AUSTIN -- Carlos Mixon shouldn’t be standing, much less able to talk. The former pedicab driver ran a red light, got hit, and suffered a traumatic brain injury Eight years ago.
"One of the nurses told me, you probably want to just take him off the ventilator, and everything, because he's not ever going to get out of a bed," Tony Rockwell explained about her son.
But, he did. Mixon’s mother credits the Center for Music therapy, its owner Hope Young, for his recovery. The Austin rehab facility helps patients regain motor skills through music.
“He's calmer and easier to live with when he comes to therapy; he walks better, he runs,” said Rockwell.
Despite its success, the music and its therapy sessions, could soon come to an end. According to a lawsuit filed by Young, she closed her doors indefinitely, due to air pollution she claims is caused by a neighboring business.
Next door is The Goodnight. It’s a bowling alley with a restaurant that uses a wood burning oven.
According to the a lawsuit filed last week against the restaurant and her landlord, fumes and smoke from The Goodnight's oven have caused her patients to suffer from "coughing, burning eyes, nose, throat and lungs."
In March, the landlord sent a letter to the Goodnight demanding it "immediately cease and desist" using the wood-burning oven "until such time you can guarantee that any such smoke will not enter other premises."
Over the phone, the Goodnight told the KVUE defenders, after that letter, it updated its ventilation system and it's up to code. It also built a six foot smoke stack to release fumes higher in the air. Its owners believe it has done nothing wrong.
The building's landlord, Lamey-Anderson Lane, LTC, declined our requests for an interview.
“Air pollutions causes virtually all of the same health outcomes as smoking cigarettes do,” contends Dr. Brian Moench. He runs the non-profit Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment.
Moench says it's difficult to filter wood smoke, “One of the unique characteristics of wood smoke is that the particulates it produces are extremely tiny, probably too small to be captured by any realistic filtration system. One of the reasons why those particulates are so dangerous is that they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.”
The KVUE Defenders discovered there are no standards for indoor air quality in Texas, or Austin. So, while the lawsuit claims the air inside the center isn't safe, there are no laws on the books that require businesses to keep indoor air clean.
"I think the state should be regulating indoor air quality, indoor air pollution in private enterprises," said state Representative Elliott Naishtat, a Democrat from Austin.
He tried to pass indoor air quality legislation in 2001, but it failed.
"There was a lot opposition from the private sector. They didn't want the state running interference and in the end, the best we could do was pass an indoor air quality act that relates to public schools," said Naishtat.
While Naishtat plans to file more legislation in the future, he says, the Austin city council can act faster.
In June, Young addressed the city council and requested it amend its smoking ban to also include air pollution from wood-burning ovens.
"Our health and our jobs are at risk from this situation," explained Young to the council.
Because the center is now closed Young uses temporary sites spread across the city to see patients. She says that can't last forever.
"In the live music capital of the world, music therapy; this healing and treatment, through the power of music, is going to go under," said Young.