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Classification of Storm Water Damage

  • After the recent hurricanes we have found ourselves faced with the misclassification of rain water from the hurricane as Category 3 water (Cat 3).  The classification of water is defined by the IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration as either Category 1, 2, or 3.

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  • After recent named storms many restoration contractors have been opportunistically categorizing rainwater from the storms as Category 3 water.  This benefits the restoration contractor.  With the classification of Cat 3 water the contractors can now remove substantially more building material that would otherwise be necessary.

  • To be clear there will always be Cat 3 water with named storms and flooding.  However, the recent abuse of the Cat 3 water is simply a means of extending the area of loss and increasing the cost to restore.  Don’t get me wrong here.  There are times when it is far more cost effective to bulk remove building material to accelerate the restoration process.  However, there are times when building materials that were wet and then dried, and then classified as Cat 3 with the recommendation of removal.  Double dipping.

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    For example, a 5-story condo building that had no surface water flooding and only wind driven rain entering the sliding glass doors.  The areas that were wet were quickly dried.  The restoration contractor then classified all wind driven rain at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors as Cat 3, grossly contaminated.   The recommendation was to remove the lower 2 feet of drywall from all the condos.  There was no supporting evidence that the water was grossly contaminated.  The vast majority of the units were occupied during and after the hurricane.  The damage was limited to very small and localized areas at the sliding glass doors.  Yet the restoration contractor recommended the full evacuation of the building so the “Cat 3 Grossly Contaminated” drywall could be removed.

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    So how could the classification of water be so abused?  It’s all in the IICRC Category 3 definition.  It’s a wording issue.  As you read below the definition clearly states that Cat 3 water can include wind driven rain from hurricanes.  That doesn’t mean that wind driven rain is Cat 3, just that like all water it could be Cat 3.  To establish the presence of Cat 3 water samples of the suspected area of the 3rd floor drywall would need to be collected.  The method used could either be by culturing a sample for bacteria or with the use of ATP.  Either way the presence of Cat 3 water at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors would need to be confirmed.

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    Category 3 water is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. Examples of Category 3 water can include, but are not limited to: sewage; waste line backflows that originate from beyond the trap regardless of visible content or color; all other forms of contaminated water resulting from flooding from seawater; rising water from rivers or streams; and other contaminated water entering or affecting the indoor environment, such as wind driven rain from hurricanes, tropical storms, or other weather related  events if they carry trace levels of contaminants (e.g., pesticides or toxic  organic substances).

     

    Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then becomes heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth.  It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems and crop irrigation.

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    Collecting and using rainwater can be a great way to conserve resources.  Some people collect and use rainwater for watering plants, cleaning, bathing, or drinking.  The issue with the collection of rainwater is the method of collection and storage.  If rainwater is collected from a roof for example it can contain contaminants that accumulate on the roof.

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    The rain itself isn’t Category 3.  Rainwater is predominantly evaporated water from a variety of sources such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.  According to IICRC S500, atmospheric rainwater is defined as Category 1.

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    “Category 1: Category 1 water originates from a sanitary water source and does not pose substantial risk from dermal, ingestion, or inhalation exposure. Examples of Category 1 water sources can include, but are not limited to: broken water supply lines; tub or sink overflows with no contaminants; appliance malfunctions involving water-supply lines; melting ice or snow; falling rainwater; broken toilet tanks, and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives.”


  • Rainwater is Category 1 Water.  Therefore, rainwater associated with tropical storms or hurricanes is predominantly evaporated water from a variety of sources and according to IICRC S500, falling rainwater is defined as Category 1.

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    The restoration contractors defining wind-driven rain as Category 3 water either haven’t read the S500 or are specifically abusing their misinterpretation to their benefit.  As shown above the IICRC S500 clearly defines rainwater as Category 1 and clearly states that Category 3 water can include wind driven rain from hurricanes.  I think that is pretty clear even to the layman.

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    For the wind driven rain to be categorized as Category 3, the water must have been grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed. 

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    If rain is to be classified as Cat 3 water we’re all in trouble.  How many times do we see a TV weather forecaster leaning into the wind driven rain of a hurricane as he or she blurts out the weather?  Wind driven rain in Florida takes place virtually every day somewhere. 

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    Clearly there are times when wind driven rain can be classified as Cat 3.  The IICRC recognized that and included the possibility in the standard.  To be Cat 3 the wind driven rain must be contaminated from something that was grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents.  There is also the possibility that Category 1 or 2 water deteriorated to Category 3 water over time.  The IICRC S500 addresses that possibility as well.

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    “Category 1 water can deteriorate to Category 2 or 3.  Category 1 water that flows into an uncontaminated building does not constitute an immediate change in the category.” “However, Category 1 water that flows into a contaminated building can constitute an immediate change in the category.”

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    Clearly the interior of an occupied condo is not a contaminated building.

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    “Category 2: Category 2 water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans.  Category 2 water can contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms.  as well as other organic or inorganic matter {chemical or biological). Examples of category 2 water can include, but are not limited to: discharge from dishwashers or washing1 machines; overflows from washing machines; overflows from toilet bowls on the room side of the trap with some urine but no feces; seepage due to hydrostatic pressure; broken aquariums and punctured water beds.


  • Category 2 water can deteriorate to Category 3. Once microorganisms become wet from the water intrusion, depending upon the length of time that they remain wet and the temperature, they can begin to grow in numbers and can change the category of the water.”


  • Category 1 and 2 water can to deteriorate in category.  That fact remains undisputed.  However, the method of establishing the category of water appears to be the issue.  It would appear that the opportunistic restoration contractors are assuming that the wind driven rain water is automatically Category 3 or the length of time that the Cat 1 or 2 water remained wet deteriorated the Cat 1 or 2 water to Category 3.

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    The reality is both are nothing more than an unproven hypothesis.  To establish the Category of water that is grossly contaminated and can contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents and can cause significant adverse reactions to humans if contacted or consumed.  The assessor or restoration contractor would have to confirm the if water has trace levels of contaminants (e.g., pesticides or toxic organic substances).

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    In the example provided earlier we talked about a 5-story condo building that was reportedly “grossly contaminated” by Category 3 hurricane rain.  No confirmation of the category was provided.  There was however a substantial estimate for drywall removal and sanitization of the grossly contaminated condos that were continuously occupied during and after the storm.

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    We provided a second opinion on the property and conducted onsite ATP sampling of the reportedly Category 3 contaminated drywall.  We used the Bio-Reveal Protocol for Sampling of Category 1, 2 and 3 Water Loss.  The Bio-reveal® bio-contamination detection system is designed to evaluate the level of surface cleanliness and sanitized hygiene in the indoor environment. This system will not detect specific strains of bacterial, viral or other micro-organisms, rather will measure and document the total surface or liquid conditions where these types of pathogenic organisms may be detected or harbored as a result of dirty, unhygienic or where direct impaction of Category 1, 2 or 3 water contamination may have occurred.  Additionally, the Bio-reveal® bio-contamination detection system can be used to generally quantify the total bacterial concentrations of Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3 water as referenced by the IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration.

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    All areas sampled were found to be well below the “Final hygiene goal for water loss restoration or remediation of building materials or contents to be salvaged.”  The condo owners did not evacuate and the drywall was not removed.  The total savings to the building were significant.

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    The trend of categorizing hurricane rain or wind driven rain as Category 3 needs to be nipped in the bud.  Do not allow a restoration contractor or mold assessor to declare rain water damage from a hurricane as Category 3 just because it came from the sky during a hurricane.  This assumed gross contamination only benefits the restoration contractor as it substantially increases their fee.

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    I hope this helped to clarify the Category of a water loss and prevented the unnecessary removal of building material that could otherwise be restored at a lessor fee. 

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  • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
  • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
  • Indoor AIr Quality Solutions, IAQS
  • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
  • www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com
  • www.FloridaIAQ.com
  • http://www.microshield-es.com/moldinspectiontesting.html 
  • http://www.orlandomoldinspection.us/
  • http://www.microshield-es.com/nuisanceodor.html
  • http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldremediationprotocol.html
  • http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldclearancetesting.html 


What "IS" a Professional Mold Inspection?

A Professional Mold Assessment

To begin we should define a mold assessment and remind consumers that “All molds are created equal.  It is not necessary to determine what type of mold you may have.  All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.”  This is according to Center for Disease Control, CDC.  Consumers should be aware that anyone using the terms “Black Mold” or “Toxic Mold” are preying on their fears.

The purpose of a mold assessment is to clearly establish the

 

  • Cause & origin,
  • Location, and
  • Extent of mold growth

 

A mold assessment is not the identification of the type of mold by sampling.


A mold inspector doesn’t simply look for visible signs of a mold problem, but instead looks for signs of the possible cause of the mold problem. There can be many cases with no visible evidence.   However, a professional mold assessor will know what and where to look.  A professional mold assessor will look behind base boards, inside walls, under flooring, inside ceilings, and in other hidden spaces.  a professional mold assessor will look for water damage, pathways for water movement, and the sources of moisture that are essential for the growth of mold.  Moisture and mold go hand in hand; without moisture there can be no mold growth.


If mold is identified in the clients home the mold inspection report should identify the cause of the moisture supporting the mold growth so that the cause can be corrected and the mold once remediated will not return.  The next step is to identify the extent of the mold damage.  This involves the use of a site plan as described by the ASTM D-7338 Standard Guide for Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings. The report will be used by the remediation contractor as a scope of work or remediation protocol. 


A Mold Remediation Protocol outlines the needed actions for any necessary mold remediation. Each plan is individually prepared based on the mold assessment of the property and the size and area of the mold contamination.  A properly prepared Mold Remediation Protocol should be written according to the ANSI Approved IICRC S-520 standard and reference guide for the remediation of mold damaged structures and contents.


When incomplete or poorly written, the mold remediation protocol can increase the cost of the mold remediation for the property owner as well as create possible liability for the remediation contractor. 


Red Flag #1

Mold inspections by the mold remediator


The first “RED FLAG” when hiring a mold inspector is the “Free” mold inspection from the mold remediator.  Nothing is Free.  These free mold inspections are generally from mold remediators wanting to provide you with expensive mold remediation.  This is a huge conflict of interest and should be avoided at all cost.  These inspections typically include little more than the collection of mold samples to confirm the presence of mold and often to use the type of mold to scare the client into believing their mold issue is far more severe than they ever thought.  These guys will make a mold mountain out of a mold hill.


To protect the citizens of Florida from these scams, Florida Governor Crist signed Mold legislation (SB2234) into law. The new law regulates the Mold Inspection and Mold Remediation Industry.  The statute became effective July 1, 2010.  Under that statute it clearly states that the assessor cannot provide the remediation. 


Florida Statutes and Rules  Chapter 468, Part XVI, Florida Statutes

468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—


A person may not: Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months.


Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months.


Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.


Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.


One would think that the statute would prevent the continued mold assessments by mold remediators.  Unfortunately, this remains the mold industry's #1 conflict of interest.


Red Flag #2

The sample only mold inspection.


Unfortunately, many believe that a mold assessment is simply testing for mold.  Many simply collect a few samples for mold and provide the client with a laboratory report.  These mold samplers provide no relevant or necessary information that would inform the client of the cause and origin of the water supporting the mold or the extent of the mold impacted building material.  Sampling definitely does not provide a scope of work or mold remediation protocol.


The government position on mold sampling

The Center for Disease Control, CDC. - There are no accepted standards for mold sampling in indoor environments or for analyzing and interpreting the data in terms of human health. Molds are ubiquitous in the environment, and can be found almost anywhere samples are taken. It is not known, however, what quantity of mold is acceptable in indoor environments with respect to health. CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a building. Measurements of mold in air are not reliable or representative. If mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.


The Center for Disease Control, CDC's current position is that air sampling for mold is nothing more than a snap shot and that such a snap shot is not reliable, representative or worth the cost. The CDC states very clearly that “Any claim based solely on air sampling results is inherently suspect.” The CDC goes on to state that “There is no reason to respond to questionable testing by conducting more of it. I believe that is a very clear position from a reputable source.


“The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces.”


US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, - If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources solving the moisture problem and getting rid of the mold than to spend it on sampling. If visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.


The Florida Department of Health, - The Florida Department of Health does not recommend mold testing or sampling to see if you have a mold problem, or to see what kind of mold might be growing.


So, should you inspect for mold by just sampling for mold?


No, never for the purpose of mold investigation. Why? There are too many variables impacting the results and the sample size is too small for air testing for mold to be reliable. The type of mold will not change the necessary mold remediation. The genus of mold is just not relevant or necessary unless you are trying to frighten a client into believing that they have “Toxic” mold.


The industry Standard for Mold Assessment


The industry has a standard for the assessment of mold.  The ASTM D7338 Standard Guide for Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings.  The standard was developed to provide a go-to reference for anyone inspecting for mold in buildings. The standard was developed by Subcommittee D22.08, part of ASTM International Committee D22 on Air Quality.


“The lack of consensus standards in the fungal sampling and analysis practice was the driving force behind establishing D22.08,” says its chairman, Lisa Rogers. “All of our efforts are focused on bringing consistency, reliability and accuracy to the practice.”


The ASTM D-7338 states that the assessor provide the 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.  If the source is not apparent, intrusive investigation may be required.  The ASTM D-7338 states that the assessor provide the Classification of Inspection Observations.  Classify each distinct area or area of interest within the inspection boundary as one of the following categories:

 

  • no apparent fungal growth and no apparent water damage;
  • water damage having no visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth,
  • visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth having no apparent water damage, &
  • water damage having visually suspect or confirmed fungal growth.

 

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.


Documentation of Suspect Fungal Growth—Wherever suspect or confirmed fungal growth is identified during the inspection, documentation should include:

 

  • extent (for example, approximate square footage of suspect growth),
  • severity (for example, relative darkness or continuity of stain), growth pattern (for example, light versus heavy growth and spotty versus continuous growth), and
  • clues to apparent cause (for example, exterior wall, condensation near a HVAC vent, associated with water staining).

 

Documentation of Moisture Damage—In addition to documenting the location of moisture damage, as above, further documentation should include:

 

  • apparent sources of leaks and other moisture sources, and
  • apparent timing and duration (for example, whether the moisture has been resolved, active (currently wet) or the moisture source is likely to reoccur

 

What should the client receive at the end of their mold inspection. 


Mold Inspection Report and Mold Remediation Protocol if necessary


The written report should be written in accordance with the ASTM D-7338 and signed by the licensed mold assessor that performed the assessment.  The Remediation Protocol should be very specific to the client’s loss.  The protocol should outline the specific material and cleaning process for the mold remediator.  The area of loss should never be ambiguous or left to the remediator to define.  Each plan should be individually prepared based on the mold assessment of the property and the size and area of the mold contamination.  The protocol should include a floor plan clearly identifying the area of loss, the extent of the damage, the mold impacted building material to be removed, and the necessary containment strategy to separate the impacted areas from the unimpacted areas.

 

Questions you should ask your mold assessor before you hire them.

 

  1. Are you licensed by the State of Florida?
  2. Do you perform mold remediation?
  3. Will you be conducting a visual inspection or just mold testing?
  4. Will I be getting a written report from you or the laboratory?
  5. How do you interpret the laboratory results?
  6. Will you be performing the mold assessment in accordance with the ASTM D-7338 Standard Guide for Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings?
  7. Are you familiar with the IICRC S-520?
  8. What qualifications do you have to perform mold inspection?
  9. What certifications do you have?
  10. Do you have references from clients within the past year that I can call to ask how the inspection went? 

 

 




Post Storm Damage Caution!


Many across Florida have been directly impacted by the recent storms that wreaked havoc on our beautiful state.


In a recent discussion with Richard "Rick" Morrison, Executive Director, Division of Professions Mold-Related Services Licensing Program regarding the possibility of the Governor waving licensure requirements for mold related services.  Rick felt that the state has enough licensed mold professionals to not recommend waving the licensing requirements at this time.


Those impacted by the storm and in need of water and mold damage restoration should ensure that the contractors providing services are licensed and in good standing with the state of Florida.  http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/mold/index.html


I also wanted to take a minute to provide a few questions that you can ask your mold assessor or mold remediation contractor before you make the decision to hire. 

 

  • Are you licensed?
  • Who will be providing the mold assessment?
  • Who will be providing the mold remediation?
  • What will my mold assessment consist of?
  • Will I receive a written report or just a laboratory report?

 


The most common mistake property owners can make is to allow the mold remediation contractor to provide the mold assessment.  Mold remediation is a very profitable business. Many mold remediation contractors use free or deeply discounted mold inspections as a means to acquire expensive mold remediation jobs.  This is the beginning of the “Fear” based approach to mold not the “Fact” based professional approach.


Unfortunately, this is a common practice.  The assessment often includes the collection of mold samples and the declaration that the home is contaminated with “Black Mold”.  Sampling of any kind is more often than not necessary and more often than not used to scare the homeowner into believing that their home is contaminated with “Toxic Black Mold” or “Stachybotrys”.  Fear not Fact!


If your mold professional brings up the “Black Mold” issue walk him or her right out the door. 


The Center for Disease Control clearly states, “There is always some mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and the CDC does not recommend performing routine sampling for molds.”  Fact!


The type of mold will not change the need for mold remediation nor will the type of mold change the severity of the water and mold damage.  There are over 100,000 molds and over 10,000 have the ability to produce mycotoxins.  There are also a few well know molds that are repeatedly used to scare consumers such as “Black Toxic Stachybotrys”.


From the CDC website.  “The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces.”


These “Black Mold” fear tactics began in Cleveland, Ohio, when in 1993 and 1994 where there was a cluster of cases of pulmonary hemosiderosis among infants. with a conducted titled “Study of Toxin Production by Isolates of Stachybotrys chartarum and Memnoniella echinata Isolated during a Study of Pulmonary Hemosiderosis in Infants.”  Yes that is a mouth full but most government studies have grandiose titles.


The problem with the study is that it was preliminary and incomplete.  Worse yet is that most in the mold and restoration industry have never read any of these studies or the final opinions of these studies. 


Below is the final opinion of the study from the CDC.


“A review within CDC and by outside experts of the investigation of acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants has identified shortcomings in the implementation and reporting of the investigation described in MMWR (1,2) and detailed in other scientific publications authored, in part, by CDC personnel (3-5). The reviews led CDC to conclude that a possible association between acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants and exposure to molds, specifically Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly referred to by its synonym Stachybotrys atra, was not proven.”


The CDC Position on Toxic Mold and Stachybotrys.  https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm

 

The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.


Stachybotrys chartarum (also known by its synonym Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-black mold. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.


US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC145304/

While many papers suggest a similar relationship between Stachybotrys and human disease, the studies nearly uniformly suffer from significant methodological flaws, making their findings inconclusive. As a result, we have not found well-substantiated supportive evidence of serious illness due to Stachybotrys exposure in the contemporary environment.


Despite the well documented lack of connection between Stachybotrys and health effects, including the CDC, many in the mold and restoration industry continue to use these wild and scientifically unsupported scare tactics to charge for mold remediation services that are unnecessary.  I can assure you that Stachybotrys is in every home and building to some degree or another.  We have been cohabitating with mold since we lived in caves. 


The value in a professional mold assessment is in the identification of the specific area of the mold contamination by a licensed professional that is not providing the mold remediation.  With the identification of the specific area of mold contamination in a written report from your assessor, licensed mold remediators can provide estimates for the mold remediation.


The specific area of mold contamination cannot and will never be revealed by sampling the air and scaring homeowners with specific molds.   The sample only approach to a mold assessment has no value to anyone but the sampler who collects a fee for the sample.  Remember the type of mold does not change the method of mold remediation, does not change the area impacted by mold, and will never elevate the concern for exposure to occupants.  All claims that the type of mold raises the severity are either by the ill-informed or those looking to prey on your fears for profit.

 

A professional mold assessment would include the area affected by the mold as required by the ASTM D-7338.  A professional assessment would report that the area impacted by mold.  For example, the area of mold growth is approximately 4 square feet of the exterior south facing bedroom wall as shown on the attached restoration floor plan and diagram.  Remove the base boards and the drywall from the floor to a height of 2 feet.  The diagram would show the area of affected building material that would require removal.  The type of mold would not matter and would not change the area impacted or the method of remediation.   Fact not Fear. 


Those wanting to insight fear would report nothing more than the spore counts of samples collected as elevated or as having the presence of Stachybotrys “Black Toxic Mold”.  Fear not Fact.


The cost of restoring your home can be greatly increased if you’re not careful when hiring a mold professional.  Be aware of scare tactics, ask for references, never hire anyone that is recommending sampling, never ever hire anyone that uses the term “Black or Toxic Mold”.


I hope this helps at least one family through this time of recovery.


POSTED BY

 

  • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
  • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
  • Indoor AIr Quality Solutions, IAQS


Disaster Response and Recovery

It has been a wild couple of months, with first Hurricane Harvey then Irma and finally Maria leaving paths of devastation in their wake. Hundreds of IAQA members have been impacted both professionally and personally by the storms. As professionals serving clients suffering wide-ranging damages, we want to responsibly assist them and help them avoid the scammers who unfortunately seek to profit by the misfortune of others. The following is information to keep in mind that you can pass along to your clients as needed.


Puerto Rico

As the post hurricane damage is assessed in Puerto Rico, there are reports of “FEMA inspectors” asking for personal information or charging for services such as damage inspections or contractor repairs. This is a scam.


Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, charitable organizations, or insurance company employees. Follow these steps:

1.    Do not respond to texts, phone calls or personal requests seeking your personal information. The only time you should provide personal information is during the initial application process for FEMA help or when you initiate contact with FEMA to follow up on an application. FEMA inspectors only require verification of identity.

2.    Ask for identification and don’t be afraid to hang up on cold callers.

3.    Contact government agencies using information posted on their websites or in other official sources.

4.    Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or contracts with blank spaces.

5.    If you suspect fraud, contact the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report it to the Federal Trade Commission Contact government agencies using information posted on their websites or in other official sources.


Texas

Texas officials say Harvey-related online scams continue to proliferate. If Texans in affected counties believe they have been scammed or encountered price gouging during or after Hurricane Harvey, they should call the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline, 800-621-0508, or email consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov.


Florida

Florida officials are also warning homeowners to beware of scammers who show up posing as FEMA damage inspectors or repair contractors. Unlicensed contractors who take advantage of natural disasters also face strict penalties. During a declared state of emergency, the penalty for unlicensed construction activity becomes a third-degree felony.


Report price gouging or contractor fraud to the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may report unlicensed contractors to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 1-866-532-1440.


U.S. Virgin Islands

Many in the Virgin Islands are in need and displaced. As a result of the major disaster declaration, FEMA will provide supplemental funding to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) for costs to remove eligible household debris that is moved to public rights of way, but residents should follow VIWMA’s guidance.


“Removing a substantial amount of household debris helps eliminate a safety and health hazard for residents,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel. “We are committed to doing what we can to help survivors recover and get back to normal as soon as possible.”


Internet Scams

Scammers that have honed their Internet skills to fleece unsuspecting consumers. Natural disasters offer a perfect entree into defrauding storm victims, along with the good Samaritans who want to help.


Cyber thieves have snapped up scores of Internet domain names containing combinations of words such as “Irma,” “help,” “victims” and “relief.” The Center for Internet Security has tracked nearly 750 freshly registered domain names and issued a warning that consumers should be wary of bogus websites as well as emails that may contain phishing messages or malware. Also beware of fake online GoFundMe pages.


To donate or volunteer, contact the voluntary or charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org. 


Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance

FEMA disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you know of someone who has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at (800) 621-3362.


Consumers can also file a complaint with the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.


In closing, on behalf of the IAQA, our thoughts and prayers go out to all impacted by the recent natural disasters, as well as the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting and their loved ones.



POSTED BY
  • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
  • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
  • Indoor AIr Quality Solutions, IAQS


IAQA Response to Hurricane Harvey

As our country is once again hit with a devastating storm, IAQA sends our thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the devastating floods that follow the storm surge. We have many IAQA members in the South Texas area who will be directly impacted by the storm and flood waters. Please know that our prayers are with you and your families. 

 

As those that are impacted by the storm and flood water struggle to gain control of their flood damaged homes, our vast network of IAQA members will be responding and taking action to provide necessary emergency response. Many of our members have already mobilized and will be ready to provide the essential assistance during this time of need. 

 

Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster can be very emotional. For many occupants and owners, there is pressure to quickly find solutions to allow them to resume normal life. However, quick and easy solutions to flood damage can cause serious future challenges. These issues must be addressed by experts with specialized knowledge of water damage restoration and mold remediation. 

 

IAQA has Storm Damage Resources on our website that can be accessed by anyone who is in need of guidance and direction.
 

IAQA staff is prepared to provide guidance during this time of need. Know that our IAQA family is here and ready to provide the necessary support, including information about IAQA members in your area providing emergency services. You may also visit IAQA's Find-a-Pro website to locate an indoor air quality professional in South Texas. 

 

Our hearts and prayers go out to those in need and to those IAQA family members who are responding to that need. 

 

Be Strong, Be Safe.


John Lapotaire

President IAQA, Indoor Air Quality Association 


 



Indoor Air Quality Association Offers Flooding Resources

IAQA President John Lapotaire responds to the recent flooding in Louisiana. “Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, such as the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, is very emotional,” he said.

ATLANTA – As you cover the story of the flooding and its aftermath, please note the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) has resources available to mitigate the damage from storms and flooding. IAQA is the nation’s largest indoor air quality trade association.

Interviews with IAQA can be arranged upon request.

“Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, such as the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, is very emotional,” John Lapotaire, president of IAQA, said. “Occupants and owners face pressure to quickly find solutions to allow them to resume their normal lives. However, quick and easy solutions to flood damage can cause serious future challenges. These issues need to be addressed by experts with specialized knowledge of water damage restoration and mold remediation.”

Lapotaire notes that issues can include:

  • Health problems caused by improper removal of bacteria, viruses and mold
  • Collapse of buildings not properly dried
  • Fire risk to electrical systems not correctly restored

“IAQA strongly encourages residents and building owners who have been
impacted by the flood to work with a certified indoor air quality professional with specialized knowledge of water damage restoration and mold remediation,” he said.

A complete list of IAQA resources can be found at www.iaqa.org/storm-damage-resources.

To help homeowners and others, IAQA offers its free Find a Pro tool. This web-based tool allows consumers who are interested in finding an IAQ professional to search for IAQA members in their area and can be found at http://ewebiaqa.ashrae.org/eweb/iaqaeweb/findapro/pro.

The Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing practitioners together to prevent and solve indoor environmental problems for the benefit of customers and the public. IAQA was established in 1995 and is the nation’s largest indoor air quality trade association with and chapters worldwide. More information is available atwww.iaqa.org/news.

 



Orlando's Indoor Air Quality Expert Elected as IAQA President

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC, has been elected as President of the Indoor Air Quality Association, IAQA.

Orlando, FL, July 1st, 2016

 

At the end of their physical year, the Indoor Air Quality Association concluded their Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.  During the annual meeting, elections were held for a number of important leadership positions within IAQA.  They included positions for both Officers and Directors that provide critical direction for IAQA’s continued growth and mission.  John P. Lapotaire, one of Florida’s most recognized indoor air quality experts, was elected by the association as the President of the association.

Mr. Lapotaire is the Founder and President of Indoor Air Quality Solutions.  The Orlando-based company provides indoor air quality consulting services that include healthy building, home and office assessments, IAQ inspections, mold inspections and building envelop consulting services.  Mr. Lapotaire is a Florida Licensed Mold Assessor.  He is also a Council-certified Environmental Thermography Consultant (CETC) and a Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC).  In his many years of providing IAQ related services, Mr. Lapotaire has been called upon to perform thousands of investigations in everything from residential and commercial properties to schools and other institutional settings.

Mr. Lapotaire has been active in a number of industry associations including:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
  • Indoor Environmental Standards Organization (IESO)
  • American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC)
  • Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council (BETEC)
  • Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)

“It is a privilege and honor to serve as the IAQA President.” said Mr. Lapotaire.  “Indoor air quality issues impact so many people and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences in helping to continue to strengthen IAQA’s mission to bring together practitioners of this profession to prevent and solve indoor environmental problems for the benefit of the public.”

 

For more information about the Indoor Air Quality Association, please visit www.IAQA.org.

To learn more about Mr. Lapotaire or Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC, please visit www.FloridaIAQ.com, email info@FloridaIAQ.com or call (407) 383-9459. 

 

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues.





The Art of Over Selling and Under Delivering

Air Sampling for Mold Spores is NOT a Mold Inspection and NOT an Air Quality Sample


Mold has become an issue for homeowners and home buyers across the country.  Mold inspections have become a part of most real estate transactions.   However, here in Florida, a mold inspection has become a bit cliché even passé.  Today it’s all about Air Quality.  Why call it a mold sample if you can charge more and call it an Air Quality Sample?  I’ve given my 2 cents about the value of mold sampling and the total lack of value in simply sampling for mold and calling it a mold inspection so I won’t beat a dead horse, well not much.

Mold Sampling Equipment NOT Air Quality Sampling Equipment

If anyone is purchasing a home and they want to know if there is a mold issue they will typically ask their home inspector to collect a few air samples for airborne mold spores.  This is the add-on feature that benefits the home inspector and adds no valuable information to the home buyer.  But hey, the home buyer doesn’t know that, right?  Worse yet, the home inspector doesn’t even know that.  The home inspector isn’t aware of the standard of practice for mold inspection, the ASTM D-7338.  The home inspector simply excludes as much liability as possible in his or her inspection disclaimer and collects a few air samples for airborne mold spores and calls them air quality samples, C'est La Vie, That’s life, thanks for the extra cash and on to the next job.


The home buyer who then becomes the homeowner may soon realize that there’s an issue with water intrusion that the home inspector missed and the mold samples for airborne mold spores didn’t discover.  How could that be?  The home inspector inspected for mold, right? The home was sampled for mold, right?  There were air quality samples collected that said there was no problem, Right?


No, not true.  The home was never inspected for mold, and actually only a very, very, small amount of the air was sampled for mold.  The actual air quality was never established, and if the one component that was sampled (mold) is undisturbed, the mold won’t be in the air.  The air sampling for mold spores is extremely unreliable and will not provide any valuable information.  (pardon my beating the dead horse a bit).


The home inspector or mold inspector that collected the samples for airborne mold spores provided the homeowner with no valuable information about the home they just purchased.  So now that the new homeowner has discovered a water or mold problem they have to hire a new mold assessor to take a second look at the home.  If we are contacted, we always take the opportunity to ask the new homeowners to provide us with their mold inspection report to review. 


We have a great collection of mold inspection reports from home and mold inspectors all across the state.  Insurance companies and homeowners have been asking us for a second opinion for years and our collection of worthless reports is substantial and growing each week.  How our industry came to this is amazing?  Let’s just say it’s capitalism at the expense of personal ethics.  If all you care about is making a buck and you could care less about the value of what you’re providing your client, go ahead and collect a few more air samples for mold spores and call them “Air Quality Samples”.  That’s capitalism without ethics.


So exactly what happens when we get to the home and actually take a look.  A disclaimer free look.  A true mold inspection in accordance with the ASTM D-7338.  Let’s face it, if we’re there, then there’s a problem.  If there wasn’t, the homeowner wouldn’t have called us, right?  So now we have a homeowner that should have had the opportunity to identify a problem with the home they wanted to purchase prior to that purchase.  Critical, right?  That’s what they hired the first mold inspector for.  To identify any issues with the home that can support mold growth.  Prior to the purchase is the time to identify any mold related issues.  That’s when the issues can be used during the decision making phase of the purchase. 


Regardless of the issue, everything can be negotiated if the issues are identified during the buying phase of the transaction.  What the home buyer wants is information about the home.  Valuable information about the home not useless airborne mold spore count information.  Valuable information like, “The home you are wanting to purchase has areas of building envelope failure that are allowing water intrusion that could support mold growth in the following areas.” Then list the areas of failure. The list should be specific and define the extent of the water and mold damage, describe the failure, and don’t be concerned with the genus of mold because it doesn’t matter.  What matters to the home buyer is the knowledge any issues before they make the purchase, not after.


The collection of air samples is a feel good placebo that may help facilitate a sale but is not a mold inspection.  If you’re selling a mold inspection, then provide a mold inspection.  The only thing worse than collecting air samples for mold spores and calling it a mold inspection is selling that simple collection of airborne mold spores as an air quality sample.  With all that can be in the air, mold is but one small piece of the air quality puzzle.  I can assure you that sampling the air for mold spores is not and never will be an air quality sample any more than it’s a mold inspection.  This is the art of over selling and under delivering.


This brief article should be informative.  It should raise questions, but it shouldn’t offend.  If it does offend you then you’re probably the guy collecting the air samples for mold spores and either calling it a mold inspection or air quality sampling.  If that’s the case, no apologies necessary on my end.  My advice, stop it. Stop over selling and under delivering just to make a few extra bucks.


I gotta go for now, I have a dead horse to go kick in another forum…….


John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

#IAQS

 



What is a Mold Assessment?

I once again raise this question because I’ve been called in to provide yet another second opinion of a mold inspection that consisted of nothing more than the collection of a few air samples for mold spores.  I assure you that a correct mold assessment in accordance with the only industry standard of practice does not involve the random sampling of mold.  The only industry standard of practice is the ASTM D-7338 Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings.


The question of just what is a mold assessment is a frustrating and surprisingly hard question for many industry professionals to answer.  That’s right; many mold professionals just don’t know their own industry well enough to know the prevailing standard of practice.  When I’m asked to provide a second opinion on a mold inspection, I always want to talk with the original mold assessors.  Given the chance, I will always take the opportunity to try to raise the awareness of the original mold assessor and inform them of the ASTM D-7338 and the process of providing a valuable mold assessment and report.  I feel that this is best for our industry and for the consumer.


So just what is it that many mold assessors believe is a mold inspection?  Many believe that a mold assessment is simply testing for mold.  There is plenty of guidance on the value of mold sampling but if the ill-informed mold assessor isn’t aware of the industry standard of practice, the ASTM D-7338, there is little chance that they will be aware of the very public opinion of mold sampling.


Let’s just review the industry position on mold sampling.  Ten years ago, the ACGIH concluded that air testing provided a "snap shot" of conditions at the exact time and place of the sampling, but nothing more.   The Center for Disease Control, CDC's current position is that air sampling for mold is nothing more than a snap shot and that such a snap shot is not reliable, representative or worth the cost. The CDC states very clearly that “Any claim based solely on air sampling results is inherently suspect.”  The CDC goes on to state that “There is no reason to respond to questionable testing by conducting more of it.  I believe that is a very clear position from a reputable source. 


What does the laboratory say about the interpretation of the collected mold samples?

  • The client is solely responsible for the use and interpretation
  • Note: Interpretation is left to the company and/or persons who conducted the field work.
  • The “Lab” shall have no liability to the client or the client's customer with respect to decisions or recommendations made, actions taken or courses of conduct implemented by either the client or the client's customer as a result of or based upon the Test Results.

 

The mold assessor that collected the mold samples is the laboratory’s client not the property owner.  That is something that the mold sampler seems to not understand.


Let’s look a bit further. When the following governmental and industry organizations were asked if mold testing is necessary, this is what they had to say.

  • American Industrial Hygiene Association, AIHA There are no standards for “acceptable” levels of mold in the indoor environment. If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources solving the moisture problem and getting rid of the mold than to spend it on sampling. 
  • US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA If you know you have a mold problem, it is more important to spend time and resources solving the moisture problem and getting rid of the mold than to spend it on sampling. If visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary.  Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Your first step should be to inspect for any evidence of water damage and visible mold growth.
  • U.S. Department of Labor There are no standards for acceptable levels of mold in buildings, and the lack of a definitive correlation between exposure levels and health effects makes interpreting the data difficult, if not impossible.
  • Center for Disease Control, CDC There are no accepted standards for mold sampling in indoor environments or for analyzing and interpreting the data in terms of human health.  Molds are ubiquitous in the environment, and can be found almost anywhere samples are taken.  It is not known, however, what quantity of mold is acceptable in indoor environments with respect to health.  CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a building.  Measurements of mold in air are not reliable or representative.  If mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal.
  • The Florida Department of Health, The Florida Department of Health does not recommend mold testing or sampling to see if you have a mold problem, or to see what kind of mold might be growing.
  • NYC Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments, The Department of Health, DOH, should continue to emphasize in its public education materials that sampling for airborne mold is unlikely to provide reliable information for decision-making in damp or moldy buildings.

