Blog Archives

Are Contractors Taking Mold Seriously Enough?

By Matt Bishop, http://www.achrnews.com/

MoldHAVC

Mold is a serious threat, especially in areas such as the Deep South, where moisture and humidity pose a constant problem for HVAC contractors.

Even though mold remediation could potentially open a new revenue stream for HVAC contractors, some believe their peers don’t take mold nearly seriously enough.

In Louisiana, “toxic molds” are defined as those that produce compounds called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced as a defense against other microorganisms. “Black toxic mold” can refer to a certain type of mold — Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Black is a color, not a type of mold. Therefore, not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum.

“The majority of air conditioning contractors, at least the ones we see here, don’t have the necessary state mold remediation license; they don’t want it,” said Mike White, ASCS, CEO, Clean Air Systems of Louisiana, Shreveport, Louisiana. “They’re interested in selling boxes to people, and that’s it. I’ve gone in behind some of these guys who’ve installed a brand new air conditioning system, and we’ve found mold growing on the ceiling and blowing out of the duct work. [The customer] wants to know why they weren’t made aware of the mold.”

Jason Fricks, owner, Keystone Air Care Inc., Seneca, South Carolina, insists most HVAC contractors aren’t taking mold as seriously as they should. Because they are working around it so often, they are, to an extent, immune to its effects.

“It’s present in probably half the systems we see, and most kind of just ignore it because they don’t know how to deal with it, don’t know what it is, or are scared of the liability if they mention its existence,” Fricks said. Read more

Experts say deal with mold before health issues arise

By Marisa Lagos, http://www.sfgate.com

Health experts say any apparent mold growth or dampness needs to be taken care of swiftly or it could lead to asthma or other respiratory problems.

These health issues could be particularly acute for children and firefighters, who are already vulnerable, but should be of concern to healthy adults as well, said Dr. Mark Miller, director of UCSF’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. Many families on Treasure Island are already worried that polluted soil is causing health problems, including respiratory issues, in their children.

“From a practical standpoint, if there is mold in a house, it needs to be remediated – and if you can see it or you can smell it, it’s there,” Miller said. “It’s always the result of moisture of some sort, and the first thing you have to do is do something about the moisture … certainly people with underlying respiratory disease and asthma are more prone to have effects, and we are always particularly concerned about the very old and very young. And firefighters already have respiratory-related problems. You don’t want to pile more things on.”

Mark Mendel, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health, said wiping off mold or painting over it is an insufficient approach and that state law requires landlords to fix dampness in homes. He said expensive tests aren’t actually necessary, because if you can smell or see mold at all, it’s a problem.

“Painting over it is absolutely not acceptable and not effective … you need to find out where the water is coming from and fix it,” he said. “You need to dry damp materials, and some you have to get rid of – if you have carpet or ceiling tile that’s been wet more than a couple days, you really need to get rid of it. In addition to drying or removing any damp material, you need to remove any mold.”

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An Unintended Effect of Energy-Efficient Buildings: Toxic Mold

By Sarah Zhang, http://gizmodo.com

Energy-efficient buildings can be wonderful at keeping out drafts and keeping down heating bills. But the same air-tightness, unfortunately, is also perfect for trapping humid air where toxic mold can go to party.

The Alberta Court of Appeal in Canada has been a mold-filled ghost building since 2001, after renovations to the handsome, 87-year-old sandstone building went awry. When the renovated and newly energy-efficient building reopened, according to ClimateWire, judges and attorneys complained of fatigue, irritated lungs, and watery eyes.

Air quality samples pointed the finger at mold growing inside the walls. The cracks and leaks of the pre-renovation building had been a crude form of air-quality control—albeit not very energy efficient. The new airtight building, however, trapped moisture to breed toxic mold. Read More

Hidden mold in dream home points to larger industry concern

By Gitte Laasby,  Journal Sentinel http://www.jsonline.com

The beautiful two-story stone-faced Sheboygan County home with the impressive Lake Michigan view was supposed to be a retreat for Mequon resident John Liebl and his wife, Beth, once they retire.

