Here is the process to follow when hiring a quality mold testing and remediation contractor to avoid getting scammed.
Always compare qualifications
Compare the qualifications of contractors/industrial hygienists/remediators through reputable organizations. Keep in mind, however, that just being connected to any organization does not ensure quality performance or qualify as a recommendation, but it is a good start to use in your screening process.
Get at least THREE bids for work
Require detailed estimates and compare protocols, safety measures and products used.
Ask for references and ask questions
- Did the references have health issues and did they have noticeable improvements?
- What safety/protection measures will be taken?
- What equipment will be used?
- What treatments will be used?
- Who will determine if the mold has been completely removed? (this should be third party testing)
- Will HEPA air scrubbers be used? For how long? Will they be vented outside?
- Will areas not affected be protected? How?
Does the ‘professional’ believe mold spores can cause health issues?
Do they believe mold in attics or behind walls can be dangerous? (The answer should be YES!)
Avoid contractors who are arrogant, dismissive or unwilling to consider your research
Knowledgeable contractors dealing with mold with an educated mind, know that mold is complex to deal with. No one knows it all! Mold is just too complicated and research is not complete.
Keep in mind that only 5 states have regulations regarding the mold toxins
Buyer beware! Anyone who can make a website can sell their services as a ‘mold professional’ in most states. There is NO third party verification of qualifications in most states so do your own research. Look to IICRC for certification or look for professionals with engineering or architectural licenses.
Only the following states have state regulations regarding mold:
2003 – Louisiana
2004 – Texas
2011 – Florida
2016 – New Hampshire
2016 – California
2016 – New York
Mold Remediation – Conducting the business of removal, cleaning, sanitizing or surface disinfection of mold, mold containment, and waste handling of mold, contaminated materials and materials used to remove mold from surfaces by a business enterprise. Mold remediation does not include remediation of the underlying sources of moisture that maybe the cause of the mold.
Mold Abatement – the act of removing, cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting surfaces of mold, mold containment and waste handling of mold, mold contaminated materials and other materials used to remove mold from surfaces by an individual.
Assessor – A mold assessor shall prepare a remediation plan specific to each project and provide to the client before remediation begins. The plan must specify:
- Rooms/ area and extent of the work
- Quantities of materials to be removed/cleaned.
- Methods to be used for each type of remediation in each area.
- PPE (Professional Protection Equipment) to be supplied by remediators for use by qualified abators.
- Proposed clearance procedures and criteria
Remediation plans should include the following:
- When a project is occupied, occupant notification method including project size, duratios and means of egress and access for entry and removal of debris.
- Estimated cost and time for completion
- Variables and how they should be addresses
- Determination of how underlying causes and sources of moisture that may cause mold and recommendations for remedies. (A licensed architect may be necessary and beneficial for determining appropriate remedies.)
- Location and extend of containment.
- Notification of occupants as necessary for the safety of all occupants and visitor.s
- No dismantling of containment prior to receipt of clearance confirmation by mold assessor.
- Disinfectants, biocides and anti-microbial coatings should only be used if their use is specified in the plan, if they are registered with the EPA for intended use and the use is consistent with manufacturer’s instructions. Coating are not necessary and should only be used AFTER cleaning and adequate drying has been completed.
- Recommendations for HVAC systems should be considered. This may include blocking off of vents.
Local universities can also be good sources of quality professionals. ANSI/IICRC S520 is the ONLY accepted reference standard. Homeowners and other building owners should get to know this standard to determine if the contractor they are considering has the best possible qualifications. While ANSI/IICRC S520 is voluntary, it is based on very robust research and is the best possible guidance available to follow.
Professional associations to look to for mold testing professionals and remediators
- Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification
- Indoor Air Quality Association
- American Council for Accredited Certification
National ANSI Standards
Always make sure your professional will follow National ANSI Standards
Watch the full ANSI S520 Webinar on changes and important requirements:
See helpful slides from the ANSI standard S520 for Mold Remediation webinar.
- Remediation professionals must disclose, in writing, that they are deviating from the standard. This includes if they do both testing and remediation, as that is considered a conflict of interest. (What is their incentive to tell you that they did a bad job and the mold isn’t actually gone or worse?)
- All testing must be done before any coatings are applied. Coatings do NOT provide a barrier to mold spores or their very toxic by-product, called ‘mycotoxins’.
- Also, remediators should NOT mist or fog in an attempt to kill mold, in lieu of source removal.
The ‘complexity,’ which is required to be disclosed in writing, and mentioned in the ANSI/IICRC webinar, is a ‘conflict of interest’.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST – The person or company that does the testing should not be the same as the one who does the work, without proper disclosure. An unbiased confirmation of air quality status and successful remediation is always preferred and required by the ANSI, unless otherwise disclosed in writing.
Get your questions answered!
Cheryl Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect who helps homeowners and building professionals create safe homes through online education to prevent mold, water damage, and poor indoor air quality. You can find her video masterclasses, online programs, and education subscription options at https://avoidingmold.com/education .
For detailed answers on your specific situation or building project, schedule your appointment for an individual consultation.
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The information contained in this presentation is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body. It is not medical advice. FDA regulations prohibit the use of medical claims in conjunction with the sale of any product not approved by the FDA. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Any products, techniques, and/or personal usage tips referred to are not suggested as a replacement for proper treatment from a licensed health care professional. I am not a licensed health care professional and the decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the listener and/or reader. Everyone is an individual with different body types, different blood types, different body chemistries, and it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another person.