seeds) can be released into the air.  Exposure can occur if people inhale the spores, directly handle moldy materials, or accidentally ingest it.  Also, mold can sometimes produce chemicals called mycotoxins.  Mycotoxins may cause illness in people who are sensitive to them or if they are exposed to large amounts in the air.  Large exposures are typically associated with certain occupations (e.g., agricultural work).
  • The cost of a single mold claim ranges from $10,000 to $100,000 for an investigation, additional living expenses, and remediation, if necessary.
  • No scientific studies have been performed to date that establish a direct relationship between mold contamination and health impacts.  As a result, no doctor or health official can establish what levels of mold are safe or unsafe in a home, school, or office building.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra) is a type of mold that has been associated with health effects in people.  It is a greenish-black mold that can grow on materials with a high cellulose content, such as drywall sheetrock, dropped ceiling tiles, and wood, that become chronically moist or water-damaged, due to excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, or flooding.  Many molds are black in appearance but are not Stachybotrys.  For example, the black mold commonly found between bathroom tiles is not Stachybotrys. Stachybotrys can be positively identified only by specially trained professionals (e.g., mycologists) through a microscopic exam.
  • The key to mold control is moisture control.  It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.  If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture.  Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water.  Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.  Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles and carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.
  • Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present.  There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
  • Spore-spreading fungus is creating a big rise in property damage claims to insurance companies’ nationwide, sending insurance rates for homeowners and landlords through the roof.  Because of a recent large mold-related lawsuit and a strong residential real estate market, which resulted in fast but not always high-quality home construction, claims are piling up.  Premiums across the country have risen from six percent to 15 percent.


In the past, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced legislation entitled the United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act, otherwise known as the “Molina Bill.”  The Congressman was inspired to introduce legislation because one of his staffers became ill from a mold-infested house. 

Representative Conyers' bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to examine the effects of different molds on human health and develop accurate scientific information on the hazards presented by indoor mold.  The legislation also directs the EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish guidelines that identify conditions that facilitate indoor mold growth and measures that can be implemented to prevent such growth.  The guidelines would address mold inspection, testing, and remediation.  The EPA and HUD would have to establish guidelines for certifying mold inspectors and remediators to help identify hazards associated with inspection and remediation and to identify the steps that should be taken to minimize the risk to human health.

The bill sought to have mold inspections for multi-unit residential property and mold inspections for all property that is purchased or leased using funds that are guaranteed by the federal government.  The bill also required mold inspections in public housing.

Finally, the bill authorized tax credits for inspection and/or remediation of mold hazards and creates a National Toxic Mold Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect homeowners from catastrophic losses.  The bill would enable states to provide Medicaid coverage to mold victims who are unable to secure adequate health care.


Consumers are finding it difficult to obtain insurance for mold.  Since claims and rates have dramatically increased, many insurance companies are dropping coverage.  As if losing insurance coverage was not enough to worry about, small business owners are also concerned with the potential for liability.  If mold is discovered in a house or other building everyone, including the homebuilder, the building material dealers, the installer and companies that maintain air conditioning, electrical wires and plumbing, can be sued.

The SBLC has opposed the "United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act," and will continue to oppose any similar proposals.  More research on mold is needed before Congress creates any legal standards and thresholds.  The bill has yet to be reintroduced in this Congress.



Back to Issue Papers