Instead, the couple are now seeing well over $250,000 of their retirement savings vanish to remedy and replace rotten exterior walls. The Liebls’ contractors say it’s a warning tale to every home buyer about the damage that can result when cheap building materials are combined with questionable workmanship.

“This was to be our weekend retreat. It’s turned into a nightmare,” John Liebl said. “What the guys are telling me is, had we not discovered this, in three to four years it would have been a complete tear-down. I don’t think we have any recourse.”

Bruce Nordgren, partner in Mequon-based Northgreen Builders LLC, which is now rebuilding the Oostburg-area home, calls the Liebls’ experience “a prime example of what’s going on in our industry.”

He predicts many more mold cases will come to light in the coming years.

“I’ve been building for 37 years now. I’m horrified by what we’re doing as a construction industry,” Nordgren said. “We’ve got to start looking at some of the things we’re doing….

“In the last five years, we’ve repaired so much stuff. It’s the products that we’re using. It’s the techniques, it’s all kinds of things. If it doesn’t change, (this) is going to happen.”

A home inspection before the Liebls purchased the house, built in 2004, in September of 2010 uncovered only minor defects. Those were remedied and the couple moved into the home, which was fully decorated and painted. Beth noticed a musty smell, but nothing showed.

It wasn’t until September 2012 when the Liebls hired Northgreen Builders to enclose the courtyard of their U-shaped house that signs of trouble appeared.  Read More

The mold wins: Cedarbrook Middle School to close

By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer

Cheltenham School District officials announced a plan Monday to close Cedarbrook Middle School as early as Jan. 27, splitting its 750 students among four other campuses in the township.

The school board will vote Tuesday night on a contract with Gratz College to house half of Cedarbrook’s students.

The school is split into six teams, each with about 125 students. Two eighth-grade teams and one seventh-grade team will go to Gratz. One seventh-grade team will go to Elkins Park Elementary, and another to Cheltenham Elementary. The third eighth-grade team will go to Cheltenham High School.

At all four sites, the district plans to keep the middle schoolers confined to their own areas, away from older or younger students.

The district hopes by the 2015-16 school year to bring all Cedarbrook students back together in modular or temporary units on a single site.

It will likely take about four years to design and build a new permanent middle school, Thomas said.

Cedarbrook has been dealing with mold problems for a decade, and they spun out of control this summer. The school opened two weeks late in September as crews swept the building, and since then 12 classrooms and the cafeteria have had mold recurrences and are now closed.

At a meeting with parents Monday night, Superintendent Natalie Thomas said there was no more time to delay.

“There’s no amount of money that will prevent this from happening again in the spring or sooner,” Thomas said, noting that the leaky roof is already loaded with snow. Read More

Excellent paper on mold allergy by the Mayo Clinic

by Shawn Garza

The well-respected Mayo Clinic has released a paper on mold allergies that contains a wealth of information on the subject.  Topics include:

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Risk Factors
  • When to Seek Medical Advice
  • and more

At QuanTEM Laboratories, we believe that mold in the home or business can cause allergic reactions, but should not be a cause for fear.  It’s always best to call in a professional mold inspector and insure that any mold-like substance be tested by an accredited laboratory prior to any remediation activity.

This excellent paper by the Mayo Clinic can be viewed for free HERE

Mold goes to the dogs

Beagle’s nose for mold carves niche for local businessman

By:  Randy Metcalf

In this high technological age, the best mold detection may have four legs and floppy ears.

John Setford, owner and operator of Arizona Mold Dog Detection Services of Tucson, goes everywhere with his canine companion, Rocky the beagle.

“I am a typical mold inspector,” Setford said. “I’m certified just like any of the other inspectors in town.”

But there’s a difference. Human sight and smell are about 30 percent accurate in detecting mold. Setford said Rocky is about 90 percent accurate….

