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Is your home safe? Family speaks out about environmental impact on health

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 04, 2024
  • When it comes to chronic illness the struggles to keep a child healthy can be ongoing. For the Musser family, the struggle continued beyond the hospital when they discovered mold in their home.
  • Video shows the inside of the Musser's home after remediation for toxic mold that exasperated their son's chronic illness, a year later the home is still in the works.

When it comes to chronic illness the struggles to keep a child healthy can be ongoing. For the Musser family, the struggle continued beyond the hospital when they discovered mold in their home.

“It’s walking this constant tight rope of what’s going to be the next trigger,” said Todd Musser.

Todd and Katie Musser’s lives were turned upside down when their 13-year-old son Thaddeus was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome — further complicated by Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

“It’s actually a very difficult story to share,” Katie said. “It’s not an enjoyable journey.”

Thaddeus Musser, diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

EDS impacts skin, joints and blood vessels, but MCAS is a rare complication that can exasperate the disease and can be triggered by a number of every day things including mold.

“Thaddeus is like the canary in the mine shaft,” Todd said. “He’s the one that’s sensitive and as soon as something’s there he’s going to react to it.”

The Mussers hoped to reduce his potential for exposure by buying a fairly newer home. One that passed initial inspections and seemed clear.

23ABC's Veronica Morley speaking with Katie and Todd Musser about the difficulties surrounding their child's chronic illness and environmental impacts.

Michael Rubino is an air quality expert and founder of
, working with over 200 doctors nationwide to address environmental causes to chronic illness. He said the difficulties the Mussers are facing now could impact anyone.

“What’s really interesting about the Musser family is their attic was extremely toxic, there’s all sorts of toxic mold growing up there,” he said. “It’s a growing problem. It’s not just causing symptoms or exasperating symptoms, it’s prolonging illness.”

A 2021 EPA and HUB joint study showed the prevalence of mold growing inside North American homes and building since 2006 had significantly increased.

“One of the reasons I think this is happening is were building homes tighter and tighter in North America,” Rubino said. “One of the biggest things I see when you build houses these ways, if the lumber sits in the soil.”

The Mussers said between medical costs, buying a new home, and everything since, they’re drained and in debt.

“If I’m estimating, I’d say we’re probably somewhere around $300,000,” Todd said.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though. With the home cleared of mold Thaddeus should be able to acclimate over the year, but it’s still a bumpy road ahead.

“The remediation, it really has worked and now we have to be really careful not to bring any of that stuff back in,” said Todd.

Todd and Katie say they hope their story can help others be aware the impacts environment can play in your overall health.


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