 

So, should you sample for mold? No, never for the purpose of mold investigation.  Why? There are too many variables impacting the results and the sample size is too small for air testing for mold to be reliable.  The type of mold will not change the necessary mold remediation.  The genus of mold is just not relevant or necessary unless you are trying to frighten a client into believing that they have “Toxic” mold.  Mold spore trap air samples do not have the ability to establish the presence of any mycotoxins.  Air sampling's lack of utility in determining the level of mold found in indoor air may be a surprise to some, given the frequent references to these tests and mold litigation.  


Unfortunately, those that reference mold testing in mold litigation are never directly involved in mold litigation or they would know what the reality is, mold sampling to the genus level is worthless in court.


Mold assessors should bear in mind that samples provide information about a site as it existed at the time tested.  However, the findings may not represent conditions at a time in the past or future, even the relatively recent past or near future. Changes in the kinds, concentrations, and proportions of biological agents in the air can be rapid and substantial.  Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control, Section 2.4.2.2.


ASTM D7338 Standard Guide for Assessment of Fungal Growth in Buildings 7.1 The most important requirement of an assessment for fungal growth is an on-site inspection of the subject building. It is very important to remember that the ASTM D-7338 is the only recognized standard for mold assessment.  According to the ASTM D-7338 the parts of a mold assessment include:

  • the collection of background information,
  • the formulation of a hypothesis or hypotheses,
  • on-site inspection including moisture dynamics,
  • an evaluation of the HVAC system,
  • hypothesis testing,
  • site documentation and written report.

 

The scope of work defines the problem and, just as importantly, which part of the basic assessment and which of the procedures are to be performed.   The scope of work will define the inspection boundaries.  The ASTM D-7338 clearly states that “Within the inspection boundary, all surfaces should be inspected to the extent feasible, including

  • above suspended ceilings and
  • inside pipe chases,
  • attics, and
  • crawlspaces.

The exterior of the building and adjacent grounds should also be inspected for moisture intrusion sites and air leaks.”


The mold inspector that only samples for mold and provides nothing more than a laboratory report will attempt to exclude virtually all areas of a building from his responsibility.  Below is an excerpt from a peer reviewed mold inspection report “Disclaimer”.  It is a remarkable example of how some mold inspectors attempt to alleviate themselves form the responsibility of the very job that they were hired to perform.

DISCLAIMER

"Certain areas are considered inaccessible and impractical to inspect including, but not limited to,

the interiors of walls and inaccessible areas below; areas beneath wood floors over concrete; areas concealed by floor coverings; and areas to which there is no access without defacing or tearing out lumber, masonry, roofing or finished workmanship; structures; portions of the attic concealed or made inaccessible by insulation, belongings, equipment or ducting; portions of the attic or roof cavity concealed due to inadequate crawl space; areas of the attic or crawl space made inaccessible due to construction; interiors of enclosed boxed eaves; portions of the sub area concealed or made inaccessible by ducting or insulation; enclosed bay windows; portions of the interior made inaccessible by furnishings; areas where locks prevented access; areas concealed by appliances; areas concealed by stored materials; and areas concealed by heavy vegetation.

There is no economically practical method to make these areas accessible. However, they may be subject to attack by microbial organisms. No opinion is rendered concerning the conditions in these aforementioned or other inaccessible areas. Furthermore, mold grows. As such, the inspection and report produced by Mold Assessor is not a guarantee that mold does not exist.

As a courtesy Mold Assessor may point out conditions that contribute to mold growth but such comments are not part of the bargained for report, protocol, or supplemental information. The protocol is not intended to be either exhaustive or inclusive of all pertinent requirements, methods or procedures that might be appropriate on a particular mold remediation project.

Anyone using this document should understand the limitations with its use, and rely on his or her own independent judgment, or as appropriate, seek the advice of competent professionals in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given situation."


This type of disclaimer is an example of how some mold inspectors are intent on limiting their area of responsibility.  What exactly are property owners that hire this mold inspector paying for?  What exactly is the value provided by the mold assessor?  Most importantly, why the need to limit the area of responsibility in direct contradiction to the ASTM D-7338?  The answer is that this mold assessor, like many, had no idea that the ASTM D-7338 even existed. This mold assessor, like many, felt that the simple collection of air samples for mold was a mold inspection in direct contradiction to the government and industry positions sited above.


As with any industry the mold industry has a standard of practice that must be followed to provide a property owner with necessary and relevant information regarding any possible mold issue within their property.  Mold sampling will never have the ability to provide any of that necessary and relevant information


A mold inspection in accordance with the ASTM D-7338 will provide the property owner with a wealth of necessary and relevant information.


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.


With a clearly written standard of practice for mold assessment, it’s truly hard to believe that there are so many mold assessors that provide a client little more than a few air samples for mold and call it a mold inspection.  Worse yet is when these mold inspectors call the simple collection of air samples for mold air quality samples.  Both are perfect examples of over selling and under delivering.


More importantly, I would stress that a mold assessment is NOT the collection of mold samples or testing for mold.  It may include the collection of mold samples but the collection of mold samples is NOT, on its own, a mold assessment.


If you hire a licensed mold assessor you should receive a written report in accordance with the ASTM D-7338 signed by the licensed mold assessor that performed the assessment.  Not by someone in another location that never visited your home or office.  When you hire a licensed mold assessor you should receive the written report signed by the licensed mold assessor that performed the assessment and never be required to pay an additional fee for a written report.   


That’s ridicules, what are you paying for if you aren’t receiving a written mold assessment report from your licensed assessor.


So what should the written mold assessment report include?


As the ASTM D-7338 clearly states.  A detailed evaluation of data obtained from a building history and inspection to formulate an initial hypothesis about the

  • origin,
  • identity, location,
  • and extent of amplification of mold growth

 

The written report can then be provided to licensed mold remediators that can then provide you with a written estimate for the remediation.


Finally, I close with questions you should ask your mold assessor before you hire them.

 

 

 

 

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant

Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

 




Spray Foam Insulation Inspection Part IV, The Wrap Up.

Welcome to the final installment of our four part series on Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation.  So far we’ve discussed the what and how's involved with the application of spray foam insulation.  The articles were written in an effort to raise awareness for both consultants interested in investigating complaints associated with spray foam and for the consumer who may be interested in the application of spray foam in their home or office.

 

This final article will address the actual inspection of the property that has the complaint.  That’s right “property” not the air or the spray foam but the property as a whole.

 

To be truly scientific in our approach and provide a solid foundation for our ultimate opinion, we must follow the scientific method which begins with a scientific hypothesis.  A scientific hypothesis is a proposed explanation of a phenomenon which still has to be rigorously tested.  The hypothesis doesn’t matter as much as the process of challenging the hypothesis to either prove or disprove the hypothesis.

 

For example, if you hypothesize that the spray foam is producing a nuisance odor resulting in the occupant complaint, you must then exclude all other potential contributors as well as show how the spray foam is the contributor.  The mere identification of volatile organic compounds VOC’s only tells us that there are VOC’s present not where and why they are present.  This wala, eureka, yahtzee, moment for some really provides no real substantive answer.

 

The beautiful part of the scientific approach is that you will ultimately identify the true contributor.  Let’s say that I hypothesize that the ventilation is inadequate and allowing for the accumulation of the complaint odors within the property.  I then have to physically inspect the applied spray foam insulation in accordance with industry standards and the manufacturer’s specifications to either include or exclude the SPF as a contributor.  I then have to inspect all other potential contributors to either include or exclude potential contributors such as the preexisting condition of the attic, exhaust fans, previous insulation, rodents, insects, stored materials etc. Finally, I would need to fully assess the property's ventilation system and establish the actual ventilation rate to include or exclude the ventilation rate as a contributor.

 

However you decide to hypothesize following this scientific approach to the investigation of occupant complaints associated with spray foam insulation will weed out all potential contributors and provide support for the actual contributors.

 

When I investigate Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints I have three primary areas that must be individually addressed in each report.  First is the home or building's ventilation system and ventilation rate. Second is the condition of the occupied space and the semi-conditioned attic space. Third is the actual inspection of the installed spray foam insulation.  You don’t have to inspect in that order but I personally believe any opinion rendered regarding spray polyurethane foam insulation that doesn’t include these three areas of concern will leave the client with too many unanswered questions and possibly no clear corrective action.

 

The first of my primary areas of concern when it comes to investigating Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints is the home or buildings ventilation system and ventilation rate.

 

Part II began with a short explanation of the objective for installing Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation.  We discussed how you aren't just adding insulation or “R value” to your home to save a few energy bucks.  Most importantly we discussed the how you would be changing your home to save those energy bucks.  We talked about how the SPF will literally seal your home with the intent of preventing air infiltration and exfiltration.   Infiltration is the unintentional or accidental introduction of outside air into a building, typically through cracks in the exterior walls, ceilings, attics, and through use of doors and windows. This outdoor air infiltration is often referred to as air leakage.  In layman's terms, SPF prevents unconditioned outdoor air from getting into your home and conditioned indoor air from escaping out of your home. 

 

Your energy savings is the direct result of substantially reduced air infiltration and exfiltration due to the sealing capability of the SPF insulation.  It truly is great for reducing the amount of energy bucks needed to heat and cool your home.  Your home's HVAC system now only has to contend with the newly sealed indoor environment which now includes the semi-conditioned attic. 

 

Controlling the air infiltration in turn makes it easier for your home’s HVAC Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system to heat, cool, and maintain your indoor thermal comfort.  That’s right, were talking about indoor thermal comfort not indoor air quality.

 

The discussion about the reduction in air infiltration and exfiltration led us to the necessary air exchange rate is also known as air changes per hour (ACHs) or air exchange rate. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have had a residential ventilation standard since 2003, ASHRAE 62.2.  The ASHRAE 62.2 minimum ventilation rate formula was set at 7.5 cfm per person plus 1 cfm per 100 square feet. 

 

So while your home’s recommended minimum ventilation rate remained unchanged for many #IAQS Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS #IAQ, Outdoor Air Supplyyears, ASHRAE has recognized the tighter construction of today’s homes and 10 years after the initial ASHRAE 6.2, there are new changes to the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2.  Under the new formula, newer tightly built homes will need to be ventilated at a much higher rate, namely 7.5 cfm per person plus 3 cfm per 100 square feet. This means that for a tightly built 2,400-square-foot home with 3 bedrooms, the minimum airflow rate of the ventilation equipment has jumped 89%, from 54 cfm to 102 cfm.  Long story short, the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2 has eliminated the air infiltration credit on new tightly built homes.  Guess where SPF insulated homes fall?  Right smack dab in the middle of the (as designed) tightly built category.

 

Remember this, a tightly sealed home will not meet the required ventilation rate and will require outdoor air supply.  Depending on where you live, this may require the use of an ERV (energy recovery ventilator), an HRV (heat recovery ventilator), or a mechanical dehumidifier.  All three will require alterations to your homes HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system.

 

This is a huge part of the investigation of Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints.  Well over two thirds of the investigations I conduct are the direct result or partial result of inadequate ventilation.  This includes almost all retrofit applications and many new construction homes and buildings.  If you intend to provide investigations for Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints be prepared to also inspect the homes ventilation system.  That includes knowing how to calculate the ventilation rate of the home or building and having the knowledge and ability to identify how the home or building is addressing the minimum ventilation rate set by ASHRAE 62.2.

 

Remember the consumer questions for SPF contractors in Part II?

Questions to Ask Your SPF Contractor Prior to Install 

SPF Consumer Question Number 1; How will you determine whether or not my home will meet or exceed the minimum ventilation rate once the SPF insulation is installed?

 

Be prepared to provide answers to this question and not just sample the air within your clients home.  Any home that does not meet the minimum ventilation rate can and most often will have an elevation in volatile organic compounds VOC’s due to inadequate ventilation.  Remember, dilution is often the solution.

 

This is where the “Final Evaluation Test Out” was discussed in Part III.  This is a cornerstone of the true investigation of Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints.

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections 37

The Test Out air leakage testing is once again performed using a blower door to evaluate air leakage and natural ventilation after the spray polyurethane foam insulation application
The SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook states that “If application of SPF renders the home to be insufficiently ventilated, work with HVAC contractor to add mechanical ventilation or HRV/ERV.

SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook clearly states that “adjustments of HVAC system may be needed to:

  • Achieve Good IAQ
  • Meet the minimum mechanical ventilation rate via outdoor air supply and a dehumidifier or ERV/HRV
  • Avoid short-cycling of AC system for proper dehumidification
  • Supplemental humidification/dehumidification to control relative humidity”

 

To definitively establish the needs for any home once SPF has been installed where the traditionally vented attic has been changed to an unvented attic, the use of a blower door must be used to establish the home’s ventilation rate.  At that point, the home's mechanical system requirements can be properly calculated using a Manual J for load calculation, a Manual S for equipment selection, and a Manual D for proper duct design. Without the known natural ventilation rate, you can only guess at the amount of outdoor air necessary to meet the minimum ventilation rate.  That is, if you have even taken the ACH into consideration and added the necessary outdoor air supply.  With the known natural ventilation rate and the new R values, the home's HAVC can be correctly calculated and designed.

 

So when investigating a home or building with Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints treat the home or a building as a system that must work together in harmony to provide the optimal indoor environment.  This must include an understanding of the home or buildings ventilation system and a thorough inspection and evaluation of the home or building's ventilation rate.

 

The second of my three primary areas of concern when investigating Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation complaints is the condition of the occupied space and the semi-conditioned attic space.

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections 32

This was discussed in Part II SPF Consumer Question Number 2; How will you clean my attic and prepare it to be a semi-conditioned attic space? 

 

This is an area that must be taken into consideration when investigating all SPF complaints.  Anyone investigating SPF complaints must take into consideration the age of the home or building and the condition of the home or building's attic.  Any home or building that is retrofit with SPF can have some rather odd contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors trapped within the sealed home or building.  These contributors will now become much more concentrated and obvious to occupants when the spray foam insulation is installed.   Most of these contributors come from the old now sealed and semi-conditioned attic.

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections 31

Some of these contributors to occupant discomfort include the storage of materials in the now sealed attic space, attic insects and/or rodent activity, routine pest control applications, the previous insulation including the condition and material, and the ducting of gas appliances, fireplaces, and kitchen and bath fans.  The possibilities are endless and all must be considered and inspected during the investigation of spray polyurethane foam SPF Insulation complaints.  Remember, what has accumulated in the attic is now trapped within the now sealed semi-conditioned attic that is now a semi-conditioned attic that shares circulated air with the occupied living space of the home.

 

It’s time to take a closer look at how to physically inspect Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation and how to identify misapplied Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation. 

 

Let’s begin with a few examples of how NOT to identify misapplied Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation.  Photos A and B are NOT an inspection of spray foam insulation.  They are however a great example of how to spend your clients money sampling the attic air of their home or office.

 

Or you can actually inspect the applied Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation and identify properly applied spray foam insulation as shown in photo C or misapplied spray foam insulation as shown in photo D. 

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101

The SPF industry has guidance documents for the inspection of installed SPF. The American Chemistry Council Spray Foam Coalition - Center for the Polyurethanes Industry have published the guidance document titled “Spray Polyurethane Foam: Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF”

 

The first step of the process would be to identify the product and how it failed.  This would be accomplished by utilizing the product manufactures installation guidelines and specifications.  I can’t stress this enough, an IEP that is attempting to identify how a product may or may not be impacting occupants must begin with the assessment of the product itself.  Air samples identifying an elevation of VOC’s alone do not provide a source.  The IEP must find the source.

 

With many of my clients I’m asked to review the findings of an indoor environmental professional (IEP) who has collected air samples and declared the elevated compounds to be the direct result of the spray foam insulation.  Believe it or not many of these IEP’s never even set foot on the property and have never actually inspected the spray foam insulation.

 

Without the identification of the spray foam and the actual inspection of the applied spray foam to identify how the product is or isn’t failing and contributing to the identified VOC’s, the report is little more than biased opinion that was established prior to the collection of air samples.  A very unscientific approach, a hypothesis that remains unproven and unchallenged. 

 

The first step of the spray foam inspection process is to identify the product and its proper installation according to the manufacturer’s specifications and industry standards.  Then comes the physical inspection of the spray foam insulation to determination of correct or incorrect installation.  This would be accomplished by identifying the product and utilizing the product manufactures installation guidelines and specifications to assess the products condition. 

 

The ACC Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF states that the inspector should conduct a qualitative visual, tactile and olfactory inspection of the overall project.  When conducting an inspection, include all information that could be useful. For example, include comments and observations of the building occupants and document the specific circumstances of any complaints, such as when, where, and under what conditions.

 

ACC: Spray Foam Insulation Project Characteristics
Examples of items and issues to look for can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Manufacturer#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101
  • Product
  • Primers
  • Fire Retardants (Thermal and Ignition Barriers)
  • Contractor
  • Installation date(s)
  • Building location
  • Daily job QC sheets
  • Type of SPF (open- or closed-cell, reported density, sealant, etc.)
  • Installation locations (walls, ceilings, attics, crawlspaces, under slab, rim joists, etc.)

 

The ACC Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF begins with documenting the SPF Substrate Characteristics. Generally describe to what materials the SPF has been applied. Examples would be: plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), gypsum wallboard, masonry units, brick, among others. Since substrates vary considerably within a given project, note as many as can be identified and which substrates cover large areas versus those that cover small or minor areas. Also, note any substrates where defects, if any, are observed. Use professional judgment to determine what other characteristics may need to be noted.

 

The ACC Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF requires the documentation of Visual Observations.  Visual observations are those that can be seen with the naked eye. Visual observations can reveal overall characteristics of the project and some defects. Please note this is an example of what to look for during an inspection and some defects can only be identified from a core sample.

 

Examples of detectable defects by visual observations may include the following examples:

  • Cracks - Cracks are characterized by a foam-to-foam cohesive failure. Their appearance may be random or patterned.
  • Surface Appearance - SPF typically appears relatively uniform in color and surface profile. These topics are discussed in more detail in later sections. The SPF surface may be shaved or sanded (wherein the surface will be relatively flat) or the surface may have its top skin in place (resulting in an undulating surface appearance).
  • Shrinkage - Shrinkage manifests itself as cracks or crevasses as a result of either cohesive (e.g., cracks within the mass of SPF) or adhesive (e.g., cracks between the SPF and a stud or substrate) failure. Shrinkage resulting in cracks is considered a defect and is often documented in inspections

Indoor Air Quality Solutions Spray Foam Insulation Inspection

  • Gaps and Voids - Gaps are unintentional openings in the thermal envelope which may permit excessive heat transfer. Examples include areas mistakenly not sprayed or sprayed too thin or areas where shrinkage has left gaps between the SPF and a stud or substrate. Gaps are considered defects and are documented in inspections.
  • Voids are uninsulated air spaces within building assemblies caused by the installation of interior (or exterior) finishing material over an otherwise satisfactory SPF surface. An example of a void is the air space resulting when a building assembly’s R-value may be met without completely filling the cavity with SPF.
  • Mechanical Damage - The SPF surface may become damaged as the result of mechanical damage (e.g., it was inadvertently struck by a tool or fork lift). Such damage would be considered a defect and documented accordingly in an inspection.

It is also very important to document your Color Observations of the spray foam insulation.  Document the overall surface color and note differences where observed in the color of the SPF.   Overall - SPF color is variable for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Some manufacturers add colorants to their formulations for identification or marketing purposes. Unless pigmented or dyed, SPF color can be described as tan, beige, or buff in most but not all situations.
  • SPF’s raw materials (e.g., A- and B-side components) can vary in color and affect foam color.
  • UV radiation (sunlight) exposure tends to darken the color of SPF to an orange or rusty coloration, which is discussed further under On-Site Qualitative Examination.
  • Uniformity - While SPF color varies, unless different SPF products have been applied, the color is likely to be relatively uniform throughout the project. This is not always the case. UV degradation can be an exception to this.
  • Blotchiness - An Inspector may observe blotchiness on the surface of SPF as either an irregular dark or a light patch. This can be due to a number of factors, which could include: off-ratio foam, dark foam lacking B-component, light foam lacking A-component. See the discussion on Off-Ratio Foam below.
  • UV Degradation - Ultra-violet radiation (such as from sunlight) can degrade and darken the exposed surface of SPF. The degradation occurs on the surface, whereas the interior of the SPF mass is not affected. The SPF surface tends to turn an orange or rusty color. After prolonged exposure, the degraded foam surface typically becomes dusty and friable.

 

Poorly applied spray foam insulation will also have areas of delamination of blistering.  The guidance document requires the inspector to look for and document the identification of delamination or blistering.  Delamination occurs when the bond between the SPF and the substrate or a prior foam pass is broken. A blister occurs when the effect of the delamination is an uplifting or bulging of the foam surface. Frequently, the cause of either one can be a weak adhesive bond between the foam and the substrate or between the foam and the prior foam pass.


Small, isolated delamination's or blisters may not present a defect sufficient to impact the SPF’s performance. Widespread, large delamination's and blisters could affect performance and may be symptomatic of application or material defects.

 

Blisters typically can be seen and verified by touch: they may have a slight give to them whereas a bulge created by solid SPF will be firm.  Delamination's typically can be identified by lightly tapping the SPF surface with an open palm; a hollow feel or sound is indicative of a delamination.

 

What about the odors associated with the occupant complaint?  How do we document the odor?  Well we document exactly how the client describes it word for word.  Then we document what we smell as specifically as possible.  Remember during SPF applications, odors are common and normal.  During retrofit applications, existing problems prior to the installation of SPF, such as moldy or mildewed carpets, wet ducts, or existing insulation, may be accentuated by the tighter building envelope that results from the application of SPF. Once the project is completed and the spray area ventilated, odors generally dissipate. Lingering odors may be the result of several factors and can be a combination of numerous sources, making it difficult to identify them. Sources of odors in new construction and retrofit applications can include: SPF; other construction materials, such as paints, cleansers, lumber, finishing treatments; occupant life style; nearby industrial or other emissions; pre-existing (“old house”) odors; construction defects, such as misrouted plumbing vents; or high individual sensitivity.

 

Odors may be noticed within areas of the building, for example, specific rooms, or when taking or examining a sample. Document the presence of odor, describe its characteristics with specific adjectives such as “fishy,” or “rotten egg,” and where and under what conditions it was noticed.

 

Documentation of these qualitative observations can include photos (visual items) and notes. When conducting an inspection, include all information that could be useful. For example, include comments and document the specific circumstances of any complaints, such as when, where, and under what conditions.

 

At this point in the inspection, we haven’t measured the spray foam insulation thickness or removed any of the applied spray foam insulation to inspect the product itself.  We’re just documenting our visual and olfactory observations of the exposed areas of the spray foam insulation.  For the spray foam insulation to be properly installed, the contracted and specified thickness must be documented.  I often find that the areas of the thickest spray foam insulation to be the areas where I want to take a sample.  If the product is the applicators commodity, then they aren’t going to apply more than they need.  That is unless they are covering up an area that may not look so good or was misapplied. 

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101

Table 1: Examples of Thickness Probe Frequency

SPF Chart

 

Now that we've measured the applied spray foam insulation we can move on to the collection of the samples.  I collect two foot by two foot samples at the roof or truss to truss, rafter to rafter.  On a wall or gable I sample stud to stud or typically sixteen inches by sixteen inches.  These larger samples will allow me to easily view the spray foam characteristics necessary to properly inspect the spray foam.

 

These next areas of the inspection cannot be identified without the actual sampling of the spray foam insulation.  This is by far the most critical aspect of the spray foam insulation inspection.

  • Streakiness - Document the presence and extent of visually detected streakiness, such as darker then lighter SPF within the same sample area.
  • Scorching - Scorching may occur when the SPF becomes excessively hot during its application and cure phase. When SPF’s exothermic reaction results in the foam getting too hot for too long a period of time, the foam may degrade, resulting in scorching indicated by a brownish discoloration.

  • #IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101

     

  • Foam Profile (Cross-Sectional) - Core samples are normally extracted to provide a full-depth sample of the SPF, from its substrate to its top skin surface. Within this cross section, knit lines may be evident indicating the number of passes or lifts, and the thickness of those passes.
  • Cell Structure Consistency - When visually examining an SPF core sample, the foam profile (substrate to surface) is typically uniform and the cells are small and consistent. The cell structure is tight, small and consistent at the substrate interface and on either side of knit lines.#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101

Potential cell structure defects could include the following:

  • Internal voids: A large cell forming within the SPF mass, which may be due to air entrapment. These may constitute a defect if the internal voids are large or frequent enough to significantly affect the SPF’s performance (Figures 16 and 17).
  • Open, irregular cells: A layer of open, irregular cells may be an indication that moisture was introduced or present on the substrate. If extensive, this can lead to structural failure of the cell layer, blistering and/or delamination (Figure 18).
  • Elongated cells: Isolated, occasional elongated cells that are visually detectable do not normally constitute a defect.  If extensive, then consider documenting

  • Knit-line Adhesion - When SPF is applied, it forms a surface skin which is typically denser than the core of the foam mass. When SPF is applied to an existing SPF surface, the adhesion of the subsequent foam pass forms a knit line with the first pass. Normal knit lines are strong, exhibiting excellent adhesion.

  • #IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101bOff-Ratio Foam: Stickiness or Brittleness - Typically, commercial SPF insulation systems are designed to be applied in a one-to-one ratio (by volume) of the A- and B-components. Malfunctions can occur that could upset the SPF ratio, such as line or strainer blockages, running out of one material and pump cavitation.

 

Off-ratio foam is normally classified by the lacking material, thus off-ratio foam may be said to be “B-side lacking” or “A-side lacking.” Opposite jargon is also used: “B-rich” or “A-rich.” Off-ratio SPF may not provide the same physical properties of on-ratio SPF. In the field, off-ratio foam at times can be identified by its color and feel, but there are exceptions. Table 3 below provides some general characteristics of off-ratio SPF. The SPF manufacturer can also provide additional guidance for the specific SPF being used.

Table 2: General Characteristics of Some Off-Ratio Foams

SPF Chart II

 

Odor - Odors may be noticed while extracting samples or within the sample. Document the presence of odor and describe its characteristics with descriptive words such as “fishy” or “rotten egg,” along with other sample documentation.

 

This information is straight from the ACC Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF.  This provides all who intend to investigate occupant complaints regarding spray foam insulation an industry reference document to support their method and ultimately their findings.  If you follow the guidance document and approach your investigation scientifically you will be surprised at what you will find and how well you can support your findings.

 

In my experience, spray polyurethane foam insulation investigations can be categorized in three distinct categories. The first two seem to be the primary areas of spray foam insulation investigations. The first area is simply miss-applied spray foam, the second is pre-existing of recently introduced contributors, and the third would be is exposure and sensitization.

The First Category – Misapplied SPF
These complaints and nuisance odors are directly associated with incorrectly applied spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation and can be addressed by either correcting the areas of misapplied foam or by removing and re-insulating the areas. Misapplied includes improper ventilation during the application, incomplete application, off ratio application, and also includes SPF in direct contact with recessed can lights in the attic, keyless light fixture bulbs, dryer vents, and/or chimney flues, all of which can heat the SPF and cause a tremendous amount of chemical odors.

 

Category 1 is relatively cut and dry and requires the onsite inspection of the SPF and the collection of no air samples.  The inspection of the foam and the determination of correct and complete installation is a critical step.

The Second Category - Preexisting or Recently Introduced Contributors
This category cannot be stress enough to the professionals that are investigating SPF complaints. 

 

This category runs the gamut and can include some rather odd contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors that become much more concentrated when the SPF is installed.   These include the HVAC system, air exchange rate, storage of materials in the now sealed space, insect and or rodent activity, routine pest control applications, the previous insulation condition and material, proper ducting of kitchen and bath fans.  The possibilities are endless and all must be considered.  Remember that what has accumulated in the attic is now semi-conditioned air that is shared with the attic and living space of the home.

 

It may not be the SPF insulation that is producing the odor or contaminate that is causing occupant discomfort. However, the SPF insulation may well have eliminated the natural ventilation of the attic which prevented the odors and contaminants from entering the home.  The SPF insulation may be trapping the odors and contaminants within the semi-conditioned space.  This area must be thoroughly investigated to rule out the possibility that the home is accumulating VOC’s due to inadequate ventilation. IEP’s must remember that while the SPF insulation may be the issue unless you can exclude all other issues within the home you haven’t completed your investigation, you’ve just begun.

The Third Category –Sensitization Due to Exposure
This category includes all occupants who have become sensitized or allergic to the chemicals produced during the application of SPF. With sensitization, occupants have either re-entered the property shortly after the foam is applied, well before the manufacturer recommended re-occupancy time of 24 to 48 hours while the SPF insulation is still curing and off-gassing, or in the most severe cases of occupant sensitivity the exposure actually took place during the application of the SPF insulation.

 

Sensitization of the occupants can be a result of many issues such as occupants that don’t want to spend the money for a hotel stay, early re-entry or occupancy, to the curious application observer.  Occupant sensitization can also be the result of the lack of proper ventilation during the application.  Venting of the off-gassing of the SPF insulation during application is critical and often not conducted at all. In all cases of occupant sensitization that I have been involved with, the SPF insulation application was not properly vented to the exterior which created a substantial accumulation of the off-gassing chemicals within the property. These trapped volatile organic chemicals VOC’s are what sensitizes the occupants who have either re-occupied too early or were present during the SPFI application.

 

Sensitization occurs when the occupants are overexposed to the trapped volatile organic chemicals VOC’s and become sensitized. From that point on, any exposure to even a minute amount of the chemical causes a reaction. The process of sensitization can make a home unlivable for people who become sensitized.

 

Homes that have improper ventilation during the application process of the SPF insulation are also included in the miss-applied category and almost always have identified areas of miss-applied SPF insulation (SPFI).

 

This category is unique in that any attempt at reducing the occupant’s exposure to the SPF insulation that they are now sensitized to may not be of any relief.  I have had no luck in providing sensitized occupants relief from the home they are now sensitive to.  I have been involved in everything from the introduction of outdoor air through a pre-filter and dehumidifier to control the temperature, humidity, particles, path, and pressure to full removal of the SPF insulation.

 

Unfortunately that bell can’t be un-rung.

 

I hope this series of articles has helped you better understand spray polyurethane foam insulation and the unique changes that take place when SPS is installed.  If you follow the ACC, American Chemistry Council Spray Foam Coalition: Guidance on Sampling Techniques for the Inspection of Installed SPF” and approach the investigation scientifically you will be able to provide your clients a very beneficial opinion and report.

 

Keep an open mind and remember “It’s not always the spray foam insulation.”

#IAQS SPF Spray Foam Insulation Inspections Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS 101

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

 

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues.

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant

Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

 

#IAQS


 

5 Reasons Why You Need a Home Mold Inspection: An Interview with John P. Lapotaire, CIEC of Indoor Air Quality Solutions

Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQSTell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.


Indoor Air Quality Solutions IAQS is a Florida indoor air quality consulting company that provides indoor air quality inspections, mold inspections and testing by Florida licensed mold inspectors and Council Certified Indoor Air Quality Consultants (CIECs). Our inspections take a comprehensive whole-house approach to identifying and correcting indoor air quality and mold problems in homes and offices. We have been providing indoor air quality and mold inspections since 2001 for both commercial and residential properties.


In addition to our indoor air quality and mold inspections our services include: Mold remediation protocols, mold clearance testing, radon testing, water damage inspections, indoor allergen testing, building envelope inspections, and thermal imaging and infrared IR inspections.

What are the best and worst case scenarios when there is mold growth in a home and it goes undetected (and untreated)?

Mold growth in a home is a result of damp indoor conditions that support the mold growth. With thousands of species of mold each individual can react to molds differently. In most cases with small amounts of mold growth the occupants will recognize typical allergic symptoms. However in some cases when the occupants are allergic to the species present the reaction can be much worse. With larger areas of mold growth that have gone undetected many species can be present and some mold species have the ability to produce mycotoxins. The occupant exposure to these mycotoxins is the worst case scenario.

It’s important to note that not all molds produce mycotoxins and those that have the ability to produce mycotoxins don’t always produce them. It’s been my experience that the worst cases of exposure to mold and mycotoxins have been in cases where the mold was disturbed without the necessary containment to prevent the unnecessary occupant exposure. It’s during the mold removal that the indoor environment is at its highest level of dust up and potential occupant exposure to mold.

It’s extremely important that the mold inspector identify the cause and origin of the mold growth and write a mold remediation protocol specific to the loss that outlines the extent of the mold damage as well as the containment necessary to protect both the occupants and the unaffected areas of the home during the mold removal.

What are the most common causes of mold and affected areas in Florida homes?

Mold is the result of moisture within the home that remains unaddressed for a period greater than 48 hours. It’s this moisture that supports the mold growth. There are thousands of mold species and each grows with varying amounts of water. Some molds require much wetter conditions to grow while others can grow with an elevation of humidity.

One of the most common causes of mold growth in Florida is called a humidity bloom. A humidity bloom actually occurs in the cooler months when the air conditioning isn’t being used. During the hot Florida summers the use of air conditioning both cools the home as well as reduces the humidity. The humidity is created by daily activities such as cooking, bathing, and breathing. In the cooler months when there is no need for the air conditioning to cool the home we have also eliminated the homes only means of reducing the humidity from daily activities. The result is often an elevation in indoor humidity well above 60% that can then support mold growth or a humidity bloom.

More common than the winter humidity bloom are the slow and hidden leaks that provide the moisture for the mold growth. These slow leaks at showers, sinks, windows, and roofs can support mold that can go undetected until the occupants begin to notice an increase in allergies while at home that seem to be reduced when they are away from their home.

When should a homeowner or home buyer get a mold inspection?

When occupants begin to feel that they are reacting to their indoor environment with allergy related symptoms that’s when it’s time for a home assessment or mold inspection. This is not and I repeat not a test for mold or air sampling for mold. A mold inspection is the inspection of the home for areas that can support mold growth. An air mold sample for mold cannot tell you where the mold is growing, the cause and origin of the water that is supporting the mold growth, nor can the air sample for mold tell you the extent of the mold damage. In short the air sampling for mold will provide you no useful information. When it’s time for a mold inspection make sure you hire a licensed mold inspector that will inspect your home for areas that could support mold growth and not an inspector that is only going to sample your air for mold.

What are the basic steps that an inspector is involved in from start to finish of a mold inspection to the final clearance of affected areas?

The process of establishing a mold or indoor air quality issue within your home begins with the actual assessment of your home, never with sampling, never. IAQ Solutions begins all our indoor air quality and mold inspections with a thorough visual inspection to identify any and all contributors that may compromise our client’s indoor environment. It’s important for our clients to understand that it’s not always mold.

We focus on identifying the contributors to poor indoor air quality by focusing on the whole home as a single system that can affect our client’s indoor environment. Building envelope failures such as leaks at the roof or windows, air conditioning failure which can include duct leaks, excessive condensation, and/or negative pressure of the living space can all be contributors to indoor air quality problems and the elevation of indoor allergens or mold growth.

When we identify an area of mold growth we create a mold remediation protocol specific to our client’s loss. This is critical with all mold remediation. The mold remediation protocol should include a floor plan identifying the water and mold damaged areas. (Several examples of these site specific mold remediation floor plans can be viewed at http://www.microshield-es.com/moldremediation). The protocol should establish a containment strategy to prevent occupant exposure to the mold during removal as well as prevent cross contamination to the unaffected areas of the home. The mold remediation protocol should then specify the amount and area of water and mold damaged building material that must be removed. This should never, and I can’t stress this enough, Never be left to the mold remediation contractor. The mold assessment is the identification of the cause and origin and the extent of the damage. It’s a direct conflict of interest and against Florida statute to provide both the mold inspection and mold remediation on the same job. Mold inspectors should never profit from what they find. If you hire a mold remediator to inspect for mold they will always find plenty of mold to remediate.


