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Mold: What Do You Believe?


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By Danielle Dobbs, Mold Inspector

The subject of mold is a controversial subject to say the least. It’s like politics and religion. People either believe one way or another, and there is nothing you can do to change their minds. Our advice to skeptics is to “tryâ€

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I'm a believer. Heck, I've got mold allergies.

That said, how do home inspectors, i.e., non-medical professionals, attempt to provide any useful information to the customer? If medical schools & health care related professionals don't have it figured out, what are we supposed to do about it?

IOW, is it desirable to have a bunch of folks w/no pertinent training or background in health care running around sampling for mold? Of course not.

Here's my solution.

Get the medical profession to get behind this, lobby the appropriate legislators, and mandate mold testing on all homes by licensed health care or medical professionals.

Anything other than this is an attempt to pile someone's business agenda on our backs. I've yet to see any mold testing enterprise (labs, education, etc.) structure this in a manner that safeguards the public health; it's all thinly veiled attempts to get their business model operating out of the home inspection profession, instead of turning it into a health care imperative.

Why do folks imagine home inspector's should impersonate health care or medical professionals? Get real, and undertake the years long campaign necessary to get this health risk recognized for what (it might be), or is.

Don't try to jumpstart your business plan by forcing non-medical professionals to flog this issue; it' wrong, stupid, and could cause immense harm by disseminating misinformation, or worse, having unqualified individuals providing health care advice.

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Just to play devils advocate here. How would one in the medical field have any knowledge of the performance of a building? It seems to me there a two aspects to this debate. One, the medical ramification in which we have no buisness making any recommendations in. Two, the underlying building problems that foster this growth. I do believe there are those of us out there that do have knowledge in this field to make recommendations. And no I do not believe on can get this knowledge through osmosiss and a 4 hour seminar with some rubber stamped certification at the end of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[:-thumbd]

Mold is bullshit. Mold inspectors are bullshitters. Not liars, but bullshitters.

"It's a more insidious threat to truth than lying is. Because the liar, after all, recognizes the difference between true and false. And, he's concerned about that difference. The bullshitter is just not interested in that. That's not his program. He's interested in selling his product . . .", Harry G. Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton University in his book On Bullshit

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I am not familiar at all with who determines the results of a mold sample but here is a question.

When you take a urine sample to the doctor, or a stool sample from your animal that you have collected to the vet, does that make you a medical professional? (No)

I do not know enough about mold collecting to say whether I am against it or for it but from what I read about what some inspectors are doing it is simply taking air samples and sending them to a lab to be tested for mold and what type if any. Then the client can determine (with there medical professional) whether they are allergic.

Thanks,

Craig

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Hi Craig,

CDC and EPA have stated repeatedly that sampling for mold in the course of a home transaction is pointless. Why? Because the air you and I are breathing right now has "toxic" mold spore in it, so taking air samples will only tell you what you already know - that there is mold spore in the air.

The mold spore count in the air up here in Western Washington is probably far higher than many other parts of the country, so, if mold were as "toxic" as claimed by many of these folks who are taking samples and confirming a given fact, that there's mold spore in the air, most of the folks out here would be ill - they aren't. How do you explain that? Do we, by virtue of our geographic location somehow magically achieve immunity to mold spore? No. We were already immune and those of us up here who were already allergic to it are affected by it.

People in other parts of the country, with less mold spore in the air, are getting ill. Why? Because, again, they have a pre-existing allergy to it, not because it's suddenly become "toxic" by virtue of news stories that have sensationalized it.

Sure, some folks who aren't normally sickened by mold spore occasionally are sickened by mold spore when exposed to too much of it. What's so strange about that? Heck, we need water to survive. Drink too much of it too quickly and your body dies from water toxicity. Too much of anything isn't good for the body - that's a given.

It's possible for someone to sell a home that has dried up mold spore in the walls and not to ever know that it's there, because someone who's living in the home and not allergic to mold might never suffer any ill affects from it. A buyer who isn't allergic might live in the home for years and never know that dried up spore was there. Then, that same person can sell the home to someone else who's allergic to mold, and when the guy who's allergic to mold starts suffering ill effects from the stuff hidden in the walls, the seller, the home inspector, and anyone else who's got a wallet, suddenly becomes responsible for the fact that the buyer had a pre-existing allergy to mold spore. Where's the sense in that?

