Public health experts are meeting in Boston today and tomorrow to discuss the science of mold and the possible impacts of mold on human health. This Harvard School of Public Health symposium is intended for physicians, lawyers, insurance executives, architects, construction executives, facilities management directors and environmental consulting executives.

The risk that mold poses to human health has been a controversial topic, and many home insurers routinely exclude mold coverage from policies in order to avoid mold-related litigation. Building contractors, too, can have a tough time finding professional liability insurance that includes mold coverage.

The symposium is intended to help attendees identify strategies to prevent and remediate mold in homes, offices and schools; explore the biology of molds; analyze data on the effects of mold on health; assess the insurance liability and legal ramifications of mold exposure; and determine the best practices for measuring mold exposure, according to a conference description.

One session will focus on moisture dynamics in residences and buildings, fungal growth on building materials, remediation guidance; and prevention of mold through building design.

David Butler, senior program director at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and study director of a recent report on the health impacts of damp and moldy indoor environments, will give a special presentation today titled, “Perspectives from the IOM Committee on Damp Indoor Spaces and Health,” according to a symposium description.

Butler’s presentation will summarize the report’s conclusions that adverse health affects related to indoor exposure to mold, bacteria and other agents found in damp buildings have been overstated in previous research. The report proposes strategies for public health interventions, guidelines for future basic science, and clinical and public health research on indoor dampness. The report is available online.

Other experts contributing to the symposium include: Allan H. Bader, for Principal Consultant and President, Risk Management Service Inc.; Barry R. Bloom, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health; and Joseph Brain, professor of environmental physiology at Harvard School of Public Health.


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