The mold remediation protocol should establish the method of mold removal as stated in the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration BSR-IICRC S520 procedural standard and reference guide for the remediation of mold damaged structures and contents.

The goal should be to remove mold growth by cleaning or removing moldy materials. Dead mold can still pose health risks if you are exposed. Chemicals are not necessary in the typical mold remediation job. We aren’t killing mold we are collecting and removing mold once the water source that supported the mold growth has been corrected. There is no shortage of “quick fix” ozone or chemical using mold remediators out there that will attempt to chemically fog or ozone your home to affordably “kill” your mold. But if they don’t collect the dead mold and remove it from your home the mold is still there and its still and allergen. (For more information on Mold Clearance visit http://www.microshield-es.com/moldclearance )

What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might have a mold problem but has a limited budget?

Remember that a mold inspection is the physical inspection of areas that could support mold growth or the areas of suspected mold growth. No sampling is necessary and most low-cost inspectors inflate the bottom line with several unnecessary mold samples. You shouldn’t risk your health on the lowest price available. Shop and interview the inspector and ensure that they aren’t going to just sample your home and have you sign a lengthy disclaimer and provide you with nothing more than a laboratory report.

What’s the best way for people to contact you and your company?

We are available all day every day via our direct office line (407) 383-9459. We have a website www.FloridIAQ.com and a Facebook page www.facebook.com/IAQSolutions. Visit us online or call us with any questions for your home, for your office, and for your health “Healthier Air Starts Here!” Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

See more at: http://www.floridastatehomes.com/articles/5-reasons-why-you-need-a-home-mold-inspection-an-interview-with-john-p.-lapotaire-of-indoor-air-quality-solutions#sthash.PkJlW2uj.dpuf

 

To learn more about Mr. Lapotaire or Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC, please visit www.FloridaIAQ.com, email info@FloridaIAQ.com or call (407) 383-9459.

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues.

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
o Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
o Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
o Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
o www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com
o www.FloridaIAQ.com
o http://www.microshield-es.com/moldinspectiontesting.html
o http://www.orlandomoldinspection.us/
o http://www.microshield-es.com/nuisanceodor.html
o http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldremediationprotocol.html
o http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldclearancetesting.html

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See our interview on Florida Homes, a leading site for Florida Real Estate, South Carolina real estate, North Carolina real estate & Orlando, FL homes for sale: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Home Mold Inspection.

An interview with John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

Click to read the full story

Orlando Spray Foam Insulation InspectionIt’s time to reduce your carbon footprint and a great way to begin the process is to re-insulate your home.  You’ve been told that it’s a simple process of adding new spray polyurethane foam insulation in the attic.  You’ve been told that you can save up to 20% on your next energy bill.  You’ve also been told that you’re currently losing as much as 40% of your homes energy efficiency due to air infiltration.

Spray foam offers a solution: it performs as both insulation and an air sealant, or air barrier, closing those nooks and crannies that let air escape and add dollars to monthly energy bills. You’ve double checked what your SPF salesman has told you about the energy savings and found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program estimates that by adding insulation and sealing air leaks you can save up to 20% on your monthly energy bills.

You’ve also found that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 56% of the energy used in a home goes to heating and cooling. Your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system has a big effect on your utility bills and your energy consumption because it has to work hard to keep up with all that air leakage.

You’ve done your homework and you’ve decided to move forward with your purchase and application of spray polyurethane foam insulation in your home’s attic.  You’re excited about increasing your “R” value and saving those energy bucks but still just a bit concerned about all those potential indoor air quality IAQ issues that you have been reading about while researching the energy savings of SPF.

Spray foam insulation can help reduce the workload on your HVAC system thanks to its high R-value and effectiveness. In fact, with spray foam, HVAC sizing can be reduced as much as 35% without the loss of efficiency and comfort.

With some luck you’ve read my previous articles and have asked some very critical questions prior to your decision.  Remember, there are differences between spray polyurethane foam insulation and blown or batt insulation that go well beyond the R value and energy savings.

All insulation products aren’t created equally and some insulation products provide much more than just R Value.  When you install spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation, you change the way your home performs.  You’re reducing your homes air leakage or air infiltration.  Great stuff right?  Well, yes and no.  Yes for energy efficiency - less is more analogy is a good thing; however, when it comes to your indoor air quality, IAQ, less is definitely not more and absolutely not better.

Your home’s air leakage or air infiltration rate is the source of the home’s air change rate ACH.  When you seal up your home you may also be substantially reducing your home’s ACH.  When you insulate with SPF you’re not just improving your home’s R-value, you’re changing the way your home achieves the ACH necessary to maintain good indoor air quality.

Today, we have very specific guidance documents that help both the consumer and the applicator better understand the difference between a traditionally ventilated attic and a SPF unvented attic.

Guidance on Best Practices for the Installation of Spray Polyurethane Foam established by the Spray Foam Coalition of the American Chemistry Council, ACC, Center for the Polyurethanes Industry states that the contractor and the homeowner should be aware that retrofitting an existing attic by employing an unvented attic assembly technique can result in the existing HVAC system becoming “oversized” in relation to the new demand.

This situation is of special concern in the southern and coastal climate zones where the HVAC also serves to reduce or otherwise manage moisture levels of buildings in order to improve comfort and prevent moisture related problems, such as mold and mildew. If an existing HVAC becomes “oversized” due to the increased thermal efficiency of the unvented attic assembly, the HVAC system may begin to short cycle, or to quickly turn on and off, as it works to manage temperature. This short cycling of the HVAC system may have negative impacts on the comfort and efficiency of the building and possibly on the lifespan of the system.

The guidance document recommends that the application contractor involve an HVAC consultant to adapt the system to the new, more efficient building envelope associated with the spray foam retrofit.

By far, the majority of the complaints I respond to are a direct result of inadequate ventilation and no method or design consideration for the now semi-conditioned attic.

The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance, SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook, list the HVAC and Ventilation as one of their initial Design Considerations.  

The SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook recommends an Initial Evaluation “Test In” and a Final Evaluation “Test Out”
Initial Evaluation (Test-In)

The Initial Evaluation (Test-In) is a complete evaluation of the existing home before the installation of the SPF insulation.

Items to address and checked during the Test In can include:
•  Air Leakage Testing, to establish the air infiltration rate
•  Existing Attic Insulation (type location and recommended method of removal)
•  Inspection of Related Systems (e.g. HVAC, kitchen, and bathroom exhaust ventilation)
•  Combustion Appliances (reduced ACH and make-up air may be an issue as well as ventilation)
•  Energy Savings Estimate by independent trained professionals (BPI and RESNET)

The Test In air leakage testing is performed using a blower door to evaluate the home’s air leakage and natural ventilation before SPF application.  This is then used as a baseline for quality checks and energy savings estimates.  This test for existing homes should be performed before and after SPF installation.

This initial air leakage or air infiltration rate is the source of the home’s air change rate ACH with a traditionally ventilated attic.  The air infiltration rate is the volumetric flow rate of outside air into a building, typically in cubic feet per minute (CFM) or liters per second (LPS). The air exchange rate, (I), is the number of interior volume air changes that occur per hour, and has units of 1/h. The air exchange rate is also known as air changes per hour (ACHs).  ACH can be calculated by multiplying the building's CFM by 60, and then dividing by the building volume. (CFM x 60)/volume.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has had a residential ventilation standard since 2003, ASHRAE 62.2.  The ASHRAE 62.2 minimum ventilation rate formula was set at 7.5 cfm per person plus 1 cfm per 100 square feet.

The standard assumes that the number of occupants in a home equals the number of bedrooms plus one. The ASHRAE 62.2 asserted that the formula used to determine the minimum airflow rate of ventilation equipment was based on the assumption that all homes deserve an “air infiltration credit” of 2 cfm per 100 square feet.  This was the assumption that the homes in and before 2003 had a good amount of air infiltration.  The homes built today with or without the use of SPF insulation are much tighter and have a substantially reduced air infiltration rate.

So while your home’s recommended minimum ventilation rate remained unchanged for many years, ASHRAE has recognized the tighter construction of today’s homes and 10 years after the initial ASHRAE 6.2, there are new changes to the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2.  Under the new formula, newer tightly built homes will need to be ventilated at a much higher rate, namely 7.5 cfm per person plus 3 cfm per 100 square feet. This means that for a tightly built 2,400-square-foot home with 3 bedrooms, the minimum airflow rate of the ventilation equipment has jumped 89%, from 54 cfm to 102 cfm.  Long story short, the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2 has eliminated the air infiltration credit on new tightly built homes.

Once you apply the Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation in your attic, your home’s air leakage or air infiltration rate will be greatly reduced.  This is why the SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook recommends the Test In and Test Out with the use of a blower door to establish your homes air leakage or air infiltration rate.  The Test Out your air leakage or air infiltration rate will determine the amount of outdoor air your home will require to meet the minimum ventilation rate or the ACH of 7.5 cfm per person plus 3 cfm per 100 square feet.

Final Evaluation (Test-Out)

The Final Evaluation (Test-Out) is also a complete evaluation of the existing home after the installation of the SPF insulation.

Complete Evaluation After Installation can include:
•  Air Leakage Testing
•  Repeat blower door test after installation
•  Inspect for air leaks in foam and repair
•  Confirm energy savings projections

The Test Out air leakage testing is once again performed using a blower door to evaluate air leakage and natural ventilation after the spray polyurethane foam insulation application.  This test is then used as the actual as-built air leak and natural ventilation rate.  The blower door test will provide you with your ACH by measuring your home’s actual amount of air leakage.  With this information, you will now know how much additional outdoor air the home will require to meet the minimum ventilation rate.

Among other issues the Test Out as compared to the Test In is the potential need for HVAC Modifications.  The SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook states that “If application of SPF renders the home to be insufficiently ventilated, work with HVAC contractor to add mechanical ventilation or HRV/ERV.

SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook clearly informs the application contractor that creating an unvented attic (UVA) with SPF can alter a home by:
•  Reduce uncontrolled air leakage
•  Lower HVAC energy costs
•  Improved insulation performance
•  HVAC system inside the building envelope operates under more moderate temperatures

Most HVAC systems are oversized to account for excess air leakage which directly affects the energy efficiency as well as effectiveness dehumidification.  The application of spray polyurethane foam insulation may actually allow for the downsize of the HVAC system for better performance.

Adjustments or downsizing of HVAC system may be needed to:
•  Achieve Good IAQ
•  Meet the minimum mechanical ventilation rate via outdoor air supply and a dehumidifier or ERV/HRV
•  Avoid short-cycling of AC system for proper dehumidification
•  Supplemental humidification/dehumidification to control relative humidity

To definitively establish the needs for any home once SPF has been installed and the traditional vented attic has been changed to an unvented attic, the use of a blower door must be used to establish the home’s natural ventilation rate and the homes mechanical system requirements must be properly calculated using a Manual J for load calculation, a Manual S for equipment selection, and a Manual D for proper duct design.

Without the known natural ventilation rate, you can only guess at the amount of outdoor air necessary to meet the minimum ventilation rate.  That is if you have even taken the ACH into consideration and added the necessary outdoor air supply.  With the known natural ventilation rate and the new R values, the homes HAVC can be correctly calculated and designed.

You would think knowing the impact of changing from a vented attic to a spray polyurethane foam insulated unvented attic that most home owners are performing the Test In and Test Out procedures.  In actuality, less than 10% of the homes I assess have had any form of Test In or Test Out performance evaluation.  It’s rare that the issue of ventilation or the home’s HVAC system is discussed at all.
Remember earlier in this article we discussed the Guidance on Best Practices for the Installation of Spray Polyurethane Foam states that the contractor and the homeowner should be aware that retrofitting an existing attic by employing an unvented attic assembly technique can result in the existing HVAC system becoming “oversized” in relation to the new demand.

The guidance document also recommends that the application contractor involve an HVAC consultant to adapt the system to the new, more efficient building envelope associated with the spray foam retrofit.

The Guidance goes on to further address the home’s ventilation system:

Important note about air Handlers
If a ventilation system that uses the HVAC air handler fan to provide the needed outdoor air (as is the case in many supply ventilation strategies) is used, it is imperative to ensure that the air handler fan operates often enough to provide sufficient fresh air. During periods of mild weather, or at night in the summer, the air handler fan may not be called on to run for several hours, so the house would get no outdoor air during these times. To address this, control units are now available that will ensure the house always gets the needed ventilation. If the air handler does not operate enough for sufficient ventilation, the monitors will call for the fan to operate and provide sufficient fresh air.

Typically, most homes need for the fan to run for between 10 and 20 minutes each hour to meet the home’s ventilation needs. An example of this type of fan control unit is the Aprilaire 8100.

The introduction of outdoor air not only affects the temperature in the house, it also impacts the humidity in the house. Here in Florida, the humidity can be a critical factor that is often overlooked. Our hot humid southern Florida outdoor air supply will require mechanical dehumidification. It’s critical to include ventilation air in the ACCA Manual J, Eighth Edition (J8) HVAC sizing calculations.

Mechanical System Calculations
Residential Mechanical System guidelines include:

•  Manual J:* Load Calculation
•  Manual S: Equip. Selection
•  Manual D:* Duct Design

Manual J
Manual J is the name for a specific protocol (often called “Heat Load Calculation” or “Cooling Load Calculation“) used to determine how much heating/cooling a home needs to stay cool and dry in the summer and warm in the winter. This load calculation process was developed by engineers in the heating and air conditioning industry and has been used for decades to accurately size heating and air-conditioning equipment. After completing this load calculation process, one can choose a properly sized piece of machinery to satisfy the load.

A Manual-J load calculation report provides three main pieces of information regarding heating and cooling load:
Heating Load: This is how much heat your house will require on the almost-coldest day of the year, in the middle of the night (when there’s no help from the sun). This is the number, or load, used to select a piece of heating equipment.

Sensible Cooling Load: This is the amount of sensible heat (the type you measure with a thermometer) that your system should be able to remove on the almost-warmest day of the year, during the daytime (when the sun is heating up the building). This is used, IN COMBINATION WITH the next load-type, to select the cooling equipment.

Latent Cooling Load: This load describes how much moisture your system should be able to remove under “worst-case” conditions. Worst-case for latent loads are typically when it’s hot and wet outside (daytime in the summer).

These three loads are used to select a piece of machinery that fits the loads (heat losses or gains) of your home. When selecting air conditioners or heat pumps, the two cooling loads should be used. And, the selected piece of machinery should be able to supply the proper amount of BOTH latent and sensible cooling, and be less that 15% over-sized, based on the Manual-J load calculation. This will ensure your system is capable of proper dehumidification (assuming the distribution system is performing properly).

Manual S
Proper equipment selection important and achieving occupant satisfaction is the principal goal of any HVAC design. Occupant satisfaction is maximized when the heating and cooling equipment are the correct type and size to meet the capacity requirements from the Manual J load calculation.  For residential equipment selections, ACCA’s Manual S, is the only procedure recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If the Manual J load calculation is done then the next step is to select the equipment that will deliver the necessary heating and cooling.

Undersized equipment will not meet the customer’s comfort requirements at the design specifications.

Oversized equipment will create other problems:
•  Degraded humidity control in the summer.
•  Occupants may suffer the effects of an increased potential for mold growth. These same conditions also may contribute to asthma and other respiratory conditions.
•  The temperature may feel right at the thermostat but the temperature in other rooms will suffer from the oversized equipment going through short operation cycles. Short cycles can cause temperature swings as the equipment over-conditions, stops, then over-conditions, etc…
•  Hot and cold spots between rooms because the thermostat is satisfied but the room is not.
•  Oversized equipment generally requires larger ducts, increased electrical circuit sizing and larger refrigeration tubing. These cause higher installed costs and increased operating expenses.
•  The equipment starts and stops more frequently, this causes excessive wear and can increase maintenance costs more service calls.
In these unfavorable conditions occupants will experience discomfort and dissatisfaction.

Manual D
The next step is the duct design.  For residential air duct designs ACCA’s Manual D is the procedure recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and specifically required by residential building codes. Air is the first word in air conditioning. If the network of ducts carrying the air is not properly designed then the health and safety of the occupant are at risk, the equipment could fail more quickly, the energy costs could rise, and occupant comfort might be sacrificed.

In order for home owners to be comfortable, a duct system must be designed to carry the right amount of air, at the right speed, into the right room. If the ducts are the wrong size then the wrong amount of air will enter the room and may cause:
•  The room to be too warm or too cool
•  The air to be too drafty and disturb people while they sleep, eat, read, etc...
•  The air to be too noisy and drown out conversations, TV or radio programs, etc...
•  The air to be too slow – the conditioned air will not circulate or mix well in the room.
•  The fan to work harder, possibly fail sooner, and use more energy to move air
•  The furnace or air conditioner safety devices to stop equipment operation
•  Pressure differentials that may increase energy costs by pushing out conditioned air or drawing in unwanted air

The design and installation of your homes HVAC system with your new spray polyurethane foam insulation SPF insulated home.
The issue of home performance and ventilation must become a more critical aspect of the spray polyurethane foam insulation SPF retro-fit sales pitch.  Understanding the performance changes within a home by altering the attic from traditionally vented to spray polyurethane foam insulation SPF unvented would eliminate a large portion of the SPF occupant odor complaints.

You might be thinking that the new construction homes have it made right?  Well, not so much.  Believe it or not, many new homes are designed with no alterations to the home’s ventilation system in the area of the ventilation rate (outdoor air) and the semi-conditioned attic space.  Many new homes actually have a reduction in size of the HVAC equipment as discussed earlier.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with altering the home’s HVAC system to accommodate the new tighter design and improved R-value; however, there is a huge issue with the builder not taking into consideration the reduced air infiltration, ventilation rate, or air changes per hour ACH. Carbon dioxide, CO2 emissions from the new building material and the dilution of the volatile organic compounds, VOC’s due to the homes ACH.

In a tightly sealed spray polyurethane foam insulation SPF home, the VOC’s accumulate in the attic. The VOC laden warm indoor air rises to the attic as the living space is cooled.  Over time, this accumulation, if not properly diluted, can actually make its way down into the living space from the attic.  The necessary outdoor air supply needs to properly dilute the new construction VOC’s.  It’s the accumulation of these volatile organic compounds, VOC’s that is often directly associated with the SPF.  Fortunately, we have well established studies of new construction homes with traditionally vented attics and no SPF insulation.  These SPF free new construction VOC’s can then be compared to the samples collected from new construction homes with SPF insulation and unvented attics.  If the SPF is bad, the VOC signature will be different than that of a traditional home with no SPF. It seems simple right?  Well, there remain those that sample heavy and look at nothing when it comes to SPF insulation and simply point to the SPF insulation without addressing the home as a whole.

When assessing the condition of any home with SPF insulation and occupant complaint, the home must be inspected as a whole.  The inspection must include the design and performance of the home.  For these new construction inspections there are two specific areas of concern other than the physical inspection of the installed SPF.  First, is the home’s ventilation rate.  We need to know what the home’s ACH is and we need to know if we are at least attaining the minimum ACH recommended by the ASHRAE 62.2.  Second, is the ventilation design of the semi-conditioned attic space.  How is the homes semi-conditioned attic being addressed and ventilated?

These are the primary factors in a home’s ability to properly condition and maintain the indoor environment.

No air circulation in the unvented attic will lead to an elevation of heat, humidity, and VOC’s.  There must be a specific method of circulating air through the semi-conditioned attic space.  If you don’t take ownership of this space in your ventilation design and you assume that the space will be passively semi-conditioned, be prepared to meet me on site at a future date.  We’re not talking about fully conditioning the space by installing supply and return vents in the attic. You need to move air through the semi-conditioned attic.  If you don’t, the attic simply isn’t semi-conditioned.  It’s unconditioned unvented attic space that will soon be a source of odor and occupant complaint.

So you may be asking just how we establish the new construction ventilation rate and method of semi-conditioning the attic.

Final Evaluation (Test-Out)
The Final Evaluation (Test-Out) is also a complete evaluation of the new-construction home after the installation of the SPF insulation.

Complete Evaluation After Installation can include:
•  Air Leakage Testing
•  Blower door test after installation
•  Inspect for air leaks in foam and repair
•  Confirm energy savings projections

The Test Out air leakage testing is performed on the new construction home by using a blower door to evaluate air leakage and ventilation with the unvented attic insulated with spray polyurethane foam.  This test is then used as the actual as-built air leak and natural ventilation rate.  This test and amount of measured actual natural ventilation will tell us exactly how much additional outdoor air is necessary to meet the minimum ventilation rate.  The SPFA Builder’s Reference Handbook states that “If application of SPF renders the home to be insufficiently ventilated, work with HVAC contractor to add mechanical ventilation or HRV/ERV.”

You hear the real estate professionals repeating it’s all about the “Location, Location, Location.”  Well the indoor air quality guy says it’s all about the “Ventilation, Ventilation, Ventilation!”

So at the risk of being overly redundant, ventilation cannot be stressed enough in a home with spray polyurethane foam insulation and an unvented attic.

Any home with spray polyurethane foam insulation and an unvented attic must have a method of semi-conditioning the unvented attic to provide the necessary air circulation to prevent the accumulation of heat, humidity, and VOC’s.  That can’t be found in expensive air sampling for VOC’s.

 Any home with spray polyurethane foam insulation and an unvented attic must establish the necessary minimum ventilation rate necessary to prevent occupant complaint while providing good indoor air quality.  That can’t be found in expensive air sampling for VOC’s.

However, both can be identified by measuring the homes performance and the use of a blower door test.  And both can be improved and/or corrected once the actual performance testing has been completed.

So reduce your carbon footprint and save those energy bucks.  Spray polyurethane foam insulation is a great home improvement method of saving energy.  Just remember one thing; if your home is ventilated the same way after the installation of spray polyurethane foam insulation you haven’t finished the home improvement process.

Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation……………..

To learn more about Mr. Lapotaire or Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC, please visit www.FloridaIAQ.com, email info@FloridaIAQ.com or call (407) 383-9459.

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues.

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
•www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com
•www.FloridaIAQ.com
•http://www.microshield-es.com/moldinspectiontesting.html
•http://www.orlandomoldinspection.us/
•http://www.microshield-es.com/nuisanceodor.html
•http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldremediationprotocol.html
•http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldclearancetesting.html

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IAQ SolutionsSpray Polyurethane Foam SPF insulation is a great way to tighten up your home and save a few of these precious energy dollars.  We are seeing more SPF use in new construction than ever before and the retrofit market is a boomin.

This article will discuss some of the critical questions all prospective SPF consumers must ask when deciding if Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation is right for them.  As good as SPF insulation is for energy savings, sometimes it’s just not a good choice for an existing home.

The takeaway… I hope readers understand that there are specific issues that should be taken into consideration when making the decision to install Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF insulation in your home.

We should probably begin with a short explanation of the objective for installing SPF insulation.  It seems simple, right, you’re just adding R-value to your home to save a few energy bucks.  Well, yes and no.  Most importantly is the how you would be improving your home to save those energy bucks.  The SPF will literally seal your home with the intent of preventing air infiltration and exfiltration.   Infiltration is the unintentional or accidental introduction of outside air into a building, typically through cracks in the exterior walls, ceilings, attics, and through use of doors and windows. This outdoor air infiltration is often referred to as air leakage.  In laymans terms, unconditioned outdoor air from getting in your home and conditioned indoor air from escaping your home.

In typical newer U.S. homes, about one-third of the HVAC energy consumption is due to infiltration, so reducing air infiltration saves energy bucks.  Controlling the air infiltration in turn makes it easier for your home’s HVAC Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system to heat, cool, and maintain your indoor thermal comfort.  That’s right, were talking about indoor thermal comfort not indoor air quality.

The energy savings is the direct result of substantially reduced air infiltration and exfiltration due to the sealing capability of the SPF insulation.  It truly is great for reducing the amount of energy bucks needed to heat and cool your home.  Your homes HVAC system now only has to contend with the newly sealed indoor environment which now includes the semi-conditioned attic.

We’ll get to the “semi-conditioned” attic in a bit but for now, let’s first talk about something else that is substantially reliant on the home’s air infiltration and exfiltration rate.  That would be the home’s necessary ventilation rate.

The infiltration rate is the volumetric flow rate of outside air into a building, typically in cubic feet per minute (CFM) or liters per second (LPS). The air exchange rate, (I), is the number of interior volume air changes that occur per hour, and has units of 1/h. The air exchange rate is also known as air changes per hour (ACHs).  ACH can be calculated by multiplying the building's CFM by 60, and then dividing by the building volume. (CFM x 60)/volume.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has had a residential ventilation standard since 2003, ASHRAE 62.2.  The ASHRAE 62.2 minimum ventilation rate formula was set at 7.5 cfm per person plus 1 cfm per 100 square feet.

The standard assumes that the number of occupants in a home equals the number of bedrooms plus one. The ASHRAE 62.2 asserted that the formula used to determine the minimum airflow rate of ventilation equipment was based on the assumption that all homes deserve an “air infiltration credit” of 2 cfm per 100 square feet.  This was the assumption that the homes in and before 2003 had a good amount of air infiltration.  The homes built today with or without the use of SPF insulation are much tighter and have a substantially reduced air infiltration rate.

So while your home’s recommended minimum ventilation rate remained unchanged for many years, ASHRAE has recognized the tighter construction of today’s homes and 10 years after the initial ASHRAE 6.2, there are new changes to the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2.  Under the new formula, newer tightly built homes will need to be ventilated at a much higher rate, namely 7.5 cfm per person plus 3 cfm per 100 square feet. This means that for a tightly built 2,400-square-foot home with 3 bedrooms, the minimum airflow rate of the ventilation equipment has jumped 89%, from 54 cfm to 102 cfm.  Long story short, the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2 has eliminated the air infiltration credit on new tightly built homes.  Guess where SPF insulated homes fall?  Right smack dab in the middle of the (as designed) tightly built category.

Questions to Ask Your SPF Contractor Prior to Install
SPF Consumer Question Number 1; How will you determine whether or not my home will meet or exceed the minimum ventilation rate once the SPF insulation is installed?

This is one of the most important questions every prospective SPF consumer must ask.  It involves the necessary air changes per hour (ACHs) to ensure that your home does not accumulate indoor contaminants and you have healthier air to breathe.  With SPF insulation, you will most likely require dedicated outdoor air supply to meet the minimum ventilation rate.  If your newly SPF insulated home does not meet the minimum ventilation rate, your home will accumulate contaminants and there will be occupant complaints.

I’ve inspected homes with reported SPF nusiance odors that are well over 50 years old all the way to homes that are only a year or two old.  The issues with new and old homes by and large remain the same.  The most critical is the ventilation rate of the home.  Unfortunately, the extremely important and necessary ventilation rate of the home is rarely discussed and almost never addressed when the home is changed from traditionally ventilated to sealed and semi-conditioned.  Your home’s HVAC system and ventilation rate must be discussed.

Now let’s talk about the “semi-Conditioned” attic.  Semi-conditioned means that your attic that was once naturally cooled through traditional attic “outdoor” air circulation, soffit, gable, and roof vents, is now cooled or conditioned through “indoor” air circulation.  The code refers to these two attics as vented and unvented attic assemblies.  With your new sealed attic you must seal these soffit, gable, and roof vents.

The unvented or semi-conditioned  state of the attic is critical.  For example, if the old attic insulation is left behind to save a few bucks the attic cannot be properly cooled.  If the home’s attic isn’t properly cleaned, the accumulated attic debris will enter the home and cause issues with the occupants.  To put it to you straight, what’s in the attic will now be circulated within your home.  It’s as simple as that.

SPF Consumer Question Number 2; How will you clean my attic and prepare it to be a semi-conditiond attic space?
 Anyone interested in installing SPF in their attic must take into consideration the age of their home and the condition of their attic.  Any home that is retrofit with SPF can have some rather odd contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors that will now become much more concentrated when the SPFI is installed.   Most of these contributors come from the old now sealed and semi-conditioned attic.

Some of these contributors to occupant discomfort include the storage of materials in the now sealed space, attic insects and/or rodent activity, routine household pest control applications, the previous insulation including the condition and material, and the proper ducting of kitchen and bath fans.  The possibilities are endless and all must be considered and reviewed prior to the installation of the SPF.  Remember, what has accumulated in the attic is now trapped within the now sealed semi-conditioned attic.  The semi-conditioned attic now shares circulated air with the living space of the home.

Our Example Home
 To help our readers understand the SPF sales process a little better, let’s establish an example home; one that I actually assessed.  Let’s say our example home is a three bedroom, two bathroom, two car garage, 60 year old single story ranch style home.  Our homeowners have lived in the home for the last ten years and have decided to save a few energy bucks on their quest to be greener. Their first step was to install open cell SPF insulation at the roof sheathing.   This was a pricy step in the green direction, but they were able to shave a few bucks off the bottom line by not removing the old insulation or cleaning the attic.  No big deal according to the SPF applicator.

So what, who really cares if the insulation remains in the attic and the attic wasn’t cleaned? It’s really about the energy savings right?

Oh and what about the bathroom exhaust fans in that 60 year old home.  The 60 year old code allowed the bathroom exhaust fans to be ducted to the old ventilated attic and that’s exactly where they are now, ducted to the newly sealed attic.  Many homes built back then also had the kitchen exhaust hood ducted to the attic.  These bathroom exhaust fans must be ducted to the exterior of your home or you may continue to save energy but you’ll slowly be filling your home with humidity and contaminants.

Oh and what about the bathroom exhaust fans in that 60 year old home.  The 60 year old code allowed the bathroom exhaust fans to be ducted to the old ventilated attic and that’s exactly where they are now, ducted to the newly sealed attic.  Many homes built back then also had the kitchen exhaust hood ducted to the attic.  These bathroom exhaust fans must be ducted to the exterior of your home or you may continue to save energy but you’ll slowly be filling your home with humidity and contaminants.

I’m not stretching the example here.  These are real issues with many retrofit SPF applications.

What about the series of rodent issues in that 60 year old home?  Let’s face it; there are a lot of homes out there with rodent and insect issues.  Some pest control companies trap the feisty little critters while others choose to poison them.  In our example home, a liberal use of poisons and traps were used.  There were several remaining bait pods and traps with rat carcasses at different stages of decomposition.  The remaining pesticides can be a serious threat to occupants if not properly cleaned. The rodent urine and fecal matter are a substantial concern when trapped inside a now sealed semi-conditioned attic that shares circulated air with the living space of the home.

Well, to say the least, as with our example home, you can easily have a huge list of contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors if the attic space isn’t properly addressed.

Most of the SPF insulation investigations I am called in to review the above issues were overlooked simply because of the recent application of SPFI.

Indoor Environmental Professionals IEP’s conducting SPF investigations must remain unbiased and open minded and remember that it’s not necessarily the SPF insulation that is producing the odor or contaminate that’s causing occupant discomfort.  It is however the SPF insulation that is now eliminating the natural ventilation of the attic which is now preventing the odors and contaminants from leaving the home.  This causes an accumulation of odors and contaminants if the necessary ventilation rate is not met and the source has not been properly addressed.  In the above examples, that source of the odors and contaminants were the remaining insulation and debris in the now sealed attic.  The SPF was the last change in the home and therefore the scapegoat or go-to cause and origin of the odor, the straw that broke the camel’s bake so to speak.

The newly installed SPF insulation has now trapped the odors and contaminants within the semi-conditioned space.  In the cases above, the home also had no dedicated outdoor air supply necessary to meet the minimum ventilation rate.  If the home met the minimum ventilation rate, the accumulating VOC’s from daily use of products could quite possibly have been adequately diluted ending the nuisance odors and occupant complaints.

So we come to the point where you’ve decided to move forward with your SPF insulation and your contractor has agreed to install dedicated outdoor air supply and thoroughly clean your attic once he has removed all of the old insulation.  Good start.  Now you need to address the issue of exactly how the application contractor will be ventilating your home during the application to prevent the accumulation of the SPF chemicals from entering your home.

SPF Consumer Question Number 3; How will you ventilate my home during the SPF application to prevent the contamination of my home and personal belongings.

There are many factors to consider when planning your SPF installation.  One of the most important is how the application contractor will protect your home while insulating your attic.  Your application contractor should assess the home’s ventilation needs before the job starts and develop a ventilation plan to ensure the SPF chemicals do not enter the home during application.

Understanding ventilation requirements is essential. For example, shut down HVAC systems during a SPF application. System shut-down stops dust, aerosol and vapors from being drawn into the HVAC system. Once the project is completed and the spray area ventilated, SPF odors generally dissipate. Lingering odors may be the result of several contributing factors as previously discussed and can be a combination of numerous sources, making it difficult to identify them. Sources of odors in new construction and retrofit applications can include: SPF; other construction materials, such as paints, cleansers, lumber, finishing treatments; occupant life style; nearby industrial or other emissions; pre-existing (“old house”) odors; construction defects, such as misrouted plumbing vents; or high individual sensitivity.

For interior applications, this can help prevent airborne materials from being distributed from one part of a building to another. Once the HVAC system is shut down, seal the air intakes with plastic sheeting and tape to prevent dust and spray from entering the system. Some SPF manufacturers recommend that the HVAC system stay sealed and inoperable for up to 24 hours after the SPF application.
 A home that is not properly protected by correctly ventilating the attic can be irreversably damaged.  The chemical odors can remain for extended periods of time.  Often, occupants can become sensitized to the remaining chemicals.  Proper ventilation during application is necessary.

In many homes, the HVAC system is located in the attic.  If your home’s air handler and ducts are in your attic, you must ensure that they are properly sealed and protected to ensure you don’t end up with an additional and costly repair to your HAVC system.  If your HVAC system isn’t properly shut down, your HVAC sytem can very easily contaminate your home by circulating the SPF chemicals through your air handler directly into your home.

Odors may be noticed within areas of the building; for example, specific rooms, or when taking or examining a core sample. Document the presence of odor, describe its characteristics with specific adjectives such as “fishy,” or “rotten egg,” along with where and under what conditions it was noticed.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Ventilation Guidance for Spray Polyurethane Foam Application”: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/spf/ventilation-guidance.html.

SPF Consumer Question Number 4;  How will you ensure that my home’s HVAC system is shut down and protected during the SPF application?

It is critical that your SPF application contractor turn off your HVAC system and seal the air handler so overspray does not enter the system.  If your home has gas powered equipment, your SPF application contractor must direct the exhaust fumes to an open environment to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide in the work area.

I’ve seen many air handlers destroyed by overspray and chemicals that were drawn into the air handler and distributed throughout the home.  I’ve even had one contractor tell me that the shut down was not necessary because his SPF was so safe his installers didn’t need to wear protective equipment other than goggles.  By the way, that couldn’t be further from the truth and that application contractor was immediately reported to the manufacturer.

There must be a more than passive attempt at protecting your home and properly ventilating your attic during and after application.  Remember to ask for the application attic ventilation, HVAC shut down and protection plan in writing.  You will want this as a part of your permanent record.  Then prior to the start of application, ask the application contractor to walk you through and show you the ventilation and HVAC protection.  It’s your home and nobody will be as dedicated to the protection of your home and personal property than you.

Then leave your home until the application is complete and do not return until the manufacturers established reoccupancy time has elapsed. No peeking!

SPF Consumer Question Number 5;  When will it be safe for me to return to my home?

Vacate building occupants and non-SPF personnel from the building during the application of SPF and for a period of time following the completion of spraying. Where this is not possible or practical for large commercial buildings, the use of containment and ventilation techniques can be utilized. For residential applications, the homeowner needs to vacate the home and return only after the specified re-occupancy time.

Communicate with other trades working in proximity to the spray application area. Giving notice to other trades is an important aspect on larger commercial projects due to the number and kinds of workers in and around the jobsite.

Provide notice to trades and occupants The focal points for this communication are the general contractor, building owner, home owner, or other responsible personnel for the project. Educate the onsite supervisor or project manager at the start of the project long before the actual spray application starts so  they have a complete understanding of the jobsite safety requirements before the beginning of the spray application process. Critical jobsite safety concerns include proximity of open flame sources and personnel to the spray application area.