I don't think mold sampling should be part of home inspections...period. It makes more sense for people who know they're allergic to something to exercise due diligence by hiring medical specialists to detect that "something," outside of a home inspection, rather than expect the home inspector, who's a nuts and bolts technician looking for 'visual' indicators that things do not fit within certain parameters, to magically detect it for them.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I have been doing mold analyst for approx.2 years. I do not include or recommend them to my clients as a add to a home inspection. If a client is interested in mold service I explain that it would be in there best interest to do the home inspection first to see if it may warrant further evaluation as in all areas of a full inspection.

Now in reference to is it a honorable profession? I say absolutely As I have had the pleasure of helping out a renter that his children had been sick for some period of time since living in the rental. After several air sample and investigation we found the return air box in garage full of a mold like substances.to wit the labs came back as positive for STACHYBOTRYS Chartarum in air samples and direct samples. They have lived in the same house for a year since the remediation replacement of ducts and air handler with well children.

Oh I forgot just an ole BullSh__tter

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Chip,

Nothing personal - but it seems your marketing materials do recommend. I have no reason to doubt the voracity of your story. I have also saved many a life; high radon, rotted beams, nasty water heater, cracked exchanger, etc..

Likewise I have also read hundreds of mold reports from a 3rd party lab(s) and have yet to understand one. Just today I killed a deal that had mold over 100% of attic sheathing. Told my client, flat out, "Hey that stuff is mold". Didn't have to test because the house had a bad roof and rotted rafters. Wood+water+air=mold.

Bottom line is for me: I am the 14th smartest inspector in the universe and I will freely admit, even after considerable education, I know squat about mold. That being said, I also know I know a little more than the mold expert inspectors I have had occasion to work with.

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have been doing mold analyst for approx.2 years. I do not include or recommend them to my clients as a add to a home inspection. If a client is interested in mold service I explain that it would be in there best interest to do the home inspection first to see if it may warrant further evaluation as in all areas of a full inspection.

Now in reference to is it a honorable profession? I say absolutely As I have had the pleasure of helping out a renter that his children had been sick for some period of time since living in the rental. After several air sample and investigation we found the return air box in garage full of a mold like substances.to wit the labs came back as positive for STACHYBOTRYS Chartarum in air samples and direct samples. They have lived in the same house for a year since the remediation replacement of ducts and air handler with well children.

Oh I forgot just an ole BullSh__tter

So what was supporting the growth of the mold? Stachy is not usually found on metal surfaces as the primary fungi, it likes cellulose materials.

If you test for mold do you also write up the abatement plan for your client or the abatement contractor? Or do you just give your client the results from Pro-Lab or whoever you use.

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Les I truly like your style and appreciate your position. I do let all clients know that I have other fields I work in hopefully not to get caught up in a conflict of interest. As to referring what appears to be a mold like substance (note the wording)in a home inspection

if it is not mold? am I liable as a generalist? Or am I a expert in the mold field? That is why the labs decides. Even if I did not do mold analyst I still would not call it mold in my reports.

Scott to answer your question no I am not a remediator or a expert in the mold remediation field. I generaly refer clients to www.epa.gov for general information. Or a professional remediator in that field. As to the return air box it was made of wood framing and sheetrock below the air handler it appeared a condensation issue was present and the rest was mold issues 101.

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Scott to answer your question no I am not a remediator or a expert in the mold remediation field. I generaly refer clients to www.epa.gov for general information. Or a professional remediator in that field. As to the return air box it was made of wood framing and sheetrock below the air handler it appeared a condensation issue was present and the rest was mold issues 101.

Yep, that is a typical place for moisture. 99% of the time the condensate pan or line is leaking and goes unseen or noticed for a good period of time.

All home inspectors should be looking inside the return areas. You'll be surprised what you'll find.

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  • 3 years later...

Well, this is all interesting, timely, perplexing and frustrating.

