A professionally prepared Mold Report should clearly answer the following questions:
1.Is there a mold or IAQ problem?
2.What was the cause?
3.Where is the problem source?
4.What containment and cleaning are needed?
5.What building repairs are needed to prevent future problems?
6.How will we assure that the field investigation work is properly done?
7.How will we assure that the mold test lab work was actually collected by an expert?
A mold test lab report can produce a lot of information but it does not answer any of those questions.
A true mold inspector should have the ability to do more than hit the on switch of the sampling pump and hand the client a lab report.
Are Mold Lab Reports Useful Without a Visual Inspection?
A mold report from the laboratory which simply offers some counts or numbers or culture results is not a good value. Not when the mold inspector was supposed to perform a “screening inspection” for mold, but did not perform a thorough visual inspection of the home or office.
A superficial mold test risks leaving the client with ambiguous results, or even if the test suggests that a problem mold is present, the client has no idea where the problem is, if any, and what to do about it.
If you suspect that there is a mold problem in your home or office you need to know the following:
1.Is there a mold, allergen, or similar environmental problem in the building?
2.If there is a problem, where is it and how big is it?
3.What does the lab work indicate about the level of risk to occupants or workers? Are we looking at a “cosmetic-only” concern?
4.Is a mold remediation protocol necessary?
5.What is the extent of demolition or cleaning needed, and based on the lab results, what is the level of containment and care needed?
6.What needs to be changed or repaired in the home or office so that problems don’t recur?
7.After the cleanup has been completed, was it proper and complete?
A professionally prepared mold report must be useful:
In other words, in exchange for being paid a substantial professional fee to investigate a building, a mold inspector should provide accurate and useful diagnostic and prescriptive information to his or her client, and should include not only an identification of problematic mold, but an indication of where the problem is, how big it is, and what work is needed to remove it – a mold remediation protocol.
A Qualified Ethical Mold Inspector or Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant should interview the client carefully before the inspection to assist in deciding if such a costly inspection and test process is really appropriate and cost-justified.
In cases where there are no occupants at special risk of mold-related illness or respiratory illness; where there is no building leak history, and where no substantial mold is visible or suspected, a mold investigation may not be appropriate. Instead an indoor environmental assessment for allergy or asthma triggers would be more appropriate.
We get a lot of calls from people asking us to help them interpret their “mold inspection report.” What we often learn is that there was no actual mold inspection conducted.
The “inspector” simply collected some test samples, sent them to a mold test lab, and returned the mold lab test report to the client with no supporting explanation or laboratory report interpretation.
That sort of “mold inspection” is not very helpful as no one can really interpret what the report means.
Adding difficulty to interpreting a mold lab test report is the usual practice by the mold test “expert” of omitting any description of the mold test conditions.
1.Was testing passive – did the inspector tiptoe into a room and collect a tape or air or culture sample?
2.Or was testing active – were rooms occupied by active people, were fans running, were windows open or shut?
3.What were the other indoor environmental conditions that are vital to an indoor environmental assessment such as temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate levels?
4.Was the home at a positive or negative pressure?
5.Was the A/C running?
6.Were any windows open?
7.How many people were coming and going in the home?
Without knowing more about these site conditions, without an actual detailed visual inspection for causes of or evidence of mold, without taking a site history and client history and adding that the level of airborne particles in buildings varies enormously from minute to minute depending on these conditions, interpreting your “mold lab test report” is simply not possible.
These mold laboratory reports have some great graphs but they also have
1.no building inspection,
2.no building history of leaks or observed mold problems
3.no client history of building related complaints,
4.no mold risk assessment,
5.no interpretation of the lab’s findings, and contradictory indications.
6.so … No one knows what to do next.
What’s worse all mold laboratory reports have a disclaimer that states something to the effect of;
The Laboratory bears no responsibility for sample collection activities or analytical method limitations. Interpretation and use of test results are the responsibility of the client
The client is solely responsible for the use and interpretation of these recommended action guidelines.
And the inspectors often add in their agreements the following helpful clause;
The client is solely responsible for the use and interpretation of the test results and reports requested from home inspector. The inspector is not able to assess the degree of any potential hazard resulting from the materials and areas analyzed. Therefore, we respectfully suggest that you review this report with your personal physician or health care person(s) for information that may affect the inhabitants of the home.
In other words, in exchange for being paid a professional fee to investigate a building, the mold inspector should provide accurate and useful diagnostic and prescriptive information to his or her client; not state that he or she is not responsible for the interpretation of the sample results that they have collected.
A Professional Mold Investigation is much more than the collection of samples.
Unless the sample collection was combined with an expert visual inspection of the building, one cannot be certain of the extent of mold or other particle contamination in a building.
Similarly, without an expert visual inspection one cannot determine if a sample accurately represents all of the molds present in the building.
A competent report should identify, right up front, what is important and what needs to be done.
It should support these opinions with competent detail and professional, reliable lab work.
A professional mold inspection report is much mor that handing the client a lab report.
John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
Microshield Environmental Services, LLC