If you are present during application or too soon after application, you run the risk of SPF sensitization due to exposure.
 With sensitization occupants have either re-entered the property shortly after the foam is applied or well before the manufacturer recommended re-occupancy time of 24 to 48 hours. In the most severe cases of occupant sensitivity, the exposure actually took place during the application of the SPFI.

There are many occupants who have become sensitized or allergic to the odors given off from SPF for simply wanting to see the application, or refusing to leave their home during application, or returning to their home too soon.  Regardless of the reason for the exposure, the SPF application contractor should never continue to apply while anyone is present and must ensure that no body is present or reoccupies before the manufactures reoccupancy time period has elapsed.

Adding to the sensitization of the occupants is the lack of proper ventilation during the application. Venting of the off-gassing of the SPFI during application is critical and often not conducted at all. In all cases of occupant sensitization that I have been involved with, the SPFI application was not properly vented to the exterior which created a substantial accumulation of the off-gassing chemicals within the property. These trapped volatile organic chemicals VOC’s are what sensitizes the occupants who have either re-occupied too early or were present during the SPFI application.

Unfortunately, any attempt at reducing the occupant’s exposure to the newly installed spray polyurethane foam insulation may not provide any relief. I’ve had no luck in helping sensitized occupants. I’ve been involved in everything from the introduction of outdoor air through a pre-filter and dehumidifier to control the temperature, humidity, particles, path, and pressure to full SPF removal.  Unfortunately, some bells can’t be un-rung.

If you’re interested in saving those energy bucks with the application of SPF you must ensure that these steps are taken to ensure the proper application and safety of your family.

So back to our Example House
 What exactly went wrong with our 60 year old example home discussed earlier?  Who was responsible for the occupant complaints associated with the newly installed SPF insulation?

Well, the application contractor sold the homeowner SPF for the purpose of greening up the home and saving a few of these elusive energy bucks.  It was an expensive step in the green direction but one that was going to pay off at the end in the form of saving a few energy bucks.  What the contractor didn’t discuss were the issues reviewed in this article.

Here is what our homeowner should have discussed with their application contractor prior to install;
 1. The possible need to re-evaluate the homes HVAC system
 2. The newly sealed home’s ventilation rate and possible need for dedicated outdoor air supply
 3. The condition of the home’s 60 year old attic
 4. The removal of the home’s existing insulation
 5. The sealing of the existing open soffit and roof vents
 6. The possible termination of the bathroom exhaust fans into the attic
 7. The possible termination of the kitchen exhaust hood into the attic
 8. The sealing of the home’s HVAC system during the application of SPF
 9. The ventilation of the home during the application of SPF
 10. Occupancy during the application of SPF and Re-occupancy after SPF application

Our example 60 year old home was later blower-door tested and as expected, it didn’t even come close to the minimum ASHRAE air exchange rate.  With the SPF insulation and without dedicated outdoor air supply, the home had no chance of meeting the minimum ventilation rate.  Unfortunately, for the occupants, the semi-conditioned attic had 60 years of accumulated dust, debris, fiberglass, rodent and insect urine, fecal matter, pesticides and who knows what.

In an effort to keep the bottom line sales price of the SPF as low as possible, the SPF contractor sold the SPF insulation without the following additional considerations that would have led to additional expenses and an increased bottom line sales price.  Let’s face it, while most reputable SPF contractors will review all aspects and necessary steps involved with SPF.  There remain some SPF application contractors who are there to sell SPF and don’t want to lose a sale.  Remember to pay attention to the SPF sales rep that has not listed the following in their sales price or stresses that they are unnecessary expenses.

With our example house, the SPF salesman omitted the following;
 1. Sealing the existing soffit and roof vents
 2. Removing the existing Insulation
 3. Properly cleaning the attic
 4. Relocating the bath and kitchen exhaust ducts to the exterior of the attic
 5. Installing dedicated outdoor air supply to meet the necessary minimum ventilation rate

Remember the ventilation rate and dedicated outdoor air supply is a critical part of SPF insulation.   Unfortunately, I find the ventilation rate all too often overlooked.  As a professional investigating SPF insulation, you have to ask questions beyond the obvious.

You have to ask relevant questions such as;
• “What is the condition of the new semi-conditioned attic space?”
• “What have the occupants been sealed in with?”
• “How is the ASHRAE minimum ventilation rate being met?”
• “How is the semi-conditioned attic space actually being semi-conditioned?”

In addition to these permanent and critical physical changes to our example home, the SPF salesman also omitted several temporary but also very critical steps necessary to protect the occupants, their personal belongings, and the home’s HVAC system.

These very critical and necessary steps included;
 1. Sealing the homes HVAC system
 2. Properly ventilating the attic during and after application
 3. Properly vacating the home during and after application
 4. Establishing the necessary reoccupancy times for the occupants

Both the permanent and temporary steps associated with SPF insulation must be addressed for the proper installation of SPF.  Exposure to the old filthy attic can be very unhealthy to occupants.  Exposure to SPF during application or too soon after application can cause irreversible sensitivity to SPF and the related SPF chemicals.

The Bottom Line
 When it comes to Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, the product, when correctly installed, is great and can be a wonderful energy saving feature to your home new or old.  However, all potential SPF consumers must do their due diligence and ask the right questions to ensure the proper temporary installation steps are followed during application.  In addition, you’ll need to know the questions to ask to identify any possible permanent alterations to your home to ensure that the SPF performs properly and does not have a negative impact on you and your family.

So “Is Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation right for you?”  

The answer is in the sum of all of the above questions once asked and answered.  Ultimately, you’ll have to weigh the cost associated with properly installing the SPF insulation.  You’ll need to balance that with the possible cost associated with retrofitting your home to ensure your sealed attic and home performs as designed.  To get your long term energy savings and maintain your home’s indoor air quality, you’ll need to pony up these energy bucks up front and reapply the energy savings return over time.

It’s your money and your choice; hopefully, this article helped you make a more informative choice.

 

To learn more about Mr. Lapotaire or Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC, please visit www.FloridaIAQ.com, email info@FloridaIAQ.com or call (407) 383-9459.

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues.

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
•Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
•Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
•Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
•www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com
•www.FloridaIAQ.com
•http://www.microshield-es.com/moldinspectiontesting.html
•http://www.orlandomoldinspection.us/
•http://www.microshield-es.com/nuisanceodor.html
•http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldremediationprotocol.html
•http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldclearancetesting.html

#IAQS


Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation

Spray Foam Insulation Odors and InspectionWelcome to part one of a four part series on Spray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation.  Spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation, the best thing since sliced bread, the greatest energy saving “Green” insulation available, Right?


I can’t remember a building product with such a clearly defined love or hate following.  When I say love, it’s typically described by the “Green” movement as I did above, safe, energy efficient, “Green”, and even healthy. That’s right! 

 

It’s often touted as a product that will improve your indoor air quality.  These guys are hard core supporters and believers, a solid mix of manufactures, applicators, builders, and homeowners.

 

But if you’re on the hate side of the issue, you’re just as emotionally involved in the product.  You just see things from a different perspective.  Often the hate side of the love-hate relationship evolves from a regrettable spray polyurethane foam insulation experience, a botched job, miss-application, or unfortunate exposure to the SPF chemicals.  If your opinion of SPF is based on any of these issues, then your opinion is based on a vivid and tangible perspective based on a very personal experience.  That will drive passion.

 

How to ensure that your home has SPF installed properly and what you need to ensure your applicator knows his “stuff” is the reason for this series. While the products are all very similar, it’s the applicator and his or her training and experience that truly matters.  Following at a very close second, is your home and the impact of the sealed attic has on your existing home.

 

In the next few editions, we are going to discuss the unadvertised side of SPF.  Let’s face it, the industry has a great marketing department and the product works great when properly applied.  So we’ll be discussing the issues with misapplied SPF as well as the design changes that accompany altering a home’s attic from natural (passive) ventilation to a sealed mechanically semi-conditioned attic. 

 

It’s very important to understand the specific changes that take place when you seal your attic.  There are factors that must be considered such as a 50 year old attic with an accumulation of dust, debris, and possibly pesticides that are now a sealed attic and part of the indoor environment. NOT good. I personally don’t feel that any SPF applicator can clean a 50 year old attic well enough for me to feel comfortable breathing the now shared attic air that is now semi-conditioned occupied space.  And that is exactly what will happen when you seal an attic and semi-condition it. 

 

We’ll take a closer look at how to investigate SPF complaints and how to identify miss-applied SPF.  For example, some would prefer to collect air samples to identify the chemicals present in your home and attic as you see in photos A and B.  That will run you somewhere around $5,000.00. Ouch…

 

Or you can actually inspect the applied SPF and identify areas of unreacted SPF as shown in photo C or SPF on light fixtures as shown in photo D.  This approach will cost you or your builder nothing and the industry provides the guidance documents for the inspection.  Both approaches will provide you with information but the information gathered from the actual inspection of the applied product will provide more relevant information.

 

Whether you are a lover or a hater, these articles will provide you with solid information for spray polyurethane foam insulation. 


If you are trying to decide if SPF is going to be a part of your home’s remodel, addition, or home improvement, then the article titled “Is Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation right for you?” will be good information.  This article will help inform you of a few issues with an existing home with a traditionally vented attic that you may be considering reinsulating with SPF.  As good as SPF insulation is, sometimes it’s just not a good choice.


If you want to know how SPF can compromise your indoor air quality even when it is correctly installed then the article titled “Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation Build it Tight and Ventilate it Right” will be the series article for you.  A tightly sealed home will not meet the required ventilation rate and will require outdoor air supply.  Depending on where you live, this may require the use of an ERV (energy recovery ventilator), an HRV (heat recovery ventilator), or a mechanical dehumidifier.  All three will require alterations to your homes HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system.


If you want to know what it takes to properly inspect applied Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, then the article titled “Inspecting Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation What to Look For” will be perfect for you.  So you have an issue with your installed SPF, what is your next step?  Do you hire a chemist? An IAQ indoor air quality consultant? Well, I believe you should hire someone who is extremely familiar with inspecting the SPF.  Not just someone that has performed several SPF inspections but someone familiar with SPF.  Yes, there is a substantial difference.  Many who provide SPF investigations never look at the SPF.   They simply collect air samples and declare the product as dangerous and in need of removal.  While SPF can be misapplied, the issues with SPF aren’t always the result of misapplied SPF.   This article will help clarify who and how to properly inspect your installed SPF.

 

Stay tuned for great information regarding the use and misuse of Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation.

 


Take Control of Your Indoor Air?

#IAQS Indoor Air Quality Solutions Orlando FloridaBy John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a hot topic today as more of us are acquiring allergies.  We seem to be inundated with allergy statistics graphs and charts reminding us that we can only expect more of the same.  So what can we do to create our own little safe house or sanctuary?  We can take control of the Indoor Air of our homes.  The outdoor Air Quality will change with the seasons and we will need to adjust to the varying allergens introduced into the air.  But when you get home you can relax and enjoy your Indoor Air Quality if you follow a few simple housekeeping suggestions.

We should first understand that Indoor Air Quality is the effect the air inside your home has on you and your family.  Good IAQ means the air in your home has no unwanted gases or particulates at concentrations that could negatively affect you and your family.  That leaves us with poor IAQ which occurs when gasses or particulates are present at an excessive concentration in your home and affects the satisfaction or health of you and your family.

IAQ isn’t that hard to understand or identify.  We can all tell the difference between a cool mountain meadow and a city landfill. Good IAQ, Poor IAQ.  Everything else lies somewhere between the two.  What separates the good from the bad are 3 basic areas of indoor air pollutants described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Particulates, Bioaerosols and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s).  What makes up the air in your home are varying amounts of these three pollutants.

The CDC describes the three pollutants as; Particulates are common indoor air particulates including dirt, dust, fibers, tobacco smoke, and fireplace or wood stove soot. These airborne particles can range from 0.1 microns in size to 100 microns in size.  Bioaerosols are microorganisms or particles, gases, vapors, or fragments of biological origin (i.e., alive or released from a living organism) that are in the air. Bioaerosols are everywhere in the environment. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. Some VOC’s have odors other VOC’s have none. Odor does not indicate the level of risk. There are thousands of different VOC’s produced and used in our daily lives.

To take control of these three pollutants that can create poor indoor air quality in your home I have created 4 primary areas that you can address that will have an immediate impact on the homes indoor air quality.
1.Particulates
2.Humidity
3.Filtration
4.House Keeping.

Let’s start with Particulates. Particulates accumulate in the home from both inside and outside sources that can include:  Some of the common Indoor Particulate Sources include:
o Pet dander
o Candles
o Incense
o Perfume
o House Plants
o Fungal spores
o Pollen
o Tobacco smoke

These sources can be controlled and or eliminated from a home by controlling the source.  That means no smoking in the home.  No air fresheners, candles or incense, these introduce particulates to the home and mask air quality issues that should be addressed directly, not hidden by air fresheners.  I would minimize house plants including plastic and silk.  Live plants live in nice damp soil that is a breeding ground for fungus and mold which can lead to the introduction of spores and plastic and silk plants can hold onto particulate releasing them each time they are disturbed.  Unfortunately these plastic and silk plants are rarely cleaned and the amount of particulates they can introduce when disturbed is substantial.

Next you’ll need to keep a healthy level of humidity in your home.  Dust mites and mold love moisture so keeping humidity around 30%-50% will help keep dust mites and other allergens under control.  The addition of a humidistat and dehumidifier can greatly improve the indoor air quality of your home.  The humidistat turns on the homes air conditioning when the humidity reaches the set relative humidity (preferably not higher than 55%rh) just as the thermostat activates the homes air conditioning when the temperature reaches a set temperature (preferably not higher than 76°F).

Maintaining the proper humidity level helps reduce moisture in the indoor air and can effectively control allergens.   

High humidity levels in Florida can produce musty odor and/or a clammy feeling to the air in the summer and condensation on windows in the winter.

Often the principal source of higher humidity in a home is a family’s living habits. One person’s breathing produces 1/4 cup of water per hour, cooking for a family of four produces approximately five pints of water in 24 hours, showering puts 1/2 pint of water into the air.  Bathing puts 1/8 pint of water into the air.  Adding only four to six pints of water to the air raises the relative humidity in a 1,000 square foot home from 15 to 60 percent, assuming the temperature is constant.

Next on our list is Filtration.   Each time the air conditioning system cycles air into the home, armies of particulates are propelled through the supply ducts and discharged throughout your home into the air your family breathes.  More specifically the air you breathe is filled with the particulates allowed to pass through your air conditioning filter.  The filtration you choose has a tremendous affect on your indoor air quality so you should use the highest level of filtration that your system allows.

There are many filters available on the market today.  The most common are the one inch filters found in supermarkets, hardware stores and home supply retailers. All these filters guarantee a percentage of effectiveness, but that can be misleading.  

Standard throwaway filters are only designed to protect the air handler. And have little or no capability of collecting fine particles.  Washable Filters are very restrictive to airflow and are difficult to clean thoroughly and are rarely maintained at the proper level.  Electronic Air Cleaners are 95% efficient at .3 microns when new and clean. They reduce in efficiency very quickly as they load with particles and are difficult to clean thoroughly.  Many home owners just don’t take the time to properly clean these clean these filters on a regular basis, so they rarely works at the efficiency they were designed for.  Large 4 to 5 Inch Media Filters have a large amount of filter surface and allow for good air flow.  They can collect a large amount of dust and particles above one micron in size and most don’t have to be replaced for 6 to 12 months.  These filters are typically MERV rated at 8 to 11.

So now a I know you are asking Who is Merv and should I trust him with my filter? Well Merv isn’t a “He” MERV is an industry standard.  A standard rating system that can be used to compare filters made by different companies.   The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of a filter describes the size of the holes in the filter that allow air to pass through.  In a nut shell the higher the MERV rating, the smaller the holes in the filter, the higher the efficiency.  Residential filters commonly have MERV ratings of 1-11. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is, and the more particles it can filter.
o A MERV rating of 6 means the filter is 35% to 50% minimum efficient at capturing particles, sized 3.0-10.0 microns.
o A MERV rating of 7 means the filter is 50% to 70% minimum efficient at capturing particles, sized 3.0-10.0 microns.
o A MERV rating of 8 means the filter is 70% minimum efficient at capturing particles, sized 3.0-10.0 microns.
o A MERV rating of 11 means the filter is 85% minimum efficient at capturing particles, sized 3.0-10.0 microns.  

Now for the House keeping side of air quality improvement.   You first to reduce the humidity in the home by using your range, bathroom and cooking exhaust fans.  You should also ensure that they are vented to the outside.  You should check your dryer exhaust vent regularly to ensure it isn’t clogged.  Reduce the number of plants in the home and/or water them less so they release less water vapor.  And you can add a humidistat and mechanical dehumidifier to your air conditioning system.  So IAQ is a piece of cake.

Now you need to get rid of those pesky particulates. The key to that is to Collect and Remove.  You can collect and remove particles by using a HEPA vacuum.  Don’t forget to vacuum all porous surfaces including upholstered furniture. For best results, vacuum two or more times each week and change your HEPA filter regularly.  On tile floors you can collect and remove particles by mopping which will collect the dust that your HEPA vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. There are also new microfiber mops that reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional mops and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.  Okay there may be a bit of an investment here for a HEPA vacuum, but I can assure you it will be worth it.

For the particle dust build up within the home you will need to collect and remove it as well.  For most people this means dusting using a simple feather duster, or a cloth of some kind, and some kind of dusting spray. This just relocates the dust particulates and introduces bioaerosols & VOC’s into the air.  Remember the key is to collect and remove not relocate.   I recommend using the new microfiber dust cloth that can capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.

To help prevent the particulates from entering the home, place large floor mats at every door. People track in all sorts of particles via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat — not the floors in the home.

Don’t forget to change your air conditioning filters every 30 days or as prescribed by the Manufacturer.  Not maintaining your air conditioning filter is a major source of indoor air problems.  Some of the higher MERV rated media filters can be changed as infrequently as every 6 months.   While you are changing that filter check you’re A/C drain line and every 3 months flush it with an algae control cleaner to prevent clogging.

Remember to keep your home dry: Control humidity levels between 35% and 50% to prevent dust mites and an indoor environment that can lead to mold growth.  Fix any leaks you have in your home as soon as you find them.  If you have a flood, take immediate action and dry the area out, including all affected furnishings, within 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

So when asked what you can do about the “Air You Breathe” you will have plenty to say because you know what is in the air you breathe.  And you know that Good IAQ for people already suffering from allergies can reduce the symptoms of those allergies, often reduce medications for allergies, and lead to more relaxing sleep.  You also know that Good Indoor Air Quality can have a substantial impact on our children by preventing allergies, delaying the occurrence of an allergy, or the reduction of allergy symptoms.

Now you can say “Healthier Air Starts Here!”


Chemical Free Mold Remediation

Orlando Mold InspectionMold Remediation is the process of removing mold while protecting unaffected areas of a home or office from unnecessary cross contamination.  At no time is it necessary to KILL Mold.  Mold must be Removed regardless of its ability to germinate and grow into a colony.  The safest way to end the life cycle of mold is to simply eliminate the water source that is allowing the mold to grow.  Removing the water source is far safer that using Biocides and you will still need to remove the mold regardless of the molds viability.

So Remember ALL Mold Remediation Should be Chemical Free Mold Remediation.

The Florida Department of Health
The goal should be to remove mold growth by cleaning or removing moldy materials. Dead mold can still pose health risks if you are exposed.

Ozone irritates lungs, and is not likely to be effective at addressing an indoor mold problem. No one should expose themselves or others to ozone on purpose. Address the cause of the mold (usually moisture) and then remove the mold by cleaning surfaces or removing moldy materials.

We know that we’ll never be able to eliminate all of the mold from within our home or office.  But we can prevent it from growing within our home or office by eliminating the moisture that supports its growth.  The sources of moisture that support mold growth include elevations of humidity above 60%, plumbing leaks, and building envelope failure such as roof and window leaks.

If mold is found to be growing in your home or office due to an elevation in humidity, leak, or an unfortunate water loss, you need to first identify the moisture source that is supporting the mold growth to correct and prevent continued mold growth. Then, collect and remove the mold and water damaged building material from the indoor environment.

Mold only needs a few things to grow and multiply:

    Nutrients (food – almost anything)
    A suitable place to grow (almost anywhere)
    Moisture

Eliminating any one will prevent the mold from growing.  What you’re left with is the mold that can become airborne and directly affect the occupants.  This mold must be collected and removed from your home or office.

We know that there is no shortage of “Quick Fix” Ozone or Chemical using mold remediators out there that will chemically fog your home or office and affordably “Kill” your mold, but guess what?  Your mold is still there.  Without the moisture you corrected the mold wouldn’t have regrown anyway.  Now you have the mold (allergen) covered in a chemical (poisonous both to the mold and humans) and is now a “poisonous allergen” waiting to become airborne and potentially impact the occupants.

There is no need to expose anyone to Ozone, Hydroxyls, Biocides, Disinfectants, Fungicides, Anti-microbials, and Encapsulants during Mold Remediation.

Our Mold Remediation Protocols are written to protect or clients from the dust up of mold during the removal and the unnecessary use of chemicals.  Our Protocols are designed to collect and remove the mold from your home or office without the use of chemicals.

Our goal is to protect our Clients from exposure to Ozone, Hydroxyls, Biocides, Disinfectants, Fungicides, Anti-microbials, and Encapsulants during Mold Remediation.  The unnecessary use of these products are Forbiden.

All of our Mold Remeiation Protocols include the following statement:

Ozone, Hydroxyls, Biocides, Disinfectants, se Fungicides, Anti-microbials, and Encapsulants must not be used unless specified in this protocol.  If chemical use is specified in this protocol, the chemicals can only be applied in the specific areas identified in this protocol.

If chemical use is specified in this protocol the chemicals will be used for the purpose of Disinfection of the Category 3 water damaged areas and not for the purpose of Killing or Removing Mold.

If the remediation contractor would like to apply chemicals in any way not specified in this protocol, the Remediator must obtain written permission from the IAQ Solutions IEP.

IICRC S-520
Source removal of mold contamination should always be the primary means of remediation.  The Indiscriminant use of antimicrobial products, coatings, sealants, and cleaning chemicals is not recommended.

NYCDH New York City Department of Health
"The use of gaseous, vapor-phase, or aerosolized biocides for remedial purposes is not recommended. The use of biocides in this manner can pose health concerns for people in occupied spaces of the building and for people returning to the treated space if used improperly.

AIHA American Industrial Hygiene Association
The goal of remediation is removal of mold and the moisture source because:


  • biocides do not alter mycotoxins or allergens;
  • it is generally not possible to get 100 percent kill with biocides; and
  • the newly deposited spores, re-growth will occur after the biocides if moisture returns

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation, although there may be instances where professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immuno-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area, as a background level of mold spores comparable to the level in outside air will persist. However, the spores in the ambient air will not cause further problems if the moisture level in the building has been corrected. Biocides are toxic to animals and humans, as well as to mold.

U.S. EPA Environmental Protection Agency
"The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic.  Whether dead or alive, mold is allergenic, and some molds may be toxic.




Most and least toxic cars? Tests rank 200 models 2011 - 2012

Car VOCBy Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Ever wonder about that “new car” smell?  In a report Wednesday that tests more than 200 vehicles, an environmental group says this off-gassing of chemicals is notably lower in some cars such as the Honda Civic ,Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z.

Overall, there’s good news. Cars are reducing their use of chemicals, and the best have eliminated hazardous flame retardants and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), according to the fourth consumer guide on the topic by the non-profit, Ann Arbor-Mich. based Ecology Center.

Today, the guide finds that 17% of new vehicles have PVC-free interiors and 60%  are made without brominated flame retardants. Some of these chemicals — found on the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats — have been linked to numerous health problems including allergies, impaired learning and liver toxicity.

“Vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of  hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, in announcing the findings.

The Vinyl Institute, an industry group, objected to the report. Allen Blakey, its vice president of government affairs, said PVC is widely used in consumer and construction products and is not a “toxic” chemical. He said many of its products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“The Ecology Center likes to issue scary reports about materials in cars and homes, but in fact they have no data showing actual injuries, and, in fact, no data showing exposures that would suggest harm,” Blakey said in a statement. ” It is not even certain that their analyses are correct, since X-ray fluorescence devices are sensitive tools that must be carefully calibrated.”

Gearhart said cars are particularly harsh environments for plastics, because high temperatures can  increase the concentration of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and  break other chemicals down into more toxic substances. “Automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in,” he added.

The scorecard gave tops honors to the Honda Civic, because it said the car has no bromine-based flame retardants in interior components, uses PVC-free interior  fabrics and interior trim and has low levels of heavy metals and  other metal allergens.

In contrast, it gave the lowest overall score to the Mitsubishi Outlander, which it said contained bromine and antimony-based flame  retardants in the seating and center console; chromium treated leather  on several components; and over 400 parts per million lead in seating  materials.

The findings, posted on the HealthyStuff.org website, include:

  • Most improved automakers in terms of the average ratings for their  2011/2012 vehicles — compared to their 2009/20120 models — are  Volkswagen (+42%), Mitsubishi (+38%) and Ford (+30%.)
  • Two automakers had overall declining average scores: Daimler AG (-29%) and Volvo (-13%.)
  • In recent years, automakers have begun replacing PVC with  polyurethanes and polyolefins, which contain fewer harmful additives and  are easier to recycle.

 

 

John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

#IAQS



Orlando's Indoor Air Quality Expert Elected to IAQA's International Board of Directors

Indoor Air Quality Association’s IAQAJohn P. Lapotaire, CIEC, has been elected to a six-year term on the Indoor Air Quality Association’s (IAQA) Board of Directors.

 

Orlando, FL, March 24th, 2014

 

Last week, the Indoor Air Quality Association concluded their 17th Annual Meeting & Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The event is the indoor air quality (IAQ) industry’s premier conference and brings together professionals from across the globe.  

 

During the annual meeting, elections were held for a number of important leadership positions within IAQA.  They included positions for both Officers and Directors that provide critical direction for IAQA’s continued growth and mission.  John P. Lapotaire, one of Florida’s most recognized indoor air quality experts, was elected by the association to serve a 6-year term as a member of the Board of Directors.

 

Mr. Lapotaire is the Founder and President of Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The Orlando-based companies provide indoor air quality consulting services that include healthy building performance, home and office assessments, IAQ inspections, mold inspections and building envelop consulting services.  Mr. Lapotaire is a Florida Licensed Mold Assessor, Radon Measurement Technician and Radon Mitigation Specialist.  He is also a Council-certified Environmental Thermography Consultant (CETC) and a Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC).  In his many years of providing IAQ related services, Mr. Lapotaire has been called upon to perform thousands of investigations in everything from residential and commercial properties to schools and other institutional settings.

 

Mr. Lapotaire has been active in a number of industry associations including:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
  • Indoor Environmental Standards Organization (IESO)
  • American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC)
  • Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council (BETEC)
  • Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)

 

“It is a privilege and honor to serve on the Board of Directors for the IAQA, an organization I have supported since joining back in 2001,” said Mr. Lapotaire.  “Indoor air quality issues impact so many people and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences in helping to continue to strengthen IAQA’s mission to bring together practitioners of this profession to prevent and solve indoor environmental problems for the benefit of the public.”

 

For more information about the Indoor Air Quality Association, please visit www.IAQA.org.

 

To learn more about Mr. Lapotaire or Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC, please visit www.FloridaIAQ.com, email info@FloridaIAQ.com or call (407) 383-9459. 

 

About Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC

Since 2001, Florida residents have turned to the indoor environmental experts at Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Microshield Environmental Services, LLC.  The family owned and operated companies, based in the Orlando area, offer a comprehensive approach to identifying and correcting comfort and indoor air quality problems.  Their expert staff utilizes the latest technologies and industry recognized standards to identify and resolve indoor environmental issues. 


 


 

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Antimicrobial Use During Mold Remediation

IAQS BiohazardThe goal of mold remediation is to remove or clean mold contaminated materials in a way that prevents the emission of mold and dust contaminated with mold from leaving a work area and entering an occupied or non-remediation area, while protecting the health of workers performing the mold remediation.  The goal is not to kill the mold it’s to collect and remove it.

 

The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is stopping the source of moisture. Next is to remove the mold growth.  Next is the proper cleaning and removal of mold contaminated personal property and building material. The proper method is the collection and removal of the mold. Improper methods for cleaning mold include the application of fungicides and biocides to kill mold. These methods may render the mold non-viable (dead or incapable of growth); however, the mold and its by-products can still elicit negative health effects. The mold is still and allergen in your home until its removed.

 

A mold spore is an allergen that may or may not have the presence of mycotoxins.  Some of these mold spores have the ability to germinate and may eventually grow to be a colony.  To prevent this we correct the moisture that was supporting the mold growth and wala the mold will not have the available moisture to grow.  Now all we have to do is collect the remaining allergens (aka mold spores) and remove them from the home.

 

If we simply apply fungicides or biocides to kill the mold so it won’t grow we still have the mold spore or allergen that may or may not have the presence of mycotoxins.  But…the mold spores are still in your home, still an allergen, still have the potential of containing mycotoxins, and are now completely covered in a poison, just Wonderful.  And the poisonous mold still needs to be removed.

 

New York City Department of Health

"The use of gaseous, vapor-phase, or aerosolized biocides for remedial purposes is not recommended. The use of biocides in this manner can pose health concerns for people in occupied spaces of the building and for people returning to the treated space if used improperly.

 

American Industrial Hygiene Association AIHA

The goal of remediation is removal of mold and the moisture source because: a) biocides do not alter mycotoxins or allergens; b) it is generally not possible to get 100 percent kill with biocides; and c) because of (b), the newly deposited spores, re-growth will occur after the biocides if moisture returns.

North American Air Duct Cleaning Association NADCA position on Sanitizing Ductwork Position on Sanitizing Ductwork

The EPA has not registered any products for sanitizing or disinfecting ductwork. Further, no fungicides are registered for use in ductwork. It is a violation of federal law to use a product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. For antimicrobials, this law is the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Therefore, any claims of sanitizing or disinfecting ductwork would require the use of a product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling, which is a violation of FIFRA.

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA

"The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic.

 

 


 

IT'S NOT THE HEAT, IT'S THE HUMIDITY

Humidity control was the problem that originally spurred the need for air conditioning. Lack of humidity control in hot, humid climates, in IAQ Solutions Humidityparticular, can lead to mold growth and other moisture-related problems. High indoor humidities can lead to health and comfort problems.

Modern air conditioners dehumidify as they cool; you can see that by the water that drains away, but this dehumidification is incidental to their main job of controlling temperature. They cannot independently control both temperature and humidity.

In hot, humid climates the incidental dehumidification that occurs may not always be enough to keep the indoor humidity conditions acceptable. (ASHRAE recommends roughly a 60% relative humidity maximum at 78F.) The maximum dehumidification happens not at the hot times of the year—when the air conditioner is running a lot—but at mild times of the year when the air conditioner runs very little.

Although there are some leading edge air conditioning systems that promise to independently control humidity, conventional systems may not be able to sufficiently control the problem and can cause comfort or mold problems in certain situations. Some current high-end systems have enhanced dehumidification, but when the existing system cannot sufficiently dehumidify, it may be necessary to buy a stand-alone dehumidifier.
 
There are things that consumers can do to lessen the need for dehumidification:

Do not set your thermostat to the “fan on” position. In this position the fan blows air all the time whether your cooling system is running or not and one key impact is that a lot of the moisture your system just took out of the air, will be blown back into the house before it can drain way.

Use exhaust fans during moisture-producing activities. Cooking, bathing, washing, and similar activities produce a lot of moisture inside the home. Exhaust that moisture directly outdoors using a fan. Similarly, avoid drying clothes indoors except with a clothes dryer that is exhausted directly outdoors.

Do not open windows or use ventilative cooling when it is too humid outside

Full Story at ASHRAE https://www.ashrae.org/resources–publications/free-resources/top-ten-things-about-air-conditioning 

 

  • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
  • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
  • Indoor AIr Quality Solutions, IAQS
  • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
  • www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com
  • www.FloridaIAQ.com
  • http://www.microshield-es.com/moldinspectiontesting.html 
  • http://www.orlandomoldinspection.us/
  • http://www.microshield-es.com/nuisanceodor.html
  • http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldremediationprotocol.html
  • http://www.floridaiaq.com/moldclearancetesting.html 
  • - See more at: http://activerain.com/blogsview/4232131/ashrae-releases-revised-version-of-iaq-standard#sthash.bpKJiWDm.dpuf

     


     

    Questions To Ask The Mold Inspection Company

    Orlando Indoor Air Quality SolutionsAre you licensed by the State as a Mold Assessor?


    What qualifications do you have to perform mold inspection and/or testing?

     

    Are you familiar with the IICRC S-520?

    Will I be getting a written report from you or the lab?

    How do you interpret the laboratory results?

    Will you be conducting a visual inspection or just mold testing?

    What certifications do and your company have?

     

    What are the qualifications of your mold inspectors?

    (Note: Ask what the certification requirements for any certifications they have either as a company or the individuals who will be performing the work. There are many certifications with some requiring much more work than others. Some are probably quite simple and, unfortunately, do not connote qualification to perform a mold inspection. Further, some may require a lot of work, but are not related to nor do they touch on mold itself. Take a moment to look online to find out what's required for any certifications they list.)

     

    How many mold inspections did the person who will inspect your property do in the last year?

     

    How long has he/she been in this line of work? 

    What is your philosophy regarding mold testing?

    (Tip: You're looking for conflicts of interest here. Does the mold inspector always recommend mold testing? Or are there situations where he/she says mold testing is not needed?)


    How many mold samples do you normally take?

    Do you perform the mold sample analysis yourself?

    Do you perform mold remediation?

    (Tip: You're looking for conflicts of interest here. If they also perform remediation, they have a vested interest in finding mold to clean up.)


    Do you receive any commissions, or referral fees for sending work to mold remediators?

    How long has the mold remediator you recommend been in business and what are their qualifications?

    How long has your mold lab been in business and what are the lab's qualifications?

    Do you have references from work done in the past year that I can call to ask how the inspection went? 
    (Tip: Be cautious of anyone new to the business and doesn't have references.)

     



    Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation Nuisance Odor Investigations

    IAQSWith the rapid increase in the “Green” movement and the push for more energy efficient homes spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation is growing substantially.  As with most new building products the industry has had its own set of unique challenges that include the recognized need for training and certification for installers. Along with the recognized need for training are the results of inadequate applicator training, nuisance odors and occupant sensitivity.  These occupant related complaints have led to a rise in SPF insulation investigations by many who have little understanding of SPF insulation and how it can alter the indoor environment even when correctly installed.


    When it comes to the investigation of nuisance odors associated with the application of spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation, I’ve found that most of the investigations typically involve little more than varied attempts at trying to chemically associate the odor with the off-gassing of the SPF.


    I’ve been assessing spray polyurethane foam insulation SPF for several years on too many properties to list. I’ve assessed a dozen or so product lines both closed and open cell for manufactures, builders, homeowners, and applicators. The properties ranged from universities, community centers, offices, homes, both new construction and retrofit applications.


    In my experience, SPF investigations can be categorized in three distinct categories. The first two seem to be the primary areas of SPFI investigations. The first category is simply miss-applied SPF, the second is presence of pre-existing or recently introduced contaminants and the third would be occupant exposure and sensitization during SPF application.


    By using these three assessment categories, I have had great luck in identifying the catalyst of the odor and associated complaint.  It has also helped raise awareness that it’s not always the SPF.


    The first category – Category 1 Miss-applied SPF Insulation category


    These nuisance odors are directly associated with incorrectly applied SPF insulation and can be addressed by either correcting the areas of miss-applied foam or by removing and re-insulating the areas. Miss-Applied includes improper ventilation during the application, incomplete application, off ratio application, and also includes the SPF in direct contact with recessed can lights in the attic, keyless light fixtures bulbs, dryer vents, and/or chimney flues, all of which can heat the SPF and cause a tremendous amount of chemical odors.


