Archive for the ‘Toxic Mold’ Category

Did Mold Suddenly Become Safe?

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Reprint from Cleanfax Magazine

Abita Springs, LA

I remember the lawsuits and hysteria surrounding the mold problems of Erin Brockovich, the Ballards in Texas, and even Ed McMahon with his sheepdog, Muffin.

“Black Mold” was called the “next asbestos” — and the media frenzy was on. But today, we just don’t hear very much about mold, do we? Did it go away? Is it no longer a problem? Have we now decided that it won’t kill us and that it is safe?

As a contractor for over 35 years, I remember when, in the 1980s, our building techniques changed. At that time, the driving force was a concern over increasing energy costs and so, as a result, we tightened up our buildings to reduce energy loss.

Weather-stripping was a hot commodity and lowering the thermostat became the new status-symbol of the energy conservationist. The unintended consequence of these tighter buildings was to create petri dishes where indoor air quality contaminants, like mold and bacteria, would have an environment in which to proliferate. Trapped air became toxic air. SBS (Sick Building Syndrome) and BRI (Building Related Illness) were some of the first indicators that we had a problem and then, before we could turn around, it became a legal issue. Those who were especially sensitive to mold issues, like the Ballards, McMahon, et al, became the focal point of the media.

Yes, some people still get very sick from mold, but I believe what we have found is that the numbers are significantly lower than we first believed and, therefore, the hysteria has subsided.

But is mold now safe?

Well, with that said, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that people still get very sick from mold contamination and that some people, maybe a smaller group than we first thought, are highly sensitive to many IAQ contaminants, including mold.

It’s not that mold has become safer, it’s that the instances of serious health problems are being more reasonably dealt with. Doctors, like members of the AAEM (American Association of Environmental Medicine) are becoming more aware of potential environmental issues. The mold industry is being more careful and better trained to evaluate and deal with these issues. States are now licensing mold professionals to be sure they are following best practices and credible trade associations, like NORMI™, are being formed to support those professionals.

The whole mold assessment and remediation industry, especially where licensing is required, recognizes that three classes are especially susceptible to health problems because of mold: The elderly, the very young, and the immune-suppressed. Care should be taken to understand the reality of the symptoms associated with mold contamination and the proper techniques for building isolation containment, establishing negative pressure and using PPE (personal protective equipment). These processes can protect even the most sensitive individuals and should be incorporated where building occupants or workers may be exposed to elevated levels of mold contamination.

In short, I think the mold industry has experienced the same progression as the asbestos industry did years ago. Initially, asbestos was considered “deadly” and removal, or abatement, seemed to be the only option. Later, as more information became available, encapsulation-in-place became an option, deemed more reasonable and cost effective. As a result, the asbestos hysteria subsided.

Unlike asbestos, mold is a natural substance that only becomes a problem when it is trapped in a welcoming indoor environment. Control the environment with the proper sanitization protocol and you can control or eliminate mold growth. When that is done, most people can live in that clean environment without concerns for their health or the health of their family.

The more we learn about how to live healthier lives indoors, the safer those environments become.

For more information about training in the mold profession, contact NORMI at 877.251.2296

New Mold Classes Scheduled

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Abita Springs, LA

January 11, 2018

NORMI announced today that for the first quarter of 2018, mold classes are being held in a variety of onsite locations for both private companies and the local professionals.  These classes feature the propriety concurrent training approach assembling assessors and remediators in the same classroom and some are specifically designed to fit the business who requested it.

“We have seen a surge of interest in our mold classes,” said Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI, “because our private classes can be uniquely tailored to fit the business for whom we’re training.  And they are fun, interesting, innovative and engaging.  In those cases where the business owner wants a class without his competition in the room, we take our basic course and make it fit his business model so he gets the exactly what his guys need without any extraneous material.  Saves him money and time.  We now have classes planned in New York, Florida, North Carolina, California and the Virgin Islands to meet the needs of our client.  It’s an exciting time.”

Lance Eisen, COO of NORMI, reported that the onsite schedule showing a host of onsite classes at the Best Training School website do not include private classes which are designed for a specific company.  “It great that we are flexible enough to be able to do this because taking our class to a specific company solves a lot of problems for the company that is too busy to pull all of their people away for a field trip to some other city.  This benefit is one of our best kept secrets.”

The CMA and CMR certification classes are designed, where needed, to fit the specific state where licensing is required and the NORMI certification adds credibility to the professional who is working in a state where licensing is not required.  If you’re considering a high quality training for your crew, give NORMI a call at 877.251.2296 or email support@normi.org for more information.  If you’re interested in an onsite public class at an established location, go to www.BestTrainingSchool.com and select the class closest to you.  NORMI, a dynamic leader for a dynamic industry.

NORMI Water Classes Will Change Your Business!