The rest of this fascinating report can be found at the website of the Explorer: News, Sports and Entertainment for Oro Valley, Marana and Northwest Tucson

Phoenix newstation investigates mold remediation firms and finds them fraudulent

Phoenix’s KPHO News 5 conducted an undercover investigation in which they placed a small smudge of MASCARA on a homeowner’s wall, called in several mold remediation companies to investigate the “mold-like substance,” and found that all but one were willing to charge thousands of dollars to remove the substance instead of having it tested first to determine its “make up.”  (Excuse the weak pun.)

This is indeed a sad statement about our industry and gives honorable mold remediators a bad name.  For the past several years, QuanTEM Laboratories has been conducting bi-annual Mold Investigator Training courses to prevent this type of recklessness and to help prospective mold investigators follow procedures that can limit liability and potential litigation.

To read Channel 5’s investigative story and watch the VIDEO, click here.

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. Introduces Mold Legislation

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. Introduces
H.R. 1268: The United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act
(“The Melina Bill”)

The growth of “toxic mold” is becoming a problem of monumental proportions. Exposure to mold growth in residential, public and commercial buildings is believed to have caused serious medical conditions which include bleeding lungs, digestive problems, hair loss, nausea, loss of memory, reduced cognitive skills, and death. Property damage from mold growth has destroyed millions of dollars in real estate and forced homeowners to the curb. We cannot eliminate mold. However, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the dangers of indoor mold growth.

The United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act will mandate comprehensive research into mold growth, create programs to educate the public about the dangers of toxic mold, and provide assistance to victims. In addition, the Act will generate guidelines for preventing indoor mold growth, establish standards for removing mold when it does grow, provide grants for mold removal in public buildings, authorize tax credits for inspection and/or remediation of mold hazards, and create a national insurance program to protect homeowners from catastrophic losses. Taken as a whole, the Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act will attack indoor mold growth with good science, public awareness, and tangible relief.

Home ownership is part of the American Dream, but for many toxic mold has transformed that dream into a nightmare. It’s time to stop toxic mold from robbing Americans of their health and their homes. If you are concerned about the hazards of mold contact your congressional representative and ask them to cosponsor and/or support the United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act.

Click here to the full text of the United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act
(Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader Required)

Major Provisions of the Bill

Title I – Research and Public Education

•The Bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to examine the effects of different molds on human health and develop accurate scientific information on the hazards presented by indoor mold.

•The Bill directs EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) respectively, to establish guidelines that identify conditions that facilitate indoor mold growth and measures that can be implemented to prevent such growth. The guidelines will also address mold inspection, testing, and remediation.

•The Bill asks EPA and HUD to establish guidelines for certifying mold inspectors and remediators. The guidelines will help identify hazards associated with inspection and remediation and the steps that should be taken to minimize the risk to human health.

•The Bill authorizes programs to educate the public about the dangers of indoor mold. An informed public with be in a better position to avoid mold hazards, prevent mold growth and respond appropriately when mold growth occurs.

Title II – Housing and Real Property Provisions

•The Bill requires mold inspections for multi-unit residential property and mold inspections for all property that is purchased or leased using funds that are guaranteed by the federal government. The Bill also requires mold inspections in public housing.

•The Bill requires, to whatever extent possible, that local jurisdictions modify building codes to minimize mold hazards in new construction.

Title IV – Indoor Mold Hazard Assistance

•The Bill authorizes grants for mold removal in public buildings.

Title V – Tax Provisions

•The Bill authorizes tax credits for inspection and/or remediation of mold hazards.

Title VI – National Toxic Mold Insurance Program

•The Bill creates a National Toxic Mold Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect homeowners from catastrophic losses. Many homeowners are finding that insurance companies will not offer adequate coverage for mold.

Title VII – Health Care Provisions

•The Bill enables States to provide medicaid coverage to mold victims who are unable to secure adequate health care.

For additional information contact Joel Segal at (202) 225-5126

Source: Congressman John Conyers, Jr. Home Page