Chapter 5: Finding a Remediation Contractor
Chapter 5: Consumer Awareness: Finding a Mold Remediation Contractor
What to Look for in a Mold Remediation Contractor
Anyone can claim they can assess your property for mold, and then plan and execute a cleanup plan. But how do you choose a mold remediation company that’s credible?
Mold Remediation Certification
A mold remediation certification is one of the credentials you should look for in any professional or company you’re considering to rid your building of mold, but not all certifications are created equal. All mold remediation specialists should have completed EPA and/or AHIA mold remediation courses. In addition to these, professionals should carry a mold remediation certification from one of the many accrediting bodies that offer courses on removing mold.
Some organizations that offer mold remediation certifications are:
- OSHA: This is a mandatory course for most types of contractors that teaches them how to work safely and ensure the safety of crew members in environments where mold is prevalent. Mold remediation contractors should have their OSHA certification.
- MICRO: The Mold Inspection Consulting and Remediation Organization offers a certified mold remediation contractor course. This course covers remediation standards upheld by the EPA, New York City Department of Health and IICRC S520 mold remediation guide.
- ACAC: The American Counsel for Accredited Certification offers a Certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor (CMRS) exam. This certification requires at least five years of field experience to hold, and the ACAC is raising that number to eight years in 2018, so you can be confident someone holding this certification has in-the-field experience. For those with less experience, the ACAC does offer accreditations for 2-year inspectors (CMR) and an entry-level certification for residential work (CRMR).
- IICRC: The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) does not own any schools or have instructors — instead, the IICRC approves the instructors and schools that apply to the organization and meet a set of criteria put forth by the board of directors. Instructors must attend courses approved by the IICRC, take a written test and demonstrate skill in their subject to earn a certification.
- AIHA: The American Industrial Hygiene Association is one of the largest international organizations serving OEHS professionals who practice industrial hygiene. The establishment serves as a resource for those who work in large corporations, small businesses or as independent consultants.
- NORMI: The National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors offers professional licensing on a state-by-state basis. Their general certification follows the IICRC S500 and S520 remediation manuals and is called a Certified Mold Assessor or CMA.
- Educational Institutions: In addition to standalone accrediting bodies, many colleges and universities offer mold remediation certificates and courses.
The qualifications to become certified may vary depending on which state you need the work done in. Visit your state department website or contact a state agency representative to learn what is required for someone to earn a mold remediation certification in your area.
Certified mold remediation contractors have attended classes where they become proficient in identifying potential fungus hazards, testing saturation outdoors and indoors, executing restoration plans and spotting moisture risks that could lead to mold growth in the future.
Asking the Right Questions
In addition to having the proper certifications, a mold remediation professional should offer a well-documented history of their work as proof of their knowledge in the field. It’s a good idea to ask your contractor for examples of sites they have cleaned up in the past. In addition, you’ll want to:
- Ask for an example of the company’s methods, and avoid contractors who claim they can remove 100% of mold from a site. It is nearly impossible to remove all mold. Remediation efforts are always aimed at reducing the mold growth to the lowest reasonable amount, so mold-sensitive individuals can avoid exposure.
- Make sure the person you are speaking with is going to foreman the job. If you’re talking to a representative from a mold removal company, have them specify who the person is and ensure they have the proper qualifications. It’s also appropriate to ask how much experience the contractor and crew have and how many successful remediation jobs they’ve performed.
- Get the contact information for jobs that your contractor has carried out in the past, and ask some questions about how the job went. Was the company professional and knowledgeable? Were they able to resolve mold issues efficiently, and did the space receive a positive evaluation following the completion of the remediation plan?
A good mold removal company will probably charge more than bargain competitors, but it’s not worth saving a few dollars on your contractor if new mold colonies replace the old ones and require another remediation effort.
Some other things to consider as far as cost:
- Are there any hidden costs? Ask former customers how accurate any estimates they received from a contractor were — were there any hidden costs associated with the mold remediation.
- What extra required costs are there? There are additional costs associated with sampling, which may be dictated by the lab your mold removal company uses. Find out how much each air sample and surface sample will cost, and ask how many samples the contractor expects the job to require.
- Is the lab in-house or third-party? Some larger companies may have an in-house lab, which could keep costs down. Conversely, a third-party lab could encourage them to take more samples to drive s up, so find out which lab is being used. In-house labs can also cause a conflict of interest, so if this is the case be sure to ask how they handle this potential bias.
- Do you have to pay everything up front? Be cautious of businesses that expect you to foot the bill for an entire operation up-front. You have no guarantee that their efforts will be successful. It is always wiser to wait until you receive a clean bill of health from a third-party inspector.
- Do they have experience with mold remediation inspections? You may want to ask your contractor whether they also do mold remediation inspection. It’s never smart to have the same company inspect and clean a space. If they do perform inspections, though, they will have an idea of how to thoroughly remove mold for the space to pass inspection.
The Better Business Bureau can be another valuable resource when searching for a good remediation specialist. They can tell you if this contractor has received complaints from past clients. You probably want to go with a company that has a clean track record. The independent third-parties that do mold reports can also provide information about mold removal professionals in your area.
Conclusion: Keeping Mold Away Is a Simple Choice
Toxic mold isn’t just a stinky problem that looks bad in the utility closets of your building. The repercussions of exposing workers to harmful mycotoxins are dangerous and can have long-term health effects your company will be accountable for if you don’t act.
Toxic mold can cause everything from allergies and skin irritation to life-threatening mycotoxicosis, but if you identify and remediate the problem quickly, you can ensure your employees continue to enjoy a safe and comfortable workplace. Additionally, you can keep your property value from plummeting due to the presence of onsite hazards that might make a sale or new lease complicated.
Getting rid of toxic mold can seem like an involved process, but it is well worth the effort and investment.
Mold remediation doesn’t end when the contractor’s air scrubbers and commercial dehumidifiers turn off, though — it is crucial to take the extra steps necessary to ensure your space is clear of toxic spores and continually test to guard against cross-contamination or new outbreaks.
Mold remediation professionals with years of experience can assist when you discover a particularly bad outbreak or encounter mold that is highly toxic.
When you work with a contractor, you can conduct a thorough inspection of your building and develop a strategy for remediation. They will have the necessary equipment to do the job, and if more is needed, they can make a recommendation about whether you should purchase remediation tools, rent them or install long-term dehumidification equipment.
The health care costs associated with treating mycotoxin exposure make the effective removal of toxic mold a serious matter. Failing to act puts people at risk of severe health conditions and could result in a lawsuit.
The efficient and easy-to-use equipment we have today makes putting a plan into action simple. Using air mover fans, commercial dehumidifiers, and air scrubbers, you can dry out mold colonies and allow the cleaning process to begin. Whether you’re a contractor yourself or a building owner interested in resolving a mold issue, contact Aer Industries to learn more about which tools are right to eliminate mold in your space.
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