    Category 1 is relatively cut and dry and requires the onsite inspection of the SPF and the collection of no air samples.  The inspection of the foam and the determination of correct and complete installation is a critical first step.


    I‘ve been on SPF insulation investigations where other Indoor Environmental Professionals (IEP’s) who were hired to assess the SPF insulation never looked at the SPF insulation.  Most have no knowledge of how to assess the correct or complete installation of the SPF insulation.  Most IEP’s show up with all manner of air sampling equipment and begin and end their investigation with the collection of air samples intending to identify the chemical signature of miss-applied SPF insulation.  But that’s just not going to happen.


    For all who want to conduct SPF insulation inspections, start with understanding what correct and complete installation is according to the manufacturer who produced the foam you are inspecting.


    Below is an example of a home with retro-fit SPF insulation installed in the attic.  The homeowners hired an IEP to help establish and/or confirm that the SPF insulation was making them sick.  The home was traditionally ventilated with a large rear lanai.   As with typical SPF insulation landscape fabric was used to separate the lanai attic from the sealed SPF insulation attic.  However, the large Lanai attic space was not properly ventilated as shown in Diagram 1.

    IAQS  #IAQS

    The lanai had soffit vents and no off ridge vents hence the incomplete attic ventilation.  The outdoor air pressure (wind) was moving the hot humid Florida air into the attic and into the sealed SPF insulation attic through the landscape fabric and SPF insulation as shown in Diagram 3.  The moisture was supporting microbial growth that was the actual odor identified within the home.  The correction was to first relieve the lanai attic pressure by installing an off ridge vent as shown in Diagram 2 and then by removing and replacing the mold damaged SPF insulation.

    IAQS

    Unfortunately, thousands of dollars were spent on the hunt for the infamous miss-applied chemical signature of the off-gassing SPF insulation.  Of course to no avail.  This is just one example of the easily overlooked yet painfully obvious issues with incomplete or incorrect SPF insulation.

    The second category – Category 2 pre-existing or recently introduced contributors


    This category cannot be stress enough to the professionals that are investigating SPFI.  This category runs the gamut and can include some rather odd contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors that become much more concentrated when the SPFI is installed.   These include the HVAC system, air exchange rate, storage of materials in the now sealed space, insect and or rodent activity, routine pest control applications, the previous insulation condition and material, proper ducting of kitchen and bath fans.  The possibilities are endless and all must be considered.  Remember that what has accumulated in the attic is now semi-conditioned air that is shared with the attic and living space of the home.


    For example if the home is a 60 year old ranch that had open cell SPFI installed at the roof sheathing and the attic was not cleaned to help save a few bucks, the bath fans are ducted to the attic space, and the home once had a rodent issue that was treated with poisons.  Well to say the least you have a huge list of contributors to occupant discomfort and nuisance odors.  Most of the SPF insulation investigations I am called in to review all of these issues were overlooked simply because of the recent application of SPFI.


    It’s not necessarily the SPF insulation that is producing the odor or contaminate that is causing occupant discomfort but the SPF insulation is what eliminated the natural ventilation of the attic which prevented the odors and contaminants from entering the home.  The SPF insulation has now trapped the odors and contaminants within the semi-conditioned space.


    In this case, the home also had no outdoor air and the home was accumulating VOC’s from daily use products.


    The home was blower-door tested and didn’t even come close to the minimum ASHRAE air exchange rate. That attic air is now a part of the occupied space as semi-conditioned space and has 60 years of accumulated who knows what.  Easily it could include the accumulation of dust, debris, fiberglass, rodent and insect activity, prior application of pesticides, maybe even vermiculite.


    This is a huge aspect of an SPF insulation investigation that I find all too often overlooked. As a professional investigating SPF insulation you have to ask questions beyond the obvious who was the demon SPF insulation manufacturer.


    You have to ask relevant questions such as;

    • “What is the condition of the new semi-conditioned space?”
    • “What have the occupants been sealed in with?”
    • “How is the air exchange rate being met?”
    • “How is the semi-conditioned space actually being semi-conditioned?”


    Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple, particles, pathway, and pressure.  Remember to keep an opened mind; it’s not always the SPF insulation.


    On a retrofit SPF insulation investigation where there was an odor described as rotten eggs or sulfur the home owner hired an IEP to help establish that the SPF insulation was making them sick.  The IEP’s hired to find the odor focused on TO-15 sample collection throughout the home.  They were confident they identified the miss-applied SPF insulation chemical signature.


    Not quite. Just under $5,000 later it was determined that the samples identified a chemical cocktail that could have been the result of just about everything used within the home over the last year since the SPF insulation was applied.  With no outdoor air supply and poor ventilation the VOC’s created within the home stayed in the home.  What the IEP’s didn’t notice was a failed air admittance valve in the attic over the area where the odor was the strongest.  At a cost of twenty bucks for a new air admittance valve the odor was eliminated.


    On a new construction SPF insulation investigation, the IEP’s hired to establish that the SPF insulation was making the homeowners sick once again set up the VOC sample collection center and collected four TO-15 8 hour summa canisters and 8 sorbent tubes from a single story 2,200 square foot home.


    The homeowners reported that after about a year the home began to make them feel worse when home than when away.  The culprit in their mind was the SPF insulation.  When I asked them how they came to that conclusion they said Google. They then hire an IEP to help them prove to the builder that the SPF insulation was making them sick.


    As the IEP was setting up their summa canisters, I began my investigation that started with the condition and settings of the homes ventilation system.  I knew the home had outdoor air supply.  I simply wanted to determine the thermostat and Aprilaire settings and establish the amount of outdoor air being supplied to the home.  As shown in the photo the Aprilaire ventilation controller was set to “Off”.

    IAQS

    When the 8 hour sampling period was over and the IEP was collecting their equipment I cranked up the AC and opened the Aprilaire ventilator to 30 minutes per cycle. During the sampling period of 8 hours the carbon dioxide levels were measured above 2000 ppm and the tVOC’s were measured at a mere 700 to 800 ppb.  After 1 hour of proper ventilation the carbon dioxide and tVOC levels were reduced by more than 50%. Amazingly the issue proved to be accumulation and not production of VOC’s.  Once again a complete investigation identified an issue with the ventilation that was misdiagnosed as SPF insulation.


    On another SPF insulation investigation were the homeowner had spent thousands on sampling with an IEP who felt he had established the connection between the SPF and the occupant symptoms.  Again review by the PhD’s and chemist found no such connection that could be corroborated.  However the interview found that the homeowner was in the second floor master bedroom during the application of the SPF insulation.  The access to the attic was in the master closet, nice.  The applicator didn’t want to use landscape fabric to separate the large covered second story balcony just outside of the master bedroom so the applicator just applied the SPF insulation to the ceiling of the balcony.

    IAQS

    The photos above show two of the nine recessed can light fixtures that were covered in the foam from completely covered to just shy of completely covered.  The homeowner liked to sit outside in the evening and look out over the lake.  However, he reported that he could no longer spend the evenings on his beloved balcony because he was so sensitive to the SPF insulation. Yes he had become sensitized to the SPF insulation because he was in the home during the application but the trigger or catalyst to the odor was the heating of the SPF insulation just outside his master bedroom and just above his beloved balcony each time he turned on the balcony lights.


    Sometimes as IEP’s we are hired to provide a very specific service.  I’ll use mold as an example.  When some IEP’s are hired to provide a mold inspection they often become far too focused on looking for one potential contributor and often overlook the many other and often obvious contributors.  Samples for mold spores are collected and moisture is hunted with a vengeance but not much else is looked at or investigated.   SPF insulation investigations are the same.  Are we hired to help the homeowner identify what in their home may be contributing to their symptoms or are we there to prove their hypothesis that it is or isn’t mold or SPF insulation.


    IEP’s often go in with blinders on and lose focus on the true intent of the investigation which in my opinion should be “What is contributing to occupant discomfort and complaint?”   The IEP should approach the home as a system and be open to all potential contributors to occupant complaint.  The chief characteristic that distinguishes the scientific method of investigation from other methods of investigation is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.  Scientific investigation is generally intended to be as objective as possible in order to reduce biased interpretations of results. This is often overlooked when the IEP conducts an investigation focused on making the evidence support their hypothesis without objective challenge.


    IEP’s must remember that while the SPF insulation may be the issue unless you can say there are no other issues within the home you have not completed your investigation you have just begun.


    The third category – Category 3 Sensitization due to exposure


    This category includes all occupants who have become sensitized or allergic to the odors given off from SPFI. With sensitization occupants have either re-entered the property shortly after the foam is applied, well before the manufacturer recommended re-occupancy time of 24 to 48 hours while the SPF insulation is still curing and off-gassing, or in the most severe cases of occupant sensitivity the exposure was actually took place during the application of the SPF insulation.


    I had one case where the sensitized occupant was also the general contractor that built the home.  During the interview with the owner builder, I asked what he knew as a builder about the SPF insulation.  He admitted to not knowing anything until he began to react to the SPF insulation in his home.  I asked if he had the MSDS to review and he informed me that he did not.  Interesting, I asked if he maintained all of the building material MDS onsite.  He happily sad no that’s up to the subcontractors, interesting.


    I then asked him if he was curious as to how the SPF insulation was applied and he of course told me that he was very curious.  He told me that he was in the attic while it was being applied.  Incredible right, you can’t make this up.


    I asked if he thought it was odd that the applicator was in full protective equipment with supplied air and he was just watching in street clothes.  I also asked if the contractor told him that he shouldn’t be watching without personal protective equipment.  He told me that the contractor told him that he shouldn’t be up there when it was being applied but it was his house and he was the builder so he was going to do what he wanted.  I asked how long he was up there and he said about 30 minutes and then he began to get a huge headache.  Unbelievable, he was incredibly sensitized to the foam and no amount of miss-applied SPF insulation removal was going to provide him any relief.


    Sensitization of the occupants can be a result of many issues such as occupants that don’t want to spend the money for a hotel stay, early re-entry or occupancy, the curious application observer, to the painfully stupid like the builder above.  However occupant sensitization can also be the result of the lack of proper ventilation during the application.  Venting of the off-gassing of the SPF insulation during application is critical and often not conducted at all. In all cases of occupant sensitization that I have been involved with the SPF insulation application was not properly vented to the exterior which created a substantial accumulation of the off-gassing chemicals within the property. These trapped volatile organic chemicals VOC’s are what sensitizes the occupants who have either re-occupied too early or were present during the SPFI application.


    Sensitization occurs when the occupants are overexposed to the trapped volatile organic chemicals VOC’s and become sensitized. From that point on, any exposure to even a minute amount of the chemical causes a reaction. The process of sensitization can make a home unlivable for people who become sensitized.


    Homes that have improper ventilation during the application process of the SPF insulation are also included in the miss-applied category and almost always have identified areas of miss-applied SPF insulation (SPFI).


    This category is unique in that any attempt at reducing the occupant’s exposure to the SPF insulation that they are now sensitized to may not be of any relief.  I have had no luck in providing sensitized occupants relief from the home they are now sensitive to.  I have been involved in everything from the introduction of outdoor air through a pre-filter and dehumidifier to control the temperature, humidity, particles, path, and pressure to full removal of the SPF insulation. Unfortunately that bell can’t be un-rung.


    Steps in the Right Direction


    SPFA’s The Spray Polyurethane Foam Professional Certification Program (“SPFA PCP”) launched at the SprayFoam 2013 Convention & Expo

    IAQS

    To become certified under SPFA’s new program, you must pass the exam and meet the criteria for any level of Certification you would like to achieve. It is a progressive program with each level based on the candidate passing the exam for the previous level. In other words, EVERYONE must begin with SPF Assistant criteria. If your ultimate goal is to be a Certified Project Manager, you must meet the requirements for Assistant, then Installer, then Master Installer, then Project Manager to become a Certified SPF Project Manager. http://www.sprayfoam.org/


    Connecticut House Bill No. 5908; An act requiring safety and certification standards for the spray foam insulation industry


    ASTM WK30960 is intended to establish safe re-entry times for occupants following spray polyurethane foam insulation application.


    ASTM WK30960 - New Practice for Spraying, Sampling, and Packaging Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation Samples for Environmental Chamber Emissions Testing


    The CAN/ULC S705.1 National Standard requires that the spray polyurethane foam material be installed in accordance with the CAN/ULC S705.2 standard for Thermal insulation – Spray applied rigid polyurethane foam, medium density – Application.


    The CAN/ULC S705.2 Application Standard lists a number of requirements for the manufacturer (seller of the two liquid components), the contractor (the corporation who has the contract to perform the installation) and the installer (the worker who actually sprays the components to form spray polyurethane foam on the job site).


    The CAN/ULC S705.2 Application Standard sets forth requirements for environmental conditions suitable for spraying, substrate requirements, installation requirements, daily testing of the installed products and documentation requirements.


    The Licensed Contractor is required to use applicators that are trained and certified under the SPF Quality Assurance Program used by CUFCA. Each installer is issued a plastic photo-identification card every July 1. The installer is required to carry this card with him during the complete installation period.



    John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
    Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    Certification by American Council for Accredited Certification ACAC CIEC #0711048
    Council-certified Environmental Thermography Consultant ACAC CETC #1005013
    Accreditation by Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB)
    Florida State License Mold Assessor MRSA #4

    www.FloridaIAQ.com



     

    What is a Licensed Florida Mold Assessment?


    I raise this question because once again I’ve been called in to provide a peer review of a mold remediator that is advertising and providing assessment and remediation on the same job.  Oddly the remediator who is not licensed as a mold assessor states on his website “With the Florida Mold Law in effect, it is (finally!) illegal to test and remediation the same property in the State of Florida.” Wrong!  Assess and Remediate, which is not limited to testing.

    So apparently this mold remediator who isn’t licensed as a mold assessor thinks that a mold assessment is limited to the “testing” or sampling for mold.

    The question of just what is a mold assessment is a frustrating and surprisingly hard question to answer for many licensed professional.  That’s right; many mold professionals just don’t know their own industry and the laws governing them.  Many believe that a mold assessment is simply testing for mold.  Wow, for an industry professional that is trained, licensed and insured how is it possible to not know what a mold assessment is? Incredible.

    So for the benefit of those who still don’t know what a mold assessment is I have included the Florida Statute Definitions of Mold Assessment and Mold Remediation and the links to the Florida Mold Related Services Statute.

    Please read the sections below that clearly describe the services a mold professional can provide and the clear separating between mold assessment and mold remediation.

    More importantly I would stress that a mold assessment is NOT the collection of mold samples or testing for mold.  It may include the collection of mold samples but the collection of mold samples is NOT, on its own, a mold assessment.

    If you hire a licensed mold assessor you should receive a written report signed by the licensed mold assessor that performed the assessment.  Not by someone in another location that never visited you home or office.  When you hire a licensed mold assessor you should receive the written report signed by the licensed mold assessor that performed the assessment and never be required to pay an additional fee for a written report.

    See the recent channel 9 news sting where three companies sent out unlicensed mold assessors to provide an assessment with one actually requiring additional payment for a written report.  Action 9 hidden camera mold investigation

    That’s ridicules, what are you paying for if you aren’t receiving a written mold assessment report from your licensed assessor.

    So what should the written mold assessment report include?

    A detailed evaluation of data obtained from a building history and inspection to formulate an initial hypothesis about the
    • origin,
    • identity, location,
    • and extent of amplification of mold growth
    The written report can then be provided to licensed mold remediators that can then provide you with a written estimate for the remediation.

    Which brings us to the question of “What is Mold Remediation?”

    The Florida Statute states that “Mold remediation” means
    • the removal,
    • cleaning,
    • sanitizing,
    • demolition,
    • or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter.
    Cut and dry.  No gray area in the definition of mold assessment and mold remediation.

    I hope this information helps when you find yourself in need of a qualified mold professional.


    Finally I close with questions you should ask your mold assessor before you hire them.
    • Are you licensed by the State of Florida? FL DBPR Verify a License
    • What qualifications do you have to perform mold inspection and/or testing?
    • What certifications do and your company have?
    • Are you familiar with the IICRC S-520?
    • Will I be receiving a written report from you or the laboratory?
    • Will you be conducting a visual inspection or just mold testing?
    • How do you interpret the laboratory results?
      • (Tip: You're looking for conflicts of interest here. If they also perform remediation, they have a vested interest in finding mold to clean up.)
    • Do you have references from clients within the past year that I can call to ask how the inspection went?
      • (Tip: Be cautious of anyone new to the business and doesn't have references.)
    • Do you perform mold remediation?
      • (Tip: Never hire anyone providing both mold assessment and mold remediation it's a direct conflict of interest and against the law in Florida.)

     
    The 2012 Florida Statutes Chapter 468 468.8411 Definitions

    (3) “Mold Assessment” means a process performed by a mold assessor that includes the physical sampling and detailed evaluation of data obtained from a building history and inspection to formulate an initial hypothesis about the origin, identity, location, and extent of amplification of mold growth of greater than 10 square feet.

    (4) “Mold Assessor”
    means any person who performs or directly supervises a mold assessment.

    (5) “Mold Remediation” means the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter of greater than 10 square feet that was not purposely grown at that location; however, such removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, may not be work that requires a license under chapter 489 unless performed by a person who is licensed under that chapter or the work complies with that chapter.

    (6) “Mold Remediator” means any person who performs mold remediation. A mold remediator may not perform any work that requires a license under chapter 489 unless the mold remediator is also licensed under that chapter or complies with that chapter.

     

    The 2012 Florida Statutes Chapter 468 468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—

    (1) A person may not:


    (a) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the mold assessor has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).

    (b) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months.

    (e) Inspect for a fee any property in which the assessor or the assessor’s company has any financial or transfer interest.

    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business to the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.

    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business from the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.

    (h) Accept an engagement to make an omission of the assessment or conduct an assessment in which the assessment itself, or the fee payable for the assessment, is contingent upon the conclusions of the assessment.

    (2) A mold remediator, a company that employs a mold remediator, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a mold remediator may not:

    (a) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the remediator has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).

    (b) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold remediator,” “registered mold remediator,” “licensed mold remediator,” “mold remediator,” “professional mold remediator,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months.

    (e) Remediate for a fee any property in which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company has any financial or transfer interest.

    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.

    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.

    (3) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits:

    (a) A misdemeanor of the second degree for a first violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    (b) A misdemeanor of the first degree for a second violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    (c) A felony of the third degree for a third or subsequent violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    www.FloridaIAQ.com

     

        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com


    The Florida Mold Licensing Law Confusion

    M.A.R.C. Mold Assessment & Remediation Coalition  of FloridaIt seems that there remains some confusion on just who is required to have a mold license as well as just what direct supervision is. 

    Let’s tackle the first question as to who is required to have a mold license.
     
    Simply stated: Anyone who performs mold assessments or mold remediation must either have a mold license or be directly supervised by a licensed mold assessor or licensed mold remediator.

    Seems pretty straight forward doesn’t it. 

    • The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has it straight.  
    • Representative Workman was clear in his drafting the law.  
    • Several thousand mold professionals have it clear.
    So why do many in the industry continue to provide unlicensed mold assessments and mold remediation?  Why is it that many continue to print their license number on someone else business card?  Could it be ignorance of the law or is it just greed at the consumer’s expense?

    I personally believe that it’s greed.  It’s easy to send an unlicensed assessor to a home to collect a few mold samples or walk a dog through the home waiting for alerts.  There is very little investment in an untrained assessor or a trained mold sniffing dog compared to a truly trained, licensed, and insured mold professional that can actually provide a written mold report or professional mold remediation.

    And yes I’m called to review the unlicensed pump jockey’s poor attempts at passing off a lab report as a mold assessment all the time.  I peer review botched assessments from unlicensed mold assessors and botched remediation from unlicensed mold remediators every week.  And unfortunately I’ve been receiving calls from clients that paid to have a mold dog walked through their home and receive nothing more than areas of alert from an unlicensed dog handler.  

    I guess the handler expected the license requirement to be the dog’s responsibility. 

    Which brings us to the direct supervision confusion.  Yes the dog is exempt from the requirement of a mold license but only if he is directly supervised by a licensed mold assessor.  However some feel that direct supervision can be provided from Miami while the unsupervised can be performing an assessment in Orlando.  Not quite.

    Let’s put it this way.  I’ll provide your children, let’s say ages 2 and 3, direct supervision at a local theme park.  I’ll begin with asking you to drop them off at the gate because my direct supervision will be via my office chair across town.  Not going to happen.  No confusion regarding direct supervision in that scenario.  How about going to the beach and seeing a sign on the lifeguard chair stating that the direct supervision is at lunch.  Is he still providing direct supervision in his absence?   Not a chance.  Again no confusion regarding direct supervision in that scenario.

    So why is it that a remediation contractor in south Florida thinks that he can directly supervise remediation in north Florida?  Greed gets my vote again, greed at the consumer’s expense.  It’s easier to send an unlicensed, untrained, uninsured mold remediator to provide unsupervised remediation than to train, license, and insure the professional remediator's.  Let’s face it many in the unlicensed world of mold professionals spend all their money on wrapping their flashy vans not training their employees.

    So now it has become necessary for the state to attempt to add two words to the law in an attempt to make direct supervision a bit more clear to those still looking for a licensing loop hole.  The two words are “on site”.  That’s right we will be attempting to make the intent of the law more clear by adding the two words on site to the law.  It would read on site direct supervision.  That should clear that up.

    But what about the Division 1 Contractor exclusion and apparent confusion. 

    The law states the following.
    (1) A person may not:
    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner discloses that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.


    This is the part of the law that GC’s refer to when they attempt to justify their not requiring a mold license. 

    It is interesting that they can find 468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties — section 1 paragraph (d) and overlook section 1 paragraph (a), (b), and (c)

    (1) A person may not:
    (a) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the mold assessor has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).
    (b) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.
    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.


    Just how do they miss that section?

    What about the well-publicized FL GC - Mold Law Declaratory Statement 10-12-2011

    The declaratory statement provides clarification on the fact that a Division 1 contractor can provide mold remediation so long as it is within his scope of work as a Division 1 contractor.  A Division 1 contractor cannot provide mold remediation following a written mold remediation protocol under a general contractor’s license. The division 1 contractor is no longer working within the scope of a Division 1 contractor.  The Division 1 contractor is working within the scope of a mold remediator which requires a mold remediator’s license.

    So guys let’s just get licensed and provide direct supervision for the good of the Florida consumers that are paying for our professional services.

    www.FloridaIAQ.com



    Who is Required to have a Florida Mold License?

    Florida Mold LicenseThis question just can’t seem to be answered by those that want to preform mold inspections or mold remediation and are on the hunt for a licensing loop hole.

    So who in the State of Florida is required a have license to preform Mold Assessments and/or Mold Remediation. The answer is simple.

    Anyone who advertises themselves as a professional providing mold assessments and/or mold remediation.

    Mold Assessment
    If you provide mold assessments and you advertise your company or yourself as a mold inspection company or inspector you must be licensed by the state as a mold assessor.  
    • You cannot add someone else’s license number to your business card.  That’s not legal, honest, or ethical.  These actions will be reported to the State as unlicensed activity.
    • You cannot call the collection of air samples for mold spores an indoor air quality test to avoid the need to obtain a mold assessors license. The collection of air samples for mold spores is a mold sample not an indoor air quality test so let’s just be honest with our clients and call it what it is and get licensed.
    • You cannot assess the extent of mold damage on a home where you intend to provide the remediation.  The law is very clear on this and is one of the primary reasons for the law, conflict of interest.  Just call an independent licensed assessor to provide an assessment and then you can provide your estimate.  

    Mold Remediation
    If you provide mold remediation and you advertise your company as a mold remediation and emergency services company you must have a Mold Remediation license and the license holder must be onsite supervising the mold remediation.
    • You cannot provide mold remediation under a general contractor’s license if you are advertising yourself as a mold remediator.  
    • You cannot provide mold remediation following a written mold remediation protocol under a general contractor’s license.  You are no longer working within the scope of a Division 1 contractor.  You are working within the scope of a mold remediator that requires a mold remediator’s license.
    • You cannot provide mold remediation outside of a Division 1 Contractors scope of work FL GC - Mold Law Declaratory Statement 10-12-2011

    So why did the state of Florida decided to require a license for mold related services?
    The Florida Legislature finds it necessary in the interest of the public safety and welfare, to prevent damage to real and personal property, to avert economic injury to the residents of this state, and to regulate persons and companies that hold themselves out to the public as qualified to perform mold-related services.

    Now let’s get to the individuals that believe they don’t require a mold license. First home inspectors and the answer is yes, a home inspector requires a mold assessor’s license to conduct a mold inspection and yes the collection of samples to identify the presence of mold requires a mold assessor’s license.

    As for the duct cleaners and air conditioning contractors, the answer is also yes. Anyone removing or identifying mold in a home or business requires a mold assessment or mold remediation license and that includes those in the air conditioning and duct cleaning business.

    There are exceptions to the law and those are listed below. Which brings us to the general contractor? Does the GC need a mold license? No. As the law currently states the prohibitions in the law do not apply to a Division 1 contractor as stated below.

    468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—
    (1) A person may not:

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold remediation and offers to perform the mold assessment, the contract for mold assessment provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.


    A Florida Licensed Mold Assessor or Mold Remediator must first take and pass one of the examinations approved by the department and administered by the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC).

    The ACAC has certifications for both the Assessor and Remediator, such as the CIEC Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant Required: 8 years’ experience consulting on indoor environmental issues including asbestos, lead, HVAC, building science, chemicals, mold and microbial contamination, or the CMC Council-certified Microbial Consultant Required: 8 years’ experience in designing and conducting microbial sampling regimens, or the CMRS Council-certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor Required: 5 years’ experience remediating microbial issues in the indoor environment, and the CMR Council-certified Microbial Remediator Required: 2 years, experience remediating microbial issues in the indoor environment.

    I would much prefer that my Mold Assessor or Mold Remediator be Licensed by the state and have the ACAC qualifications.

    Mold assessment is a process performed by a mold assessor that includes the physical sampling and detailed evaluation of data obtained from a building history and inspection to formulate an initial hypothesis about the origin, identity, location, and extent of amplification of mold growth of greater than 10 square feet.

    Mold remediation is the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter of greater than 10 square feet that was not purposely grown at that location; however, such removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, may not be work that requires a license under Chapter 489, Florida Statutes, unless performed by a person who is licensed under that chapter or the work complies with that chapter.

    These items are offered as examples of services you do need to hire a person with a Florida license and services you do not need to hire a person with a Florida license. The list is not all inclusive. If you have specific questions, please contact the department at 850.487.1395 or review the rules for the profession at www.myfloridalicense.com. You should also check with your county or city to learn whether or not a local business tax receipt or certificate of competency is required for services that do not require a state license. Please visit our Unlicensed Activity page to learn more about how you can help us combat Unlicensed Activity.

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    Needs a License

    Does not need a License

    Advertising or representing oneself to be a Mold Assessor or Remediator.

    A residential property owner who performs mold assessment on his or her own property.

    Taking samples for purposes of testing for the presence of mold.

    A person who performs mold assessment on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.

     

    A person who performs mold assessment on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.

     

    A person working solely as an officer or employee of a governmental entity.





    Here are some Florida Mold License FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
    Q    What are the statutes and rules that govern the mold-related services Profession?
    A    Chapter 468, Part XVI of the Florida Statutes and Rule 61-31 of the Florida Administrative Code
    Q    What are the statutes and rules that govern the Home Inspection Profession?
    A    Chapter 468 Part XV of the Florida Statutes and Rule 61-30 of the Florida Administrative Code.
    Q    Where can I obtain the laws and rules of the profession?
    A    The laws and rules may be obtained on the website at www.MyFloridaLicense.com > Our Businesses & Professions > the license you are looking for > Statutes and Rules.  If you need further assistance, you may call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395

    Q.    If my company does both Mold Assessments and Mold Remediations, will I be required to get two (2) licenses (one for Mold Assessor and one for Mold Remediator?
    A.    Yes, in addition, please note Section 468.8419(1)(d), F.S., provides that an assessor may not “perform or offer to perform any remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months.” Section 468.8419(2)(d), F.S., provides that a remediator may not “perform or offer to perform any assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months.”

    Q.    Will there be additional requirements by DBPR to have an “applicators” license if the mold remediator applies chemicals to contaminated surfaces during a remediation?
    A.    No,
    please see the definition of remediators as it allows the remediator to treat and do preventive activities.

    Q.    Is there a provision that would allow those licensed by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) to perform mold related services as long as they stay within the scope of their current licenses?
    A.    Yes,
    Section 468.841 F.S., exempts persons from the provisions of Chapter 468, Part XVI, when acting within their authorized scope of practice as licensed under Federal, state or local codes or statutes. Any person acting on this exemption must not hold himself or herself out for hire as a licensed assessor or remediator or any title implying licensure under Chapter 468, Part XVI.
    468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—
    (1) A person may not:
    (a) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the mold assessor has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).
    (b) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.
    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.
    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.
    (e) Inspect for a fee any property in which the assessor or the assessor’s company has any financial or transfer interest.
    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business to the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.
    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business from the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.
    (h) Accept an engagement to make an omission of the assessment or conduct an assessment in which the assessment itself, or the fee payable for the assessment, is contingent upon the conclusions of the assessment.
    (2) A mold remediator, a company that employs a mold remediator, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a mold remediator may not:
    (a) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the remediator has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).
    (b) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.
    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold remediator,” “registered mold remediator,” “licensed mold remediator,” “mold remediator,” “professional mold remediator,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.
    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold remediation and offers to perform the mold assessment, the contract for mold assessment provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.
    (e) Remediate for a fee any property in which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company has any financial or transfer interest.
    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.
    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.
    (3) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits:
    (a) A misdemeanor of the second degree for a first violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
    (b) A misdemeanor of the first degree for a second violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
    (c) A felony of the third degree for a third or subsequent violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    468.841 Exemptions.—

    (1) The following persons are not required to comply with any provisions of this part relating to mold assessment:

    (a) A residential property owner who performs mold assessment on his or her own property.
    (b) A person who performs mold assessment on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership, or on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.
    (c) An employee of a mold assessor while directly supervised by the mold assessor.
    (d) Persons or business organizations acting within the scope of the respective licenses required under part XV of this chapter, chapter 471, part I of chapter 481, chapter 482, or chapter 489 1are acting on behalf of an insurer under part VI of chapter 626, or are persons in the manufactured housing industry who are licensed under chapter 320, except when any such persons or business organizations hold themselves out for hire to the public as a “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof stating or implying licensure under this part.
    (e) An authorized employee of the United States, this state, or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision, or public or private school and who is conducting mold assessment within the scope of that employment, as long as the employee does not hold out for hire to the general public or otherwise engage in mold assessment.
    (2) The following persons are not required to comply with any provisions of this part relating to mold remediation:

    (a) A residential property owner who performs mold remediation on his or her own property.
    (b) A person who performs mold remediation on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership, or on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold remediation for the public.
    (c) An employee of a mold remediator while directly supervised by the mold remediator.
    (d) Persons or business organizations that are acting within the scope of the respective licenses required under chapter 471, part I of chapter 481, chapter 482, chapter 489, or part XV of this chapter, are acting on behalf of an insurer under part VI of chapter 626, or are persons in the manufactured housing industry who are licensed under chapter 320, except when any such persons or business organizations hold themselves out for hire to the public as a “certified mold remediator,” “registered mold remediator,” “licensed mold remediator,” “mold remediator,” “professional mold remediator,” or any combination thereof stating or implying licensure under this part.
    (e) An authorized employee of the United States, this state, or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision, or public or private school and who is conducting mold remediation within the scope of that employment, as long as the employee does not hold out for hire to the general public or otherwise engage in mold remediation.

    John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS
    Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    Certification by American Council for Accredited Certification ACAC CIEC #0711048
    Council-certified Environmental Thermography Consultant ACAC CETC #1005013
    Accreditation by Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB)
    Florida State License Mold Assessor MRS4
    www.FloridaIAQ.com




    Carbon Monoxide Alarms Required, Default Leakage Rate Removed in New ASHRAE Residential IAQ Standard

    Jodi Scott, Public Relations
    678-539-1216, jscott@ashrae.org

    ATLANTA – The newly published 2013 version of ASHRAE’s residential indoor air quality standard removes the default leakage rate assumption and also requires carbon monoxide alarms.

    ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2013, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, is the only nationally recognized indoor air quality standard developed solely for residences. It defines the roles of and minimum requirements for mechanical and natural ventilation systems and the building envelope intended to provide acceptable indoor air quality in low-rise residential buildings.

    One of the biggest changes in the standard over the 2010 version was an increase in mechanical ventilation rates to 7.5 cfm per person plus 3 cfm per 100 square feet. This is due to the earlier removal of the earlier default assumption regarding natural infiltration.

    The Standard 62.2 Committee had previously assumed homes got a minimum of 2 cfm, per 100 square feet, according to Don Stevens, committee chair.

    “Because research shows houses have gotten tighter and apartments have always been tight, the 2013 edition drops this default assumption and calls for the entire amount to be provided mechanically,” he said. “The only exception is when single family homes have a blower door test – then the predicted average annual leakage rate can be deducted.”

    Another major change is a requirement for carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in all dwelling units. CO poisoning leads to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year in homes, resulting from automobiles left running in attached garages as well as from portable generators, power tools and heaters, according to Paul Francisco, committee vice chair. A small fraction of poisonings also result from failed central heating combustion appliances.

    “Residents have very little ability to sense the presence of CO without detectors, unlike many other indoor polluting events,” he said.

    Whether to include CO alarms as a requirement in the standard had been discussed since the standard was first proposed with debate focused on the unreliability and cost of alarms.

    Francisco said the committee believes the time has come to make this change, noting that it brings the standard into closer alignment with the International Residential Code, which requires alarms if the house has combustion appliances or attached garages, and with many states that have passed laws requiring CO alarms.

    The requirement goes a step further, expanding the protection to all homes, regardless of fuel type or garage configuration, reflecting the fact that many CO exposures occur due to causes completely independent of these factors, he said. It also requires that alarms be hard-wired with battery backup to address an increased likelihood of high CO exposure events during power outages.

    Other significant new changes include the removal of the climate limitations on pressurization and depressurization; specifications related specifically to multifamily buildings; and new calculations and weather data for estimating annual leakage based on a blower door test.

    The cost of Standard 62.2-2013, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings, is $58 ($48, ASHRAE members).

    To order, contact ASHRAE Customer Contact Center at 1-800-527-4723 (United States and Canada) or 404-636-8400 (worldwide), fax 678-539-2129, or visit www.ashrae.org/bookstore.

    ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a building technology society with more than 50,000 members worldwide. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.

    www.FloridaIAQ.com

    www.Microshield-ES.com

        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com


    Continuing Education Requirements reduced for Activation of an Inactive License

    Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQSHB 517 was approved by Governor Rick Scott on April 6, 2012 and reduces the continuing education required to activate an inactive license. You now only have to complete one renewal cycle of continuing education instead of completing continuing education for all the renewal cycles your license was in an inactive status. Applicants will need to provide proof of completing the continuing education requirements in effect at the last renewal date immediately prior to their application.

    Those requirements are included in Chapter 61-31.504, F.A.C.:
    61-31.504 Continuing Education Requirements for Biennial Renewal

     (1) Prior to the expiration of each biennial licensure period, and as a condition for renewal of the mold assessor and/or mold remediator license, each person licensed pursuant to Chapter 468, Part XVI, Florida Statutes, shall complete a minimum of fourteen (14) hours of continuing education which shall include, at a minimum, all of the following subjects as they relate to the practice of mold assessment and/or mold remediation:

    (a) A minimum of six (6) hours of instruction regarding water (moisture intrusion),

    (b) A minimum of four (4) hours of instruction regarding mold and mold safety, to include respiratory protection,

    (c) A minimum of two (2) hours of instruction regarding report writing,

    (d) A minimum of two (2) hours of instruction regarding standards of practice.

    (2) Continuing education credits may be obtained for the completion of courses or seminars offered by education providers approved by the department. A list of such providers is available from the department at www.myfloridalicense.com/CESearch.asp?SID=&div=07

    (a) A licensee, who is an instructor, may obtain continuing education credits in the amount of the credits allowed for that course or seminar for his/her first presentation of such course or seminar.
     
    (b) No licensee may claim credit until after the credit has been earned by that licensee.

    (3) Licensees need not comply with continuing education requirements prior to the licensee’s first full renewal cycle.




    Your House Might Be Making You Sick

    Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQSBy LAURA BARNHARDT CECH
    Special To The Washington Post
    April 14, 2013 12:00 AM
    http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130414/LIFE/304140313


    It was a chronic thing: Almost every time Erma Taylor's great-grandson caught a cold, he also ended up having a severe asthma attack. Taylor, a retired nurse, spent many hours at a hospital, helping to hold the toddler for tests and breathing treatments, and wondering what was causing the attacks.


    The one thing Taylor never suspected was that something inside the Falls Church, Va., Cape Cod that she shares with her granddaughter and great-grandson was a source of the 3-year-old's medical problems.
    It turned out that mold and mildew from years of shampooing the decades-old carpet were aggravating the little boy's respiratory system.


    The carpeting was replaced with wood flooring through a nonprofit group called Rebuilding Together, and Taylor says she has seen marked improvement. "We haven't been back to the hospital since then," Taylor says.


    Many homeowners may be unsuspecting victims of medical problems, from asthma attacks to lung cancer, caused by components and conditions in their houses, according to a new federal report.


    More than 30 million homes have significant health issues, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 20 million housing units have a lead-based paint hazard. And more than 6.8 million homes have radon exposures above the level at which remedial action should be taken, as determined by the EPA.


    The trouble is that many homeowners and renters aren't aware of the link between their housing and their health. Radon exposure, for example, has no immediate symptoms. Carbon monoxide poisoning can initially resemble the flu. And exposure to some toxins may be confused with seasonal allergies.


    "In our cars, we have oil and check engine lights," says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. "There's no such light for a house."


    A federal interagency body called the Healthy Homes Work Group released a report, "Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action," in February, with the goal of reducing the number of homes with health and safety hazards over the next five years.


    But, federal officials and experts say, a reduction in illness and accidents depends heavily on consumers being vigilant about the dangers in their homes.


    "People spend more time looking at the kitchen countertops than they do at issues that can cause serious health problems," says Nancy Harvey Steorts, a realty agent in Virginia and author of "Your Home Safe Home."


    "There are so many elements to having a home that's truly safe," says Steorts, former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Many consumers think that they don't have anything to worry about."


    Even Steorts, an expert in home safety, had a problem when she lived in Dallas. It started with a sore throat and escalated to symptoms of a heart attack. The problem stemmed from glue in the padding of carpet that had been recently installed, she says.  "Here, this happened in my own home," Steorts says.

    Could your house be making you sick? Visit www.southcoasttoday.com for some common household hazards and some tips on how you can address them.

     

    Building Materials
    Asbestos and arsenic have been removed from most new building materials, but Morley and other health advocates are wary of the lack of testing and regulation of building materials.


    In recent years, VOCs, short for volatile organic compounds — found in paints and formaldehyde and in the glue used to make some furniture, cabinets and wood paneling — have been been a focus of health concerns.


    In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure limiting formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. But the rules haven't taken effect yet.


    Exposure to formaldehyde can cause burning sensations in the eyes and throat, and difficulty in breathing. It can also cause cancer, according to government scientists. Exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.


    Experts recommend choosing low-VOC paints, carpet and flooring and removing paint thinners and other chemicals from homes. A qualified home inspector can point out possible dangers in building materials, including the presence of asbestos in insulation, lead in plumbing fixtures and formaldehyde in paneling or cabinets. While it may not be possible to identify all materials visually, an inspector can tell you what was common, based on the age of your home.



    Radon
    Except for secondhand smoke, radon is the single most prevalent and deadly home health issue for children, Paulson says.


    About 21,000 lung cancer deaths — more than the number of drunken-driving deaths — can be linked to radon exposure, according to the EPA.


    A radon test — ranging from about $13 for a do-it-yourself kit to $150 for a professional test — should be part of a home inspection, experts say.


    If radon levels are elevated, the problem is easily corrected with a pressurized system that keeps radon from seeping through the home's foundation.



    Mold and Pests
    Plumbing leaks and poor insulation are the main cause of mold and pests, says Steorts.


    Some materials, such as synthetic stucco, are easy to puncture and may allow moisture to seep in, says Vimal Kapoor, president of the Building Inspector of America, based in Germantown.


    An alarm should go off, he says, "if you feel better when you're out of the house."


    Mold tends to worsen respiratory illnesses, induce asthma attacks and irritate eyes and nasal passages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some studies also suggest more severe effects, including flu-like symptoms.


    More surprisingly, cockroaches can be potential triggers of asthma symptoms among children allergic to them, says Stephen Teach, an emergency room physician at Children's National Medical Center who also runs the asthma clinic.


    Decomposing cockroach bodies and their excrement easily become airborne, and can be inhaled into the bronchial tubes.


    Other household allergens include dust mites and grease.


    Every six months, look for signs of pests and mold and mildew. If you are suspicious about toxins or mold, have an air quality test, experts say.



    Carbon Monoxide
    When the carbon monoxide detector went off in her Arlington, Va., rental, Morley and her roommates unplugged it. Like many, they assumed the problem was with the detector.


    They were wrong.


    Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, too often, homeowners don't realize there's a problem.


    After comparing symptoms of headaches and nausea, Morley and her roommates plugged back in the detector, which sounded a piercing alarm. The fire department confirmed high carbon monoxide levels. Faulty appliances were to blame.


    "It was scary," says Morley, who was treated with oxygen at the hospital.


    Exposure can cause a range of flu-like symptoms, including headaches, dizziness and nausea. But carbon monoxide exposure also can be fatal. Each year, more than 400 deaths are blamed on CO poisoning, according to the CDC.


    Gas fireplaces, furnaces, generators and appliances cause most carbon monoxide leaks, says Steorts. She recommends that her clients check whether appliances have been recalled, and that appliances and heating and cooling systems be inspected annually.


    In addition to installing CO detectors, examine all seals around doors and windows annually, paying close attention to the door between house and garage, because CO can leak into homes from cars, Steorts says.



    Lead
    Paint companies began phasing out lead-based paint in 1951 and then banned it in 1978. Because it's no longer used, says Barbara Moore, manager of the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital Lead Clinic in Baltimore, Md., "most people think it's a thing of the past."


    However, because there are so many older homes in the Washington area, "we still have a problem with lead poisoning," says Jerome A. Paulson, a physician who is director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.


    Specks of dust flaking from window sills and doors get on floors and toys. Young children ingest the lead particles when they put their hands in their mouths.


    Owen Gray, a software engineer in Baltimore, and his wife were cautious about painted surfaces possibly containing lead in their 1890s rowhouse. But they were surprised when a stripped fireplace mantel tested positive for the toxic metal.


    "It never occurred to us that would be a problem," says Gray, whose toddler is being treated for elevated levels of lead.


    Lead exposure has been linked to loss of IQ, learning difficulties and developmental delays.


    And while many homeowners are warned about lead paint when they buy a home (or rent one), they may not take the risk seriously if they don't have children at the time, Paulson says.


    In addition to painted — and previously painted — surfaces, lead may also be found in some vinyl tiles, window blinds and plumbing fixtures, including chrome-plated brass faucets.

    In houses built before 1978, get a lead test by certified inspector.


    Contractors doing work that could disturb lead paint such as sanding or replacing windows should be certified by EPA-approved trainers.


    Lead is among the issues that the workgroup continues to make a priority. But more than that, says Matthew Ammon, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office on Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, "What it represents is a change in mind-set, in how we think about housing."


    The report doesn't propose regulations, but it calls for federal agencies — and there are more than nine involved — to work with each other and with local governments, nonprofit groups and communities, Ammon says.


    "This coordinated strategy is a big first step," says Morley, adding that she believes regulations are necessary.


    The reason that 90 percent of homes have smoke detectors is that they're required by local codes, she says. "If you rely solely on the voluntary action of property owners," says Morley, "the consequences are lost lives."

    www.FloridaIAQ.com



    AIHA Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment

    AIHA Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built EnvironmentThe approximately 10,000 members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) serve in the occupational and environmental health and safety profession, practicing industrial hygiene in industry, government, labor, academic institutions, and independent organizations, primarily in the United States and Canada. The AIHA is a cognizant authority on all aspects of the profession. AIHA Technical Committees endeavor to ensure that reliable information is provided to all those concerned with the health and safety of people in the workplace and, in some cases, homes.  AIHA members often play the unique role of working with other professionals, as risk managers and risk communicators, to solve problems and to protect the health and wellbeing of workers and the general public.

    Since 1996, the AIHA has been a leader in the development of information and best practices on the management of mold and dampness problems in the build environment. This information has been relied upon by officials who develop and enforce public policy on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for the non-industrial workplace, including schools. AIHA has also provided accessible information for individuals to enable more informed choices. It is appropriate to make clear the Association’s positions with respect to reducing the risks associated with indoor microbial growth, and to define and explain the role of AIHA members in such endeavors, to all parties.

    MOLD & HEALTH
    Modest wetting and drying in buildings and in ventilation systems is normal and generally poses little risk for occupant health. Similarly, very brief episodes of wetting are not usually a problem provided that steps are taken to rapidly dry all materials.(1) “Dampness” is the presence of unwanted and excessive moisture in buildings.(2) This can lead to the growth of mold, fungi, environmental bacteria, and, in homes, house dust mites.

    The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores. The molds that grow on damp building materials are normally found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions, ranging from just damp to very wet. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions.(3)

    Well conducted epidemiology studies in several countries have consistently shown that exposures from building/house dampness and mold have been associated with increased risks for respiratory symptoms, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, and respiratory infections.(4,5) In studies conducted in the nonindustrial workplace, individuals with asthma or hypersensitivity pneumonitis were found to be at risk for progression to more severe disease if the relationship between illness and exposure to the damp building was not recognized and exposures continued.(6)

    Three recent, high quality, systematic reviews of the available evidence concluded that the implementation of interventions that combine elimination of moisture intrusion and leaks and removal of moldy items help to reduce mold exposure and respiratory symptoms and new onset asthma.(4,5,7) This position has also been taken by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and many State governments (8), Health Canada(9,10) and internationally by the World Health Organization(11).

    Based on this evidence, the position of AIHA is that persistent dampness and mold damage in the non-industrial workplace, including schools and residential housing, requires prevention, management and effective remediation. If visible mold is present, it should be remediated, regardless of what species are present. Such actions are likely to reduce new onset asthma, lead to savings in health care costs, and improve public health.

    Therefore
    1. While the design and location of a building have the greatest impact on the onset of serious mold damage, maintenance and effective management of mold and dampness requires an ongoing strategy involving occupants, building owners and managers, ventilation experts and occupational hygiene professionals.(1,2)


    Owners and occupants should take action to detect and correct leaks, condensation problems and floods as soon as they are discovered. The potential for building structural damage, microbial growth and increased adverse health effects can, and should, be reduced by limiting the buildup of indoor moisture. A formal mold/water prevention program with clear actions and responsibilities is required for an effective response to signs of moisture.(12,13) The actions taken by all stakeholders, including designers, contractors, owners, and occupants of buildings, are critical to effective management of prolonged dampness in buildings. An effective prevention program is evidence of appropriate due diligence to protect both the health of occupants and visitors, and to preserve the building fabric. As new buildings are constructed, or older buildings are subject to major renovation, consistent effort is needed on the part of the architects and engineers involved in the design and construction of the structure, cladding, roof and HVAC system to make the building durable.(1,14)

    2. It has long been recognized that, based on the application of existing methods to analyze air or dust samples, there are no quantitative, health-based microbial exposure guidelines or thresholds.(8,10) Sampling data that may be developed during an investigation must be comprehensive and communicated in a form useful to physicians and allied professionals, building occupants and decisionmakers.(15,16)

    AIHA recognizes that there are a number of audiences for the reports that are provided pursuant to a mold investigation. Regardless of the nature of the client (homeowner, insurance agent, large property company, government), reports must provide information that can (a) be translated into an action plan for repair and rehabilitation of the space, (b) provide a basis for protecting occupants and remediation workers health and, in certain situations (c) be useful for the personal physician and/or public health officials.

    Investigators should provide clear and consistent field notes with sufficient detail to allow the field work and sampling data, if any, to be interpreted, verified, and repeated. The report should include, at a minimum, appropriate documentation of sample handling and reporting results. Ideal documentation should be thorough, detailed, readable, and focused. Additionally, it should present sufficient information to allow the work to be verified and repeated, and it should describe all quality assurance procedures.(17,18)

    AIHA recommends that clients verify that the consultant has suitable training and project experience, as well as appropriate and related references.(19) Almost all industrial hygienists (IHs) have college degrees in engineering or the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry or microbiology. Additionally, 42% have master’s degrees, and 12% have doctoral degrees. Industrial hygienists also have specialized training in ventilation engineering, environmental health, toxicology and microbiology.

    Unless this is waived by the client, investigators should be independent of the remediation contractor and testing laboratory associated with the project.(16,19,20) Basic competencies that should be assessed by clients include knowledge and education in exposure characterization, microbiological assessment and remediation, general knowledge of the ecology of fungi and bacteria associated with damp or flooded buildings, building science and problem areas in Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning systems.(19,20) If samples are collected, laboratory analytical staff should have specific training and experience in the identification of environmental mold and bacteria, and be able to demonstrate successful participation in an external proficiency testing program.(2,21) Some States have certification requirements and other regulations regarding mold-related activities or remediation. A number of Canadian municipalities have regulations that cover mold damage in residences from illegal marijuana grow operations.

    Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology focus on factors that promote allergen and contaminant production (‘facilitating factors’, in this case moisture) and reservoirs.(15) In this context, properly conducted building inspections, which depend on the training and experience of the investigator(s), are essential to physician evaluation. Physicians reviewing such reports should find clearly described key elements and be able to judge the quality of a report. At a minimum, reports should include a statement of purpose and limitations, observations, results of any testing, conclusions, and recommendations. Such reports should not include any speculation or conclusions concerning medical causation.(2,16)

    Since current analytical methods do not provide information on the health risks associated with mold exposures in the built environment(8,10), health assessment is primarily based on the nature and extent of the mold and water/moisture damage and the type of reservoirs present (e.g. carpets, soft furniture). In most studies and a recent meta-analysis on the subject, semi-quantitative estimates of the extent of visible mold/dampness has been identified as being the best predictor of long and short-term health outcomes.(5,9,22,23) The investigator’s report needs to present this information in a clear fashion according to methods discussed in the AIHA publication Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mold (“The Green Book”).(2) Air and/or settled dust sampling can be used to defend hypotheses about the nature of the contamination, ‘hidden’ sources of contamination, and whether or not the indoor air is similar to outdoor air.(16,24)

    3. Investigation and remediation of mold and moisture damage in buildings must be based on an informed inspection augmented by the judicious use of existing sampling methods, primarily for the purpose of detecting any hidden damage.(2,9) The protection of remediation workers and occupants during renovations is essential.(2,9) In case of occupants with more serious pre-existing respiratory conditions, relocation may be appropriate.(25,26)

    If mold is suspected, but not visibly detected after a thorough inspection, then microbial air sampling conducted in accordance with guidance documents can be useful.(2,3,24) This sampling may reveal evidence of indoor mold amplification or reservoirs, particularly of mold that is considered “hidden” behind walls and other building structures. If mold is being removed and there is a question about how far the colonization extends, then surface or bulk sampling, in combination with moisture measurements from affected building materials, may be useful. Sampling for airborne mold spores can indicate whether the mix of indoor molds is “typical” of the outdoor mix or, conversely, “atypical” or unusual at the time of sampling.

    Any mold sampling that does occur must be performed by qualified and experienced investigators familiar with current guidelines and, if applicable, local regulations. Samples should not be taken without a clear purpose (i.e., testing a hypothesis) and a sufficient number of samples must be taken to reliably assess the existing conditions. Laboratories vary in experience and proficiency; using an AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLA Paccredited lab or ISO 17025 equivalent is recommended.(3)

    4. It is not unusual for buildings to have a number of concurrent problems that affect IEQ or the perception of IEQ. Water and moisture damage can result in the release of gasses from some building materials.(8) Investigations of apparent or suspected mold-related health complaints must consider all possibilities. While mold damage comprises a large percentage of problem situations, studies of occupant complaints find that a high percentage have an outdoor air make up below the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard, inappropriate and inadequate temperature and humidity levels, inadequate control of contaminants from outdoor air (including ozone, traffic pollutants, etc.), contaminants arising from equipment or activities within the building or house (including cooking activities), and poor air distribution.(22,27,28)

    IHs and other IEQ practitioners should approach mold, water intrusion, and IEQ investigations with the same mindset they use when they approach all investigations. The process includes three of the five key industrial hygiene elements: anticipation, recognition, and evaluation. While the IH can reasonably anticipate that there will be mold exposures associated with water intrusion, mold may or may not be the primary cause of any health effect(s) that may be experienced by the occupants. The IH should ensure that, while investigating mold-related complaints, whether apparent or reported, active consideration of other possibilities affecting IEQ in the space is an essential part of the investigation.(29)

    In addition to mold-related exposures, contaminants that are both directly and indirectly associated with water-related damages may also be affecting the occupants. These contaminants may include, but are not limited to:

    • particulate and gas/vapor contaminants associated with improper combustion ventilation or improperly operating utilities, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulfur compounds, soot and other fine particles, fuel and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc.;
    • VOCs from construction product degradation and/or off gassing, such as formaldehyde and other aldehydes, phenolics, and amines;
    • organisms that proliferate under damp conditions or when maintenance is substandard, such as bacteria, amoeba, dust mites, cockroaches, and rodents; and,
    • animal and chemical-based allergens already present and/or exacerbated by the water damage.

    Many potential contaminants may be present along with mold damage that can affect health or the safety of investigators, remediation workers, and occupants. For example, failure to recognize the presence of asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint could lead to their disturbance during investigative or remedial activities, unnecessarily creating a new hazard. Finally, there is a need to recognize the potential hazards associated with remedial alternatives that may lead to the introduction of pesticides, ozone, chlorine dioxide, and other chemicals that could exacerbate existing health conditions or lead to new health issues.

    www.FloridaIAQ.com


    Florida Sewage Damage - The Health Risks it Poses to People

    Florida Sewage Floods - Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQBy Leo Nov
    When we hear of the term sewage, we really have a very clear idea of what it looks like. We know what sewage is and where it comes from. We are so grossed just having to think that it came from our bodies' excretory system, but then, despite its gross nature, we are still being careless in terms of its disposal.
     
    Sewage can cause health risks to people. It is well-known that sewage is the accumulation of human wastes such as feces and urine. Because of its characteristic, it is indeed true enough that it has various pathogens and allergens that can be very harmful to people's health.
     
    There are several diseases are caused by sewage damage. It is important to have an idea of these diseases and the effects of these to our health.
     
    The Dangers of Sewage damage to people's health
     
    The people are at great risk of acquiring infectious diseases due to exposure to sewage. Not only are the general public affected, sewage damage also poses risks to workers who usually venture in the remediation process, sewage treatment and other sewage-damage related activities. There is a big possibility for them to acquire chronic respiratory illnesses and other chronic illnesses whether it could be viral, fungal, bacterial and parasitic.
     
    There are several diseases that are brought by sewage damage. It is important to have an idea of these diseases and the their effects to our health.
     
    Public health
     
    The general public is the one being at risk of sewage damage. It is ordinary to hear and read news about cases of hepatitis, cholera and other diseases due to exposure to untreated sewage. Take for example the case of epidemic Hepatitis A in Ocee, Florida on 1988-1989. In the said epidemic, statistics showed that 18 cases had a history of exposure to sewage-contaminated storm water.
     
    Over 120 variants of viruses can be seen in human feces, urine and sewage damage which can lead their way to sewage. The 120 viruses can include the following:
     
    Rotavirus-causes severe diarrhea in children
    Norwalk virus- causes gastroenteritis
    Adenoviruses- cause of respiratory and eye infections
     
    Parasitic agents such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium can cause chronic intestinal illnesses in children and adults.
     
    Bacterial pathogens abound in places with sewage damage can consist of strains of gram-negative organisms like Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli. Aside from the strains of gram-negative bacteria, gram-negative bacteria also produce endotoxins which occur at the point of cell's death and elimination. Endotoxins can manifest in the air through remediation, take for example the cleaning and drying of infected carpets.
     
    Public health risks can also be incurred through improper sewage damage disposal and transport from hospitals and other industrial companies. These could leaf to public health's declining status due to unscrupulous manner of managing their wastes.
     
    However, workers from sewage damage remediation and other sewage-related activities are not free from health risks. They are prone to infectious illnesses due to exposure to certain chemicals, allergens, toxic gases, fumes, vapors and endotoxins as well as mycot
    oxins and other infectious agents.
     

    Leo Nov is an editorial staff member of RestorationSOS.com, a leading service provider for water damage cleanups.


    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1911368

    www.FloridaIAQ.com


    Meth in Florida: A growing problem both statewide and locally

    Florida Meth Lab - Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQBy SHELDON GARDNER
    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Methamphetamine use is growing across Florida, and that trend is reflected in St. Johns County where the number of meth busts has increased for the past few years.
     
    St. Johns County’s first meth bust came in the 1970s, and meth labs weren’t discovered regularly again until the early 2000s, according to previous stories.
     
    Deputies started finding a few meth labs a year in 2008, said St. Johns County Sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Hartsell. In 2011 and 2012, the Sheriff’s Office found more than three dozen meth labs.
     
    “It’s not gonna slow down,” Hartsell said.
     
    Meth labs have been found across the county in hotel rooms, homes, backpacks and cars. Many of them are clustered in and around the city limits, but labs have also been found in Hastings, Elkton, Ponte Vedra Beach and off County Road 210 and 208, according to Sheriff’s Office records.
     
    Most of them are small-scale, one pot labs, that are highly mobile and produce enough meth for personal use.
     
    The same is true statewide. Most labs fit in a Gatorade bottle, small enough so that someone could “start making meth in one county and drive through three counties before it’s done,” said David Gross, special agent supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which monitors trends in drug use.
     
    The increase in meth lab discoveries is also happening across the state, but meth is already a nationwide problem, Gross said. Meth has been in Florida since the late 80s or early 90s, but use and production started to pick up in 2008.
     
    In 2008, law enforcement agencies across the state reported 180 meth labs, Gross said. That number rose steadily. In 2011, 676 meth labs were found. There were probably more since multiple areas in the state did not file reports. Reporting is on a voluntary basis.
     
    In 2012, 930 meth labs were reported statewide.
     
    In May 2011, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team formed to better respond to the growing problem. The team is made up of deputies trained in handling meth labs. Hartsell supervises one of those teams.
     
    When the Sheriff’s Office meth team arrives at a scene, officials suit up and remove the lab from the home. That takes four to six hours and costs from $500 to $2,000 depending on the size of the lab, Hartsell said.
     
    Meth cooks endanger not only the people cooking them, but surrounding communities. The gases used in the cook are toxic and highly flammable and explosive. In 2010, a Sheriff’s deputy had to be taken to the hospital for an inhalation injury after breathing in the toxic fumes during an investigation, Hartsell said.
     
    Meth use also increases criminal activity, affects surrounding communities and costs the county money. As with other drugs, people often steal to support their habit, Hartsell said.
     
    Meth labs are toxic to people and homes.
     
    Cooking meth or smoking it creates gases that seep into walls, carpets and furniture, he said. If a building is not cleaned properly, the residual gases are still there, and it’s a health risk.
     
    Depending on the extent of meth use, decontaminating a building could mean ripping out walls and throwing away furniture, costing thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes houses are so badly contaminated that they need to be demolished.
     
    St. Johns County Code Enforcement officials recently demolished a mobile home at 1990 Powell Road because meth had been cooked in the home. Two labs had been found there over the past few years. The property owner opted to have the building torn down instead of paying for the clean-up.
     
    Officials said meth use will continue to be a problem in the state and the county despite efforts to fight its spread.
     
    “Right now that’s the future of narcotics in our county,” Hartsell said. “At least for the time being.”
     

     
    A few facts about meth
     
    Methamphetamine facts from the Drug Enforcement Administration:
     
    Street names: Batu, Bikers Coffee, Black Beauties, Chalk, Chicken Feed, Crank, Crystal, Glass, Go-Fast, Hiropon, Ice, Meth, Methlies Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Shabu, Shards, Speed, Stove Top, Tina, Trash, Tweak, Uppers, Ventana, Vidrio, Yaba and Yellow BamLooks.
     
    ■ How it’s done: Meth can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked.
     
    ■ Affects: Meth creates an intense rush with highs that can last for half a day. The drug releases high levels of dompamine into the pleasure areas of the brain. Long-term abuse can cause addiction, violence, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions. Dopamine-producing brain cells and serotonin-containing nerve cells can be damaged by exposure to meth.
     
    ■ Overdose: Taking too much meth can cause a heart attack, stroke and multiple organ problems as the body temperature is raised to dangerous levels. Overdosing also can cause convulsions.
     
    ■ Legal: Meth is a Schedule II controlled substance and is prescribed, in very limited use, to treat obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
     
    ■ Where it all started: Mexico produces most of the meth that is imported into cities in the US. Many meth labs found in the U.S. are small scale labs.
     
    ■ What’s been done: The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 requires businesses that sell non-prescription products that contain major ingredients in meth — pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine — to make customers show ID and sign a logbook to purchase the products. They must also keep the products in a locked cabinet.
     
    ■ Florida has its own laws regarding the sale and purchase of ephedrine and its related compounds. The State Legislature passed a law in 2010 that controls the sale and purchase of the chemical, and created an electronic database for sellers and law enforcement to keep track of who is buying and selling, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    www.FloridaIAQ.com


     

    Relative Humidity & IAQ

    Florida Indoor Air Quality Humidity & IAQMaintaining relative humidity below 50% inhibits mold and mildew growth, dust mite infestations, and bacteria. This lower relative humidity also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Molds are incapable of obtaining the moisture needed for their development directly from the atmosphere, but they can obtain it from a substrate, which has absorbed moisture from moist air (60% to 100% relative humidity).

    The relative humidity of the air has an indirect effect on fungal growth, and the more hygroscopic a material is, the more susceptible it is to mold growth. The minimum moisture content at which mold growth occurs depends on the material and usually ranges from 10% to 14%. Suitable substrates include carpet fibers, gypsum, concrete, bricks, etc.

    Mold spores are everywhere all the time, entering from outdoor air as well as on pets and clothing. A mold spore landing on an indoor surface is likely to be insignificant and amount to little more than a common component of indoor dust, until such a mold spore lands on a moist organic surface (such as drywall.) High indoor humidity causes the surface moisture level to be sufficient for mold sporulation.  Since a mold spore requires moisture to propagate and grow, the indoor humidity level is a key gating factor in the control of indoor mold (and dust mites) in buildings.

    Certain common mold genera and species, such as some members of the Aspergillus sp. and others grow readily on common building materials if they also have enough moisture. While there are fungal species that are able to grow under a remarkably wide range of environmental conditions, keeping indoor humidity at the appropriate level will reduce the chances of growth of the most common indoor problem molds.

    High indoor humidity can encourage more issues than indoor mold. The same moisture conditions that support growth of problematic indoor molds also encourage the development of bacterial hazards, dust mite populations, mite fecal allergen problem, and possibly other insect problems in buildings.

    The same measures of humidity control to prevent mold growth are needed to discourage the dust mite population that exists in all living areas. Measures discussed in this article including choosing and maintaining the proper humidity level to avoid indoor mold will also work to minimize the level of dust mites and dust mite allergens.

    Keep the indoor humidity level in the mid-comfort range. A maximum indoor relative humidity of 50% RH may be acceptable, 45% RH better. At 60% indoor RH, we're entering the indoor mold-formation risk zone of high interior moisture in building wall or ceiling cavities or on wall and floor surfaces, possibly conducive to mold growth.



    IAQ and Airborne Particulate Matter PM

    Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs.  Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems such as asthma.


    Particulates are a mixture of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. They can be solids and/or liquids and exist in a range of sizes. Particulate size is measured in micrometers (µm), one millionth of a meter. The EPA refers to different groups of particulates that include:

     

    • Total suspended particulates (TSP) – representing the range of particulate matter normally found in the urban atmosphere. TSP generally includes from 1µm to 50µm.
    • PM10 – refers to particulate matter of less than 10m m in diameter. PM10 is generally considered the most useful particulate measure. Particles less than 10µm in diameter can be inhaled and have the potential to reach the tracheo-bronchial region of the lung.
    • PM2.5 - comprises of fine particulate matter less than 2.5µm in diameter. Particles of this size are capable of deep lung penetration.
    • Total suspended particulates (TSP) – representing the range of particulate matter normally found in the urban atmosphere. TSP generally includes from 1µm to 50µm.

     

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have a recommendation for 8 hour exposure for particles in the .3 µm size which is a recommended 0-40,000 particles/cc this is found in the OSHA Technical Manual.

    Particulate Reduction;

     

    The goal of improving the Indoor Air Quality is going to begin with particulate reduction.  Particulate matter (PM) is the name for a wide range of particles that are small enough to be carried by the air, therefore; breathed in by people. They can be solid or liquid, or a mixture of both.

     

    The size of particles may range from 0.005 µm to 100 µm in diameter. In comparison, the average size of a human hair is 60 µm. PM10 are particles that are 10 µm or less in diameter.  PM2.5 are particles of 2.5 µm or less in diameter.  The finer particles pose the greatest threat to human health because they can travel deepest into the lungs.

     

    Indoor particulate matter is a mixture of substances like these:

     

    • Carbon (soot) emitted by combustion sources;
    • Tiny liquid or solid particles in aerosols;
    • Fungal spores;
    • Pollen; and
    • A toxin present in bacteria (endotoxin).

    Airborne Particulate Matter Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS

    In a properly-maintained home, most of the airborne particulate matter comes from the outside. However, some homes do have significant sources of indoor particulate matter which come from the following sources:

     

    • Cigarette smoking is the greatest single source of particulate matter in homes and buildings where people smoke;
    • Cooking: especially frying and sautéing;
    • Malfunctioning combustion appliances: for example, furnaces without a proper air filter;
    • Non-vented combustion appliances like gas stoves;
    • Wood-burning appliances like wood stoves and fireplaces: especially if the smoke leaks or back drafts into the home; and
    • Mold growth.

     

    Reducing concentrations of particulate matter in your home;

     

    Furnaces and ventilation systems: Make sure that furnaces and ventilation systems are properly maintained, and that you replace filter screens as often as recommended by the manufacturer. All combustion appliances, including furnaces, should be inspected by a qualified technician yearly.

    • Cooking: Turn your exhaust fan on when you are cooking, and especially when frying.
    • Woodstoves: Choose properly sized woodstoves and make sure that the doors close tightly. Have your chimney cleaned yearly, too.
    • Mold: Prevent mold growth and the release of mould spores into your indoor air by controlling humidity and fixing water leaks and water-damaged areas
    • Smoking: Don’t allow people to smoke indoors because particulate matter levels increase with every smoker in the building.
    • Clean: Use your HEPA vacuum cleaner regularly.

    Your vacuum cleaner, as a general rule, is really only efficient at trapping particles that have settled onto the floor or whatever surface you’re vacuuming.  Even many room air cleaners are of limited effectiveness in typical building environments, because every time someone walks across a room, opens a door or window, or flips on the central air handling home, thousands if not millions of superfine particles are introduced into the breathing space as the room air is disturbed or exchanged.


    Since portable air cleaner airflow rates are often fairly low in relation to the rate of room contamination, many people with portable air cleaners may still end up breathing more dust than they realize.

     

    How can you stop or prevent dust? Well, you can’t, at least not completely, since even humans produce their own organic dust and the surfaces within the building are also constantly “shedding” micro-particles. Of course, you can make sure you have good entrance matting in place, so outdoor contaminants and dusts are not tracked in as much.  You can also try to cleanup or contain other sources of fine particles (e.g., paper dust from tissue boxes, dirty air ducts or HVAC filters, etc.) Finally, you can make sure that the processes you use to clean your homes removes rather than redistribute dust as much as possible. This would include vacuuming surfaces with an HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtered vacuum cleaner.   Use HEPA vacuum cleaners or high efficiency vacuum cleaner bags. These dramatically reduced the amount of dust, allergen and pollens pumped back into the air by the vacuum cleaner.

    Airborne Particulate Matter, PM Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS





    Florida Mold Humidity Bloom

    Florida Humidity Bloom Florida Indoor Air Quality SolutionsA humidity bloom is the growth of mold within a living space due to the elevation of indoor relative humidity at or above 60 percent relative humidity for a period of time greater than 72 hours and must be maintained for growth to continue. 

    When the humidity is above 60 percent relative humidity, molds will germinate causing what is referred to as a mold bloom.   These molds can bloom in many colors and are often confused with dust, dirt, foxing, ghosting, or cobwebs.

    Humidity for an extended period of time, typically in excess of 72 hours to initiate the bloom and must be maintained for growth to continue.  When the humidity is above 60 percent relative humidity, molds will germinate causing what is referred to as a mold bloom.   These molds can bloom in many colors and are often confused with dust, dirt, foxing, ghosting, or cobwebs.

    Both active and inactive mold can have a distinctive smell, which most people describe as musty.

    Active mold in the early stages of a bloom has hair-like filaments in webs, which develop a more bushy appearance as the bloom matures. This is more easily seen under magnification. Active mold is soft and may smear when touched with a fine brush. It may also be slimy and damp.  Inactive mold is dry and powdery and will seem to brush off materials readily.

    Mold and mildew are words that refer to more than 100,000 species of fungi. Mold spores are present everywhere in our environment, generally in a dormant state where they do little damage. Spores require moisture to become active. They do not require light.

    When water or high relative humidity provides the necessary moisture, dormant spores will germinate, grow fine web-like structures, and eventually produce fruiting bodies that release more spores. Most molds will germinate at 60 percent relative humidity. Increases in temperature can speed the growth rate of active mold.

    There are 4 critical requirements for mold growth – available mold spores, available mold food, appropriate temperatures and considerable moisture. The removal of any one of these items will prohibit mold growth.

    The only way to reduce the threat of mold in a home is to maintain an environment that is not hospitable for the germination of mold spores. The temperature should be 74-78 degrees F, and the relative humidity of 60% or less. It is important that the air conditioning system (HVAC) be kept on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Inconsistent operation or fluctuations in the temperature and humidity are the cause of many serious mold outbreaks.

    Humidity
    Humidity is simply vaporized water in the air. Your breath contains hundreds of droplets of invisible water vapor. You can see them when you breathe on a pair of cold glasses.

    The term most often used to define the amount of water vapor in the air is "relative humidity." Relative humidity is the percentage of water vapor in the air at a specific temperature, compared to the amount of water vapor the air is capable of holding at that temperature. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. When air at a certain temperature contains all the water vapor it can hold at that temperature, its relative humidity is 100 percent. If it contains only half the water vapor it is capable of holding at that temperature, the relative humidity is 50 percent.

    If the outside air temperature in winter is 0°F and the relative humidity is 75 percent, that same air inside your 70°F home will have a four percent relative humidity. The Sahara Desert has an average relative humidity of 25 percent.

    When air is saturated with water vapor, it has reached the dew point; at this point, water vapor condenses and produces visible water or "condensation." In winter it usually occurs first on windows. When warm, moist air comes in contact with a cold window, air temperature drops and it can no longer hold the water vapor; condensation results.

    Desirable Humidity Levels
    The human body is comfortable when relative humidity ranges between 20 and 60 percent. In your home, an average relative humidity of 35 to 40 percent is appropriate when the outside temperature is 20°F or above. However, during cold weather, higher humidity ranges may cause structural damage because of condensation on windows and on the inside of exterior walls. As outdoor temperatures fall, condensation problems inside may develop.

