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  1. #1
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    Default Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    I've seen some sporadic studs or trusses with "a substance that possibly appears to be mold" but not like this house today. More truss members and studs had this fuzzy goodness than I could count.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    It will dry out and go black if the attic is healthy. No big deal in my book.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    That last pic, love that sawzall cut on the ceiling


  4. #4

    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Howdy!

    This is a very common occurrence, and is not an issue. I have seen builders and property owners spend needless THOUSANDS of dollars on useless “mould remediation” to address this. However, as Mr. Kogel points out- “It's no big deal.” And indeed, it is no big deal.

    I recently wrapped up a project in Wyoming where a property owner was duped out of $54,000 to “remediate” mould in a crawlspace. In fact, the mould that was present was on the building materials when they were installed in the late 1980’s and there was never any moisture problems after installation and there was no need for the removal. It was a COMPLETE waste of financial resources. The building owner was furious when it was discovered to be a con-job.

    It’s mould. That’s all. It’s just mould. No need to call it a “mould like substances” since you have sufficient technical knowledge and training to just look at it and call it what it is- “mould.” Tell the homeowner it’s mould; tell ‘em it’s normal, tell ‘em it’s not an issue and just get on with life.

    The toxic mould craze is starting to take off in Britain – I’ve been asked to provide a series of lectures on toxicology, microbiology and risk assessment in Huntingdon, England in mid November. Let’s see if we can prevent the mould madness from occurring there!

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caoimhín P. Connell View Post
    Howdy!

    This is a very common occurrence, and is not an issue. I have seen builders and property owners spend needless THOUSANDS of dollars on useless “mould remediation” to address this. However, as Mr. Kogel points out- “It's no big deal.” And indeed, it is no big deal.

    I recently wrapped up a project in Wyoming where a property owner was duped out of $54,000 to “remediate” mould in a crawlspace. In fact, the mould that was present was on the building materials when they were installed in the late 1980’s and there was never any moisture problems after installation and there was no need for the removal. It was a COMPLETE waste of financial resources. The building owner was furious when it was discovered to be a con-job.

    It’s mould. That’s all. It’s just mould. No need to call it a “mould like substances” since you have sufficient technical knowledge and training to just look at it and call it what it is- “mould.” Tell the homeowner it’s mould; tell ‘em it’s normal, tell ‘em it’s not an issue and just get on with life.

    The toxic mould craze is starting to take off in Britain – I’ve been asked to provide a series of lectures on toxicology, microbiology and risk assessment in Huntingdon, England in mid November. Let’s see if we can prevent the mould madness from occurring there!

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG
    Caoimhin, I read an article somewhere that there is a mould that naturally grows on lumber and carries no health risk to people. I frequently see a greenish gray mould on lumber in attics and crawl spaces in the Atlantic coast region. I just advise clients that it was observed and is a natural occurrence in the warmer humid climates in vented attics and crawl spaces. As a GYA statement, I state that they could have a mould inspection or remediation contractor advise on type and removal if they feel it is a concern to them. Can you possibly confirm the mould on wood story?

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  6. #6

    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Hello Stuart!

    You are correct that there is no evidence that the blue-stain and green-stain found on dimensional timbers is completely safe. These species, such as the blue-stain Leptographium species are very frequently on the wood when it is installed. In my part of the world, Colorado, local artisans seek this tainted wood out on purpose for its natural beauty in rustic furniture.

    But we have to remember it is not just the in situ wood which poses little or no health risk to occupants, but also it is actively growing mould for which similarly there is no documented health effects.

    Take a look at this photo, for example: http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/Apt105.jpg

    In this photo I’m standing in the back bedroom of an apartment. The wall is covered with mould – certainly ugly, certainly a moisture issue, lots of Stachybotrys, lots of Pen/Asp, and Cladosporia, etc. But is it an health issue?

    Answer: No.

    In fact, this house had five very healthy kids, and although certainly undesirable, if the kids grew up and lived their entire lives in this house, their mould exposures would have been less than that they received on their daily bus ride to school.

    The remediation of this wall did not require any special equipment, did NOT require a mould remediator, did not require the use of biocides, did not require any sampling or testing, did not require the use of respiratory protection.

    So, when we talk about health effects, safety and risk – it is important to separate the perceived risks from the real risks. Naturally, the toxic mould nutters who read this will go somewhere else and claim that I have just said that it is OK to leave this mould in place (distortion is what the toxic mould nutters do best).

