In Florida, any person offering mold related services, or claiming to have a credential of any kind for indoor environmental services, must be licensed by the state for mold services. There are two types of licenses; one for Mold Related Services – Assessor (MRSA), and one for Mold Related Services – Remediator (MRSR). The two different licenses exist because anyone who performs mold assessments is not allowed to provide mold remediation, and anyone who performs mold remediation is not allowed to perform mold assessments. The intent of the mold licensing law is to protect the general public by keeping the proverbial wolf away from the hen house. In other words, the separation of licenses and duties is designed to prevent a conflict of interest for consumers and prevent fraudulent activity that previously caused harm to thousands of home owners. You do not want the person who conducts your mold assessment and you are trusting to determine if you have a mold problem to turn around and profit from you by stating you need remediation services for thousands of more dollars. This creates a huge conflict of interest and is entirely unethical by any measure. Unfortunately, that’s what can happen if you are uninformed or do not hire a mold assessor first.
Be sure any person or company you consider for mold assessment has an active licensed for “mold assessment” and insured for not less than one million ($1,000,000) dollars, as required by law. It is very expensive and hard to establish. Be sure to verify that the actual license holder conducts your inspection, not an assistant. To verify a license, go to http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr
Also, very important: before hiring a mold assessor, be sure you see a copy of their insurance certificate because the state does not verify or require proof of insurance when a license is issued – a sad loophole by lobbyists. However, the state mold law requires mold service providers to carry $1MM of insurance at all times.
If you are concerned about mold, be sure you only confer with or hire a licensed and insured “Mold Assessor” (MRSA), not a mold remediator. Be aware, mold assessors are the top level science professionals in mold and indoor air quality, and are the only licensed professionals allowed to make mold diagnosis and assessments. Also, an MRSA is the professional who writes the protocols to direct the actions of a mold remediator for mold problems. Never hire a remediator first, who then brings in “their” assessor – this is a serious conflict of interest and illegal, and it only favors a remediator, not you.
Mold is a microscopic organism. If any home is tested for mold, it will be found. However, that does not necessarily mean it is a problem. Mold is always present in every home, car, office, and building.
Anyone offering a “free” mold analysis is not believable. To know what type or quantity of mold exists in a home, air samples and possibly surface swabs must be taken and submitted for laboratory analysis. A “visual” inspection to confirm mold is impossible, it requires a microscope or other advanced laboratory analysis. Even areas that are suspected to have mold, must be sampled and verified. Mold can be a problem and yet have no visible manifestations. There are more than 100,000 species of mold known to exist; some benign, others more harmful. Only laboratory analysis can tell what type of mold is present in a home, and its concentration.
Also, by intent, there is no state or federal standard that defines what constitutes high or low levels of mold because different people respond differently to different molds.
In general, the young, the elderly, persons having allergies, and persons with respiratory difficulties are more susceptible to issues with mold. You can visit www.EPA.gov/mold for much more information.
A professional mold assessor should offer also ERMI testing and/or allergen testing for their clients. The days of simply taking cheap and easy air sample are hopefully coming to a close. That form of testing can be very misleading, but of course remains the most profitable for the service provider.
About Mold Assessment & Testing
The first thing to understand about mold is that there is a little mold everywhere – indoors and outdoors. It’s in the air and can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic materials.
It’s very common to find molds in homes and buildings. After all, molds grow naturally indoors. Mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. Spores also enter the home on animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people.
When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture in your home, they will grow. Common problem sites include humidifiers, leaky roofs and pipes, overflowing sinks, bath tubs and plant pots, steam from cooking, wet clothes drying indoors, dryers exhausting indoors, or where there has been flooding.
The importance of mold in the real estate market today
Much has been made of indoor mold in advertising and the media lately, so it’s a common concern for homeowners and buyers. It’s common to find mold even in new homes. Whether you’re selling your current home or looking into buying one, it’s vital to get a mold inspection. Presence of active mold can drastically affect the resale value of any home.
For homeowners, a mold inspection will either put your mind at rest or make you aware of any problems that could otherwise cause delays or deal breakers once you’ve entered negotiations with a buyer. A professional mold inspection will give you a signed report from an expert before you put the home up for sale. Imagine being able to show a “clean bill of health” to potential buyers that express concerns – they’ll be impressed by your thoroughness and commitment to your home.
For buyers, getting a mold inspection will ensure that you’re not surprised by costly clean up and the potential health hazards of mold. If any mold is found to be present and active in the home, the mold inspection will allow you to ask the seller to do the clean up prior to buying the home.
Exposure to mold
Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold on a daily basis, most without any apparent reaction. Generally mold spores can cause problems when they are present in large numbers and a person inhales large quantities of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth.
For some people, a small exposure to mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems. For others, symptoms may only occur when exposure levels are much higher.
The health effects of mold can vary. The production of allergens or irritants can cause mild allergic reactions and asthma attacks. The production of potentially toxic mycotoxins can cause more severe reactions, and in rare cases death.
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Yes. If indoor mold is extensive, those in your home can be exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores. It is possible to become sensitized to these mold spores and develop allergies or other health concerns, even if one is not normally sensitive to mold.
Left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home as well as permanent damage to furnishings and carpet.
According to the Centers for Disease Control*, “It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.”
Can my home be tested for mold?
Yes. We offer thorough mold inspections that involve visual examinations of the most likely areas to harbor mold. We also take air samples indoors and out to determine whether the number of spores inside your home is significantly higher. If the indoor level is higher, it could mean that mold is growing inside your home.
How do I remove mold from my home?
First address the source of moisture that is allowing the mold to grow. Then take steps to clean up the contamination. Here are helpful links to lean more about cleaning up mold in your home.
“Mold and Moisture”, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
“Controlling Mold Growth in the Home”, Kansas State University
“Indoor Mold and Your Health”, Florida Department of Health
“Mold Assessment”, Florida Department of Health
*Sources: California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet, “Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?” revised July 2001; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds” last reviewed November 30, 2002.
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