After Sandy: Mold

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Michael Reilly, Director of the Division of Planning and Response at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Assistant Professor of Clinical Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public, talks about the threat of mold in buildings after Sandy, and what it could mean for public health during the ongoing recovery.


Michael Reilly Reilly

Comments [8]

Harold Hyams from Tucson

I have been involved in mold cases in Arizona, of all places, for over 12 year.The courts in Tucson, where I live and practice are not sympathetic to them.

Here is the gist: mold causes illness. The old saw that there is mold everywhere does not mean that we see mold filling up our walls and windowsills. A lot of anything is a potential for disaster.

Microscopic mold testing is not definitive; there are no national standards and it all depends on what you are testing for. Many of the parts of mold that cause illness are not meaured by mold microscopic testing.

The best rule of thumb is: if you can see the mold and/or smell mold and you are having respiratory effects including asthma, lethargy, itchiness,
flu like symptoms along with the indication of mold---then look to get out while the condition is being remediated.

Most importantly, if you have enfants ( who are close to the ground, breathe quickly, and have almost no immune system) or severely immunized people with HIV or other such diseases-- then get out of your abode and do not stay in it while it is being"remediated." Mold testing is good after remediation to see whether they caught the mold problem and eradicated it--even though it is not dispositive in the initial diagnosis stage.

Harold Hyams
Tucson, Arizona

Mar. 07 2013 09:42 PM
JackD from Boston

Vitamin D is crucial in Human Immune Response. A simple D deficiency gives mold an opportunity to become invasive and/or cause tissue damage...

Mar. 06 2013 10:54 AM
robert lilly from New Orleans

@Jon Pope
It is when the indoor levels are higher than the outside levels. And the toxic type of molds building materials create. And also the toxic coaktails of mold and it by-products like bacterias, VOC, dust mites and on and on..

It will damage your immune system, it does cause scarring of tissue, it does cause chronic sinusitis, onset of asthma, all kinds of exacerbation to pre-existing conditions... brings on new allergies, cognitive problems and on and on

What happens to the mold spores when you breath it - it starts creating biofilms. Your body is perfect for mold, moist and hot. It loves it. It tries to become invasive all the time. Your body needs to keep fighting it and becomes weaker.

Mar. 06 2013 09:36 AM
Cheryl Wisecup from U.S.

Mold can cause serious health problems. For accurate information about the health effects of mold, go to and check out the Global Indoor Health Network at Be sure to read GIHN's position statement that discusses the diagnosis and treatment of illness caused by mold.

Mar. 05 2013 09:31 PM
Laura S from Brooklyn, NY

Thought your listeners might want to know about this free mold treatment program-- there are spots for 2,000 homeowners in NYC:

Mar. 05 2013 10:31 AM
john from office

Robert, so the answer after 911 was to empty lower Manhattan??

You are comparing mold to the barbacue that was the world trade center, of people and god know what else. Come on.

Mar. 05 2013 10:28 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

Since mold is everywhere, all the time, please ask guest if the majority of the population is not really adversely effected by mold?

Mar. 05 2013 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Oh please this is the same thing that happened with 911. We were told there was no danger, blah blah blah and today, how many years later, finally it's admitted that the exposure to dangerous and serious/deadly health problems ARE DIRECTLY related to the crap in the air and on the ground due to the 911 disaster. So let's grow up. It's known that the damp, moist atmosphere brings mold and rapid rate and we've seen on tv many houses that have had to be cleaned completely of mold before any work or reconstruction could be started that was caused by Sandy. For the Health Department to deny or ignore this problem is baloney, to put it nicely. Bunch of crap.

Mar. 05 2013 10:14 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.