    Now, take a look at this: http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/IMG_5698.JPG

    Would we remove this? Well, consider the following – the mould is in a dry crawlspace. Therefore, the mould doesn’t constitute an aesthetic issue (the occupants can’t see it); it doesn’t constitute an health issue (heck, the occupants can’t even be exposed to it); it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the building materials… So what is the “problem?” There isn’t one and we would just leave it where it has been sitting quietly for the 20 some odd years.

    One of the questions that a listened posed to me when I was on IAQ Radio last week was, why would I recommend leaving the mould in place, when all Federal guidelines and standards, and public health guidelines recommend removing all such mould? Answer: Because Federal guidelines and standards, and public health guidelines DON’T recommend removing all such mould – that is a myth that is perpetrated by mould remediation companies.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit!


    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caoimhín P. Connell View Post
    Hello Stuart!

    You are correct that there is no evidence that the blue-stain and green-stain found on dimensional timbers is completely safe. These species, such as the blue-stain Leptographium species are very frequently on the wood when it is installed. In my part of the world, Colorado, local artisans seek this tainted wood out on purpose for its natural beauty in rustic furniture.

    But we have to remember it is not just the in situ wood which poses little or no health risk to occupants, but also it is actively growing mould for which similarly there is no documented health effects.

    Take a look at this photo, for example: http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/Apt105.jpg

    In this photo I’m standing in the back bedroom of an apartment. The wall is covered with mould – certainly ugly, certainly a moisture issue, lots of Stachybotrys, lots of Pen/Asp, and Cladosporia, etc. But is it an health issue?

    Answer: No.

    In fact, this house had five very healthy kids, and although certainly undesirable, if the kids grew up and lived their entire lives in this house, their mould exposures would have been less than that they received on their daily bus ride to school.

    The remediation of this wall did not require any special equipment, did NOT require a mould remediator, did not require the use of biocides, did not require any sampling or testing, did not require the use of respiratory protection.

    So, when we talk about health effects, safety and risk – it is important to separate the perceived risks from the real risks. Naturally, the toxic mould nutters who read this will go somewhere else and claim that I have just said that it is OK to leave this mould in place (distortion is what the toxic mould nutters do best).

    Now, take a look at this: http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/IMG_5698.JPG

    Would we remove this? Well, consider the following – the mould is in a dry crawlspace. Therefore, the mould doesn’t constitute an aesthetic issue (the occupants can’t see it); it doesn’t constitute an health issue (heck, the occupants can’t even be exposed to it); it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the building materials… So what is the “problem?” There isn’t one and we would just leave it where it has been sitting quietly for the 20 some odd years.

    One of the questions that a listened posed to me when I was on IAQ Radio last week was, why would I recommend leaving the mould in place, when all Federal guidelines and standards, and public health guidelines recommend removing all such mould? Answer: Because Federal guidelines and standards, and public health guidelines DON’T recommend removing all such mould – that is a myth that is perpetrated by mould remediation companies.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit!


    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG
    Yes, thank you.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    The problem with stuff like this is the public perception when it comes to mold. Some people get absolutely crazy about it and look at it as being the same type of hazard as anthrax. I didn't call it any more than what it was or state mold remediation was needed. I did mention and and left it up to the buyer to decide as to what they wanted the builder to do about it, if anything. It's hard for us to overcome years of sensationalized journalism and claims of brain damaged children from mold in a few hours.

    The problem with us downplaying or poo-pooing what we see is that it only takes the buyer having the "right wrong person" to come in and say "your inspector should have caught this" or "we're going to having to spray every wood framing member down with this stuff and it's going to cost $xxxx.xx".

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    The problem with stuff like this is the public perception when it comes to mold. Some people get absolutely crazy about it and look at it as being the same type of hazard as anthrax. I didn't call it any more than what it was or state mold remediation was needed. I did mention and and left it up to the buyer to decide as to what they wanted the builder to do about it, if anything. It's hard for us to overcome years of sensationalized journalism and claims of brain damaged children from mold in a few hours.

    The problem with us downplaying or poo-pooing what we see is that it only takes the buyer having the "right wrong person" to come in and say "your inspector should have caught this" or "we're going to having to spray every wood framing member down with this stuff and it's going to cost $xxxx.xx".
    Exactly Nick. We have to mention it in the report or the satellite installer comes out the attic and says, "There's mold up there like crazy." and the next thing you know, you have lawyers at the door.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Exactly Nick. We have to mention it in the report or the satellite installer comes out the attic and says, "There's mold up there like crazy." and the next thing you know, you have lawyers at the door.
    And that is precisely the type of scenario I want to avoid. We have no control over anybody else who comes in to the house or what they say.

