A Growing Problem

From the September-October 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Anyone who has noticed just how much the U.S. building industry and, consequently, the insurance sector have suffered due to the recent blight of mildew might be surprised to note that this specific state of affairs was actually prophesied to occur in your Bible.

Like all of God’s prophecies being broadcast worldwide by Trumpet Editor in Chief Gerald Flurry in the Key of David television program, even this seemingly small one is coming to pass!

How specific God can get when it comes to prophecy! “The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew …” (Deut. 28:22).

To bring this prophecy up to date with current events, one is immediately struck by the level of concern even conservative insurance monthlies are expressing due to the present mildew plague in the U.S. “In an article titled ‘Mold: Will It Grow to Be Bigger Than Asbestos?,’ David P. Anderson, senior counsel for Risk International, cites several examples that point to the enormity of the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency, he reports, estimates that mold has affected between 10 million to 25 million workers and some 800,000 to 1.1 million buildings. More specifically, Anderson notes that in the last 24 months, there have been numerous school closures—in Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington—due to mold contamination” (Risk and Insurance, Dec. 2001).

Oklahoma building contractor Rick Rouzer says the price of chipboard has been affected due to lumber companies shipping planks of wood wrapped in plastic to protect against mildew. Building construction professionals and insurers are now increasingly on the lookout for evidence of the beginning of mold. For them, the curse of mold is threatening to become a whole new game of sink-or-swim, potentially costing the U.S. billions.

Meanwhile, the pace is picking up and getting rough in legal spheres: “[A] major insurer was recently hit with a $32.2 million jury verdict for not handling a mold claim properly, while in Oakland, Calif., 130 residents of a housing project received a $1.3 million settlement for a mold contamination claim. And last year, about 300 tenants of a New York apartment complex filed a lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $10 billion for personal injury and property damage arising from mold and fungi exposure” (ibid.).

Only a few years ago, claims for mildew damage were practically unheard of. Now they threaten to “wreak havoc on the way insurance companies deal with claims for water damage, wherever you live” (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, Oct. 2001).

The greatest danger is that certain types of mold can grow in concentrated amounts indoors, and their spores, when inhaled, can seriously damage one’s health. Some varieties have been attested by leading medical journals, such as the British Medical Journal, as being potentially lethal.

Stachybotrys is a greenish-black fungus. It thrives in high-cellulose building materials. Fiber board, drywall, gypsum board, ceiling tiles and anything made of wood—even books—are favorite breeding grounds for this worldwide blight. It is well documented to produce a series of potent toxins capable of affecting the immune system and producing effects such as chronic fatigue, respiratory diseases, skin and eye irritation and problems with the central nervous system. Notice that the prophecy in Deuteronomy groups other curses with the problem of mildew: consumption, fever, inflammation, extreme burning.

Aspergillus is another type of mildew, believed to affect human health in similar ways.

Penicillium and Cladosporium are less toxic but are known to grow to levels that can spark allergic reactions such as asthma, eye and throat irritations, coughing and headaches.

In Britain, design teams are working to ensure that new hospital buildings don’t fall foul to what has become known as “sick building syndrome.”

“The term sick building syndrome is used to describe a situation in a building where more people than normal suffer from various symptoms or feel unwell for no apparent reason. The symptoms tend to increase in severity with the time that people spend in the building and to steadily improve or disappear when people are away from the building” (Paul H. Appleby, British Medical Journal, Sept. 14, 1996). Appleby, a divisional director of Building Health and Safety, in London, went on to specify mold as a risk factor for sick building syndrome.

American business, even tourism, is witness to the fact that the costs involved in the removal of mold can be devastating across the board. Recently, the New York Times reported that one of the world’s largest hotels, Hilton Hawaiian Village at Waikiki Beach, is infected with mold. The resort has closed guest rooms in the newest of its six towers and is spending $10 million to rid it of a potentially dangerous mold.

Mold has cast a serious blight not only on the world of construction and insurance, but in some sectors of the agricultural industry as well. For example, Botrytis, a mold common in strawberries, reduces yield and softens a wide range of small fruits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s science magazine reported that “In the Pacific Northwest alone, the mold causes up to $125 million per year in crop losses” (Agricultural Research, Sept. 2001).

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased … yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord” (Amos 4: 9).

The sack of our substance is being eaten to holes, through which it is steadily and surely running to waste. But God doesn’t want to see our substance rotting or being eaten away. Neither does He want us to have to suffer strange, new afflictions! If only we could see His purpose—this is one of His way of trying to get our attention. God wants us to turn to Him!

Suffice it to say, while such afflictions are still relatively tame, it is no exaggeration to draw the parallel between the way mold eats and wastes away the host it settles on and the fact it is costing millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in income to the developed world.

Few may think God would really get so specific in prophecy as to mention the minor curse of mold. But it is a prophecy God did make which has come true. “I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord” (Hag. 2:17).

What if we were to turn to God? Would He take away some of the “smaller” plagues such as fires, mildew and insects, which have been on the rise so noticeably recently, as well as the ever-prevalent, bigger curses that are bringing the U.S. and Britain down?

Spiritually speaking, the United States is suffering a terrible blight, which is eating away at its moral heart. Will we repent? Will you?