    The construction of a home also influences how much humidity is desirable. Tightly constructed buildings with properly installed vapor barriers and tight fitting doors and windows retain more heat and moisture. This is where mechanical ventilation becomes important. If a home does not have the proper mechanical ventilation, excess water vapor can move through walls and ceilings, causing wet insulation, peeling paint, and mold on walls and woodwork.

    The recommended relative humidity is less than 50%.  Maintaining relative humidity below 50% inhibits mold and mildew growth, dust mite infestations, and bacteria. This lower relative humidity also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Molds are incapable of obtaining the moisture needed for their development directly from the atmosphere, but they can obtain it from a substrate, which has absorbed moisture from moist air (60% to 100% relative humidity). The relative humidity of the air has an indirect effect on fungal growth, and the more hygroscopic a material is, the more susceptible it is to mold growth. The minimum moisture content at which mold growth occurs depends on the material and usually ranges from 10% to 14%. Suitable substrates include carpet fibers, gypsum, concrete, bricks, etc.

    Mold spores are everywhere all the time, entering from outdoor air as well as on pets and clothing. A mold spore landing on an indoor surface is likely to be insignificant and amount to little more than a common component of indoor dust, until such a mold spore lands on a moist organic surface (such as drywall.) High indoor humidity causes the surface moisture level to be sufficient for mold sporulation.  Since a mold spore requires moisture to propagate and grow, the indoor humidity level is a key gating factor in the control of indoor mold (and dust mites) in buildings.

    Certain common mold genera and species, such as some members of the Aspergillus sp. and others grow readily on common building materials if they also have enough moisture. While there are fungal species that are able to grow under a remarkably wide range of environmental conditions, keeping indoor humidity at the appropriate level will reduce the chances of growth of the most common indoor problem molds.

    High indoor humidity can encourage more issues than indoor mold. The same moisture conditions that support growth of problematic indoor molds also encourage the development of bacterial hazards, dust mite populations, mite fecal allergen problem, and possibly other insect problems in buildings.

    The same measures of humidity control to prevent mold growth are needed to discourage the dust mite population that exists in all living areas. Measures including choosing and maintaining the proper humidity level to avoid indoor mold will also work to minimize the level of dust mites and dust mite allergens.

    Keep the indoor humidity level in the mid-comfort range. A maximum indoor relative humidity of 50% RH may be acceptable, 45% RH better. At 60% indoor RH, we're entering the indoor mold-formation risk zone of high interior moisture in building wall or ceiling cavities or on wall and floor surfaces, possibly conducive to mold growth.


    John Lapotaire, CIEC
    Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions
    www.FloridaIAQ.com


    WINDOW CONDENSATION, Causes and Cures

    Window Condensation Florida Indoor Air Quality Solutions IAQSEach winter more and more homeowners become interested in the subject of window condensation.  It's not a happy interest. It stems from bad experiences with window condensation, which range from irritating to downright expensive.

    Many home owners seem to believe that it’s a windows problem, a cheap or single pane window issue. They call their builder or the window supplier and say, "My windows are all wet, and it must be the fault of the builder or the windows." Well, not quite... Water on windows is condensation, and it can be a problem. However, it's not a window problem, and the solution does not come from the windows.

    It may strike you as odd, but the growing condensation problems of the nation are caused by progress and improvements in the construction of your home.  Yes, if you have trouble with window condensation it's probably because you live in a "tight" modern home that you can heat and cool for a fraction of the cost it took to heat and cool the house your parents lived in. 

    This article explains the moisture problems of the "tight" home that lead to window condensation. It offers suggestions for curing condensation problems in existing homes and provides suggestions for those who are planning on building a home.  Your new home will be a "tight" home and there are more changes or upgrades that you can add to the home during construction that will help to prevent excessive moisture.  This can be a bit more difficult in an existing home where the problem already exists.

    What Causes "Excessive" Condensation?
    Condensation is the result of high humidity that produces a "fog" once it hits a colder surface. The humidity is caused by excess water vapor in the home. This is commonly seen in a foggy mirror after a hot shower. Condensation usually occurs first on windows because glass surfaces have the lowest temperature of any of the interior surfaces in the home.

    A little condensation on the lower corners of your windows now and then probably doesn't bother you and shouldn't. By the time you've thought about it a second time it has usually gone.

    What we're talking about is excessive condensation, condensation that runs down the windows and pools on the sills, condensation that runs off windows and stains woodwork... or in serious cases even damages the walls and possibly the floors.

    If you have this kind of condensation on your windows, you have a good reason to worry and a good reason to act.

    It's natural and easy in such cases to blame the builder or the windows. But it's wrong to blame them.

    The real villain is invisible. Its water vapor...too much water vapor. The best and usually the ONLY way to prevent this trouble is to get rid of excess water vapor.

    If you have too much water vapor (humidity) in your home there isn't anything you can do to the windows to stop condensation.

    What is Humidity?
    Humidity, water vapor, moisture, steam, they're all the same. They’re all a form of water.  Humidity is an invisible gas. It’s present in varying quantities in nearly all air. This moisture in wet air tries to flow toward drier air and mix with it to reach equilibrium.

    Scientists describe the movement of water vapor as "vapor pressure'.  It’s often a very powerful force indeed.  It can act independently of the flow of the air, which holds the moisture.  Vapor pressure can force moisture easily through wood, drywall, cement and brick. Right through most of the materials we use to build our homes. That’s exactly what happens when moisture seeks to escape from the humid air.  The moisture is moving from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration. 

    Here in Florida, the hot humid south, the area of greater concentration is generally the exterior of the home.  However during the winter the opposite is true.  During the winter the exterior is dryer than the interior of your home.  In addition you aren’t running the air conditioner which during the summer removes some of the indoor water vapor from the air.

    So we have the same daily activities in the winter as the summer.  We’re creating the same amount of water vapor but we’re not removing any of water vapor.  So in the winter the humidity in our homes rises and the outdoor temperature and humidity lowers.  And the result is condensation on your windows.  The amount of condensation will be directly related to the amount of available water vapor or amount of indoor relative humidity.

    Daily occupant activity such as cooking, washing, bathing, showers, as well as the use of household appliances such as dishwashers and clothes dryers and washing machines, all introduce water vapor into homes.  Typical amounts of water vapor include:
    • One person’s breathing produces 1/4 cup of water per hour.
    • Cooking for a family of four produces approximately 5 pints of water in 24 hours.
    • Showering puts 1/2 pint of water into the air.
    • Bathing puts 1/8 pint of water into the air.

    Adding only four to six pints of water to the air raises the relative humidity in a 1,000 square foot home from 15 to 60 percent, assuming the temperature is constant.

    So you see that the modern family of four can easily release 150 pounds or more than 18 GALLONS of water per week into the air in their home! 

    Old drafty windows allow moisture to escape through inefficient seals and cracks. Today's technology produces more energy efficient, "tighter" homes. This is great for keeping your home more comfortable, quieter, and cleaner, BUT by sealing your home you are also keeping moisture in. In today's homes it is very easy to build up extremely high levels of humidity.

    Since the 1970’s energy crisis we’ve been working very hard to create an energy efficient home.  Part of that energy efficiency is to prevent air infiltration by sealing homes which has created the modern "tight" home. Moisture created by bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and daily occupant activity no longer flows easily to the outside. Modern insulation and construction that keep the hot and cold air outside also keep moisture in; so, it is very easy to build up excessive and even harmful moisture levels in our homes. The condensation is a big red flag that you have way too much humidity trapped in your home.

    How to Reduce Humidity
    Be the Master of your Domain and take control of your indoor environment: For instance, venting all bath vents, clothes dryers, kitchen exhaust hoods to the exterior of your home.  And of course you have to use your kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans.  We strongly encourage you to consider purchasing or upgrading to bathroom exhaust fans that are humidity controlled.  That’s right started and stopped automatically based on the amount of humidity in the bathroom.

    Now, before we summarize specific steps for reducing humidity in your home, let's include some basic data about recommended indoor relative humidity. You can refer to it if you are inclined to test the moisture levels in your own home.

    Here are a few easy steps you can take to reduce condensation on your windows.
    1. Install a humidistat
    2. Do not install wallpaper on exterior or bathroom walls
    3. Do not place furniture in front of windows. 
    4. Do not keep window coverings such as curtains and blinds fully closed
    5. Ensure that your bathroom exhaust fan is ducted to the exterior of your home
    6. Run your bathroom exhaust fan
    7. Run your bath exhaust fan some more
    8. If possible duct your kitchen exhaust fan to the exterior
    9. Run your kitchen exhaust fan while cooking
    10. Ensure that your dryer vent is clean

    You see, the basic principle of reducing window condensation is extremely simple. When there is too much condensation on your windows, it means that humidity is too high in your home. You should take necessary steps to reduce humidity until condensation disappears.

    While we have been discussing the control of condensation we've mentioned just about everything except windows. There's a good reason.
    There just is nothing much that can be done with windows to cut down condensation.

    As the building experts have often pointed out, the windows are not to blame for condensation. In the moisture content of the inside air, lies both the cause and the cure.

    John Lapotaire, CIEC
    www.FloridaIAQ.com




    To Control Asthma, Start With The Home Instead Of The Child

    by Richard Knox

    March 18, 2013 3:22 AM

    Nothing sends more kids to the hospital than asthma.

    So when doctors at Children's Hospital in Boston noticed they kept seeing an unusually high number of asthmatic kids from certain low-income neighborhoods, they wondered if they could do something about the environment these kids were living in.

    It's well-known that asthma attacks are triggered by dust, mold, pests such as mice and cockroaches, polluted air, and other environmental aggravations.

    To help parents get rid of those triggers, Children's Hospital developed the Community Asthma Initiative. The program first identifies frequent fliers — children who show up often at the hospital's emergency room with asthma attacks. Many of them get admitted repeatedly to bring their asthma under control.

    Then program staffers contact the parents. "It's a teachable moment," says program director Dr. Elizabeth Woods. "It's a time when families are very open to wanting to do something new and different to help their child stay out of the hospital."

    The next step is a home visit from a community health worker like Margie Lorenzi, who recently paid a call on Maria Texeira-Gomes of Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston.

    Gomes' 5-year-old son, Matheo, has had asthma nearly all his life. After he was hospitalized last fall, she agreed to accept Lorenzi's help in identifying and eliminating the things in her household that kept triggering his asthma attacks.

    This was Lorenzi's third visit to the Gomes household — a small, tidy house with a view of the Boston skyline.

    "We'll just go over the triggers like we did the first time and the second time around and see what changes you've implemented within the home," Lorenzi said as the two women settled around the kitchen table, an air purifier humming on a nearby counter.


    Gomes said she had made lots of changes.

    "We have the HEPA-filter vacuum, which is what I use to dust and vacuum the home," Gomes said. "I try to vacuum when [Matheo] is at school."

    Gomes, a social worker, said she has stopped using room deodorants and no longer lights candles. They can aggravate asthma. "Just being diligent and thinking about his needs," she said.

    Gomes now uses a vinegar-and-water solution to clean in order to avoid harsh chemicals. "You know, within our culture we like to do this excessive cleaning with bleach and Lysol and all that stuff," she said. "So I try to minimize it."

    Lorenzi ran through a checklist of other triggers. "No mold? No cockroaches? What about mice?" Gomes answered no to each. Then Lorenzi checked under the sink and in the bathroom, looking for trouble.

    She was pleased to see that Gomes had gotten rid of the living room carpet that harbored allergens, that she vacuums curtains and window blinds to reduce dust, that Matheo's toys and shoes are stored in dust-proof plastic bins provided by the Asthma Initiative, and that Grandma's cat stays upstairs in her apartment at all times.

    All of these changes seemed to be paying off. That was apparent when Lorenzi calculated something called an "Asthma Control Score" for Matheo.




    "How much of the time did the asthma keep him from going to school and keep you from going to work?" Lorenzi asked.

    "None of the time," Gomes said.

    "Awesome! And during the past four weeks, how much of the time did he have shortness of breath that you noticed? Would you say once a day? Three to six times a week? Once or twice a week? Or not at all?"

    "Not at all," Gomes replied.

    "I'm liking this!" Lorenzi laughed.

    Matheo's score turned out to be 23 — which means his asthma is well-controlled. On Lorenzi's last visit, it was 19, not well-controlled.

    Matheo used to end up in the hospital every time he had a cold, and in between there were many trips to the emergency room. But no longer.

    He still has to take asthma medicine — but less often. His asthma isn't waking him up at night anymore. And once a week he goes swimming.

    The Community Asthma Initiative has served more than a thousand families over the past seven years. It costs about $2,300 per family — not only for staff time, but also for things like plastic bins, a special mattress and pillow covers, and the vacuum cleaner that filters out fine dust.

    It's not cheap — and it's not something hospitals typically do. But just a few visits over a year's time make a demonstrable difference.

    "For every dollar spent," Elizabeth Woods tells Shots, "you save $1.46 for hospitalizations and emergency room visits." The program's performance was detailed in a report published last year by the journal Pediatrics.

    "There's a 56 percent reduction in patients with any emergency room visits," Woods adds, "and an 80 percent reduction in patients with any hospitalizations."

    And that doesn't include the savings from lower use of medications, or the cost of time off work for parents caring for a sick child.

    The program is beginning to catch on around the country. Woods says she knows of startups and keen interest in Alabama, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware, Florida and Ohio.

    Woods hopes to persuade Medicaid and other insurers to pay for this sort of simple re-engineering of the home environment — pioneered by the Boston program — so they don't have to pay so much for treating asthma attacks.



    Mold Scams. Is anything really Free???


    More often than not, free comes with a hefty price that ends up costing far more than you thought it would and never has that been truer than in the mold business.

    The safest thing consumers can do whenever the word “FREE” is used to sell a mold remediation job is to avoid that contractor all together. Think about it. No one is in business to do anything for free. Anyone offering something for free is doing so to sell you something else. While that may be fine when it comes to “buy one – get one free” deals offered on TV infomercials, in the mold business a free inspections and testing can end up costing you thousands of dollars for remediation work that may be grossly exaggerated or in some cases doesn’t need to be done at all.

    The biggest mold scam is and always has been – mold remediation contractors who perform “FREE” mold inspections. When it comes to mold, you do NOT want a mold inspector who is motivated to find mold removal jobs for themselves.

    Mold remediation is a very profitable business and engaging in both mold inspections and mold remediation is a serious conflict of interest. The potential for fraudulently creating thousands of dollars in bogus and unnecessary mold remediation work is tremendous and – unfortunately – an everyday occurrence in this industry.

    This fraudulent practice of the mold remediation contractor securing work by providing “FREE” mold inspections then offering to remediate the mold is against the Law in the State of Florida.

    Your Mold Remediator and Mold Inspector MUST be Licensed by the State of Florida. Under the Florida Licensing Law the Mold Remediator Cannot perform Mold Remediation on any job that he or she has performed the Mold Inspection.

    This is the oldest mold scam in the mold remediation and restoration industry and it’s easy to pull off because most consumers don’t know enough about mold to realize when they’re being bamboozled into work that is often grossly exaggerated, and in some instances, not even necessary.

    Beware of the mold remediation contractor that offers “Free” Mold Inspections and uses terms such as “Black Mold”, “Toxic Mold”, or “Toxic Black Mold”.

    Those terms are a clear indication that the mold remediation contractor providing the “Free Mold Inspection” is using scare tactics to convince you that you need the mold remediation work for your immediate safety.  Not likely.

    To establish the presence of mycotoxins in any indoor environment the Licensed Mold Assessor would need to collect samples that would identify the species of mold.  This cannot be accomplished with the collection of spore trap samples.  The spore trap samples will only provide mold spore identification to the genus not the species.  Or feline if you will and not house cat vs. Bengal tiger, Genus vs. species.

    To identify the species of mold the Licensed Mold Assessor would need to collect either culturable (viable or living) or PCR samples.

    Culturable must be collected using a pump, impactor, and agar plates. These samples are then sent to the laboratory and take time to grow and are more expensive than mold spore trap samples.

    PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction, is used to detect the DNA of the spore and is collected using a pump and a 3-piece PCR air-sampling cassette.  PCR is even more expensive than the mold cultures and spore traps combined, but they are much faster than waiting for the culturable samples to grow.

    It gets even more expensive when you realize that now that you’ve identified the mold in the indoor environment as a species that MAY produce mycotoxins you now have to determine if the potentially mycotoxin producing mold species actually produced any mycotoxins in the indoor environment being sampled. Whew!

    Yes it takes much more than a “FREE Mold Inspection” to establish that you home or office has a mold that produced mycotoxins.  It’s more likely that the mold remediation contractor offering the “FREE Mold Inspection” and using terms like “Black Mold”, “Toxic Mold”, or “Toxic Black Mold” is just trying to scare you into more mold remediation than you actually need.

    No indoor environmental professional would ever use those term, ever!  If they are being used you are being played.  Ask the individual to stop using unprofessional scare tactics and leave.

    Remember, Convenience Can Cost You.
    Most people prefer to deal with one contractor for everything because it’s convenient. But when it comes to mold that convenience can end up costing you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repair work. There are enough reputable and Florida State Licensed Mold Inspectors who do not engage in remediation work to risk getting ripped off.

    Remember a mold inspection should be completely unbiased. Mold inspectors should have no personal interest in how an inspection turns out, nor should they ever profit from what they find, either directly by doing the removal themselves, or indirectly by referring work to their friends for a kick-back.

    The only way to ensure you will get an unbiased inspection report and avoid this mold scam is to hire a Florida State Licensed Mold Inspector who does not perform mold remediation.  And always ask if they will be following the ANSI Approved S-520.

    The S-520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation is procedural standard and reference guide for the remediation of mold damaged structures and contents. The S-520 is based on reliable remediation and restoration principles, research and practical experience.

    The S520 provides a philosophical shift away from setting numerical mold contamination action levels. Instead, it establishes mold contamination definitions, descriptions and conditions (1, 2, 3), and general guidance, which, when properly applied, can assist remediators and others in determining criteria that trigger remediation activities or confirm remediation success.

    Contaminated as the presence of indoor mold growth and/or spores, whose identity, location and amplification are not reflective of a normal fungal ecology for an indoor environment, and which may produce adverse health effects and cause damage to materials, and adversely affect the operation or function of building systems.

    Condition 1 (normal ecology) – may have settled spores, fungal fragments or traces of actual growth whose identity, location and quantity is reflective of a normal fungal ecology for an indoor environment.

    Condition 2 (settled spores) – an indoor environment which is primarily contaminated with settled spores that were dispersed directly or indirectly from a Condition 3 area, and which may have traces of actual growth.

    Condition 3 (actual growth) – an indoor environment contaminated with the presence of actual growth and associated spores. Actual growth includes growth that is active or dormant, visible or hidden.


    What Are MERV Ratings and How Do They Work?


    What is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value?
     
    The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, also known simply as MERV, measures the performance of air purifiers, specifically large purifiers intended to clean an entire house or building. Large, whole-house purifiers are not evaluated in the same manner used to measure the effectiveness of small, portable air cleaners, which are sometimes given Clean Air Delivery Ratings (CADR) instead.
     
    Whole house and building air purifiers usually receive MERV ratings of between 1 and 16, though the upper limit is sometimes extended to 20. Common residential air purification systems tend to fall within a narrower range. Higher numbers translate to more effective air filtration. According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, "The scale is designed to represent the worst case performance of a filter when dealing with particles in the range of 0.3 to 10 micrometers."

    MERV Rating Chart



    Who Uses MERV Ratings?

     
    The MERV rating system was initially created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (or ASHRAE for short) in 1987. However, this evaluation system was based on older methods that date back to 1968, when ASHRAE issued "Standard 52," the first formal testing standard for filters. According to an article by engineer Donald Newell, the purpose of the Standard has not changed since its early days, and is designed to determine the following attributes of air filters:
     • Particle removal capability
     • Resistance to airflow
     • Expected operating life
     
    MERV ratings measure only the first quality, however. The MERV rating of an air cleaner is determined according to updated standards set by the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 52.2-1999.
     
    How is an Air Cleaner's MERV Rating Determined?
     
    Air cleaners are given MERV ratings based on the results of a series of tests. Simply put, the process works as follows:

    1. Test particles are introduced into the air of the testing area. These particles fall into one of twelve categories, based on size. The smallest category contains particles ranging from .3 to .4 micrometers (also known as "microns"). The largest includes particles from 7 to 10 micrometers.

    2. The air is then passed through the filter being tested. The density of particles in the air is measured before and after the air passes through the filter to determine how effective the filter is at removing pollutants in each size category.
     
    After this is done, the process is repeated five more times, so that there are ultimately six measurements for each of the twelve categories. The MERV number is assigned based on the worst result. Hence the "minimum" in "Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value."
     
    What Does an Air Cleaner's MERV Rating Mean for You?
     
    A helpful chart detailing what MERV ratings mean can be found at http://www.mechreps.com/PDF/Merv_Rating_Chart.pdf. Of particular interest is the column detailing what types of pollutants are filtered out at each level.
     
    Precise technical details will be less important to the average customer than an answer to the question, "What MERV ratings are acceptable for my home?" The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides some information on this matter. "Medium efficiency filters with a MERV of 5 to 13," it states, "are reasonably efficient at removing small to large airborne particles. Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles." Furthermore, the EPA adds that "medium efficiency air filters are generally less expensive than HEPA filters, and allow quieter HVAC fan operation and higher airflow rates than HEPA filters since they have less airflow resistance."
     
    HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the top-of-the-line air filters. Most homes are not capable of having whole-house HEPA filtration systems installed without extensive modification. Therefore, the EPA's recommendation of filters with a MERV rating from 7 to 13 is something that potential customers should keep in mind.
     
    The National Air Filtration Association gives a roughly similar answer. The highest range it recommends for residential systems is 9-12; higher numbers are said to be suited for hospitals or commercial buildings rather than homes.
     
    Limitations of the MERV Rating System
     
    An air cleaner's MERV rating is based on its ability to filter out undesirable particles from the air. Not all indoor air pollution is particle-based, however. Gasses contribute significantly to pollution as well. The ability of an air purifier to remove particles is not predicative of its ability to remove gasses, so the MERV rating is not helpful in this regard.
     
    Newell's article cautions that air filters given the ASHRAE test "are likely to perform worse than predicted because of various installation conditions." This is known as the "installation effect." Therefore, it is important to remember that MERV ratings are assigned based on a purifier's performance in carefully controlled testing conditions, and not the "real world."
     
    And finally, as stated above, MERV ratings are only relevant to large air cleaners intended to affect whole buildings. Common small portable air cleaners do not have MERV ratings.
     
    Conclusion
     
    The MERV rating system is a helpful way to describe the capabilities of different large air cleaners. It is determined through rigorous testing and is gives the worst-case performance of the filter, so the MERV number is not inflated. No one should forget to consider MERV ratings when shopping for such cleaners. There are, however, other factors to consider as well, so it would be a mistake to think that buying the right air filtration system is a simple matter of picking the unit with the highest MERV.


        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com



    EPA Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home


    Indoor air pollutants are unwanted, sometimes harmful materials in the air. Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks. Usually the best way to address this risk is to control or eliminate the sources of pollutants, and to ventilate a home with clean outdoor air.

    The ventilation method may, however, be limited by weather conditions or undesirable levels of contaminants contained in outdoor air. If these measures are insufficient, an air cleaning device may be useful. Air cleaning devices are intended to remove pollutants from indoor air. Some air cleaning devices are designed to be installed in the ductwork of a home’s central heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system to clean the air in the whole house.

    Portable room air cleaners can be used to clean the air in a single room or specific areas, but they are not intended for whole-house filtration. The following pages will provide information on different types of air cleaning devices and how they work.

    Indoor Air Pollutants
    Pollutants that can affect air quality in a home fall into the following categories:

    • Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms such as dust mites, molds, bacteria, and viruses.
     
    • Gaseous pollutants come from combustion processes. Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and pesticides.

    What Types of Pollutants Can an Air Cleaner Remove?
    There are several types of air cleaning devices available, each designed to remove certain types of pollutants.

    Particle Removal

    Two types of air cleaning devices can remove particles from the air — mechanical air filters and electronic air cleaners. Mechanical air filters remove particles by capturing them on filter materials.


    High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are in this category. Electronic air cleaners such as electrostatic precipitators use a process called electrostatic attraction to trap charged particles. They draw air through an ionization section where particles obtain an electrical charge. The charged particles then accumulate on a series of flat plates called a collector that is oppositely charged. Ion generators, or ionizers, disperse charged ions into the air, similar to the electronic air cleaners but without a collector. These ions attach to airborne particles, giving them a charge so that they attach to nearby surfaces such as walls or furniture, or attach to one another and settle faster.

    Gaseous Pollutant Removal

    Gas-phase air filters remove gases and odors by using a material called a sorbent, such as activated carbon, which adsorbs the pollutants. These filters are typically intended to remove one or more gaseous pollutants from the airstream that passes through them. Because gas-phase filters are specific to one or a limited number of gaseous pollutants, they will not reduce concentrations of pollutants for which they were not designed. Some air cleaning devices with gas-phase filters may remove a portion of the gaseous pollutants and some of the related hazards, at least on a temporary basis. However, none are expected to remove all of the gaseous pollutants present in the air of a typical home. For example, carbon monoxide is a dangerous gaseous pollutant that is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned, and it is not readily captured using currently available residential gas-phase filtration products.

    Pollutant Destruction


    Some air cleaners use ultraviolet (UV) light technology intended to destroy pollutants in indoor air. These air cleaners are called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) cleaners and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) cleaners. Ozone generators that are sold as air cleaners intentionally produce ozone gas, a lung irritant, to destroy pollutants.

    Ozone is a lung irritant that can cause adverse health effects.

    •UVGI cleaners use ultraviolet radiation from UV lamps that may destroy biological pollutants such as viruses, bacteria, allergens, and molds that are airborne or growing on HVAC surfaces (e.g., found on cooling coils, drain pans, or ductwork). If used, they should be applied with, but not as a replacement for, filtration systems.
     
    •PCO cleaners use a UV lamp along with a substance, called a catalyst, that reacts with the light. They are intended to destroy gaseous pollutants by converting them into harmless products, but are not designed to remove particulate pollutants.
     
    •Ozone generators use UV light or an electrical discharge to intentionally produce ozone. Ozone is a lung irritant that can cause adverse health effects. At concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little effect in removing most indoor air contaminants. Thus, ozone generators are not always safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollutants. Consumers should instead use methods proven to be both safe and effective to reduce pollutant concentrations, which include eliminating or controlling pollutant sources and increasing outdoor air ventilation.
    Visit www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html for more information on ozone generators sold as air cleaners.


        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com 



    Indoor Air Quality and Asthma


    Microshield IAQJason Earle. Founder and CEO of Mycelium Holdings LLC
    Posted: 07/02/2012

    With 50 Percent of Childhood Asthma Uncontrolled, Time to Look Homeward

    "Despite available treatments, less than 50 percent of asthmatic children control their symptoms," announced Prof. Nikos Papadopoulos, Chair of the International Consensus (ICON) on Pediatric Asthma, two weeks ago at The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) 31st Annual meeting, Geneva, Switzerland.

    As a childhood asthmatic, and someone who has long worked with families to regain control of their indoor air, that number nearly knocked me off my chair.

    Granted, many of the worst cases of asthma exist in developing nations where there is, sadly, little anyone can do about it. This is largely due to substandard living conditions and poor education, compounded by inadequate medical care. When people cook over unventilated open flames indoors, asthma is bound to rear its ugly head. Combine that with a whole host of other variables and you have yourself an epidemic.

    But more disconcerting are the cases here in our own backyard, where we have the ability to do something about it, yet we're still not doing all that can be done.

    It's well known there are higher concentrations of asthmatics in urban environments, especially in close proximity to highways, but asthma is an equal opportunity ailment. It affects people across the whole human spectrum, with kids being the hardest hit.

    While medications are an important part of controlling symptoms -- they save lives every single day -- one of the most overlooked aspects of asthma prevention is the home environment, where many children spend most of their time. In essence, asthma = inflammation + irritation. Most of the irritants that trigger asthma symptoms are avoidable, and really have no place in a healthy home.

      -Dampness of any sort, which invariably leads to:

         •Mold growth
         •Dust mites
         •Pests

      - Noxious chemical cleaners

      - Air fresheners

      - Candles

      - VOCs

      - Cigarette smoke (does this even need to be said?)

      - Carpet in the basement (yes, I know, it's common, but so are most mistakes)

      - And much, much more.

    I've written about this in the past. Here's a a piece I did about spring cleaning that elaborates on these items in greater detail, if you're so inclined to dig deeper.

    There was a time when doctors made house calls. These have been supplanted by eight-minute clinic visits. Symptoms are discussed, but underlying causes are rarely explored. Physicians simply have no practical way to know what's going on in the home, nor do they have the time to pursue it. While numerous studies have been done proving the positive impact of custom, home-based environmental interventions directed at educating the affected and reducing asthma triggers indoors, it has not been done consistently on a large scale.

    Interestingly, the CDC Community Preventive Services Task Force put out a report late last year in which they recommend these home-based initiatives. The report cited extensive data showing that a relatively small investment in these programs can yield significant health care savings, reduce the number of missed school days, increase the productivity of the parents who would otherwise miss work to care for their children and, of course, improve quality of life for the whole family.

    The average person spends more than 90 percent of every day indoors, yet we hear relatively little in the media about what we're doing to our indoor environment. Buildings are built tighter to save energy, while a dizzying array of pollutants accumulate indoors, all helping to steadily increase the reach and cost of a disease that should already be on the decline. It's part of our modern condition.

    There is much that can be done at relatively low cost. Most synthetic cleaning products, for example, can be swapped for natural versions (many of which work better!); air fresheners can be jettisoned in favor of HEPA air purifiers and HEPA vacuum cleaners, and pillows, mattresses and bedding can be fitted with allergen encasements. Some homes require professional help, especially those with serious moisture, mold or pest problems, but a great percentage will benefit from minor to moderate interventions.

    The home environment is what I call the last mile in asthma treatment and prevention. It is where education and awareness can help turn the asthma juggernaut around, and where more attention needs to be directed. The solutions to much of this suffering are hiding in plain sight.


        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com 



    Florida IAQ and the 7 Principals of Healthy Homes


    Microshield NCHHFace it. Anywhere in Florida makes for a great place to live. Yet every home endures a certain amount of unwanted, indoor air pollutants. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental health risks faced by U.S. citizens.

    Indoor air pollution builds up via in-home activities such as cooking, cleaning and even indoor remodeling projects. To eliminate the associated risk factors, a Florida homeowner could attempt to replace the indoor air with cleaner outdoor air. However, residential ventilation systems usually don’t include outdoor air supply.  If you consider opening a window that could occasionally be rendered inefficient due to unfavorable weather conditions, elevated humidity, or extreme accumulations of contaminants in the outdoor air.

    At times, homeowners must embrace alternative indoor air cleaning methods. Some residents of Florida are known for making use of indoor air cleaning devices and products that attach to your homes air handler such as UV lights or hydroxyl and ozone generators in an attempt to disinfect purify or destroy air contaminants before they are recycled back into their home air supply.  But those are just bells and whistles that don’t actually correct the issue.   

    We recommend that you begin the improvement of your indoor environment using the 7 Principals of Healthy Homes.

    1. Dry:
    Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.

    2. Clean:
    Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.

    3. Pest-Free:
    Recent studies show a causal relationship between exposure to mice and cockroaches and asthma episodes in children; yet inappropriate treatment for pest infestations can exacerbate health problems, since pesticide residues in homes pose risks for neurological damage and cancer.

    4. Safe:
    The majority of injuries among children occur in the home. Falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.

    5. Contaminant-Free:
    Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and second-hand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.

    6. Ventilated:
    Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.

    7. Maintained:
    Poorly-maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects some 240,000 U.S. children.

        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com


    Workplace Air Quality: Sometimes Dust Is The Problem


    July 03, 2012|By BARBARA NAGY, Conn. Health I-Team Writer, The Hartford Courant

    The office workers, police officers, social workers and court employees Brian Sauvageau talks with have reached a breaking point.

    They might come to work feeling OK, but soon develop chronic coughs and sneezing, scratchy throats, itchy eyes and even headaches. No one can find the mold they think is causing their symptoms. Unsympathetic colleagues say they feel just fine, so there can’t be anything wrong.

    The problem is surprisingly simple, said Sauvageau, an occupational hygienist with CONN OSHA — the state Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

    The culprit isn’t mold. It’s dust — the tiny particles of fiber, skin scales, insect parts, pollen, cobwebs and dirt that settle on surfaces everywhere.

    Indoor air quality is a growing issue. Belt-tightening has reduced custodial staff and budgets. Time-pressed workers aren’t enthusiastic about cleaning their workspaces. And the growing number of extreme weather events makes for more leaks and flooding. Poor air circulation and blocked heating systems aggravate the problem.

    The impact is staggering. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that poor indoor air quality costs tens of billions of dollars annually in lost productivity and added health care. One study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2010 concluded that improving workplace environments could save businesses $300 per worker each year.

    In the past 14 months, Sauvageau has investigated 20 complaints filed by people who thought that mold was compromising the air quality in their workplaces. Of hundreds of samples that he collected, only one had mold levels that were considered significant.

    “It seems invariably I find dust,” Sauvageau said. “In some cases it’s extremely bad — years of accumulation.”

    Solutions require everyone in an office to work together in ways they haven’t had to do before, said Paula Schenck, assistant director of the Center for Indoor Environments and Health at the University of Connecticut Health Center. “It takes a team,” she said.

    Workers, their union representatives, building owners, managers and cleaning staff all have to buy into the solution, said Ken Tucker, director of CONN OSHA.

    “We do know air quality is a growing problem,” said Larry Dorman, a spokesman for Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in New Britain. “It’s one of the hidden dangers of the workplace.”

    The union has worked with the state and with several municipalities on air quality in buildings ranging from schools in Bridgeport to police headquarters in Hartford. Workers are often unaware of the hazards. “And employers don’t tend to be proactive on issues like that. Sometimes it’s not their fault,” he said, noting that the state leases much of its office space.

    Often, employees don’t realize that there’s more to air quality than mold levels.

    Mold can be highly hazardous, Schenck emphasized. But people should look first for more obvious culprits if they don’t smell mold, can’t see water stains on walls or ceilings, and aren’t aware of any dampness or water from leaks, seepage or humidity.

    “People go nuts about mold because it’s been so publicized, and I appreciate the concern,” Schenck said. “I always talk about three things: ventilation, moisture and dirt/dust.” Mold, she said, is always related to a water problem. “What mold tells you is there’s water where it shouldn’t be, and a biological material is growing.”

    Dust is such a prevalent problem, Sauvageau made it the topic of an article in CONN OSHA’s May newsletter ( http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/osha/2012/qtly-may12.htm). There is no doubt about its irritating effects.

    People have different tolerances for the mites, pollen and spores in dust that builds up. Those who are sensitive have allergic reactions. Those who aren’t might think that nothing is wrong. The location of people’s workspaces can also aggravate their symptoms.

    None of this is a surprise to Ray Cassarino, owner of Cassarino Commercial Cleaning in Wethersfield.

    “I go into an office and the women are sneezing, especially at the reception desk. It’s a haven for dust,” he said. Cassarino lifts the phones, looks at the wires behind the computers and checks under small equipment like fax machines. He can tell how long the dust has been there by how it clumps up. “It’s sick what I find,” he said.

    Symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose and headaches can be caused inadequate ventilation and by dust and dirt because the respiratory system is being irritated. People feel better once they leave the environment, Schenck said. Asthma-like symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, are harder to diagnose as building-related. Breathing can be affected by a wide range of irritants — including mold. Prolonged exposure to some of the contaminants in dust can also cause asthma-like symptoms.

    Sensitivity and exposure make all the difference. Schenck recalls one woman who complained that the vent above her desk was blowing air onto her. The custodian, trying to be helpful, diverted the flow with a piece of plastic. The woman became ill and couldn’t understand why — after all, the air wasn’t blowing on her anymore. A UConn hygienist took a “wipe” sample from the plastic and discovered that it was loaded with bacteria and mold.