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Abita Springs, LA

NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors, announces a brand-new direction for mold professionals.  Water extraction and drying classes are now a part of the onsite training program offered to mold professionals, both assessors and remediators.  The classes are designed to educate anyone who does emergency drying or water losses to eliminate the possibility of proliferating mold growth.

“We are so excited to move into this arena because water extraction and drying is so misunderstood,” said Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI.  “The mold professional must know the proper way to dry structures, construction materials and contents and, unfortunately, the professionals most people are drawn to are unfamiliar with the proper techniques for drying and proving that it is dry.  I love the approach we’re taking because it’s about objective proof, not what somebody ‘thinks’ they’ve accomplished.”

The NORMI Mold Damage Prevention (MDP) class is the first in a series of five (5) trainings that will be conducted by Mark Wichern to improve the industry.  Insurance companies and the public wan a drying solution that is affordable and efficient.  Older techniques in the industry simply don’t work.

As an emergency services provider for water events like flooding, water leaks or other water events, you will want this training.  For more information, see Best Training School or call NORMI at 877.251.2296.  Insurance adjusters, call for special pricing and group training options. (ext. 876) or contact support@normi.org.

Ask a Mold Expert: What Do I Use to Kill Mold on a Roof?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

We often get some very interesting questions from our members, and others in the building and construction community. We recently were posed one that we believe would be helpful for the public. A roofing contractor recently sent us this message:

“I saw your article about sodium hypochlorite not killing mold on asphalt roofing by Doug Hoffman. I am a soft washing and roof washing contractor. I was never taught that it was mold on a roof. I always thought it was lichen, algae, and moss. Further, he said to use a biocide, and chlorine is one. Can I get some clarity on this? Who was told or tested roofing materials to see if the black streaks where mold? And if not mold why will chlorine not kill moss, lichen, and algae? Finally I read that chlorine will kill mold on non porous surfaces but it will not kill mold on porous surfaces?”

Our Executive Director, Doug Hoffman, had this to say in response:

“Great question! All of the chemistries that are approved by the EPA to kill mold (fungus) are registered with the EPA as pesticides. In fact, the LA Dept. of Agriculture requires licensed specialists of mold remediation San Antonio to also carry a pesticide ground-applicators license because, again, what they are using are pesticides. Sodium Hypochlorite is registered with the EPA as a disinfectant because it is good, as a sanitizer, on hard surfaces but will not adequately penetrate the mold to kill the “bio-slime” and actually eliminate it from growing. If you read the use instructions, it’s incredibly toxic and requires some dwell time to actually kill any of the microbiologicals it can address.

In 2004, Oregon State University performed a study to address this issue, and determined exactly what I wrote in “Mold-Free Construction” five years earlier (the first edition). Bleach will affect the discoloration (making it look like it disappeared) but will not actually kill the mold. Even when you add detergent and high levels of surfactants, it simply will not penetrate the mold. That’s why bleach should never be used on mold remediation projects either…people have been slow to come to the table but the science is proving this position to be right!

In regards to what is actually growing on the roof, that varies significantly based on geography. Moss is really bad in the Northwest US while mold is worse in the Southern states. Here’s the fact that needs to be considered: any microbiological contaminant will feed on the DIRT that is accumulating on the roofing system (from acid rain, settled dust, etc.) and, under the right conditions, its roots (depending on the type of mold) could grow into the shingle (especially asphalt shingles that have a lot of fillers in them and very little asphalt or petro product). Killing that growth is paramount to extending the life and improving the appearance of virtually any roofing system (even tile) and using a pesticide with surfactants that actually will penetrate that growth is best, by far!

BTS, I love the concept of “soft washing” (which is what we did with our company) to maintain the integrity of the ballast and protect the shingle from UV. BUT, experience has shown over and over again that bleach will only make it go “clear” and then it will reappear with a vengeance.”

Salem VA Cited for Mold Exposure

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

REPRINT from Advisen.com

Source: Roanoke Times 03/28/2017

A federal workplace safety agency has cited the Salem VA Medical Center for a serious violation for allowing employees to be exposed to indoor mold, thereby creating unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections of Building 75 at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility, starting with an inspection on Dec. 20, determined that “employees were exposed to the hazard of mold in work spaces and corridors” in the building.

According to an OSHA citation issued March 16, the exposure created a potential for the “onset of allergic reactions, asthma attacks and exacerbation or aggravation of allergies, asthma and other health conditions.”

OSHA alleged that “the employer did not implement adequate measures to prevent active mold growth in the building.”

On March 10, OSHA gave the center 30 days to respond with remediation to remove the mold.

The Salem VA Medical Center describes Building 75 as a non-patient care building that serves as a wellness center.

Stanley Dutko, area director in Norfolk for OSHA, said the agency investigated after receiving a signed complaint about the mold from a current employee.

