Often triggered by leaky windows, roof flashing, or cracked basement walls, a little mold can bring your business to its knees.

By Matthew Power

"I was at a legal conference recently in California," notes Jim Bland, whose company, Hometest.com, sells home hazard testing kits, "and one of the attorneys said that mold, from a litigious viewpoint, is bigger than asbestos, tobacco, and lead combined."

The EPA estimates that as many as 50 percent of all homes may have the damp conditions necessary to grow mold. So far, Southern states, especially Texas, have seen the most cases.

"Many insurance companies have disclaimed mold in all of their products," Bland adds. "They won't cover it if the mold is the result of a chronic situation."

An Austin, Texas, homeowner won $32 million from an insurance agency that responded improperly to a mold cleanup claim.

The industry is scrambling to identify experts. A stain is one thing. Mold, people definitely won't put up with. There's even been some discussion of elevating it to a hazardous material. If that happens, Bland says, mold could live up to the hype as a real business buster.

For more information on how to deal with mold, or to acquire testing materials, contact:




Environmental Protection Agency