Larry Robertson -IEQ Veteran and 1st IAQA President

Air Date: 2-11-2011|Episode 196

Larry Robertson, the Indoor Air Quality Association’s 1st President and founding board member and has been a leader in IAQ research and services for over 2 decades...

Full Description:

Larry Robertson, the Indoor Air Quality Association’s 1st President and founding board member and has been a leader in IAQ research and services for over 2 decades. Robertson is known for establishing Mycotech Biological, Inc. (MBI), one of the first environmental laboratories that specialized in the identification of fungi and their association with HVAC systems. He also contributed in the initial development of the CIE and CMR certification programs and served on the Texas Mold Task Force relative to the development of mold regulations in the State of Texas. Robertson was also co-founder of Indoor Environmental Consultants, Home Diagnostics, Purysis I, Purysis II, LARO, Microfungi, Inc., and the Aeromycological Society of America. Robertson has recently divested from all of these entities and formed the Robertson Environmental Consulting (REC) Group to provide consulting and indoor environmental services through a network of consultants and remediators across the country.

Z-Man’s Blog:

Environmental Lab Pioneer

On today’s broadcast of IAQradio. RadioJoe and I had the pleasure of interviewing Larry Robertson, a real pioneer with over two decades of experience in IAQ research and services. Larry founded Mycotech Biological, Inc one of the first environmental labs that specialized in the identification of fungi. Larry was an IAQA founding board member and the organization’s first President. His company was based in Texas, epicenter of the “mold craze”. In helping to resolve litigation, Larry provided expert witness testimony in 250 mold cases a year.

Nuggets gleaned from today’s show:

· HVAC Cleaning and IEQ. Larry holds firm opinions on HVAC systems cleaning disagreeing with a recent study concluding that no compelling scientific evidence exists about an association between air duct cleaning and improved IEQ. Larry opined that that HVAC systems cleaning when properly formed can have a positive effect on the indoor environmental quality. He commented that no compelling scientific evidence exists that vacuuming a bedroom improves IEQ either; pointing out that the HVAC system study was flawed because the researcher looked only at cleaning the duct system not the entire system. Larry stressed the importance of: 1) containment, 2) source removal cleaning techniques and 3) particulate capture equipment. Larry reminded listeners that the term bioaerosol was coined as the result of the Legionaire’s disease outbreak in Philadelphia.

· Texas Mold Licensing. Larry provided behind the scenes gained during his involvement with the writing and legislative passing of Texas Mold Licensing. According to Larry, it wasn’t pretty as lobbyists representing the insurance industry, home builders, etc. weighted into the process. The pendulum has swung and predicts it will be some time until it swings back. The Texas Mold Licensing Bill was the result of “a few bad apples spoiling the barrel.” The actions of a few unscrupulous consultants, remediators and inspectors who intentionally increased and escalated mold claims with ridiculous and unscientifically sound recommendations tainted the legislative process resulting in passage of a Texas Mold Licensing Law that doesn’t protect the citizens of the Lone Star State against the hazards of mold but rather protects citizens from being preyed upon by mold remediators, mold consultants and mold laboratories. While the laws doesn’t require cleaners, insurance repair & restoration firms and builders who commonly encounter mold are not required to be licensed it does require licensing for: mold remediation firms, consultants (IEPs) and mold labs. Texas was the first state to institute licensing for the mold industry. Texas didn’t recognize the contributions of the IAQA. Licensees are required to take a Texas Course, pass a beefy Texas Exam test with an 80% score (70% is required for other Texas licenses) and be subject to paying fines for violations such as: workers caught not wearing PPE or when a remedial start or stop date is missed.

· Certification. College degrees don’t require continuing education while many certification programs do. Profoundly commenting that certification groups have two options in developing certification programs: don’t dilute and build a strong certification program such as CIH or offer many certifications ala IICRC and ACAC.

· Get involved, it’s your industry!

· Tip for remediators: be cautious about recommending measures that are too extreme!

· Tip for consultants: because consultants wanted and needed faster analysis of mold samples, labs trended away from culturing to spore trap technology. Be aware that questions have emerged regarding the precision of the analytical process of spore trap analysis.

As a member of the IAQA we express our gratitude to the founders of the organization: Dean Ellis, Rick Watson, Nick Willocks and Chuck Walker an early board member. RadioJoe, Stone Cold and I were glad that we could honor Larry’s industry friend with an impromptu playing of taps.

Today’s Music: “Growing Mold” by the Radioactive Chickens

Z-Man Signing Off