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Fungus concerns get attention

When Jonathan Wright heard about a Glenwood Springs businessman’s health concerns stemming from a suspected mold outbreak, he could relate.The Coloradan said he has dealt himself with chronic illness resulting from mold. It nearly killed him, he said, and has forced him to live outside to minimize his body’s highly sensitive reaction to mold in buildings.It also has redirected his efforts in life. He started up a nonprofit organization, the Fungal Disease Resource Center, aimed at helping others deal with mold problems. Now Bob Cordova is benefiting from that help.Cordova owned Automotive Services, a 22-year-old repair shop south of Glenwood Springs that closed earlier this year after a mold-related dispute with a landlord. Cordova says he was evicted after raising concerns over the health of himself and his workers at the shop as a result of a mold outbreak there. He also has spoken out about the lack of regulation that exists to protect people affected by mold problems.”I’ve got to tell you, in my estimation, Bob Cordova is a hero for wanting to do this,” Wright said.Federal legislation has been introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to try to address the problem and assist victims, but has been opposed by commercial interests that want to dodge responsibility, according to the mold center’s Web site. The center has been working on the issue with Conyers, and one of his staff members joined the organization’s steering committee.The center seeks to provide direct financial assistance to mold victims needing emergency shelter, clothing, and medical treatment, and to create awareness of the problem among lawmakers as well as the general public.Wright, a fly-fishing guide, sportswriter and photojournalist, first got sick six years ago in an apartment he rented in Salida. He moved out, but the illness continued due to increased sensitivity to mold and past contamination of his personal belongings, he said. He suffered arthritic-like conditions in his hands and feet, migraine headaches, diarrhea, rashes, hives, and loss of muscular control of his limbs.Wright eventually found relief by living outside. He camped and later upgraded to a travel trailer. He winters in Arizona. He recently spent a few weeks in the Roaring Fork Valley, then moved on to Estes Park.After starting his nonprofit, he began receiving as many as 60 e-mails a day “from people desperately looking for help,” he said.Cordova said he also has heard from a lot of other victims of mold problems. He has met with an attorney over the matter, and has agreed to discuss his story with the media through Wright’s organization. “I’m not going to give up. I’m willing to go to bat, whatever it takes,” he said.Wright praised Cordova for letting his business go instead of jeopardizing his employees’ health.Said Cordova, “You had to have been there – they were getting sick.”Wright said a primary concern for him is making sure Cordova and his employees receive proper medical care. Cordova called Wright “invaluable to us right now.”Wright plans to speak to Colorado lawmakers on mold issues.Some health officials question the alleged health impacts of being exposed to mold. But Wright maintains, “It is certainly not psychosomatic. This is very real. It is being reported at epidemic rates throughout the country.”

More information about the Fungal Disease Resource Center can be found at http://www.fdrcinc.org


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