Got mold? Buyer beware
Imagine paying $900 for a mold assessment on your home and gaining nothing from the experience. That is exactly what happened to a customer who called me recently.He said the person he hired sent collected mold samples to a laboratory, and a few days later called to say that the lab results indicate that he has mold in his home. The customer said he already knew about the mold, which is why he called the investigator in the first place. As for what he should do next, he said the investigator told him there was too much liability involved in giving advice in these situations, and that the company provides testing but not recommendations on how to resolve mold problems.Fifty percent of the residential calls I receive come from people just like this man, who have already paid hundreds or thousands of dollars to a mold contractor and are left with useless lab results and mold that continues to grow. When they call me they are angry, frustrated and understandably skeptical about my industry.I have recently been working with New Hampshire lawmakers and am co-chair of the American Lung Association of New England's New Hampshire Mold Task Force, which was created to provide information on mold, health implications, prevention, investigations and remediation, and to recommend legislation to ensure mold problems are properly handled.There is an industry standard in place in some states, and the National Indoor Air Quality Association's position on certification and certification bodies helps protect consumers, but many states do not regulate mold - New Hampshire being one of them. This is a disservice to residents, and here is why:Legislation in other states declares it unethical and illegal for the same person/firm to conduct an indoor air quality investigation on a home or facility, and to also conduct the remedial action or clean up, viewing this as a financial conflict of interest.Unfortunately this happens quite often, and yet in New Hampshire, we have no laws protecting us when it does.The man in my earlier example did not have this experience, but his mold investigator was equally unscrupulous. If the man had hired a board-certified, professionally trained mold investigator, he would have received a thorough building investigation, sample collection and analysis (only if necessary), a detailed report summarizing any mold findings, the source of the moisture problem (which is at the root of all mold problems), and recommendations for remediation.Instead, he received some useless lab results that he could have obtained himself with a $50 "Do-It-Yourself Mold Kit" from the local hardware store. In either case, he still has mold.The bottom line is this: There are good and bad companies out there, but before you hire anyone, do your homework and ask a lot of questions. Until indoor air quality laws are in place in New Hampshire, you as the consumer will need to educate and protect yourself when it comes mold and air quality.Guy Sylvester, chief executive of Absolute Resource Associates, Portsmouth, is director of the Manchester chapter of the New Hampshire Indoor Air Quality Association and author of "Mold: Myth or Monster?"