IAQA has partnered with ehs International, Inc. (ehsInc) and Aramsco-Interlink (Aramsco). The goal of this partnership between three leaders of their respective industries is to provide client companies and future members with the best in indoor air quality safety standards while also lowering costs. In both the short-term and the long-term, such a productive alliance will be a win-win for all involved.
Hopefully associations will be doing much. A consistent message is being delivered by Allied Partners, CDC, EPA, state and local health departments. Together, publish statements differentiating between what’s acceptable industry practice and what’s “magic potions”.
Florida Mold Laws
Florida missed the bell. They had a great opportunity and John supported it. The devil is in the details. The State’s big mistakes were trying to create its own standards rather than referencing the prevailing industry standards and not defining “acceptable certification & standards”. This allowed “pump jockeys” to take air samples for mold and misrepresent them as “IAQ samples” or an “IAQ tests”. Assessors would take a sample or two air samples, provide the lab results to the client referring to lab results a “mold assessment” and charging excessive fees. This is very lucrative, so “pump jockeys” are fighting hard to keep their gravy train going. Lack of specificity in the law allows anyone to create their own associations, proctored exams and anoint designations and certifications. “Pump jockeys” resist standards and fight against accountability.Some assessors are paying finders fees for referrals.
New York mold law is also a mess, the State made the same mistake of not referencing prevailing industry standards and created their own program.
Z-Man: As a Florida Mold Assessor what if any abuse of Assignment of Benefits have you encountered?
John Lapotaire: AOBs are the third rail, somet5imes necessary and sometimes not. In FL they are used as a tool that permits an assessor to collect a few air samples find “black mold or stachybotrys” , establish a need for mold remediation, have an AOB signed and have an endless line of attorneys willing to litigate. They have an address and an AOB, they aren’t working for the client; they are taking advantage of the situation to extort money from the homeowners insurance company. These guts are making big money doing very little. They have been taught how to run an air pump sampler and get paid for it. They aren’t determining the extent of damage, they are like Judas selling out the property owner to enrich themselves.
In FL this is so out of hand that if it falls from the sky or leaks through the ceiling, its considered category 3 water. Any stain on a ceiling is worth $5K. Scamming property owners by “saving them from hazardous Category 3” water.
ASTM D7338-14 Standard for Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings
1.2 This guide is specific to fungal growth, which is only one potential problem in a building environment. It may be part of, but is not intended to take the place of, a comprehensive indoor air quality investigation.
1.3 This guide describes minimum steps and procedures for collecting background information on a building in question, procedures for evaluating the potential for moisture infiltration or collection, procedures for inspection for suspect fungal growth, and procedures beyond the scope of a basic survey that may be useful for specific problems.
“The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.5.3 Identification of Current Water Damage and Suspect Fungal Growth
All surfaces within the inspection boundary should be systematically evaluated for indicators of moisture damage and fungal growth.
Exposed surfaces (including building materials, furnishings, and contents) should be examined for past and ongoing damage including:
(1) suspect fungal growth,
(2) standing water
(3) water stains,
(4) dampness to touch, and
(5) blistering, warping, de-lamination, or other deterioration.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.5.4 Identification of Potentials for Fungal Growth
The inspection should identify moisture sources and moisture pathways, including:
(1) sites where condensation may occur,
(2) equipment or activities which may release water,
(3) pathways for water movement and
(4) areas where leakage is likely.
– Staining patterns are often useful in identifying moisture sources.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.5.5 Presence of Odors
Detection of musty odors should always be noted.
(1) Sources of such odors should be located.
(2) If the source is not apparent, intrusive investigation may be required.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.5.6 Classification of Inspection Observations
Classify each distinct area or area of interest within the inspection boundary as one of the following categories:
(1) no apparent fungal growth and no apparent water damage;
(2) water damage having no visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth,
(3) visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth having no apparent water damage, &
(4) water damage having visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.5.8 HVAC Inspection, if applicable per the scope of work.
The interiors of HVAC equipment in contact with ventilation air should be inspected for indicators of excessive moisture or suspect fungal growth.
Such areas may include intake and return plenums, filters, coils, condensate pans, fans, housing insulation, and supply ducts immediately downstream from the coils.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.6.1 Site Map-A site/floor plan should be prepared showing each inspection classification, as determined in 7.5.6.
The plan should be sufficiently detailed to allow each area of interest to the assessment to be unambiguously located.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.6.2 Documentation of Suspect Fungal Growth-Wherever suspect or confirmed fungal growth is identified during the inspection, documentation should include:
(1) extent (for example, approximate square footage of suspect growth),
(2) severity (for example, relative darkness or continuity of stain), growth pattern (for
example, light versus heavy growth and spotty versus continuous growth), and
(3) clues to apparent cause (for example, exterior wall, condensation near a HVAC vent,
associated with water staining).
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.6.3 Documentation of Moisture Damage-
In addition to documenting the location of moisture damage, as above, further documentation should include:
(1) apparent sources of leaks and other moisture sources, and
(2) apparent timing and duration (for example, whether the moisture has been resolved,
active (currently wet) or the moisture source is likely to reoccur
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.6.4 Visual Documentation- Photographs or videotapes are often helpful in documenting building conditions. Captions should note location, timing, and context.
The ASTM D-7338 states in Section 7.6.5 Additional Detail- Start and stop time, temperature, humidity, occupancy, condition, and housekeeping of the property.”
Commentary by John Lapotaire:
- Importance of the client interview.
- 6.4 Always include the cause & origin and explain how it is related to the problem so that client knows how to correct the problem. [building envelope, construction, RH, occupant, drainage, plumbing]
- If you don’t feel qualified either add work product of someone who is to your report or go back to school.
- 7.6 Inspection/documentation [as per 7.5.6] Always use a site map or floor plan to indicate where the problem(s) exist. Unambiguously define the extent of damage.
- 7.6.2. Document suspect fungal contamination and list clues to the cause.
- 8.6 Intrusive inspection for fungal growth.
- Opines: Don’t be afraid to go in.
- Many mold inspection reports have pages of exclusions, such as “inaccessible”… some of these guys won’t find the problem unless they trip on it.”
- 8.7 The purpose of air and surface sampling is to test a hypothesis.
- Opines: We would be better off if they banned air sampling for mold. Air sampling for mold is unscientific and unsupportive.
John’s Final Comments:
- It’s a free country the consumer will never know the difference in certifications.
- Join a reputable association.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Allied Association are trying to work from the top down, educating the insurance industry on the parameters of prevailing industry standards and practice.