    I once did two inspections for friends of ours on houses that the guy's parents were buying. On the 2nd inspection, I called out the split bus service panel needing 10 throws of the hand to be deenergized and it should be no more than 6. We talked about it at length verbally and I documented it clearly in the report stating it should be replaced. Fast forward a few months after the parents moved in and the son finds some poor DIY electric splices above a drop ceiling. He has an electrician come in to fix things up and when the electrician gets to the service panel (which they didn't have replaced), he apparently said "Oh, this is wrong. Needs 10 throws of the hand. Your inspector should have caught this. They have insurance to pay for missing stuff like this". So, doesn't our friend call me and relay what the electrician said and then asks me if I do have insurance do pay for this. Holy bleepin' bleep, are you bleepin' kidding me??????? I calmly pulled up the report and read verbatim to him what I put in the report. That was the end of that.

    Even when you do things right, you still don't know what people ("friends" alike) will try to pin on you if somebody gets their ear and convinces them the sky is falling.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    I framed a lot of houses and sometimes the lumber will come that way from the factory or sometime from sitting on the job site for a week or so, It usually just goes to an inactive state once it is installed and moisture source is taken away. I have not seen any evidence that this has ever created a problem for anyone. If anyone has more info or a different experience with this I would love to take a look at it.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caoimhín P. Connell View Post
    You are correct that there is no evidence that the blue-stain and green-stain found on dimensional timbers is completely safe.
    I'm not sure that Caoimhín stated that as I think he meant it ... either that or I am reading it incorrectly.

    (underlining is mine)
    "You are correct that there is no evidence that the ... "
    " ... blue-stain and green-stain found on dimensional timbers is completely safe."

    Caoimhín, did you mean to say that there is no evidence that it is 'not' completely safe?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    I think we will be seeing a lot of this (and have) for about the last 2-3 years.

    During the housing boom, a bunk of lumber sat for a very limited time before it was taken to the job site and put under cover. When the housing bubble burst, lumber yards and truss shops found their inventory sitting for a long time before being sold or manufactured into trusses.

    We should remember this years down the line when we are inspecting attics and crawlspaces. Many of the homes (although granted this is not going to be many)...may show these (discolored from mold) components...me thinks.


  14. #14

    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Hello Jerry!

    I’m an idiot. Thanks for catching that. As you know, I am extremely reluctant to edit posts once they appear since this can add terrible confusion (and indeed, an element of dishonesty). So, I’m going to allow the original erroneous post to stand, so your correction is properly noted.

    You are correct, I meant to say:

    “…there is no evidence that the blue-stain and green-stain found on dimensional timbers is harmful; it is completely safe.”

    Thanks for the catch!

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Ok, so when does mold/mould become a problem? I was in an attic the other day and found a lot of "mold-like substance" on the roof framing and sheathing. The probable reasons were inadequate ventilation and the bathroom fan was discharging into the attic.

    Clearly, the ventilation needs to be addressed. Does the mold/mould need to be cleaned-up? If so, the only people around here that are going to do it are "certified" folks that charge a bundle.

    Under the circumstances (primarily liability), I identified the issue and deferred to an industrial hygienist or qualified abatement contractor.

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Ok, so when does mold/mould become a problem? I was in an attic the other day and found a lot of "mold-like substance" on the roof framing and sheathing. The probable reasons were inadequate ventilation and the bathroom fan was discharging into the attic.

    Clearly, the ventilation needs to be addressed. Does the mold/mould need to be cleaned-up? If so, the only people around here that are going to do it are "certified" folks that charge a bundle.

    Under the circumstances (primarily liability), I identified the issue and deferred to an industrial hygienist or qualified abatement contractor.
    I agree with your call on this Gunnar. Buyers get crazy paranoid when they hear the word mold and at the same time worry about resale of a house that has mold so you can't blame them.

    I can't worry about trying to change public perception that has been built through years of sensationalized reporting. All I can do is report what I see and let the buyers decide which course of action they want to take.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  17. #17

    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Hello Gunnar!

    Mould becomes an issue when it meets one of the following criteria:

    1) The mould creates an unacceptable exposure issue
    2) The mould creates an unacceptable aesthetic issue
    3) The mould has compromised the structural integrity of the building material
    4) The mould has otherwise created a public relations issue or detracts from the full use of the space.

    So – let’s what we have:

    Exposure
    In this case, the mould (which appears to be mostly a mixture of Pen/Asp) is in the attic and there is no exposure issue. So, it would not meet this criteria and would not need to be removed for this reason.

    Aesthetics
    Well, this is subjective, but for the most part, in this case the mould is an ugly addition to an ugly space. Since, the mould is no uglier than the rest of the area, who cares? Would the home owner spend thousands of dollars to cover up the discoloration if it was just ink or a water mark? If the answer to that question is “Yes” then, in their mind, it is money well spent. After all it’s their house and they can decide how pretty they want their attic. However, if it was my attic, I would not drop a dime to make it any prettier than it is.

