Letters From the Issue of Thursday, October 27, 2005

Molden Days

Lies and more lies: I have children at Mesquite Junior High School, and I didn't want to believe what I read in New Times about the black mold problem ("Mold Attacks!," Robert Nelson, October 13). The health problems you describe from black mold poisoning are scaring parents and students to death.

Of course, I was one of the parents who went to school district officials, and they said any problem had been solved. They weren't even admitting any mold was ever even at the school, but if there was, it's gone now.

Nobody thinks the Gilbert school district is telling the truth about this, after what we read in your newspaper. All the lies that were told over the years are just staggering! And all these lies were at the expense of our children and their teachers to save the district from liability.

We just hope you will stay on this problem at Mesquite and at other schools, because the district doesn't plan to lift a finger to address our complaints. Please do not use my name because I'm afraid the school will take things out on my kids.
Name withheld by request

A frequent occurrence: As founder of the Center for School Mold Help, I invite concerned staff, parents and community members to visit our Web site at, where you will find free resources and comprehensive information to help answer your questions. I invite you also to e-mail me at [email protected], if you have additional questions.

The school mold scenario described in "Mold Attacks!" is, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence nationally. You will learn much more about mold from our Web site, including finding out about solutions to mold problems in buildings, and options for teachers and parents with children exposed to mold.

What former teacher and "Coach of the Year" Jeff Corn described is absolutely credible; visit our Web site and read our Sick Building Survey. On the Research page, you will find the typical symptoms to exposure to mold.
Susan Brinchman, executive director, Center for School Mold Help

Do the right thing: Poor Jeff Corn! He's just lucky that New Times writer Robert Nelson finally listened to his story and decided to take some action. What has happened to this teacher is outrageous!

And isn't this the typical reaction of a frightened bureaucracy. The Gilbert school district simply doesn't want to admit that the moldy Mesquite Junior High School building could have been afflicting teachers and students. It would cost the district too much money to pay off the lawsuits.

Anyway, New Times, thanks for giving voice to the voiceless, once again. Maybe Jeff can finally get the help he needs, and maybe this school district and others will be shamed into doing the right thing.
Paulette Hoover, via the Internet

He shall overcome: The "Mold Attacks!" story brought back horrible memories that I've been trying to forget and physically overcome.

Every symptom mentioned in the story brings back these thoughts. I was working in a building that was later found to have mold in it. I was the most active, healthiest guy any of my friends and family knew, and all of a sudden, on August 26, 2002, I started not feeling so well.

The next three months turned into the worst three months I have ever experienced. There were times when I had temperatures well over 105, and I couldn't move my arms and legs or even have the strength to open my eyes. All of this happened to me five years after competing in the Collegiate Division III National Track & Field meet as a hurdler.

I had no clue what was going on until finally coming across a Web site that linked mold to many of my symptoms. I went to doctors who didn't have a clue what I was talking about. I had a blood test and chest x-rays, only to have a doctor tell me that I was the healthiest person he had seen.

For a whole year I had a hard time sleeping. Then, I had a hard time waking up when I would sleep. Every time I went to bed, I was scared that I might never wake up.

I came to Arizona to give a drier climate a chance. I still have some health troubles, but just being able to get back to somewhat of a normal life has made me enjoy the days when I do feel well and have energy. I may not be able run a race again, but at least I'm able to go to bed without the fear of dying.
Chad Knutson, Phoenix

Biohazard warning: Thank you so much for writing the "Mold Attacks!" article! We have a school with a history that's very comparable to Mesquite Junior High's. Many bandages have been put on the building here, including some remediation of molds. There has been a ton of testing that always shows high levels of molds.

I have two children who had to be removed from the building because their health was failing badly. My son seems to have escaped without the long-term injuries that our daughter seems to have sustained. She has many of the same symptoms mentioned in your story and has been in and out of schools for the past six years.

She has been through a lot: the mental trauma of people thinking her parents are crazy, people saying she needs to "toughen up," and her constantly wondering if she will be well enough to go on class trips, to games, be present on testing days and be able to make good on plans with friends.

She has not been the same since she spent a year in the middle school I mention.

My husband and I have researched various molds for the past six years and find it quite scary that she may never fully recover. Respiratory problems, severe fatigue, low platelets leading to severe bloody noses, racing pulse, migraines and joint aches are just some of the symptoms that she has had to deal with.

As parents, we feel helpless because there's supposedly no scientific proof that molds can cause such symptoms. There are very few doctors who will deal with these issues. And, until recently, there were limited resources where one could find out about molds, mycotoxins and trichothecenes.

The school says everything has been cleaned and is fine. But I get many calls every year from people like myself who're desperate about their children's health, because their kids are so sick and can't find help. I don't want to ever have to tell another parent that they must get their child out of the particular school if mold problems are happening there!

I've learned from all of this that my husband and I are certainly not alone in this fight; people all over the country are dealing with health issues because of mold. Especially school mold issues!

I have also realized that I foolishly completely trusted school officials to follow all health guidelines necessary to keep my children safe from environmental hazards.
Loni Eid, Montevideo, Minnesota

Not the Best

Better-than-average Joe: Your Best of Phoenix supplement is always informative and often amusing. Your comments about Joe Johnson on page 97 of Best of Phoenix 2005 were neither ("Best Suns-Stroke Victim," Off the Strip: Fun and Games, September 29).

He's from Arkansas. You wrote that he "has trouble getting a coherent sentence out of his country-fried mouth." His mouth is no more country fried than your free alternative newspaper.

I've met Johnson several times. He's shy and modest. His showboating is on the court -- the job he is paid to do. He leaves the motor-mouthing to others whose egos may need it.

On his own last year, Johnson visited my son, a seriously injured high school athlete who was hospitalized. Johnson gave my son encouragement, brought him gifts and invited him to Phoenix Suns games. Johnson even treated my son's whole basketball team to dinner.

He never sought publicity. We heard from another Suns player that Johnson arrived at every practice on time and always gave it his best. That player told us, "Our team needs five Joe Johnsons." Joe is a prince in my book.
Fred Kay, Tucson

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