Mold, which is a fungus, is ubiquitous in nature. There are 100,000 species of fungi across the globe, which, in addition to molds, include mushrooms, mildews and yeasts. Five hundred fungi are known pathogens, meaning that they can harm human health, according to the CDC.
Fungi cannot make their own nutrients, as plants do through photosynthesis, the CDC notes. Rather, they secrete enzymes that digest nearly anything they attach to, absorbing whatever nutrients they can. In nature, mold serves a vital purpose, aiding in the breakdown of dead branches and leaves to create new soil. In a home, though, mold is smelly, ugly –– and potentially ruinous.
Siegel Rubin said she has been fighting with her insurer to settle her flood claim so she can repair her broken home, which is now unlivable; she is staying with a friend in North Bellmore while repairs are completed. Three months after Sandy struck, she has received a $5,000 advance on the work, but nothing more.
“I’m in debt up to my eyeballs,” she said. She is working with a public adjuster to help settle her claim, but she is losing patience, and hope. She applied for a Small Business Administration loan to help cover her mounting repair costs, but it could take months to receive the money, she said.
Damein Flemmings is project manager for the Queens-based Maspeth Environmental Corporation, which does mold, asbestos and lead remediation, and has been working continually in the hardest-hit areas, such as Long Beach, since Sandy struck. Flemmings said that an average mold cleanup can cost $2,000, but he has seen extensive remediation jobs run as high as $50,000.
The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Labor have established strict regulations for cleanup of asbestos and lead, Flemmings explained, which require special certifications. But the federal government has issued no hard standards for mold cleanup, meaning that any and all contractors can call themselves mold remediation specialists.