NH’s new mold bill: What you need to know
Third-party certification requirement takes effect Jan. 1
Molds are a natural and necessary part of our world, and most people live their lives unaffected and unaware of their abundance around us each day. However, when mold shows up indoors, it becomes a four-letter word, capable of eliciting strong physical and emotional reactions in select individuals.
Those working in the indoor air quality industry are often forced to manage some very complex issues, as their clients count on them to have expertise in the scientific, structural, medical, legal and emotional issues surrounding a single mold problem. And in an industry that is largely unregulated, this sometimes has the potential for disaster.
In 2008, a group of New Hampshire business leaders, health administrators and legislators came together to discuss the need to protect the citizens of New Hampshire when it comes to mold and poor indoor air quality.
The group felt that passing legislation would be the best course of action, as it would accomplish a few things. First, it would hold those in the mold industry to a certain standard so that citizens are not physically and financially burdened by negligence and/or unethical behavior.
Second, it would give citizens a legal course of action when if their rights had been violated. Without mold laws, for example, landlords are not responsible to remove mold from buildings, facility managers are not required to respond to complaints about mold within their buildings, and those working in the mold industry are not regulated, meaning consumers often cannot tell the difference between unethical/untrained individuals and those with proper credentials and/or experience.
With support from the American Lung Association in New Hampshire, the Manchester New Hampshire Indoor Air Quality Association and a few legislators, the group formed the NH Mold Task Force (NHMTF). For the past seven years, this group has met, brainstormed, drafted bill language, chased down legislators, jumped over hurdles and through hoops, and paved the way for the passage of Senate Bill 125, a consumer and health protection bill that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Since the bill’s passage in July, there have been a lot of questions about what this all means to citizens and those in the mold industry. Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
• What does the bill say? SB 125 mandates that persons providing residential mold assessment services in New Hampshire for mold contamination in residential dwellings be certified by a third party.
• What mold-related services will now require third-party certification? Conducting an inspection, investigation or survey of a dwelling or other structure to provide information to the owner regarding presence, identification, or evaluation of mold; the development of a mold remediation specification or protocol; and/or the collection of mold samples for analysis will all require a third-party certification.
• How does someone get certified? Visit acac.org to get your CMI (certified microbial investigator) or CIE (certified indoor environmentalist) certification.
• How much does it cost to get certified? Cost is $300, and it needs to be renewed every other year.
• What if I don’t get certified? What’s the punishment? If you are found guilty, it’s a misdemeanor, not to mention the risk to your reputation.
• Is any group exempt from this law? Any entity hired for any work not specific to mold is exempt from this law.
• How does this law help consumers? Consumers will now know that holders of third-party certification in the mold industry have experience, training and are required to get continuing education points. Before this law existed, anyone anywhere could call themselves a mold professional, and the folks who unknowingly hired these individuals often wasted money, time and had their health compromised, with no legal recourse.
With the passage of SB 125, New Hampshire joins the growing number of states with mold legislation on the books. For more information, visit the NH Board of Licensures and Certifications website at nh.gov/jtboard.
Guy Sylvester, CEO of Absolute Resource Associates, an environmental services firm in Portsmouth, is chapter director of the Manchester Indoor Air Quality Association and is on the board of directors of the American Council for Accredited Certifications. Jean Gennaro is director of marketing at Absolute Resources Associates.