Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Amid Suits Over Mold, Experts Wear Two Hats: Authors of Science Paper Often Cited by Defense Also Help in Litigation, by David Armstrong:
Soon after moving into a New York City apartment, Colin and Pamela Fraser say, they began to suffer headaches, rashes, respiratory infections and fatigue. They attributed it to mold.
But their lawsuit against the cooperative that owns the building hit a roadblock when the court wouldn't let their medical expert testify that mold caused their problems. This is "unsupported by the scientific literature," the state trial judge said.
She relied in part on a position paper from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, or ACOEM. Citing a substance some molds produce called mycotoxins, the paper said "scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in the home, school, or office environment."
The paper has become a key defense tool wielded by builders, landlords and insurers in litigation. It has also been used to assuage fears of parents following discovery of mold in schools. One point that rarely emerges in these cases: The paper was written by people who regularly are paid experts for the defense side in mold litigation.
The ACOEM doesn't disclose this, nor did its paper. The professional society's president, Tee Guidotti, says no disclosure is needed because the paper represents the consensus of its membership and is a statement from the society, not the individual authors.