Monthly Archives: October 2013

Is ERMI Testing Reliable To Test A Home For Mold? – Part 1

Beware! The EPA mold scale ERMI© is misleading

By
Charles and Danielle Dobbs

EERMI testingRMI testing, developed by the EPA to test a home for mold is, in our opinion, totally meaningless, flawed, and impractical.  This post is actually a paper we published several years ago, and we thought the information would interest our readers.  The post is in two-parts.  The first part, Is ERMI Testing Reliable to Test a Home For Mold, explains how the ERMI test was developed.  In the second part, we point out the flaws of ERMI testing.

ERMI testing involves testing a home for mold with a single dust sample.

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Is ERMI Testing Reliable To Test A Home For Mold? – Part 2

Beware! The EPA mold scale ERMI© is misleading

By
Charles and Danielle Dobbs

ERMI testingIn part 1 of “Is ERMI Testing Reliable To Test A Home For Mold?” we explained the research behind ERMI testing, now here are the flaws:

FLAW NUMBER 1
Improper sample selection of “moldy” and “non-moldy” homes
First, the homes were classified as either “moldy” or “non-moldy” based on the following criteria.  The paper states:

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Types Of Mold Testing

types of mold testingThere are three main types of mold testing – air samples, surface samples, and carpet samples.   We feel ERMI testing, developed by the EPA, is totally meaningless, and therefore we will not mention it in this post, but we will explain in detail in an upcoming article. Incidently,  self-testing mold kits are also meaningless, see Mold Test Kits – Are They Reliable?

Sampling is the scientific approach to mold assessment.  Mold testing provides a snapshot of the environment at the time of sampling at a particular location, as conditions can change over time.

Air sampling methods include  Culturable and non-culturable samples.  The culturable method allows the microbiologist to differentiate between species whose spores are visually similar, but it takes longer to obtain the results and it is also more costly.  In addition,

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Indoor Air Pollutants – What Are They?

indoor air pollutantsIndoor air pollutants involve a great deal more than mold.  There are many indoor air pollutants that can produce health effects similar to mold.

Occasionally, we are called to collect mold samples in a home or building because of odors or discomfort felt by the occupants.  Once the laboratory results come back showing normal levels of mold spores, we must turn our attention to other culprits.

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The Health Effects Of Mold – Part 1

health effects of moldThe health effects of mold exposure depend on the age and sensitivity of individuals, but most reactions to mold are due to inhaling excess mold spores floating in the air.   In addition, Dr. Burge, Director of Aerobiology for Emlab P&K, warns that nonviable (dead) spores retain their allergenic properties.

Mold can be classified into three broad types as far as health effects are concerned. 

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The Health Effects Of Mold – Part 2

health effects of moldThe health effects of mold involve more than respiratory problems caused by excess mold spores floating in the air of moldy homes.  Ingesting moldy food can be serious for people and animals.

The condition called St. Anthony’s Fire, which killed thousands of people during the Middle Ages and in the ancient world, is caused by ergotism, or the eating of bread made with grain contaminated with the ergot fungus.  St. Anthony’s Fire is a gruesome disease characterized by rotting flesh, hallucinations, convulsions, and dry gangrene.  People once believed that by making supplications and pilgrimages to St. Anthony and his shrine, a cure could be granted.  Interestingly enough, these actions often worked because the pilgrims, traveling from place to place, would cease ingestion of the contaminated bread.

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Useful Mold Inspection Flowchart

Mold Inspection Process

The following flowchart is an example of a mold inspection process which entails a process from the time a mold problem is discovered or suspected, to the process of testing, and in some cases mold remediation is necessary, followed by post-remediation testing.

SCENARIO – Occupant experiences allergies. He reports a musty odor in the house and requests a mold inspection.

MLS = mold-like substance
Mold inspection = performed  by a licensed mold inspector or mold assessor
Mold remediation = process of mitigating a mold problem performed by a license mold remediator
Mold remediation protocol = set of instructions written by a mold inspector/mold assessor for a mold remediator to safely mitigate a mold problem.
VOC = Volatile organic compound

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