Why does New Hampshire need a mold task force?
The state currently has no codes or regulations relating to mold investigation or remediation
Editor’s note: The following was written by members of the New Hampshire Mold Task Force, which is chaired by Guy Sylvester of Absolute Resource Associates in Portsmouth.
In 2008, a group of New Hampshire legislators, business leaders and heath administrators came together with the same concern: There are currently no laws in place to protect the citizens of New Hampshire when it comes to mold and poor indoor air quality.
This group of professionals was motivated to find a way to get mold legislation on the books, and they worked together for several months to write and propose a bill to the New Hampshire House. In 2009, House Bill 482, relative to mold assessment, testing and remediation — and sponsored by Reps. French, Beck, Petterson and Merrill — was presented on the floor and did not pass, losing by just one vote.
Not ready to give up, the group approached the lawmakers involved, who suggested that the group form a “Mold Task Force,” with the goal of creating a Standard of Care for the state’s mold industry.
The New Hampshire Mold Task Force (NHMTF) was formed, and the group spent the next several months creating a Standard of Care, with a goal of providing information to citizens not only about the causes of indoor mold, the possible health risks and prevention measures, but also about the mold industry in general, including best practices and tips for hiring consultants and contractors.
In most aspects of the environmental field, there are legislative or industry standards for environmental contaminants — pesticides, radon, lead and asbestos, to name just a few.
Mold, however, is largely unregulated, and currently there are no federal, state or local laws, codes or regulations relating to mold investigation or remediation in the state of New Hampshire. The NHMTF believes that in the interest of public safety, mold should be managed in a similar fashion as these other environmental hazards.
Thirty-one states have some type of mold legislation, with the specific goal of protecting the consumer, and seven of those states now have full legislation addressing indoor environmental professionals working in the mold industry.
One of the goals of mold legislation is to hold those in the industry to a certain standard so citizens are not physically and financially burdened by negligence and/or unethical behavior. Another goal is to give citizens a legal course of action when their rights have been violated.
Without mold laws, for example, landlords are not responsible for removing 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 or untrained individuals and those with proper credentials and experience.
With the absence of mold laws in New Hampshire, citizens do not have much legal protection when they are faced with an indoor mold problem.
The NHMTF Standard of Care document, currently under final review, will be the first step toward protecting the citizens of New Hampshire when it comes to mold and indoor air quality. The NHMTF hopes to raise the awareness of the consumer in regards to the potential health and financial risks involved with mold, to hold those in the mold industry to an acceptable standard and to help guide the lawmakers of New Hampshire toward adopting legislation to protect the consumer.
Guy Sylvester, CEO of Portsmouth-based Absolute Resource Associates, is a member of the New Hampshire Mold Task Force.