    When Sauvageau goes into workplaces, he finds congested offices and desks loaded with clutter. Storage spaces are too small, so supplies and equipment are piled in work areas. Heating and air conditioning equipment isn’t maintained and cleaned. The walls and floors behind heating units and desks are filthy. Furniture obstructs ventilation or makes it hard for the cleaning staff to do its work. People don’t want anything on their desks or shelves moved, which also makes cleaning difficult.

    Some buildings — hospitals, factories and schools, for example — are now courthouses, town halls and offices. They weren’t designed for that use. Balancing the ventilation and keeping the space clean can be a tremendous challenge.

    Cassarino said that many companies have cut back on spending for custodial services. They have unrealistic expectations of how much can be done in a limited time with a limited budget.

    “It’s a bidding war,” Cassarino said. He suggests that businesses and building owners carefully evaluate not only cost, but the level of service they’ll receive.

    Sauvageau wants employers to realize that poor air quality can affect employee attendance, productivity and morale. Some of the people who called CONN OSHA were facing disciplinary actions for missing work too often because of their illnesses. They had been diagnosed with sinus infections, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.

    Building managers have a hard time because people like different temperatures and have different tolerances for air flow. Generally, Schenck said, it’s not good to cut down on ventilation. That lets contaminants accumulate. She also discourages the use of scented air fresheners because they irritate some people.

    That, she said, is the kind of “joint responsibility” that’s required to create a healthy environment. For their part, workers need to be vigilant about their own spaces, and they need to make sure that what they do doesn’t diminish air quality for their co-workers.

    If you are having problems, Schenck and Sauvageau suggest you:

    • Act promptly, because prolonged exposure can lead to chronic symptoms.

    • Start by defining and tracking your symptoms. What time of day do you have them, and where are you?

    • Try to correct the problem through your supervisor and union representativess first. Consider breaking down the office and doing a thorough cleaning. When dust is the problem, symptoms often improve immediately.

    This story was reported under a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (www.c-hit.org).

        John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
        Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
        Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
        www.Microshield-ES.com  www.CFL-IAQ.com



    The Design Build Industry vs. The Remediation Industry


    The oversight elements of the design build process that most fail to recognize, and are somewhat equivalent to the separation between assessment and remediation, are as follows. (That is unless you are in a state that requires nothing to build a home.)

    Plan Review and Permit Application (Design Build Oversight pre-construction)

    First and well before you actually begin bending nails, you will need either a Licensed Architect or a Licensed Engineer to review and approve your design before you can proceed to the next step.

    You'll then need to submit your plans to the City Building Department where the plans will again be reviewed and approved before you can proceed to the next step.

    That alone eliminates any comparison between the unlicensed mold assessors providing an assessment on a home that he intends to remediate.

    At this point and again well before you start bending nails the city will require most if not all of the following:

    • Completed building permit application
    • Site plan
    • Footing plan
    • Foundation plan
    • Floor Plan
    • Building Elevations
    • Header schedule
    • Framing Plan
    • Truss and structural specifications
    • Plumbing, Electrical and Mechanical Plans
    • Engineered Septic plan
    • Window and Door schedule
    • Manufacturer’s Installation Procedures
    • Energy Compliance Calculations

    I pulled that list up from City of Rome just to provide an example of the hoops a design build contractor must jump through prior to the actual construction of the design build project.

    The equivalent of the Mold Assessment.

    Once you actually receive the Building Permit you must then receive the necessary inspections that are required.

    Residential Inspection Schedule (Design Build Oversight during construction)
    All applicable inspections listed below are mandatory and must be completed by a City of Rome Building Inspector prior to use or occupancy.

        FOOTINGS / POSTS
        FOUNDATION / PERIMETER DRAINS
        CONCRETE / UNDER SLAB
        ROUGH IN ELECTRICAL
        ROUGH IN PLUMBING
        FRAMING
        CHIMNEYS & FIREPLACES
        INSULATION
        FIRE SEPARATION
        BUILDING SYSTEMS
        FINAL ELECTRICAL & PLUMBING INSPECTIONS
        FINAL BUILDING INSPECTION
           Smoke Detector / Carbon Monoxide Detectors
           Interior and Exterior coverings in place
           Windows and doors operational.
           Railing / staircases / landings in place
           All mechanical systems operational
           911 House Number in Place

    The equivalent of the Post Remediation Verification Inspection (Design Build Oversight post-construction)

    There is one hell of a lot of oversight involved in the Design Build industry and unless there is separation between assessment and remediation there are none, that's right 0, in the Mold industry.

    The comparison between the Design Build industry and the Mold Remediation industry, is Not a fair apples to apples comparison of industries or industry oversight.

    The Mold Remediation industry would require only 2 points of oversight.

    1.  The Independent Mold Assessment prior to mold remediation (Mold Remediation Oversight pre-remediation)

    Here in Florida by a State Licensed Mold Assessor when the mold affected area is greater than 10 square feet. The Mold Remediator cannot perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold remediation or the mold remediation’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months.



    2.  And the Independent Post Remediation Verification Inspection after mold remediation (Mold Remediation Oversight post-remediation)

    Here in Florida by a State Licensed Mold Assessor that cannot perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessors company provided mold remediation within the last 12 months.

    It just seems to be much easier than many want to make it out to be.

    History and experience tell me that the remediator who skips the initial step of an assessment from a licensed assessor usually finds it just as easy to skip other steps during remediation and usually also skip the last step of independent post remediation verification from a licensed assessor.


    IICRC board of directors votes to return to original name

    The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) announced today that the Board of Directors has voted to return the formal name of the organization to the IICRC, keeping cleantrust as the service mark of the organization.

    The full details surrounding the transition will be announced at the Certification Council on April 22, 2012.


    “We’ve heard the feedback from registrants over the past few months and considered many options,” said IICRC Chairman Darrell Paulson. “Ultimately, the board has decided to use the IICRC as the main brand and use the cleantrust as a service mark.

    This allows us to honor the 40-year history of our organization, while also working to gain more awareness with end-users. We are still working through all of the details and we thank the inspection, cleaning and restoration community for their patience during this process.”


    The IICRC will retain the use of the updated logo, which represents the strength and breadth of the organization. The shape reflects a globe, symbolizing the IICRC’s international status. And like the organization, the logo is made up of many different parts that are working together in a unified pattern, depicting an organization that is deep in knowledge. 

    “Together, this powerful brand combination of IICRC and the cleantrust, will enable us to constantly work towards our mission of identifying and promoting an international standard of care that establishes and maintains the health, safety and welfare of the built environment,” said Paulson.

    Updated materials with the new IICRC logo and an updated design will gradually rollout in the coming months, including ID cards, brochures, introductory video and a new website.




    Does the Home you want to rent have Hidden IAQ Indoor Air Quality Issues?

    Microshield IAQIn today’s volatile and uncertain real estate market, many Florida families who would otherwise purchase a home are now turning to renting homes, condos, and apartments. For many, renting provides them the opportunity to rebound from their own dad real estate experience and for others it’s an opportunity to move into a property when the market is uncertain and financing may not be readily available.

    It’s important for potential tenants to do their homework with regards to potential indoor environmental concerns at a property they are considering renting. This may include talking with the landlord, researching the building’s prior use and hiring an IEP Indoor Environmental Professional to perform an Indoor Environmental Assessment.

    If you are in the market for a new rental home ask questions.  Landlords are bound to deal truthfully when discussing the property and any past issues.  Ask the Landlord about issues dealing with past leaks, flooding events, mold, sewage contamination, asbestos, lead, radon and vapor intrusion issues.

    These questions and answers are all part of the IEP’s interview and will be a part of the written report you will receive if you decide to hire an IEP.  If you decide that you are ready to hire an IEP there are questions that you should ask to ensure you are receiving the best possible assessment of your family’s new home.

    A professionally prepared Indoor Environmental or Indoor Air Quality Report should clearly answer the following questions:

    1. Is there an Indoor Environmental or Indoor Air Quality Concern in your home?
    2. What is the cause?
    3. Where is the source?
    4. What containment and cleaning is needed?
    5. What home repairs are needed to prevent future problems?

    If you suspect that there is an indoor air problem in the home or office involving any unknown Allergens, Asthma Triggers, or Mold, in addition to the visual assessment of your home you may also need to know the following:

    1. Is Indoor Environmental Sampling Necessary?
    2. If Sampling is necessary why?
    3. Where? And
    4. Which Type of Sampling is recommended?

    The Visual Inspection should provide a Sampling Plan specific to the findings in your home or office so you can then determine;

    1. If there is a mold, allergen, asthma trigger, or similar environmental problem in the home or office?
    2. If there is a problem, where is it and how big is it?
    3. What does the lab work indicate about the level of risk to occupants or workers?
    4. Are we looking at a “cosmetic-only” concern?
    5. What is the extent of remediation or cleaning necessary, and
    6. based on the lab results, what is the level of containment and care needed?
    7. What needs to be changed or repaired on the home or office so that problems don’t recur? And
    8. after the cleanup has been completed, was it proper and complete?

    A professionally prepared Indoor Environmental Assessment should also an education on the 7 Seven Principles of Healthy Homes

    Dry: Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.

    Clean: Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.

    Pest-Free: Recent studies show a causal relationship between exposure to mice and cockroaches and asthma episodes in children; yet inappropriate treatment for pest infestations can exacerbate health problems, since pesticide residues in homes pose risks for neurological damage and cancer.

    Safe: The majority of injuries among children occur in the home. Falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.

    Contaminant-Free: Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and second-hand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.

    Ventilated: Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.

    Maintained: Poorly-maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects some 240,000 U.S. children.

     

    • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    www.Microshield-ES.com

     



     

    Who's Required to have a Florida Mold License?

    John Lapotaire CIEC Florida Licensed Mold AssessorI am often asked who in the State of Florida needs a license to preform Mold Assessments and/or Mold Remediation. At the top of the list are General Contractors, Home Inspectors, Duct Cleaners, and Air Conditioning Contractors.

    Let’s start with why the state decided to require a license?

    The Florida Legislature finds it necessary in the interest of the public safety and welfare, to prevent damage to real and personal property, to avert economic injury to the residents of this state, and to regulate persons and companies that hold themselves out to the public as qualified to perform mold-related services.

    Now let’s get to the individuals that believe they don’t require a mold license.  First home inspectors and the answer is yes, a home inspector requires a mold assessor’s license to conduct a mold inspection and yes the collection of samples to identify the presence of mold requires a mold assessor’s license.

    As for the duct cleaners and air conditioning contractors, the answer is also yes.  Anyone removing or identifying mold in a home or business requires a mold assessment or mold remediation license and that includes those in the air conditioning and duct cleaning business.

    There are exceptions to the law and those are listed below. Which brings us to the general contractor?  Does the GC need a mold license? No. As the law currently states the prohibitions in the law do not apply to a Division 1 contractor as stated below.

    468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—


    (1) A person may not:

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold remediation and offers to perform the mold assessment, the contract for mold assessment provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.

    You may want to ensure that your GC is actually trained in Mold Assessment or Mold Remediation before you hire him. Currently the law requires nothing in the form of mold assessment or mold remediation training for a GC.

    A Florida Licensed Mold Assessor or Mold Remediator must first take and pass one of the examinations approved by the department and administered by the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC).

    The ACAC has certifications for both the Assessor and Remediator, such as the CIEC Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant Required: 8 years’ experience consulting on indoor environmental issues including asbestos, lead, HVAC, building science, chemicals, mold and microbial contamination, or the CMC Council-certified Microbial Consultant Required: 8 years’ experience in designing and conducting microbial sampling regimens, or the CMRS Council-certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor Required: 5 years’ experience remediating microbial issues in the indoor environment, and the CMR Council-certified Microbial Remediator Required: 2 years, experience remediating microbial issues in the indoor environment.

    I would much prefer that my Mold Assessor or Mold Remediator be Licensed by the state and have the ACAC qualifications.

    Mold assessment is a process performed by a mold assessor that includes the physical sampling and detailed evaluation of data obtained from a building history and inspection to formulate an initial hypothesis about the origin, identity, location, and extent of amplification of mold growth of greater than 10 square feet.

    Mold remediation is the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter of greater than 10 square feet that was not purposely grown at that location; however, such removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, may not be work that requires a license under Chapter 489, Florida Statutes, unless performed by a person who is licensed under that chapter or the work complies with that chapter.

    These items are offered as examples of services you do need to hire a person with a Florida license and services you do not need to hire a person with a Florida license. The list is not all inclusive. If you have specific questions, please contact the department at 850.487.1395850.487.1395 or review the rules for the profession at www.myfloridalicense.com. You should also check with your county or city to learn whether or not a local business tax receipt or certificate of competency is required for services that do not require a state license. Please visit our Unlicensed Activity page to learn more about how you can help us combat Unlicensed Activity.


    Needs a License Does not need a License
    Advertising or representing oneself to be a Mold Assessor or Remediator. A residential property owner who performs mold assessment on his or her own property.
    Taking samples for purposes of testing for the presence of mold. A person who performs mold assessment on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.
      A person who performs mold assessment on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.
      A person working solely as an officer or employee of a governmental entity.

     

    Here are some Florida Mold License FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.


    What are the statutes and rules that govern the mold-related services Profession?


    Chapter 468, Part XVI of the Florida Statutes and Rule 61-31 of the Florida Administrative Code.


    What are the statutes and rules that govern the Home Inspection Profession?


    Chapter 468 Part XV of the Florida Statutes and Rule 61-30 of the Florida Administrative Code.



    Where can I obtain the laws and rules of the profession?

    The laws and rules may be obtained on the website at www.MyFloridaLicense.com > Our Businesses & Professions > the license you are looking for > Statutes and Rules.

    If you need further assistance, you may call the Customer Contact Center at 850.487.1395850.487.1395

     

    If my company does both Mold Assessments and Mold Remediations, will I be required to get two (2) licenses (one for Mold Assessor and one for Mold Remediator?

    Yes, in addition, please note Section 468.8419(1)(d), F.S., provides that an assessor may not “perform or offer to perform any remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months.” Section 468.8419(2)(d), F.S., provides that a remediator may not “perform or offer to perform any assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months.”


    Will there be additional requirements by DBPR to have an “applicators” license if the mold remediator applies chemicals to contaminated surfaces during a remediation?


    No, please see the definition of remediators as it allows the remediator to treat and do preventive activities.


    Is there a provision that would allow those licensed by the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) to perform mold related services as long as they stay within the scope of their current licenses?


    Yes, Section 468.841 F.S., exempts persons from the provisions of Chapter 468, Part XVI, when acting within their authorized scope of practice as licensed under Federal, state or local codes or statutes. Any person acting on this exemption must not hold himself or herself out for hire as a licensed assessor or remediator or any title implying licensure under Chapter 468, Part XVI.

     

    468.8419 Prohibitions; penalties.—

    (1) A person may not:

    (a) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the mold assessor has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).

    (b) Effective July 1, 2011, perform or offer to perform any mold assessment unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.

    (e) Inspect for a fee any property in which the assessor or the assessor’s company has any financial or transfer interest.

    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business to the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.

    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold remediator or mold remediator’s company for the referral of any business from the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company.

    (h) Accept an engagement to make an omission of the assessment or conduct an assessment in which the assessment itself, or the fee payable for the assessment, is contingent upon the conclusions of the assessment.

    (2) A mold remediator, a company that employs a mold remediator, or a company that is controlled by a company that also has a financial interest in a company employing a mold remediator may not:

    (a) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the remediator has documented training in water, mold, and respiratory protection under s. 468.8414(2).

    (b) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (c) Use the name or title “certified mold remediator,” “registered mold remediator,” “licensed mold remediator,” “mold remediator,” “professional mold remediator,” or any combination thereof unless the person has complied with the provisions of this part.

    (d) Perform or offer to perform any mold assessment to a structure on which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company provided a mold remediation within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold remediation and offers to perform the mold assessment, the contract for mold assessment provided to the homeowner disclose that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.

    (e) Remediate for a fee any property in which the mold remediator or the mold remediator’s company has any financial or transfer interest.

    (f) Accept any compensation, inducement, or reward from a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.

    (g) Offer any compensation, inducement, or reward to a mold assessor or mold assessor’s company for the referral of any business from the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company.

    (3) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits:

    (a) A misdemeanor of the second degree for a first violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    (b) A misdemeanor of the first degree for a second violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    (c) A felony of the third degree for a third or subsequent violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

     

    468.841 Exemptions.—

    (1) The following persons are not required to comply with any provisions of this part relating to mold assessment:

    (a) A residential property owner who performs mold assessment on his or her own property.

    (b) A person who performs mold assessment on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership, or on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold assessment for the public.

    (c) An employee of a mold assessor while directly supervised by the mold assessor.

    (d) Persons or business organizations acting within the scope of the respective licenses required under part XV of this chapter, chapter 471, part I of chapter 481, chapter 482, or chapter 489 1are acting on behalf of an insurer under part VI of chapter 626, or are persons in the manufactured housing industry who are licensed under chapter 320, except when any such persons or business organizations hold themselves out for hire to the public as a “certified mold assessor,” “registered mold assessor,” “licensed mold assessor,” “mold assessor,” “professional mold assessor,” or any combination thereof stating or implying licensure under this part.

    (e) An authorized employee of the United States, this state, or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision, or public or private school and who is conducting mold assessment within the scope of that employment, as long as the employee does not hold out for hire to the general public or otherwise engage in mold assessment.

    (2) The following persons are not required to comply with any provisions of this part relating to mold remediation:

    (a) A residential property owner who performs mold remediation on his or her own property.

    (b) A person who performs mold remediation on property owned or leased by the person, the person’s employer, or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership, or on property operated or managed by the person’s employer or an entity affiliated with the person’s employer through common ownership. This exemption does not apply if the person, employer, or affiliated entity engages in the business of performing mold remediation for the public.

    (c) An employee of a mold remediator while directly supervised by the mold remediator.

    (d) Persons or business organizations that are acting within the scope of the respective licenses required under chapter 471, part I of chapter 481, chapter 482, chapter 489, or part XV of this chapter, are acting on behalf of an insurer under part VI of chapter 626, or are persons in the manufactured housing industry who are licensed under chapter 320, except when any such persons or business organizations hold themselves out for hire to the public as a “certified mold remediator,” “registered mold remediator,” “licensed mold remediator,” “mold remediator,” “professional mold remediator,” or any combination thereof stating or implying licensure under this part.

    (e) An authorized employee of the United States, this state, or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision, or public or private school and who is conducting mold remediation within the scope of that employment, as long as the employee does not hold out for hire to the general public or otherwise engage in mold remediation.

     

    • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    • www.Microshield-ES.com


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    The DNA of a serial killer does NOT kill you!

    Microshield IAQ DNARecently a very well respected PhD, Wei Tang Lab Director at QLab, posted the following in the IAQA LinkedIn Group about microbial DNA testing.  It was in response to a question regarding the presentation he gave at the IAQA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.



    The DNA of a serial killer does NOT kill you!

    Someone asked me about DNA testing in one of my presentations yesterday. Here are my thoughts on this subject.
     
    The detection of DNA in indoor environmental samples demonstrates the history of the presence of biological organisms (e.g. a serial killer, mold, bacteria, etc.). It may not represent the current biological hazard/risk. Pathogens need to be viable to be infectious. The molecular structures of allergens (mold and others) and toxins that cause allergic and toxic reactions, respectively, need to be well preserved in order to cause health effects. Assessment based on DNA testing alone overestimates the risk of biological agents on human health in indoor environment.
     
    Surrogate components testing (DNA, ATP, enzymes) does not test for the “real thing”. The detection of those components of an organism does not equal to the detection of components of the same organism that can cause health effects. Direct microscopic examination of fungal biomass (spores and hyphae) detects and demonstrates the presence of intact fungal cell structure and it has a better correlation to the presence of fungal cell components that can possibly cause health effects. Of course, there are many tests can detect each components individually, but the cost will be very high. Culture analysis can tell you whether VIABLE (culturable) fungi and bacteria are present or not. Those methods will still be the most common and cost efficient methods for IEQ assessment for many years to come.
     
    DNA testing doesn’t tell you when the organism has become non-viable or if the cell structure has been destroyed or not. If the remediation company need to remove, clean, kill, and destroy every pieces of DNA left behind, the cost will be way too high. DNA-free environment is unnecessary for residential, commercial and most industrial buildings.
     
    DNA testing is a power tool and has its time and place, especially for academic research. For field applications, I believe we are still in early stage of research and development.


     
    • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    www.Microshield-ES.com


    Better Science Means More Toxic Mold Lawsuits


    By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. at FindLaw.com


    Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:35am EDT

    Toxic mold lawsuits have historically been met with speculation. Much of this was the result of the science — differing opinions on causation and whether visible mold automatically implies the presence of toxins. Some even went so far as to claim mold litigation was based on “junk science and hysteria.”

    However, a recent ruling from a New York appeals court suggests that prevailing opinions about mold science may have changed. At least when it comes to the courts.

    Brenda Cornell had sued her ex-landlord for respiratory illnesses developed as the result of 6 long years of mold exposure. The trial court had dismissed her suit, relying on the appellate court’s 2008 ruling in Fraser v. 301-52 Townhouse Corp.

    In Fraser, the court declined to accept scientific evidence connecting the plaintiff’s illness with mold. The plaintiff failed to prove that the scientific theory connecting mold and dampness to illness is generally accepted by the scientific community.

    Cornell’s toxic mold lawsuit did not meet this roadblock. Fraser, the court wrote, does not preclude all such suits. The plaintiffs were able to prove that Cornell’s former apartment was above a mold-infested basement and that mold was growing under her floorboards. Medical experts testified and relied on a number of studies.

    Those studies, wrote the court, were “statistically significant” and demonstrated “that exposure to mold caused the identified ill-health effects.” The court further concluded that “it is undisputed that exposure to toxic molds is capable of causing the types of ailments from which plaintiff suffers.”

    This conclusion is an important one for plaintiffs bringing toxic mold lawsuits. It implies mold science may have finally reached a point where it helps, as opposed to hinders, litigation.

    Related Resources:
    Toxic Mold / Black Mold (FindLaw)
    Get Legal Help with a Toxic Mold Case (FindLaw)
    Can Toxic Mold Kill You? (FindLaw’s Common Law)

     
    • John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
    • Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
    • Microshield Environmental Services, LLC
    www.Microshield-ES.com


    Understand the new EPA rules about lead paint dust

    Microshield EPA LeadIf your home was built before 1978, a new regulation could affect your remodeling or renovation project.  A new federal law requires remodeling contractors who could possibly disturb lead paint during a renovation to be certified and use certain procedures to minimize your exposure.

     

    Q: Why is lead poisoning considered so dangerous?

    A: Lead can affect a child’s brain and developing nervous system, lowering their IQ and causing learning disabilities, hearing problems, behavioral problems and slowed growth.

    In adults, low levels of lead can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension and can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, stomach and kidneys.

    There may be no noticeable symptoms of lead poisoning before the blood level becomes very high and has caused irreversible damage.

     

    Q: How big of a problem is lead poisoning here in Iowa?

    A: In Iowa, one out of every 16 children entering school have an elevated blood level for lead poisoning. This is four times the national average. This may be due, in large part, to the large number of houses in our state that were built before 1950.

     

    Q: How do I know if there is lead-based paint in my home?

    A: It is estimated that 24 percent of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead, that 69 percent of homes built between 1940 and 1960 do, and that as many as 87 percent of homes built before 1940 do.

    Local inspector Garland Groom, of Quality Home Inspections LLC in Cedar Rapids, notes that,” Some homes, even built as recently as 1985, have turned up with large amounts of lead paint.” Although lead paint was outlawed for residential use in 1978, it is still used extensively in commercial paints.

    You can hire a certified inspector to find out if there is lead in your home and where it is located.

     

    Q: How is someone exposed to lead in their home?

    A: Lead gets into the body when it is either swallowed or inhaled. Low levels can build up in your body over a long period of time.

    The most common way to get lead poisoning is from dust. You can see how a home remodeling project could easily disturb some lead-based paint, even if it’s under layers of latex paint. The dust from sanding and other demolition work can be filled with dangerous lead dust.

     

    Q: What types of home renovations are covered by the new lead paint law?

    A: Any time more than one square foot of a lead-painted surface is disturbed, the contractor must be certified and follow the new procedures. The new law applies to even small jobs, like window replacements. “Even an electrician that would cut in as few as three electrical boxes would need to be certified,” “It doesn’t take much to meet the requirement.”

     

    Q: What kind of training do remodelers need?

    A: An eight-hour class is required with a written test at the end. Then the contractor must apply to the state of Iowa for certification. Every three years they must take a refresher course. For most home renovation projects, the contractor and at least one worker must be certified.

     

    Q: What extra work is required?

    A: Contain the work area, sealing off the door to that room and the heating/cooling vents. Avoid renovation activities that create a lot of dust. Clean up well afterward.

    Sources:  National Association of Home Builders, WebMD

     

    For more information online:

    Renovate Right brochure:

    www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf



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    Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:00:01 -0400


    EPISODE481 - FLASHBACK FRIDAY -J. David Miller PhD JACI (Journal of Aller
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    Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:59:17 -0400


    EPISODE480 - Jim Thompson & Chris & Maria Slay & Pete Consigli
    This week we welcome Jim Thompson, "The Big Dog of Large Losses" and "The Restoration Industry Global Watchdog" and RIA Industry Adviser Pete Consigli for another special report on Hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria. In addition we have Chris and Maria Slay owners of Rainbow Restoration of Sugarland & Katy joining us with an on the ground report from Texas. IAQ Radio continues its coverage of the extensive damage and efforts to restore properties throughout the hardest hit areas. Jim Thompson & Company has handled large commercial and industrial fire and water losses all over the US and Puerto Rico. If you think you're ready to up the ante and compete against the big guns on large insurance claims; Jim offers to teach you how. Jim has handled large complex commercial and industrial insurance losses in 43 states and Puerto Rico. While many restoration contractors strive to get on the State Farm or Farmer's Insurance list of preferred contractors, Jim Thompson wanted off the list. Jim's a hands-on guy, who abhors working in an office and prefers to lead from the front. Chris Slay comes to the water restoration industry from a corporate background where he was most recently a business consultant for Accenture. He is a Rainbow Restoration franchise owner in Sugarland, Texas. As the owner, Chris makes it a point to meet each customer personally to ensure the work is going according to plan and according to the insured's desire. He has been omnipresent in the Texas area on the news and in the trenches helping with recovery following Hurricane Harvey. Maria Slay has a Master degree in business and 19 years' experience in the insurance industry and is a licensed adjuster. She understands how property insurance works and how to make each loss beneficial to both the insured and the insurer. In addition to managing the branch, scheduling jobs, writing estimates and managing contractors, you will find Maria on the job site helping the technicians with the hard work at hand. Pete Consigli, CR, WLS is the Restoration Industry's Global Watchdog has been a long time friend and guest on IAQ Radio. Pete Consigli has been a member of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) since 1977. In 2008 Pete was the recipient of the Martin L. King award and in 2012 was made an honorary member of the RIA. He has served the association the past several years in the dual role of RIA Education Director and Industry Adviser. Pete presently serves as an adviser with RIA's education and certification committees and staff. He is a Water Loss Specialist (WLS) prep course facilitator and program adviser. Pete also advises the RIA board of directors and the association management team on matters impacting the restoration industry and RIA's mission.

    Fri, 06 Oct 2017 12:02:22 -0400


    EPISODE479 - Ed Cross The Restoration Lawyer and Pete Consigli
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    Fri, 29 Sep 2017 12:00:18 -0400


    EPISODE478 - Brandon Boor, PhD & Jelle Laverge, PhD
    This week we welcome two up and coming researchers and academics to discuss a topic that has recently been getting some much deserved attention. Most people spend about 1/3 of their lives in bed and or sleeping. What are we breathing or absorbing and how does it affect our health and performance? Dr. Boor and Dr. Laverge will tell us what they have learned during their literature review on the topic. We also look forward to learning what these up and coming academics feel are other important IAQ questions and answers we will be discussing over the next decade. Dr. Boor joined us once before with Dr. Richard Corsi for one of our Research to Practice shows Episode 343 Dr. Brandon E. Boor is an Assistant Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. His research group at Purdue is focused on understanding the dynamics of airborne particles (aerosols) in buildings and human exposure to indoor air pollution. He teaches courses on indoor air quality and architectural engineering and advises the Global Air Quality Trekkers undergraduate EPICS team. He has previously worked with indoor air quality and aerosol research groups at the University of Helsinki, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. Dr. Jelle Laverge (1984) received his engineering masters from Ghent University in 2007. From 2005 to 2007 he was a part-time employee of Bureau Bouwtechniek in Antwerp. Since 2007 he is a fulltime researcher and PhD-candidate at the building physics, construction and building services research group of the department of architecture and urban planning at Ghent University. In 2011 he received a master's degree in Law from the same university. He was a part-time building physics lecturer at KaHo Sint-Lieven Gent for the 2011 spring semester. With the support of the FWO (grant V430911N), he was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin during the summer of 2011. With a dissertation entitled 'Design strategies for residential ventilation systems', he obtained a PhD in 2013. He is a member of ISIAQ, SRS and ASHRAE.

    Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:03:30 -0400


    EPISODE477 - Hurricane Irma Special Report!
    This week on IAQ Radio we continue with our coverage of the recent hurricanes and recovery. We will be talking to professionals on the ground in Florida and the US Virgin Islands for their perspective on the recovery from Hurricane Irma. Irma was massive and many IAQ and restoration professionals have been called in to help. Learn from the pros what mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. Also, get first hand eyewitness accounts from your colleagues on the ground. Harvey and now Irma are the two most powerful storms to hit the mainland United States in over ten years. We all knew sooner or later this type of scenario was possible. Now that it's here how do we deal with it? What should IAQ and Restoration professionals watch for while responding to the needs of those devastated by these storms? How do you help out yet not lose your business by making judgments based on feelings vs. rational thoughts? Do you go to the hot spots or stay put and service your clients and of those of people that left for Texas or Florida? IAQ Radio has lined up some experts to help you make these important decisions. John Lapotaire, 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 is also the current President of the Indoor Air Quality Association. He is a Florida Licensed Mold Assessors and a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC). Josh Winton is the owner of Discreet Restoration and Discreet Protect Systems of Pompano Beach, FL. He has over 12 years experience in water damage restoration and mold remediation is considered to be one of the young guns of restoration. His bachelor's degree in Technical Management and Associates in Computer Engineering makes him a rare restoration pro with expertise in Information Technology and over a decade of field experience in water damage restoration and mold remediation. He is becoming a leader of the next generation of restoration pros utilizing time tested field techniques and equipment supplemented with today's technologies. Addison Christian is owner of ADCON Environmental Services located in Fredericksted, St. Croix US Virgin Islands. He has 20 years experience in the asbestos, IAQ, disaster restoration, HAZMAT, medical waste, waste oil recycling and HVAC cleaning professions. He has also has been a general contractor in the Caribbean for over 30 years. Mr. Christian holds numerous certifications, licenses and titles in the related areas. He also has a degree from American University in Business Administration. He frequently travels to the mainland for training and to expand his knowledge base and provide more services for the Caribbean Islands and S. Florida.

    Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:01:03 -0400


    EPISODE476 - Hurricane Harvey Special Report! - Ed Ranieri & Sam Simon
    This week on IAQ Radio we go into disaster mode and talk to professionals on the ground in Texas plus the JonDon Director of Marketing for their perspective on the recovery from the devastating hurricane that recently hit southeast Texas. Hurricane Harvey was massive and many IAQ and restoration professionals have been called in to help. The recovery will take years and many of our listeners will be involved. Learn from these pro's what mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. Also, get first hand eyewitness accounts from your colleagues on the ground and one of the major companies helping with supplies, materials and expertise in the recovery. Harvey and now Irma are the two most powerful storms to hit the mainland United States in over ten years. We all knew sooner or later this type of scenario was possible. Now that it's here how do we deal with it? What should IAQ and Restoration professionals watch for while responding to the needs of those devastated by these storms? How do you help out yet not lose your business by making judgments based on feelings vs. rational thoughts? Do you go to the hot spots or stay put and service the clients of those that left for Texas or Florida? Radio Joe and the Z-man have lined up some experts to help you make these important decisions

    Fri, 08 Sep 2017 12:00:08 -0400


    EPISODE475 - FLASHBACK FRIDAY - Jeff May - IAQ, Mold and Sick Buildings...
    This week on IAQ Radio we Flashback to two of three shows we have done with author and indoor environmental professional Jeff May. Radio Joe has gone back to show 25 and show 117 with to put together a highlight show with Jeff May. Mr. May is Principal Scientist of May Indoor Air Investigations, LLC in Tyngsborough, MA. He is the author of four books on IAQ (published by The Johns Hopkins University Press), including My House is Killing Me and The Mold Survival Guide, Jeff has been investigating building problems in homes, schools and office for over 25 years, and has examined by microscopy over 35,000 air and dust samples. A nationally recognized speaker on IAQ topics, Jeff is a member of IAQA, the Pan American Aerobiology Association, American Chemical Society, and the New England Chapter of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, among others. He is a Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional (CIAQP, Association of Energy Engineers), and is a licensed Mold Assessor in the state of Florida. He holds a B.A. from Columbia College (chemistry) and an M.A. from Harvard University (organic chemistry), and has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. LEARN MORE with Jeff May this week on IAQradio!

    Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:00:21 -0400


    EPISODE474 - Pawel Wargocki - Is CO2 a pollutant or merely an index for IAQ
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    Fri, 25 Aug 2017 12:05:32 -0400


    EPISODE473 - FLASHBACK Claude Blackburn -Founder Dri-Eaz Products
    Today on IAQ Radio we bring out of the archival vault the Z-mans favorite episode from 8-13-2010, Episode 177 with Claude Blackburn. We are calling this one "From humble beginning to raging success, a candid conversation with the Dri-Eaz Products Founder". Radio Joe and the Z-man will be back live next week but do not miss this classic. Claude Blackburn became involved in the cleaning and restoration industry in 1972. Through a combination of courage, determination, hard work and creativity he founded and built Dri-Eaz Products (based in Burlington, Washington) into a business and brand recognized globally as a leader in structural drying. When Claude sold Dri-Eaz in 2006 it had almost 200 employees, 150 distributors and sales of 50 million. LEARN MORE about this remarkable man and how he built his company this week on IAQ Radio!

    Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:00:16 -0400


    EPISODE472 - FLASHBACK FRIDAY - Jeffrey Siegel Ph.D.
    Dr. Jeff Siegel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at The University of Toronto. Prior to accepting his current position he was an Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Austin. His interests and research have focused on healthy and sustainable buildings, ventilation and indoor air quality in residential and commercial buildings, control of indoor particulate matter, secondary impacts of control technologies and strategies, aerosol dynamics in indoor environments and HVAC systems. He is also keenly interested in ensuring that good research works its way into practice and this week we want to focus on that theme. Dr. Siegel's Ph.D. is in Mechanical Engineering (2002) from the University of California, Berkeley, he also has an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1999) from the same institution and a B.S. in Engineering (1995) from Swarthmore College. He is a prolific researcher and speaker and a very active member of professionals societies and associations including ISIAQ and ASHRAE.

    Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:00:35 -0400


    EPISODE471 - FLASHBACK FRIDAY - In Memoriam Larry Robertson
    This week we go back in the archives to a few shows we did with an IAQ and Mold pioneer Larry Robertson. Larry joined us twice over the years and Radio Joe has gone back through those shows to put together a highlight real. LEARN MORE this week on IAQ Radio! Larry Robertson, the Indoor Air Quality Association's 1st President and founding Board Member. Mr. Robertson was a leader in IAQ research and services for over 3 decades. He is known for establishing Mycotech Biological, Inc. (MBI), one of the first environmental laboratories that specialized in the identification of fungi associated 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. Larry published many papers in peer reviewed journals along with a mountain of other papers, articles and presentations. He was a prolific volunteer to industry associations and received numerous special recognition's and awards.

    Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:00:41 -0400
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