Joseph L. Sbarra, CIH
Mold Expert and Certified Industrial Hygienist with > 35 years experience
OK, you have a concern about mold in your home. So how do you go about choosing a mold testing company when there are literally hundreds of mold testing and mold remediation companies?
I have some good news! Armed with some good information, you can feel confident that you have found the right company for the job.
Licensing and Certifications
Did you know that in only a few states in the U.S. have regulations and licensing for mold testing and remediation? Therefore, if you live in a state that does not have mold licensing, any Tom, Dick, or Harry can say “I’m a mold tester!”
States that have licensing for mold include New York, Florida, Texas, and the District of Columbia. State licenses generally involve several days of training, passing a closed-book exam, and periodic refresher training.
A certified industrial hygienist (CIH) is the “gold standard” of certifications as it relates to mold. Industrial Hygiene is the science of protecting and enhancing the health and safety of people at work and in their communities. An industrial hygienist is dedicated to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling chemical, physical, and biological hazards (that includes mold!). A CIH is someone who has:
You should also be aware and beware of “certifications” for mold inspectors. These are generally offered by trade organizations and are primarily one day or on-line classes, with open book exams. These so-called ‘certifications” are not considered to be significant within the industrial hygiene profession because just about anyone can obtain one.
Who Not to Choose
Let’s talk about who you should not choose to conduct your mold testing:
Tip: No reputable mold remediation company will perform mold testing. In states like New York that have licensing for mold, it is prohibited for the mold remediation company to perform mold testing and assessment.
Who Should I Choose?
Since it’s a virtual “Wild West” out there when it comes to mold, who can you trust to come into your home or business and tell you what’s really going on?
My advice is for you to choose a professional, Industrial Hygiene company that specializes in mold inspection and assessment. The Industrial Hygiene company is an independent 3rd party who works for YOU! not the mold remediation company or the insurance company.
Notice that I didn’t say mold testing, because simply testing and reporting that mold is present leaves you with the same problem that you started with, only you have a laboratory test that shows some type and quantity of mold is present.
Elements of a Mold Inspection/Assessment
A mold assessment involves much more than testing. The elements of a mold assessment should include the following:
Here’s a step-by-step process you can follow to choose an Industrial Hygiene company to conduct a mold inspection/assessment:
1. Start with a phone call to discuss your concerns. A good company will ask you several questions about your situation to get enough detail to develop a proposal or quote.
2. Ask for a written proposal. The written proposal should have the following:
Tip: If the cost per sample for 24-hour turnaround is a lot more than 48 or 72 hours, you are getting ripped off!!
3. Ask for a copy of the resume of the mold inspector/assessor. Look for experience, qualifications, and credentials: the more, the better. A more experienced person will cost more than a technician, but it’s worth the money. If you can have a CIH (certified industrial hygienist) conduct the inspection/assessment, that would be ideal for you.
Tip: Try to avoid selecting an Industrial Hygiene company who will send a technician to conduct the assessment and then have a senior staff member review and sign the report. It’s very difficult to write a mold assessment report or mold remediation plan when you were not present to do the visual assessment, thermal imaging, moisture measurement, or mold testing. Invariably, an inexperienced technician is going to miss something.
4. Review everything, especially the cost proposal. If you are unsure about something, ask the Industrial Hygiene company about it. Here are some things to watch out for:
Scam Alert! – Some companies will charge you for a “report” and simply give you a copy of the laboratory results, which you have already paid for! Some laboratory reports contain rudimentary interpretation, or even may indicate that removal is recommended. But a laboratory report lacks the key elements of a mold assessment report, especially since it does not have a discussion about findings and results or any detailed recommendations. Below is an example of a laboratory report:
5. Sign a contract. Ask if the Industrial Hygiene company if it carries insurance for professional liability; if not, you may be limiting your rights if there is a problem.
I trust and hope that you find this information helpful in your search for a mold testing company.