Dutko said six employees reported having respiratory reactions they attributed to the mold. He said OSHA’s investigation found that the Salem VA Medical Center had been aware, going back as far as 2007 and 2011, that there were issues with mold in Building 75.

He said the center’s lack of adequate response triggered the citation.

“We always try to work with the employer first,” Dutko said.

Brett Robbins, a spokesman for the Salem VA Medical Center, said Monday that the hospital has contracted with a company to perform the necessary remediation, which he said should be completed by April 5.

“Salem takes all reports of safety concerns seriously and will continue to provide a safe working environment for its veterans, visitors and employees,” Robbins said in an email.

He said the facility’s safety office had performed an indoor air quality review of Building 75 in November that was related to potential mold.

“Following the review, the facility removed any items with visible substance identified, completed plumbing repairs and ensured scheduled maintenance by the North York HVAC service was accomplished,” Robbins said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that indoor mold can cause respiratory infections and worsen illnesses such as asthma.

There are reports and also evidence that indoor mold and other hazards associated with water-damaged buildings can cause additional health problems. But CDC has said there is no conclusive evidence that indoor mold is associated with many other health problems, such as pulmonary hemorrhage, memory loss and lack of energy.

Reporter Tiffany Stevens contributed to this report.

For more information training and solutions to this and other IAQ issues, contact www.NORMI.org or call 877.251.2296

Dr. Oz Recommends Certification/Licensing for Mold Professionals

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Abita Springs, LA  03/12/17

Dr. Oz completed a great segment on 02/27 dealing with toxic mold and the dangers the public may face when being scammed by unlicensed, untrained mold guys.  NORMI and the IICRC were upheld as “the good guys”, credible, national training/certification organizations that help clients with assessing and cleaning up mold problems in indoor environments.

NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors was founded July 4, 2004 to train and certify mold remediators under the State of Louisiana Mold Licensing Law.  Since then, NORMI has trained thousands of assessors, remediators and IAQ professionals throughout the United States and Canada.  Its certifications have been recognized by states who require training for licensure including, but not limited to, New York, Florida, Louisiana and the District of Columbia.

The mold profession has long been plagued with scammers, non-professionals who claim they can detect mold and clean it up.  Many of these do NO testing, are not trained building assessors and do not know that bleach WILL NOT clean mold.  Dr. Oz addresses each of these subjects in his well-written segment which include Mike Holmes, a builder and television personality who touted the importance of finding good guys like NORMI and the IICRC.

For more information, contact NORMI at support@NORMI.org or visit www.NORMI.org or call 877.251.2296 to find classes at a location near you.  Visit www.NORMIPro.com to locate a mold professional in your area.

FREE Florida CEUs for NORMI Members

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

ACTIVE NORMI Members have access to ongoing continuing education training every Tuesday night (48 times a year) in our BTS Training Room. These interactive webinars provide an opportunity for members to get ongoing training, news and other information regarding the mold profession. Unique to the NORMI organization, members are given the opportunity to “meet and greet” other NORMI members across the country on a regular basis and get their specific field questions answered.

NORMI is an approved training provider for many stated, including the State of Florida (PVD MRS0003605), and continues to offer onsite classes for CEU (continuing education units). The State of Florida requires each licensed Mold Related Services Assessor and/or Remediator to take fourteen (14) hours of approved continuing education during each renewal cycle (every two years).

The State of Florida recently approved NORMI CEUs to be given in a LIVE ONLINE format. These classes are offered at various times throughout the year and on specific Tuesday nights inside of the regular weekly training. ONLY ACTIVE NORMI Members may take advantage of this option to receive, over the course of a year, all the CEUs needed for renewal at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE!

“We are pleased to make this announcement,” said Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors. “NORMI continues to lead the industry in filling the void of training and this is just another high-tech way of delivering relevant and current information. Connecting our active members to the organization and to the industry through this member benefit is one of our unique offerings and we’re thrilled that the State of Florida has recognized its value.”

To become an ACTIVE NORMI member, go to the “JOIN” tab at the top of www.NORMI.org. For more information, contact NORMI at 877.251.2296 or email support@normi.org

Top Ten Tips to Avoid Structural Mold from Flooding

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nonprofit Contact Person: Doug Hoffman
877.251.2296 ext. 876 mediaalert@normi.org

