Mold might be responsible for the strange smell you get in your house. Here’s how you can check.

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Climate ChangeLeads to Increased flooding More severe freezesMold growth is more common in areas with high humidity and moisture. Mold can cause a variety of diseases.There are many causes, from symptoms of asthma and upper respiratory problems to organ damage and cognitive difficulties. Michael Berg, Technical Director with Eurofins Environment Testing AmericaCompany that performs environmental testing for mold, and other potential hazards, cited research that found that Economic cost to society for illness caused by mold and dampnessMore than $22 Billion

Consumers should be able to identify and fix water intrusion and mold problems in their homes, as Atlantic hurricane season starts in June. Since Mold growth can begin within 24 to 48 hours.You should quickly respond to any water intrusion Remove wet materials immediately (drywall, carpet, padding, etc.Use fans and dehumidifiers for drying your home. Also, open up any areas that have trapped moisture to allow airflow. Some lucky residents won’t have mold, but those who smell it, see it, or develop illnesses need to know what steps to consider, and that starts with a mold assessment.

Proper Assessment: The Importance

Since there are not national standards regarding mold assessment and remediation standards, the standards vary from one state or another. Only a few states have Indoor Air Quality, (IAQ) Mold laws are a focus of the lawUninformed consumers are at a disadvantage in the face of water intrusion. Doug Hoffman, executive director at the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors(NORMI), which states that NORMI helped to write several state mold legislation. Hoffman said consumers should think of the “mold assessor as the architect” in charge of designing the scope and steps of the remediation project, while the “remediator is the contractor who does the work.” Hoffman says consumers shouldn’t try to save money on testing because testing dictates remediation, and incomplete testing can lead to incomplete remediation.

Mike Marshall, Chief Operating Officer of Mold Inspection Sciences TexasPresident of the Texas Mold Assessors and Remediators Association, agreed, saying that “insufficient assessments and testing can result in insufficient remediation”: You can’t fix what isn’t identified. A professional mold assessment is essential. After my house was contaminated with toxic mold 20 years ago, the cleanup and remediation took over 20 months. Because of insufficient testing, piecesmeal remediations were possible. This was part of the reason for the long timeline.

Uncontaminated materials may also be disposed of, which can lead to unnecessary expenses. Marshall estimates that remediation can run from 15 to 20% more than the cost of testing. Targeted remediation can save customers a lot. Berg said that mold testing isn’t needed in cases when there is a clear path to address the issue (such as after a flood or burst pipe) but is very helpful when there is hidden mold growth or when there are insurance claims or disputes. In our extreme mold experience, logic didn’t dictate an accurate remediation plan, so thorough testing was necessary. While the mold explosion began in our shower, tape sample tests revealed toxic mold throughout the house—all three bathrooms, the kitchen, laundry room, and more.

What happens during a Mold Assessment

Marshall states that it is important for consumers to know what mold testing looks like. He says consumers often request mold testing because they smell or see something that looks funny, or because someone is sick and they don’t know why. This is often after a water intrusion.

Here’s how an assessment works in Texas, where I live. After a telephone screening, a licensed mold inspector from Texas arrives to have an in-depth discussion with the homeowner. Next, the inspector inspects the exterior of the house to identify possible water entry points, such as a faulty roof or foundation, issues with landscaping or mulch, and window caulking. An infrared camera is used to inspect each room for moisture. A moisture meter is used to determine if water has collected in areas where the infrared detects pools of lower temperatures. They also inspect areas that are susceptible to moisture intrusion such as areas around windows and doors or areas with plumbing lines.

The inspector may collect air samples depending on the room’s size. Marshall stated that 75 liters is the industry norm for five minutes using a bio-pump and attached air sampling cassette. The air sampling cassette collects cells (mold and skin, bits of carpet, etc.). On a microscope slide, on a sticky surface. The cassette is taken from the pump and sealed. It is sent to an unaffiliated lab under strict Chain of Custody procedures for testing. A Chain of Custody is a document that documents the transfer of samples from point of collection until delivery at the laboratory. This includes the date, time and signatures of each sample change.

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