Guideline for Choosing a Quality Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP)
Take the time to read and follow these guidelines. Picking a quality Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) can save you thousands of dollars in testing and remediation costs.
Do not hire a company that performs mold assessments (inspection & testing) and mold remediation (clean-up).
Companies that perform both mold assessments and mold remediation face a major conflict of interest because those companies directly profit by telling you that your mold problem requires remediation.
To help get their foot in the door, many of these companies perform the mold assessment at an extremely discounted price. The only way that they can do this is by making up that discounted difference in remediation costs. Go with an IEP who will not lose money by telling you that your problem does not require extensive remediation.
If you have a situation that appears to require remediation, consult a third party IEP to design the scope-of-work. Often times, this independent scope-of-work will be less extensive than the scope-of-work recommended by a remediation company.
Select a topic below to learn more.
Unfortunately, most states have not set requirements for individuals performing mold inspections. These days, individuals can become “Certified” over the internet. These types of “certifications” can be obtained without any minimum standards on education, experience, or knowledge of the field. Simply by paying the website a set fee, a person can become a ‘certified mold inspector/remediator.’
If someone tells you they are “Certified,” find out specifically the certification(s) they hold, and which association granted them the certification. Search the internet to find the association’s requirements for the certification process.
- A minimum of a Bachelor of Science degree in a related science. (i.e. Microbiology, Mycology, Industrial Hygiene, Environmental Science, etc)
- A minimum of 2 years experience in the field
- Attendance of a certification course (usually 3 to 5 days in length)
- Successful completion of a certification examination at the end of the certification course
Beware of the home inspector, turned mold inspector.
Many home inspectors now perform mold inspections, and testing, with very little knowledge of the field. Most started performing these services because they commonly found mold growth during home inspections, and saw an opportunity to make money.
Often times, a home inspector will only provide you with the laboratory results of the mold testing, but offer very little expertise in translating the results or in providing recommended remediation steps. At that point, you may be forced to hire a qualified IEP (at an additional cost to you) to provide the needed information. If substantial mold is found, hire a professional who specializes in that area. Cut out the middleman.
Beware of companies that use inflammatory terms like “TOXIC MOLD,” and ambiguous terms like “BLACK MOLD.”
Phrases like Toxic Mold and Black Mold are ‘media terms’, and are not commonly used by respected consultants within the field. The term Toxic Mold refers to any mold that produces a mycotoxin. A mycotoxin is simply a metabolic byproduct that some mold produce while growing. Not every mold that produces mycotoxins is extremely harmful, nor is every non-mycotoxin producer completely safe.
The color of mold growth (i.e. black) has no correlation to potential side effects or symptoms.
A quality IEP will take many factors into consideration; not just whether or not the mold growth is black, or if the mold is a potential mycotoxin producer.
At an absolute minimum, an IEP should be equipped with moisture meters, hygrometers, and sampling equipment. However, ZWS offers much more, such as Thermal Imaging Cameras, bore scopes, and laser particle counters. This equipment provides us with additional information and saves our clients money by decreasing the number of tests necessary.
Make sure that the IEP has Professional Liability Insurance that includes a Pollution Rider (mold coverage). Normal liability insurance will exclude mold, so the pollution rider is a must.
A quality IEP should be willing to supply you with a Certificate of Insurance. Keep a copy of this certificate for your files.
All IEPs should use an American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) accredited laboratory.
Find out which laboratory the IEP uses, and cross reference it with this list. As you will see, there are over 80 accredited laboratories listed, giving the IEP plenty of qualified choices. The reason some IEPs use unaccredited labs is because they are inexpensive.
AIHA has been accrediting labs since 1974, and has an extremely strict “Quality Assurance Program.” This program ensures that your test results are accurate.
The true effectiveness of mold dogs outside of a controlled environment is debatable at best. On January 4, 2004, the CBS News program 60 Minutes produced a segment titled "Does the Nose Know?" The piece highlighted working dogs that use their nose to sniff out problems (i.e. drugs, bombs, etc). Although the piece did not specifically focus on mold dogs, the same theories and short comings apply.
Dogs may falsely alert in order to receive a treat or praise.
The dog can become distracted by other smells within the property. These unfamiliar scents can cause the dog to miss or falsely identify problem areas.
The 60 Minutes study found that the accuracy of some dogs fell to 35.5% in real life situations. These same dogs were accurate 90.0% of the time in a controlled laboratory environment.
Instead of relying on a dog, mold inspections should focus on finding areas of elevated moisture. Without moisture, mold will not actively grow. This is why many experts believe that Thermal Imaging and moisture meters are far superior to mold dogs.
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ZWS Environmental Services, Inc.
1835 E. Edgewood Dr. Suite 105212
Appleton, WI 54913
Phone: (920) 882-5248
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