May 31, 2016 (Abita Springs, LA) – A few simple steps can save property owners thousands of dollars of damage due to structural mold growth, according to Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (www.NORMI.org), a nonprofit organization that trains and certifies indoor air quality professionals. Taking the necessary steps to avoid structural mold growth not only preserves the integrity of a structure but also the health of its occupants, further explains Kurt and Lee Ann Billings, authors of the book MOLD: The War Within, which details lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. Flooding area residents must be proactive, act quickly, and use proper personal protection equipment when implementing the following ten steps:
1. Remove any standing water using a pump or a wet vac. If the water damage is from a broken pipe, be sure to turn off the water supply.
2. Remove wet carpets, rugs, draperies and personal belongings. Clear mud and debris from floors and foundation walls to allow the subflooring and foundation to dry.
3. Remove and discard water-saturated sheetrock and insulation 18 inches above the highest watermark to increase structural drying. Remove water-damaged flexible ductwork and water-damaged insulation around metal ductwork.
4. Remove all mold growth on remaining structural building materials by mechanical means or complete removal if necessary. The easiest and most effective way to initially clean mold from structural building materials is to use a commercial wet/dry HEPA vacuum, followed by wiping, scrubbing, scrapping or sanding for complete removal.
5. Don’t use bleach to clean mold. Bleach is an effective sanitizer but it will not remove mold at its “root”. The mold will look like it’s gone but it is not; it will only grow back.
6. Use sanitizers on any portion of the structure contaminated by sewage or flood waters.
7. Dry the structure out as quickly as possible as structural mold begins to form in the first 24-48 hours. As soon as the above removal steps are completed, turn up the heat, circulate the air with fans, and use a dehumidifier to keep the indoor humidity below 50 percent. Hot, dry air dries things faster than cold moist air. If there’s no electricity, open windows and doors to get air moving to speed up the drying process, if weather permits.
8. Check the attic as undetected roof leaks can later cause structural mold problems.
9. Inspect windows on the outside of the structure, checking for damaged caulking and seals that could lead to future water leaks.
10. Don’t seal it up until it’s dry. Siding, sheetrock, and flooring repairs should be done only after the substrates are completely dry. Confirm moisture content by using a moisture meter.
For more information on water damage and flood resources, please see www.Flood.NORMI.org, www.NORMIProETF.org or to locate a certified mold inspector or remediator in your area, log onto www.NORMIPro.com or call 1.877.251.2296.

OSHA Cites Indoor Air Quality As Important For Worker’s Health

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Mold in the WorkplaceGood indoor air quality is important for homes, but also for businesses. A poor work environment leads to more sick days and sluggish employees. All of this combines to poor productivity and employee performance. An investment in clean air for a workplace can repay itself many times over.

OSHA says the following about workplace indoor air quality:

“The quality of indoor air inside offices, schools, and other workplaces is important not only for workers’ comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.”

If you are interested in determining the state of your workplace indoor air quality, contact one of our NORMI certified indoor air quality professionals at www.normipro.com.

photo credit: UIS Students in the Workplace via photopin (license)

Syracuse Class for NY Mold License Set

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Abita Springs

10/28/2015

NORMI, The National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors announced today that their first licensure class for the State of New York Labor Law has been set for 12/01-04 in Syracuse, NY at the offices of CleanTec Enterprises.  The flyer for this class has been emailed to prospective students and the class details have been posted on the Best Training School website on a special page for the New York Labor Law.  NORMI has been approved as MTP-005

“We are very excited about our class because we take a very unique approach to this industry,” said Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of NORMI.  “We believe assessors must know what remediators do and remediators must know what assessors do so we train them in the same classroom.  In the case of the New York license, the Assessor needs 32 hours, the Remediation Contractor needs 24 hours and the Abatement Worker needs 16 hours before applying for licensure.  The first day we have only assessors, then the remediation contractors join us the second day and we have all three disciplines the third and fourth day.  It maximizes our ability to teach a singular message and a group of mold professionals who need to know how to work together!”  The curriculum for each discipline is listed at Best Training School.

NORMI has been training mold professionals since 2004 when Louisiana established the first licensing law for remediators and since that time has become an approved training provider for Louisiana, Florida and now New York.  Other states are moving toward licensure and initial training is almost always included in the requirements.  “There are some organizations in the marketplace that tout the fact they don’t require training for certification but that ignores the dynamic nature of the industry and the importance of professionals staying up with the techniques and equipment changes,” said Lance Eisen, COO of NORMI.  “Fortunately the states are seeing the need for basic training AND experience.  It just doesn’t make sense to hold a license holder responsible for a law he’s not been trained in so these legislatures are moving in the right direction!  We’re glad they are seeing the needs in the industry.”

“The mold industry has been riddled with ‘fly-by-night’ operators who decided they could make a lot of money at the owner’s expense,” said Linda Eicher, BTS National Training Director. “Requiring a license is the direction each state should take, not for the purpose of telling mold professionals how to do their job any more than they should tell a surgeon how to perform surgery, but to regulate the bad guys and get them out of the industry.  That’s the best way to protect the public.”

NORMI has been involved in the legislative process for many years and served as a stake holder for multiple states in their process of establishing guidelines and standards of practice.  For more information on the New York Labor Law or other state requirements, see our website at www.NORMI.org or call 877.251.2296