Before I go any further, I must say that, since the very beginning of the "mold is gold" era, I've been very strongly in the camp of Mike O, Kurt, Les and Scott. I took free certification training about eight years ago as a part of a home inspection seminar and was COMPLETELY turned off to the idea of testing. I saw it immediately as the latest ploy by hungry attorneys to whip up fear and revenue - more ambulance chasing.

All that being said, I just finished certification training to test for mold for an interesting reason:

About three weeks ago, I received a call from a prospect referred by a happy client. During the telephone interview, the woman asked me if I did mold testing. I informed her that I didn't and never thought much more about it. On the day of the inspection, I'm about half way through the inspection when the doorbell rings and in comes one of my competitor home inspectors, whom I both like and respect just fine, TO DO THE MOLD TEST. That really miffed me.

I went home thinking, you know what... for the sake of those people that are simply determined to have a mold test, maybe I should provide it. At least I have a realistic opinion about the whole subject and know that in the majority of cases it's going to come up as acceptable anyway.

So, I began to scout out a training school I felt comfortable with. After a telephone interview with the outfit, I went ahead and registered. Then, I shot brother Mike O a PM asking for his opinion on the subject. Mike graciously sent me a very helpful and insightful reply that confirmed the position that I've had since the beginning - I've been a charter member of the DDMG since the whole subject arose, although I was not aware of the group. Happy to be in such good company though.

I did go ahead and finish the training, which was interesting and some of the content is similar to Mike's opening post of this thread.

Now I find myself in a quandary: From the moment I started the certification process, I never intended to do testing as a way to start a new revenue stream. I merely did it so I could: 1. say, "Yes, I can provide that service for you." and 2. avoid another home inspector showing up on my job to provide a service that I refused to provide that my client that actually wanted and was determined, at all costs, to get.

I still remain pretty strongly in the DDMG and haven't fully arrived at a decision on what to do.

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I'd prefer that my competition, rather than I, be the one to do the disservice of misleading the client about mold. Of course, it's always better that the client not be misled in the first place, but what can we do? Not every inspector is a member of TIJ.

Marc

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Michael, just ask yourself this question:

How does testing for mold help your client?

Now think about this:

If you see mold or smell mold then why test for it?

Now another thing to ponder:

All of the major labs (EMSL, AeroTech) do not recommend "blind" testing in their protocols. In other words, if you do not see mold or smell mold then they do not recommend testing for it..

I have an inspection in a couple of hours and my client was asking about mold testing and if I did it. I told the client that if I found mold or conditions for mold that I have a person who is an IAQ specialist that I will recommend and set him up with if he wants testing. He was happy with this because I also saved him about $400 in mold testing, at this time.

DDMG Charter member...

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I told the client that if I found mold or conditions for mold that I have a person who is an IAQ specialist that I will recommend and set him up with if he wants testing. He was happy with this because I also saved him about $400 in mold testing, at this time.

DDMG Charter member...

I hear you, and that's exactly what I told that last client. I assumed they were satisfied with that assurance.

Still mulling all of this over and will probably simply chalk up the certification as interesting info.

Well, Scott, here's hoping that half way through your inspection there is no knock from a NACHI home inspector who has arrived to perform the mold test on your property. [:-banghea (hm.. my spell-checker wants to correct me by suggesting that NACHI should be NACHO... [:-dev3] Just comic relief everyone stay seated.)

Fellow DDMG charter member.

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Yes DDMG is fictional. It stands for: Don't Do Mold Guy. I forget who coined it, but it might have been Jerry Peck.

Mike, the bottom line is this: You don't want to be that guy.

Mold testing is just the latest line of Snake Oil that HI's are selling. It'll pass and get replaced with something else.

Stay away from the slippery slope. It isn't a revenue stream, it's a ripoff.

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Yes DDMG is fictional. It stands for: Don't Do Mold Guy. I forget who coined it, but it might have been Jerry Peck.

Mike, the bottom line is this: You don't want to be that guy.

Mold testing is just the latest line of Snake Oil that HI's are selling. It'll pass and get replaced with something else.

Stay away from the slippery slope. It isn't a revenue stream, it's a ripoff.

Yes, Jim, I'm inclined to leave it to others. Based upon my convictions, it never would have been anything more than a revenue trickle at best.

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