It was a pleasure sitting with Lafayette, LA, contractor Barry Duplechin during International Service Leadership’s (ISL’s) recent two-day Performance Planning Retreat, held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL.

The affable owner of Barry’s Air Conditioning, Inc., is a rare breed in that he may be only one of a handful of contractors who actually feeds his employees lunch each work day. He actually has his technicians all come in from the road at noon to consume one of his culinary creations — even if it’s a smoked turkey sandwich.

“We talk about a lot of things at lunch,” said Duplechin, with his noticeable (and comforting) Southern drawl.

During the course of our chit-chat, it was nice to discover that Duplechin has been a faithful subscriber of The News for more than 20 years. He was asked what more, if anything, this publication could do to help the contractor succeed in business.

“Continue writing about mold,” he was quick to reply. “It definitely is a problem, and we need to know as much as we can about it.”

Consider it done, Barry.


Newsstaffer John Hall is actually at the Healthy Indoor Environments Conference and Exhibition, going on this week in Austin, TX. Look for his upcoming reports. Meanwhile, fellow staffer Barbara Checket-Hanks will be flying out to ASHRAE’s Summer Meeting in Honolulu — yeah, she drew the short straw — to collect more mold-related data.

Of course, The News will be keeping a close eye on a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-sponsored study. HUD recently awarded a grant to Atlanta-based Air Quality Sciences, which, within the next eight months, will test 50 randomly selected, single-family homes located in Atlanta. The goal is to establish a database of information on normal and typical mold content in homes with no previous water damage problems or known mold contamination. This database is designed to help the scientific and public health community better understand indoor exposures to mold and resulting health effects, by establishing environmental data on types and concentrations of fungi normally found in indoor air. HUD is banking on it to be used as a guide to interpreting similar data collected in damp or water-damaged homes in Atlanta and in regions with a comparable climate.

And, yes, we will continue to monitor Maryland and California laws, which require an indoor air quality (IAQ) task force be established to assess the health threat posed by mold in indoor environments and to develop public education materials. In Maryland, the task force is charged to examine the nature, location, and extent of health and environmental risks posed to workers as a result of molds, spores, and other toxic organisms. In California, the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001 requires the eventual adoption of permissible exposure limits for mold and establish identification and remediation guidelines. That battle is still going on.


Mold is bound to get even more public exposure now that Ed McMahon, who served as Johnny Carson’s sidekick for years on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” has sued his home insurance company for $20 million. In a lawsuit filed just recently in Los Angeles Superior Court, McMahon claims his insurance company botched a simple repair on a broken pipe and, as a result, allowed toxic mold to spread through his house, making his family sick and killing his dog.

Named in the suit is Scottsdale, AZ-based American Equity Insurance Co., a unit of Citigroup, Inc., as well as several Southern California contractors who had been hired to clean up the mold.

No one should be laughing. No one expected Mrs. Melinda Ballard from Texas to be awarded $32 million last year because her insurance company failed to act promptly and properly to remove mold infestation in her home.

No, mold is not out of our sights, Mr. Duplechin. And, by all means, we encourage all readers to let us know exactly what information you seek regarding the subject. We’ll try to find the answers.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 04/22/2002