NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors is America’s #1 provider of training and certification for Indoor Air Quality Screening to Contractors and IAQ Sales Professionals. I believe it is time to define indoor air quality in a new and exciting way.
Over the past decade, millions of Americans have become more aware of Indoor Air Quality issues and contaminants that can contribute to negative health. During this same period of time, a number of Indoor Air Quality products have been masterfully marketed promoting the concept that one product can solve all of your indoor air quality problems. Whenever I am confronted with a commercial heralding these amazing products, I am reminded of snake oil salesmen in the old west. Just one teaspoon of snake oil per day will cure all that ails you. The reality is that indoor air environments are complex and diverse with many causes and hundreds of contaminants that can contribute to unhealthy conditions. To promote a program that promises “one product fixes all” is simply unprofessional. To honestly provide solutions to these significant Indoor Air Quality problems, management systems utilizing multiple products must be designed. Most importantly, before any management system is designed, the indoor environments must be assessed and screened documenting specific inherent indoor air quality problems within the environment.
In the medical profession, prognosis without diagnosis is malpractice. Much like medical professionals, indoor air quality contractors and sales professionals should be trained and certified to assess environments and define IAQ problems prior to providing solutions. Factors contributing to poor indoor air include odors, gasses, bio-contaminants and airborne allergenic particulate commonly known as dust. Most of the contaminants contributing to unhealthy environments are not visible to the naked eye. Many times an unhealthy environment looks the same as a healthy environment. Pet dander, pollen, mold spores, volatile organic chemicals in cleaning products, paints, glues, litter boxes, dust mite feces and dead skin are unseen contaminants that contribute to unhealthy indoor air. Anyone of these can lead to allergic reactions, and some alone can lead to chronic health issues. With no management systems in place, our immune systems are the only line of defense in battling this unending barrage of indoor air contaminants. No wonder it is estimated that over 70% of the indoor environments in America are unhealthy.
The point is this: professionals like heating and air conditioning contractors or Indoor Air Quality sales persons should be trained in the basic methods of assessing and screening indoor air environments. They have a responsibility to educate the customer about indoor air contaminants and a responsibility to assess and screen environments prior to selling indoor air quality products or services. The standard method used by environmental consultants when defining indoor air environments is survey, assess, sample and then solve.
Information such as the health status of individuals living in the environment, possible causes of IAQ problems like water damage, and areas of discoloration are gathered in the survey. Assessment of the home should include major spaces like general living areas, water prone areas, and heating and cooling systems. Air or surface samples should be taken and delivered to laboratories for analysis to identify and quantify indoor contaminants. Once all of this information is gathered through surveys, assessments, and sampling, IAQ management systems can be designed and solutions can then be provided to the customer.
For those professionals who are selling indoor air quality products and services, it is time to define. If you are not already trained in the assessment, screening and defining of indoor air environments, start now. Millions of Americans are faced with serious health issues that can be cured by providing well designed IAQ management systems for their specific indoor air quality problems. The only way contractors and IAQ sales persons can provide customers with these services is by becoming trained and certified in methods of surveying, assessing, sampling and then designing IAQ management systems for defined IAQ problems.
The market for indoor air quality products and services is exploding. To secure your piece of the IAQ pie, invest in your education and training.
D. Douglas Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI