Part 3B: Toxic stachybotrys mold, the silent killer, sickens Treasure Island family

by Carol Harvey

Liz-Washington-on-Treasure-Island-by-Carol-Harvey1-300x168, Part 3B: Toxic stachybotrys mold, the silent killer, sickens Treasure Island family, Local News & Views
Liz Washington on Treasure Island – Photo: Carol Harvey

Health problems caused by mold

Treasure Island resident Liz Washington and her children exhibit many of the most serious toxic mold symptoms rampant among all islanders who constantly touch, ingest or breathe air filled with black mold spores.

Click this link for a comprehensive list of terrifying mold health effects.

Many of these symptoms are present in the group of Treasure Island families who reported monster mold invasions across their exterior facades, interior ceilings and floors, and inside their walls.

Symptoms include:

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Abdominal pain

Allergy-like symptoms, the most common reaction

Asthma and asthmatic signs (sudden onset asthma, increased asthma attacks, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, burning in lungs)

Chronic fatigue (chronic, excessive or continued and/or general malaise)

Chronic sinus infections

Colds, recurring and with decreased resistance to infections

Constipation and obstipation (in Liz’ two youngest sons)

Dandruff problems (chronic) that won’t go away despite use of anti-dandruff shampoos

Dark urine

Depression and anxiety




Indigestion (heartburn or acid reflux)

Long lasting flu-like symptoms

Memory loss (brain fog and brain damage)

Night sweats and hot flashes

Nose and throat irritation

Nosebleeds (occasional)

Respiratory distress

Ringing in ears

Runny nose (rhinitis)

Sleep disorders such as insomnia

Spitting up mucous

Swollen lymph nodes and swollen glands

Respiratory problems

After moving to Treasure Island, everyone in the Washington family began to endure year ‘round swollen lymph nodes, sinus infections, nose and throat irritation, phlegm, runny noses, coughing spells and colds. Liz recently battled short-term acute bronchitis.

Asthma: Liz’ youngest son, born on the island, is her only asthmatic child.

Chronic sinus infections, runny nose, drainage: “My nose is congested and stuffed all the time,” said Liz. If she chews Altoids mints even when unaware of congestion, suddenly “my nasal passages clear.”

Colds, recurring

Swollen lymph nodes: “Does anybody in your family have swollen lymph nodes?” I asked. “EVERYBODY!” Liz stated emphatically, “All the time.

“We’ve all had (‘the Treasure Island cold’), she said. “It starts with swollen lymph nodes. The glands swell right around the neck, sometimes down below (in the groin area), which just recently happened to me.” A sore throat develops. Then your body goes haywire. Affiliated with headache and coughing, you’re getting practically anything, and everything is happening.”

“Let me get this picture straight,” I said. “Your swollen lymph nodes predict that your body is fighting infection or an allergic mold reaction. Then BOOM! You have a sore throat, then a cold.”

“Yes,” said Liz.

Coughs, spitting up mucous: Along with colds and coughing, Liz verified that everyone in her family coughs and spits up mucous all the time. Sandy provided a graphic description.

Her dry coughs last weeks to several months, “I get wet ones, too, with phlegm,” she complained.

Trying to cover surprise sneezes, “I get (mucous) on my hand.” “Bleah, GROSS!” (Liquid) coming up your nose ‘cause of your cough? That ain’t cool, either. It’s just uncomfortable.”

“Is it ever green?” I asked.

“Green?” she asked. “It’s mostly clear and whitish.”

Green mucous signals bacteria, so there’s no infection. Your throat muscles and lungs are aggravated, and you’re building up white phlegm.

Random night coughing makes her tired on waking. Hot tea soothes her throat.

Full blown colds

Said Liz, “Once your nodes swell up, you’re pretty much done for. There’s no getting out of the bed. You’re badly sick.

“How long were you bedridden with your recent cold?” I asked.

“I couldn’t stay home,” said Liz, “because I was working at the time. But once the show was over, I stayed in bed.”

“Did you have to work while you were sick?”

“Just for one day. I got sick on the last (work) day, which was a Thursday. So I was in bed for the weekend.”

“Do you think that if you had instantly gone to bed and not worked, your cold would have ended sooner?”

“No,” she said.

“So, working on the first day of your cold didn’t extend it for six weeks?”


There is much scientific evidence to support Liz’s belief that contact with fungi and mold, not bacteria, triggers her family’s swollen lymph nodes, mucous discharges, coughs and recurring colds.

Non-respiratory problems

Treasure-Island-housing-by-Carol-Harvey-300x169, Part 3B: Toxic stachybotrys mold, the silent killer, sickens Treasure Island family, Local News & Views
Some Treasure Island homes look deceivingly attractive on the outside, disguising the poisons sickening the residents. – Photo: Carol Harvey

Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal upsets requiring hospitalization: All members of Liz’ family develop puzzling gastrointestinal problems – mild to excruciating abdominal and lower intestinal pain with chronic constipation and obstipation. (Gastrointestinal illnesses will be covered in Part 4.)

Constipation and obstipation in Liz’ two youngest sons could be caused by both mold and polluted sewer water. (See Part 4.)

Dandruff: Liz reported an older child developed dandruff that anti-dandruff shampoo couldn’t cure.

