Year Released: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 101 minutes
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If I told you that the horrible black mold that rots people’s homes in humid climates was bad for a human being’s health, would you believe me?
I suspect that most people would.
This seems like a no-brainer, right?
After all, this black mold is a living organism, and might just as easily eat away at a human’s health as it eats away at concrete and thrives within old carpeting. Common sense dictates that this nasty, stinky, vile, living thing just couldn’t possibly be anything other than harmful if it should find its way to the interior of a human being.
Unfortunately, several groups of people who have a vested financial interest in proving otherwise – insurance companies, politicians, construction contractors, and even some doctors – have done their very best to claim that people whose lives have been devastated by the black mold are unworthy of compensation or treatment. Even worse, some of these same powerful forces won’t even acknowledge that black mold is a serious problem. It seems obvious that breathing in black mold spores can have negative health effects, and it seems absurd that even the CDC (Center for Disease Control) denies the existence of some fairly blatant symptoms of mold exposure.
Once again, greed trumps humanity, dollars trump suffering, the guy with the worst lawyer is wrong, and the little guy loses. This is the thesis of “Black Mold Exposure,” a documentary by Michael Williams.
As overly dramatic music rather heavy-handedly sets the tone, we learn some interesting facts: no standardized safe levels for mold exposure have been established; Hurricane Katrina, for all the misery it caused, helped to raise awareness to the dangers of mold exposure; no set of symptoms for people suffering from black mold exposure agreed upon; many symptoms can be due to other problems (hence skepticism); and genetic susceptibility can be a factor.
Personally, I was sold on Williams‘ perspective (as outlined in the first few paragraphs above) by thirty minutes into the show, but he targets the skeptics by spending another hour hammering the point home via interviews with people on both sides of the argument. The documentary includes a lot of interview footage with an Asian girl named Karen and her boyfriend (whose name happens to be Michael Williams). They were both essentially healthy people until they moved into a poorly constructed apartment building in Saratoga Springs, Florida. Water damage to the newly-constructed apartments gave the black mold a foothold, and after only a few years, the entire complex had to be razed due to the mold infestation (over 1000 water damage complaints were filed in four years among the 264 apartments). Just as the mold rotted away the homes, it also seems to have rotted away the tenants. Karen now has extreme health problems, all attributable directly to the black mold exposure. Michael isn’t much better off.
These people have had their lives severely and radically impacted by their misfortune, and it is unthinkable that so few people are taking this problem more seriously. For those with allergies, imagine your worst attack ever, and now imagine living like that all the time, and you might start to commiserate with some of the people in this film. One thing is for sure: if you live in a humid climate, or if you have ever had water damage to your home, you’re going to want to watch this one. These lil’ black beasties will scare the willies out of you.
Posted on November 1, 2009 in Reviews by James Teitelbaum
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