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September - October 2002

from the Publisher

M-o-l-d Could Spell Trouble for Window Manufacturers
by Tara Taffera

“Mold is gold.” That’s a paradox if I ever heard one. If you’ve had an encounter with any type of mold, whether it is on the old block of cheese in the back of your refrigerator or the allergic reaction you have to any type of this fungus (as I do), you wonder, “who would think mold is gold?”

Well, when Thomas Kenney of the National Association of Home Builders Research Center made this statement at the recent Window and Door Manufacturers Association technical conference, he was referring to attorneys. (Ah! Now the light bulb clicks on.) 

As a professional involved in the construction industry, I’m sure you’ve heard a great deal about mold lately—namely the desire on the part of some lawyers to cash in on the issue. 

Two articles on mold appear in this issue that you’ll definitely want to read. In the first article, written by Edgetech’s Jim Plavecsky (see page 8), he states, “mold is replacing asbestos as the hottest topic among construction industry lawyers.” The second, written by Truseal’s Ric Jackson (see page 36), echoes that same sentiment when mold is referred to “the next asbestos of the litigation world.”

The two articles spell out clearly what impact this litigation frenzy is having on the industry and what window manufacturers can do to protect themselves from potential lawsuits.

If you think that the industry is blowing this issue out of proportion somehow, think again. Mold has even received the attention of the U.S. House of Representatives. According to a July 8, 2002, article in National Underwriter, the House has introduced H.R. 5040, which would establish an office within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to administer a federal toxic mold insurance program. Additionally, the bill proposes tax credits for inspection and remediation of mold hazards, mandatory mold inspections for multi-unit residential property and a research and publication education program regarding mold. 

“It’s time to stop toxic mold from robbing Americans of their health and homes,” said Rep. John Conyrs, D-Mich., the bill’s sponsor, in a statement published in National Underwriter

You can imagine how the insurance industry feels about this bill. Lynda Mounts, senior counsel for the American Insurance Association said scientists should develop definitive guidelines regarding the health effects of mold before this legislation proceeds. 

Whatever happens, rest assured that you’ll probably be hearing a lot about a certain four-letter word in the months to come. But however problematic or annoying this issue may be, it’s one the window industry needs to stay on top of.

In addition to the articles appearing in this issue, Kenney mentioned that the building’s guide to handling mold claims and litigation at www.toolbase.org is a good resource. So keep informed, and as always, keep me updated on the problems you may be facing with this and other issues facing you and your industry. 

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