Dark urine: “I’ve had that on occasion,” said Liz. “Dark urine comes along with gout.”

Many clinicians and researchers now believe that mycotoxic fungal infections are at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and gout,” reports

“With many of these degenerative diseases there is a common thread: elevated uric acid levels. Uric acid is itself a toxic metabolite of yeast and fungus. A.V. Constantini, MD, the former head of the World Health Organization, believes that high levels of uric acid (are) not due to a metabolic disorder,” but are caused by contact with a biotoxin like mold.

Diarrhea will be discussed in Part 4.

Dizziness: Liz’ sudden unnerving imbalance signals high blood pressure. She can see it and feel it in her body. “Most of the time, whenever my ankles, feet, hands and fingers swell, that’s how I know my blood pressure’s high. I start to get dizzy. I feel like I’m going to fall over. Sometimes, I bump into the wall and hold on. Then, I’ll sit down and wait ‘til it passes.”

Fatigue and malaise – excessive and chronic: “We all have that,” said Liz. “I can sleep for seven or eight hours and still feel exhausted, as though I ran blocks.” Liz often drinks many cups of coffee fighting fatigue at work.

Sandy reports a feeling of physical unease which immediately clears upon crossing the bridge to San Francisco.

Headaches: “We all have headaches.” Liz reports headaches occur in her family more often than normal – “once or twice a week, give or take.”

Indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux will be discussed in Part 4.

Nosebleeds: When Liz’s ears ring, she suddenly feels mysteriously cold. She shivers and shakes slightly. Then her nose bleeds.

Sleep disorders, such as insomnia: “I have had bad cases of insomnia in the past and sometimes in the present.”

Treasure-Island-aerial-view-web-300x200, Part 3B: Toxic stachybotrys mold, the silent killer, sickens Treasure Island family, Local News & Views
Man-made Treasure Island stays damp and very moldy despite residents’ best efforts, yet CPS and the property managers blame the mold on poor housekeeping. Once again, Liz Washington is at risk of losing her younger children for their illnesses caused by island conditions she can’t control.

Mold-induced anxiety and depression is in a category by itself

“You said your entire family has generalized depression ‘all the time,’” I noted.

“Yes,” said Liz.

“But you and your daughter Sandy have anxiety and depression?”

“I wish I knew how that happened,” Liz wondered.

Liz was not depressed or anxious before moving to the island. Her demeanor is consistently steady, focused and calm, her speech slow and deliberate. A trained security professional, she carries meticulous observation and reporting skills into her daily life.

Yet, along with insomnia, Liz suffers panic attacks.

Liz is not alone. I have interviewed many Treasure Island residents who experience similar spells of agitation.

Two other islanders, a woman and a child, told me that each night at bedtime they are gripped by images of an earthquake-generated tsunami swamping the island.

When she moved to Treasure Island in 2000, Liz was a 33-year-old adult with three children. “I never had panic or anxiety attacks until I got here. “I’m 48 now,” reported Liz. That’s 15 years of panic.”

“What are you panicky about?” I asked.

“Mainly death. I see myself dying. That’s pretty much what throws me into a panic attack.”

“Is it a physical feeling? Or emotional?”

“Fear,” said Liz. “Fear of dying throws me into panic.” It wakes her up after she has dropped off.

“Sometimes I wake from sleep and feel I can’t breathe. I open my window to inhale cold air.”

“You wake up afraid you’ll die because you can’t breathe?”


“You short-circuit the panic by opening a window for cold air?”

“Yes. Cold air gives me a sense I’m breathing. Unless I can feel it, I fear I won’t be breathing. That will touch off a panic attack.”

“So,” I summarized, “terror that you will die because you can’t breathe jolts you awake. You run to open the window, filling your lungs with cold air. Feeling the cold tells you that you can breathe again and stops your fear which, in turn, stops your panic?

“Yes,” she said.

A physiological explanation for Liz’ waking in panic is supported by current research on biotoxin illness. It concludes that exposure to large amounts of environmental black mold causes calcium build-up in muscles and tissues. This calcium overload continually activates the immune system, leading to chronic inflammation.

During sleep, subconscious processes signal the emotions that the body is in danger on a cellular level – that it is toxically inflamed and, thus, in a diseased condition. The emotion of fear forces the person awake, energized by a deep knowledge that the physical body is undergoing microscopic assault from a poison. The same subconscious awareness surfaces in an awake, conscious state in the form of depression, anxiety, panic and dread.


Liz’ daughter Sandy’s depression could be caused by subconscious mold awareness. It could simultaneously originate from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Sandy has anxiety and depression because of being taken” by Child Protective Services, said Liz.

Parts One and Two of this series dramatize the trauma caused when, in 1999 and 2005, six years apart, CPS sent police bursting into two of Liz’ homes to kidnap her children.

“It literally changed Sandy’s personality,” recalled Liz. “She was a very sociable person, full of life. She had tons of friends. After all that happened, it changed her. She doesn’t want to be around people except people she’s close to or she can relate to.”

“People she feels safe with?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Liz.

To be continued.

Carol Harvey is a San Francisco political journalist specializing in human rights and civil rights. She can be reached at