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Codename: The Mold Breaker

Jason Earle--and his mold-sniffing dog squad--are on a crusade to ferret out fungi.

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This story appears in the November 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Impenetrable rainforests, palm-studded beaches--Hawaii has many stirring sights. But for Jason Earle, the putrid, mold-ridden Hilton Hawaiian Village's Kalia Tower in Waikiki was most inspiring. In 2002, during a sojourn to the Aloha State after he ditched a nine-year career as a stockbroker, he watched as the $95 million hotel was closed down one year after opening because of ventilation problems. "They thought it was a $500,000 mold problem, then it grew to $5 million," he says. "In the end, it cost $55 million to fix."

The closure got personal after Earle talked to one of the cleanup workers and read about health problems associated with mold. As a child living on a small farm in West Windsor, N.J., Earle had had serious respiratory problems that were eventually diagnosed as asthma compounded by chronic pneumonia as well as allergies to grass, wheat, corn, eggs, milk, cotton, animals, pollen and just about everything else. He had lived like the Bubble Boy, but after moving to a new house nearby, Earle's health problems had miraculously evaporated. Everyone assumed he had outgrown his illnesses, but in retrospect, Earle became convinced mold had debilitated him.

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