Is a mold assessment necessary before removal takes place? If mold is visible in the home, why have it tested? Valid questions.
There are several important reasons why Indoor Environmental Technologies, Inc. (IET), and published industry standards may recommend that a mold inspection be necessary prior to starting mold remediation work. In fact, many of the better remediation contractors in Florida will not start a remediation project without a mold protocol in hand. Consider four reasons why:
1. Mold contamination is not all the same
Mold contamination comes in two basic varieties:
- Actual mold growth is usually visible to the naked eye, although it is sometimes present on surfaces at sub-visible concentrations. Mold growth is found in indoor environments where materials have become wet with liquid water and/or humidity control has been lost for extended periods. A mold assessment to determine which areas are supporting visible mold growth and which materials need mold remediation is not always necessary, though a mold inspection and possible protocol is very helpful in determining a scope of work.
- Mold spores and other particles released from the areas of growth and which have aerosolized and spread into other areas, settling out onto surfaces and creating a contaminated environment. Since these particles are microscopic, whether they are present and how far they have spread cannot be determined without an assessment using sampling and microscopy. IET primarily performs sampling in the areas around known growth, rather than sampling the growth itself. In essence, the primary purpose of sampling and an investigation with protocol is to document which areas do NOT require remediation and to develop a containment strategy to keep those areas from becoming contaminated during remediation. In fact, an accurate scope of work simply cannot be determined without mold sampling and analysis. One can proceed on an assumption that a given area is or is not contaminated, but without evidence either way.
2. Potential for conflict of interest
In respect to new guidelines in Florida to protect consumers, many mold remediation contractors will not take on a remediation project without an independent mold assessment and protocol. The state of Florida, which a few years back implemented licensure for mold assessors and remediators, felt so strongly about the need for both services that it prohibits one company from filling both roles on the same project. At IET, we pride ourselves on providing unbiased, independent mold and indoor air quality investigations. We strongly recommend using an independent environmental firm. IET does not perform mold remediation, nor do we compete with restoration/remediation firms. However, a homeowner or property manager can hire us to oversee a mold remediation project to ensure that the work is done properly by the remediator.
3. Mold testing provides valuable data before removal
Another reason why a mold inspection may be necessary is that many contractors don’t want to start a project without a mold protocol. This is because there is no data about how far the mold contamination (of the microscopic spore and particle variety) may have spread. Most homeowners want a Post Remediation Verification Test or Clearance Testing to document successful completion of mold remediation. Such a report is especially important when a home is sold, as Florida law requires the history of moisture and mold problems to be disclosed to potential buyers. If the post testing report comes back showing mold contamination outside the work zone, there is no way to determine, at that point, whether this mold contamination is the result of the remediation contractor failing to properly contain the contaminants during remediation, or whether it was already present in areas before remediation started. Without a mold assessment before remediation, this lack of data tends to cause recrimination between the parties, with no way to determine who is right.
4. We don’t want the mold problem to come back
If mold remediation is performed successfully, but the cause of mold growth, the source of moisture, is not determined and corrected, the mold growth will return over time. And the whole process will need to be repeated. IET is the expert in Building Science and Indoor Air Quality, and can often provide insight on what is causing the mold growth and how to modify building systems to prevent continuing moisture problems and resultant mold contamination.
For the reasons detailed above, and others, IET believes that a thorough moisture and mold investigation and, if necessary, development of a detailed Mold Remediation Protocol is in the best interests of all parties.
Contact IET anytime to discuss how we can help put your property back to original condition in the most efficient manner for indoor environments in Florida.