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Neal Lewis

Reporting on Mold

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Awhile back I reported on a mold condition in an attic. I can't find the pic, but it was very, very black. and lots of it. Today i get a call from the home inspector/mold guy who cleaned up the mess. He's giving me some friendly advice that I shouldn't be calling anything mold unless its tested. It seems that the owner was going to file some type of complaint or action against our company because I said it was mold without verification from testing. I said how would it change that assertion if I said it was possible mold?

I don't recommend testing for mold in my written report, and I'm not going to call it possible mold if it looks like friggin mold. I guess I could add a statement like "If you want to know what the growth is, have it tested."

How do handle reporting on mold?

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I don't define it as mold in reports. I just say that it 'appears to be mold growth'. I don't care much for home inspectors who promote themselves as mold inspectors but your guy has a good point: only a lab knows for sure.

Marc

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Hi Neal,

I write something along the lines of "there is xxx on the sheathing which is most likely mold/ mildew growth. Fix what is causing it, and consider having it cleaned if you are concerned.

That's the jist of it.....

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What Brandon said plus I tell them that the EPA guidelines do not recommend testing for mold in most cases and provide the link to the EPA pamphlet.

www.epa.gov/iedmold1/pdfs/moldguide.pdf

Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases, 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. Surface sampling may be useful

to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific

experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA),

the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.

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Awhile back I reported on a mold condition in an attic. I can't find the pic, but it was very, very black. and lots of it. Today i get a call from the home inspector/mold guy who cleaned up the mess. He's giving me some friendly advice that I shouldn't be calling anything mold unless its tested. It seems that the owner was going to file some type of complaint or action against our company because I said it was mold without verification from testing. I said how would it change that assertion if I said it was possible mold?

I don't recommend testing for mold in my written report, and I'm not going to call it possible mold if it looks like friggin mold. I guess I could add a statement like "If you want to know what the growth is, have it tested."

How do handle reporting on mold?

I'm gonna guess that you know mold when you see it. If you know it's mold, call it mold for chrissake. If you're not sure, say you're not sure.

The mold guy who cleaned up the mess is a moron. He's just repeating something that he learned in home inspector school.

Don't give in to fear-based reporting.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I agree with Jim. The mold guys are still trying to make this an extremely complicated issue.

I say "there's mold, or something that sure looks like mold, at the XYZ. If you're concerned about mold, have it tested."

I refer them to the mountain of info from credible reference sources saying mold testing, in almost all cases, doesn't provide useful information. Smart people get it, goofballs don't.

Let the goofballs hook up with a mold guy and spend lots of money.......

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Today i get a call from the home inspector/mold guy who cleaned up the mess.

Isn't that sort of like a termite inspector that does repairs?

Here he'd have to wait at least a year before working on any home(s) he'd inspected. That long a wait kind of disincentivizes folks that want to do repairs.

There are ways around it. There's a guy here who went into an 80-year old woman's home, took air samples and found "toxic" mold. She wanted to know how to get rid of it and he handed her a card for a firm he "trusted". Between the cleanup firm and the inspector, she ended up shelling out about $10K. The "toxic" mold in her house that was shown in the mold lab's results was all mold spore that is ubiquitous in the environment and which we all breath 24/7/365 and have all breathed our entire lives.

I'm on a mission. Before every inspection I tell folks that I'm not there to look for mold. That if I were, it would be the easiest job in the world because there is mold on every surface nearby, on their clothes, in their hair and in their lungs; and, if they've got a kid with them, in their kid's lungs as well. I point out that it's ubiquitous in the environment and that they've been breathing it 24/7/365 their entire lives. I tell 'em that if they are concerned about environmental contaminants of any sort to hire a good environmental testing firm and avoid hiring me or any other home inspector to assess mold issues - especially any that claim to do mold inspections; because those so-called mold inspectors will just take their money to tell them what they already know - that there is mold spore in the air.

Most customers "get" it right away; when they don't, or when it becomes apparent that they refuse to accept or acknowledge the reality of it and want to know how to "test" for it anyway, I point them to a local lab that has a PHD running its mold division and tell them to contact that guy and have him help them figure out what's the best way to go about figuring out what to do to allay their concerns.

I'm with the others. I think you were absolutely right to call it what you thought it was. On the other hand, I think we also need to be careful about calling stuff mold simply because we are gun shy due to all of the mold lawsuits and talk in the media. I don't think we should be tacking "mold" or "possible mold" or "apparent mold" or similar appellations onto every surface discoloration we see. When we do that, I think we just keep stoking the engine for all of the mold is golders.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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"disincentivizes"

Now, that is a mouldy three pound word! I needed to scroll across the page to just read it!

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"disincentivizes"

Now, that is a mouldy three pound word! I needed to scroll across the page to just read it!
Yeah, my spell check didn't like it. I guess I made it up - although I could swear that I've heard it used in various conversations since I've been on this rock.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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"There is greeny-black fuzzy stuff growing in the attic. It might not be mold. It could be some kind of alien life form, scheming to take over the planet".

Click to Enlarge
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Yesterday, I checked out a house for woman who's a doctor and who teaches medicine at the local U. She mentioned something about mold, then quickly interjected that she wasn't really worried about it; that all the mindless hysteria was exactly that.

I point out mold all the time, and call it what it is. And if you think about it, are you protecting yourself more by dancing around the issue and saying, "Maybe," or is it more prudent to say, "there's mold in this house?" What's more clear or more defensible than that?

As for experts, there's a person who chimes in on this forum occasionally who has lots of creds behind his name. I posted a bunch of photos once of a disgusting, moldy crawlspace and he took the position that the black gunk all over the place absolutely, positively, was NOT mold. He claimed to not know what the gunk was, but avidly stated that it WAS NOT MOLD. But it was. I saw it. I smelled it. And my lungs and eyes reacted to it. That's the day I realized this person was anything but an expert, and also that in real time, the creds didn't equate with common sense or cognitive ability.

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BTW, one of my clients was just awarded over $1.5 million in recovered expenses on a mould issue. The toxic mould nutter on the other side (who parades around as a mould expert) was seriously thumped for various reasons, particularly because he DID perform testing. We were able to explain that by the very fact that he performed testing demonstrated that he was not a legitimate mould expert, since a legitimate mould expert would not have performed such testing.

Cheers!

Caoimhín P. Connell

Forensic Industrial Hygienist

www.forensic-applications.com

(The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

AMDG

Hello Caoimhín,

Was this by virtue of your credentials alone? Or was there some other authoritative source involved? That would be a useful tool if I ever have a run in with any of several 'mold inspectors' in my area whose service consists of nothing more than mold sampling.

Marc

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Hello Marc!

From a legal aspect, the project was extremely complicated and had to do with new construction of a multiple structure – multiple family housing development. I’m not an attorney, and so my understanding of the actual details may not be correct, but, ultimately through various gyrations, one of the litigants essentially wanted to walk away from the financial liability of building the estate and cash in on the construction bond. The bond holder on the other hand asserted that where deficiencies existed, those deficiencies were correctable.

At the heart of the argument was an assertion that the entire estate was contaminated with toxic moulds and was, therefore, unfixable and uninhabitable, and essentially had to be scrapped.

My testimony involved addressing just the microbiological aspect from an Industrial Hygiene perspective, and arguing that the entire “toxic mouldâ€

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