John & Lydia Lapotaire – IAQ Solutions & IAQA Presidential Couple – IAQ & Mold Assessment and Remediation

Air Date: 3-31-2017|Episode 454

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome John and Lydia Lapotaire. John, together with his wife Lydia, has owned and operated Orlando Florida based Indoor Air Quality Solutions since 2001. John is a Building Envelope & Indoor Environment Consultant specializing in building product failure investigations, forensic water intrusion investigations, and building envelope failure investigations for commercial and residential structures.


Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome John and Lydia Lapotaire. John, together with his wife Lydia, has owned and operated Orlando Florida based Indoor Air Quality Solutions since 2001. John is a Building Envelope & Indoor Environment Consultant specializing in building product failure investigations, forensic water intrusion investigations, and building envelope failure investigations for commercial and residential structures. John and Lydia also provide indoor environmental assessments and mold & odor investigations. John is also the current President of the Indoor Air Quality Association. John and Lydia are Florida Licensed Mold Assessors, Certified Indoor Environmental Consultants CIEC’s. They have performed investigations, and forensic diagnostic inspections throughout the mid-West and Eastern United States for both commercial and residential properties. John has served as an expert witness in court cases involving indoor air quality, mold, building envelope failure, building product failure and spray polyurethane foam insulation. He has provided consultation and or testimony in several hundred litigation cases.

Z-Man’s Blog:

“IAQA’s Presidential Couple”

John and Lydia Lapotaire own and operate Florida based Indoor Air Quality Solutions since 2001. Their firm provides Building Envelope and Indoor Environment Consulting specializing in building product failure investigation, forensic water intrusion investigation and building envelope failure investigation for residential and commercial structures, indoor environmental assessments and mold & odor investigations. John is the current President of the IAQA.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
The recession of 2008 hit Florida hard. The construction business suffered greatly. Business was so bad that the pulling of building in some counties declined from 100’s per month to zero.

Florida has bounced back. Urban sprawl is now a plague on the countryside. House prices have bounced back.

John was the former director of construction and warranty for a large home builder. Lydia was a former science teacher.

Why is there mold licensing in Florida?: After hurricane and storm damage unscrupulous restoration contractors were exaggerating the size of mold affected areas on job-sites. They would put up a plastic film wall and warn the property owner that behind the plastic toxic black mold was “growing like ivy”. The intent of the law was to require independent 3rd party oversight of mold remediation projects to protect consumers.

Where there is hurricane related water intrusion and minimal mold impact, restoration contractors learned how to abuse the law by delaying emergency response and structural drying and then citing an industry standard which says water becomes increasingly microbial contaminated over time. They’ve seen a situation where water entered a five story building from roof leaks and after deliberately waiting to provide emergency services the contractor declared the building and everything inside contaminated. As Florida homeowner’s insurance policies often have a $10K mold limit the workaround for contractors is to deliberately postpone emergency services and claim that water damage has exacerbated.

Florida’s mold licensing law is intact and isn’t going away. When a firm advertises or provides mold remediation or mold assessment services a license is mandatory. Proof of insurance and documentation of training are requirements for licensing. The law mandates workers performing mold remediation must be supervised, a loophole in the law allows remote supervision.

John opines that just collecting air or surface samples isn’t mold assessment. ASTM D7297 should be the Go To guidance standard for mold assessment. Interview the client, find cause and origin and determine extent of the damage and how to repair/remediate.

The IICRC S-520 Mold Standard is commonly cited in Florida, the document is rarely followed. Many assessors and remediators neither own nor have even read it.

John and Lydia also cite the NADCA ACR HVAC standard and 17 other references in their reports.

There is no universal acceptable level of mold, it’s always client dependent.Their protocols are based on each individual client and are designed with the end goal in mind. Some clients need more and others need less.

Tools of their trade include: high quality professional grade particle counter (6 channels: .3, .5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0 & 10 micrometers), high intensity flashlight, moisture meters, borescope, thermal camera, camera, UV light, hand tools.

John and Lydia very rarely take air samples, they opine that spore traps aren’t equally effective on all size particles and are overused. They rely on their particle counter. They refer to the remediator’s job as particle reduction.Contractors who follow a Lapotaire Protocol and own/use their own lower cost particle counter will see improvement after each cleaning. Clean is clean and done is done.

They recently assessed a home of a borderline hoarder who was hospitalized during which mold found in her lungs. The homeowner is allergic to Aspergillus. The outdoor lanai has visible mold growth on a screen. There is visible mold growth on HVAC system components. There is a thick layer of accumulated dust throughout the interior of the home. The property must be maintainable. They had to gently tell the homeowner clutter reduction and deep cleaning is required prior to re-occupancy.

ASTM D7338 – 10 Standard Guide for Assessment Of Fungal Growth in Buildings
ASTM D7297 – 14 Standard Practice for Evaluating Residential Indoor Air Quality Concerns

When a client calls and wants the firm to sample for mold, Lydia refocuses the client by explaining the parameters of IAQ that should be considered: particles, VOCs, formaldehyde, CO2, CO, etc.The problem may not be mold, it’s important to look at the entire property both inside and out.

Humidity bloom is the growth of xerophilic mold occurs when humidity isn’t controlled in a property. This usually occurs on leather goods in closets, on walls behind furniture, on HVAC system components.Be the master of your own domain, control the humidity or you’ll deal with the consequences.

In the humid Florida climate, they commonly recommend adding a built-in dehumidifier to the existing HVAC system. The dehumidifier processes a mixture of both outside air and inside air. Benefits of the Installation include: reduction of airborne particles, reduction of VOCs and CO2, and a slight positive pressure.

Health and Safety– Lydia told the story of her horrible work related accident. While inspecting an attic above a garage she fell through a hatchway and was severely injured. She recommends: never be alone, have either the property owner or a coworker on site, be aware don’t be complacent.

Goals as President of IAQA: revamping IAQA’s educational offerings, more webinars, a great annual conference, networking with other organizations, and working with other organizations to create documents that have a unified voice.

Pete Consigli: referred to John and Lydia as IAQA’s first couple, who are like Ronald and Nancy Reagan are loved and adored.

  • Happy to hear that John and Lydia are fans of high intensity inspection lights and white gloves.
  • Less sampling allows more money to be spent on repair and remediation.
  • Too much reliance on IICRC S-520, credentialed IEPs utilize multiple documents. 80%/%20 rule needs set aside when working for the 20% who have special needs.
  • In the 1990s, a group from RIA’s WLI attended a Mid Atlantic Environmental course where we met Chin Yang and Phil Morey. They spoke about $1M worth of furniture form a Florida Courthouse that was discarded out of fear that it would irritate or potentially injure sensitized occupants.
  • We’re not dogs marking trees, so it’s important for associations to work together to achieve common goals. Work together not by mandate rather because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Being right and doing right are two different things, it’s more important to do right.
    IAQA and RIA have MOUs. Reps from IAQA sit on the RIA Education Committee.
    Students of RIA advance designation courses write capstone projects the best of which become part of the Body of Knowledge.

John and Lydia’s Final Tips: John and Lydia’s copy of reference documents are highlighted and Cliff Noted. He recommends that assessors own the documents that they cite and be prepared to produce them in court. Never cite documents you haven’t read or used.

John and Lydia Lapotaire contact info:

Building Science Resources:
Z-Man signing off

Which agency is responsible for licensing and regulating mold assessors and mold remediators in Florida?
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation