One of the services our experienced, caring team provides to people in Southern California is mold remediation. There are times when we are called upon to address a mold situation at a home in the aftermath of a true tragedy. We’ve been called to cleanup mold in a home after the growth has had toxic consequences and injured family members. We’ve even had a tragic case in which mental illness associated with toxic mold exposure appeared to be the underlying cause of a young woman’s untimely death. 

We’re sharing this sad story with you so you can better understand how dangerous mold appears to be in certain situations. Our client has given us permission to share this store, with the names changed to protect the privacy of those touched by this tragic occurrence. Before sharing more about what happened with our client and his fiancée, we provide a bit of background about the health dangers associated with mold exposure, including possible mental health conditions that seem to associated with this type of situation.

Toxic Mold and Mental Illness

Research remains underway in regard to toxic mold and the impact exposure to it can have on the mental health of certain people. Psychology Today reports that toxic mold illnesses, including those impacting a person’s mental health, are under-diagnosed. 

Examples of mental health maladies most commonly associated with toxic mold illness include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Memory issues
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Attention issues
  • Insomnia 

There is also evidence that toxic mold illness can even lead to psychosis in some more isolated cases. In the case of our client and his fiancée, this appears to be what occurred.

One development in the area of research into toxic mold is that only a relatively moderate percentage of people appear to be vulnerable to mold toxicity. Research currently suggests that about 25 percent of the population in California and across the United States (indeed, the world over) is vulnerable to mold. Research indicates that 25 percent of the population that likely is vulnerable to mold and suffers physical and mental health consequences because of a genetic predisposition. These people seem to have a genetic inability to clear biotoxins, including those associated with mold. 

An Engaged Couple Planning Their Wedding

Our client, Tom, was engaged to a woman he considered his “soulmate” and the “love of his life,” Her name was Sandra. They both were involved in the Los Angeles-based entertainment industry. They were a pair of popular producers and performers, primarily connected with the music industry. The pair were in the process of planning their wedding.

Tom and Sandra lived together in a rented home in Burbank. Over the course of about six months, Tom and Sandra had been dealing with their landlord with an issue with what frequently is referred to as “black mold” in the home’s swamp coolers or evaporative coolers. 

Due to the manner in which swamp coolers function, not only did mold ultimately grow within elements of the swamp cooler system, but it got spread to other places in the residence as well. The swamp cooler blew mold spoors throughout the property.

The efforts to remediate the mold growth at the residence was a matter of fits and starts. Ultimately, the effort wasn’t particularly successfull. After the prevalence of mold in the home appeared to result in tragic consequences, our team was brought in to provide professional mold remediation services. 

Impact of Mold on Tom and Sandra

Both Tom and Sandra experienced issues that now appear to have been caused by mold exposure in their home. These include insomnia and confusion. In time, the issues experienced by Sandra continued to become more severe. She ended up obtaining professional health services both from her primary care physician and her therapist. 

The Night Sandra Died

Tom described Sandra as being rather distraught and disoriented on the night she died. She’d endured several nights with almost no sleep. She took a dose of Ambien in anticipation of going to bed. Ultimately, the autopsy following her death indicated she may have taken another dose, likely by mistake and as a reason of the disorientation that she appeared to be suffering from on the night of her death.

Tom and Sandra were watching television when Sandra announced she was going to the couple’s bedroom for a while. Tom continued to watch TV for about another half hour.

When Tom reached the bedroom and entered, he immediately saw Sandra just inside the closet, right next to the door, on her knees. She was in a position she regularly took when she was sorting laundry. 

Tom walked over to her. When he drew closer to Sandra, and got a full look at her, he saw that a USB cord was tied around her neck, the other end attached to the closet doorknob. Sandra was slumped forward, unmoving.

Tom immediately freed Sandra from the cord, began to administer CPR, and called 911. EMTs were on the scene in a matter of minutes. They took over CPR and transported Sandra to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Together with Sandra’s primary physician, a therapist she was seeing, and the county coroner, after some weeks of investigation and analysis, a conclusion was reached regarding why Sandra took her life in the manner she did.

First, her primary care physician and therapist, together with Tom, confirmed that Sandra had been suffering from depression and anxiety. Sandra’s physician and therapist had previously generally concluded that Sandra appeared to have been suffering from depression and, particularly, anxiety. The professionals had also generally concluded that the depression and anxiety appeared to have a connection to toxic mold illness. 

In retrospect, these professionals and the coroner concluded on the night of her death, Sandra may have experienced some sort of psychotic break. That was aggravated by possibly taking a mis-dose of Ambien.

As an aside, there was also a conclusion among the professionals that Sandra may in fact have been a victim of what medically and psychologically is known as parasuicide. A parasuicide is one in which a person is engaging in self-harm but actually lacks an intent to kill herself. Another term applied to this type of situation is “accidental suicide.”

In the final analysis, all of those professionals involved in addressing the “why” of Sandra’s premature death traced it to the presence of mold in the home she shared with her fiancé.  

Our Mold Remediation Experience

In most situations, mold remediation is a clinical process. In this case, mold remediation was something far different. In the case of assisting our client Tom following the death of his fiancée, our experience was far from clinical. We came to understand that we live in a world in which all of us are likely to face health issues involving loved ones or even ourselves arising out of mold exposure