CEC Session I: Raising the Bar: Defining the Role of Validation Clearance Testing for Mold Remediation and HVAC Hygiene Projects
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 2023 - 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM
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Mold remediation in buildings poses a series of unique health risks for both occupants and remediation workers. Studies have shown that airborne concentrations of bioaerosols, including fungal spores and hyphae, can increase by a million-fold during remediation and cleaning activities. The potential for adverse health effects during and after remediation has prompted some states to require licensure for both assessors and remediators. However, few if any requirements or guidelines have been adopted for mold remediation activities to protect health and safety during remediation or to demonstrate the remediation effectively removed mold growth and mold-impacted materials from the indoor environment or an HVAC system. More problematic is the wide-spread reliance upon spore trap air samples as a “validation” testing tool to demonstrate the efficacy of mold remediation activities. Reliance upon an unvalidated, highly variable, and unreliable test method to validate remediation activities is scientifically unfounded.
For mold remediation of HVAC systems or within healthcare facilities where the risk of adverse effects to building occupants is elevated, a higher standard of care can be achieved. Third-party oversight and validation clearance testing of mold remediation activities by a trained and qualified person can 1) verify that work is performed in accordance with a written specification and work plan, 2) ensure that containment and safety protocols are adhered to by remediation contractors, 3) ensure the underlying causes, mechanical failures, and areas of hidden mold are addressed, and 4) confirm that mold levels on surfaces have been reduced to those found on new materials or levels detected on un-impacted interior surfaces.
To perform third-party oversight and validated clearance testing does increase the overall cost of a mold remediation project, however the benefits of integrating this process reduces the risk of adverse outcomes, reduces the risk of litigation and occupant claims of injury, and greatly increases the likelihood that the underlying causes of remediation are addressed which further reduces the likelihood of mold growth reoccurring. This presentation will describe what validated clearance testing looks like and how the process can increase worker and occupant protection while leaving behind a verifiably cleaner environment that is less likely to experience recurrence of mold growth.