    Structural Integrity
    The organism is exclusively a superficial colonizer and CANNOT compromise the structural integrity. So, this isn’t a good reason for removal.

    Public Relations
    Like aesthetics, this is an irrational call- and one would have to ask how much is this going to impact the resale value (if at all?). If the answer, (however invalid) is that it is going to depress the resale value more than it is going to cost to just clean the attic, then clean the attic. If on the other hand, if it is going to cost more to clean the attic than one will lose on the resale – tell the buyer to pound sand.

    Or…

    If, like other public relation issues, the home seller just doesn’t want to deal with a whining buyer, then why hire “mould remediator?” Go down to Lowes, for $250 buy an HEPA vacuum with a long wand and a soft bristle brush and vacuum the surfaces free of vegetative matter. Don’t want to do-it-yourself? Hire a day-laborer for one day.

    The biggest health risk with this project is the heat related problems associated with working in an attic followed by the exposure to insulation dust disturbed during the activity in the attic, followed by the risk of falling through the ceiling, and then … somewhere at the bottom of the list is the health concerns associated with the mould itself.

    More importantly is have the homeowner stop venting the bathroom into the attic.

    Cheers!
    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Well, good exchange of thoughts and advice. As for me, if I see mold in a home I am inspecting-regardless of where the mold it is located, since a home will exchange air with different parts of the home (crawls and attics)-it gets mentioned. Depending on the amount I see and where will determine how 'excited' I get. I verbally tell my clients that all homes have mold, it's in your hair, clothes, carpet, on walls, framing ect and is normally not an issue.

    But, to cover myself against liability, I give the requisite advise in my report: Mold was observed in this area. Mold is a naturally occurring substance and can be found in most all homes. However, depending on the occupants level of sensitivity to indoor air quality issues, the inspector recommeds the buyers consider their health, as it is a very personal environmental health consideration, and have it further evaluated by a qualified IAQ contractor it buyer deems necessary.

    I will never say in my report: ''Oh, this mold is nothing to worry about'', who am I to say something as presumptuous as that? It is no more our job to determine what kind of mold it is than it is to make a decision about our client's health by saying this or that level of mold is nothing to be concerned about. I am not touching that.

    I can say that after all my years of inspecting, I have been in many a home that was so musty, moist with visible mold everywhere that I had trouble breathing after a few minutes and left the area or home entirely. And I don't even think I have mold allergies...now tell a client that mold is not a concern and then just sit back and wait for the letter from a lawyer..

    Great topic by the way..


  19. #19

    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Hello Mr. Bronner:

    I agree with most of your post. Just a couple of points –

    ALL homes, without exception, have mould. Indeed, ALL homes, ALL schools, ALL court rooms, ALL hospitals, attorney offices, and virtually any place you can think of, without exception, has mould. Furthermore, ALL homes, without exception, contain millions to billions of mould spores, and without exception, every normal human in North America will inhale thousands to hundreds of thousands of mould spores daily. Farmers, greenhouse employees, carpenters, drywallers, and millwrights may inhale multimillions of "toxic" mould spores per day.

    Also, the World Health Organization, like the US Institutes of Medicine, in a massive compendia, noted that they were unable to find a causal relation between indoor moulds and ANY of the reported health effects.

    My biggest problem isn’t with people removing mould, or correcting damp, or correcting moisture intrusion issues (indeed we encourage such common sense activities), my biggest problem is the con-artists who collect money for performing junk-science, bogus, samples and "tests," and who charge tens of thousands of dollars for unnecessary “toxic mould remediation” that are either entirely unnecessary, or could be as safely completed for under $50.

    There is almost certainly not a Home Inspector reading this post who is not already fully qualified to perform a mould inspection (and who could do it without the collection of a single sample), identify a moisture problem, and, indeed, if necessary perform a full blown mould “remediation” project, without any specialized training or equipment. It simply isn’t rocket science; but the fear-based "mould industry" makes it out to be rocket science, and their fees are proportionally reflective of NASA's budget.

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Applications Consulting Technologies, Inc. - Home

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Caoimhín,

    As always, thank you for your insight and expertise.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  21. #21
    Thomas Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    Interesting comments.

    Caoimhín, as someone with a biology degree from a past life, I agree with you. However, you should have added a #5 to your criteria "When mold becomes an issue": The mold has become a big issue with our federal government and there are too many lawyers with too much time on their hands.

    Ill flag it every time.

    America doesnt have a mold problem, it has a litigation problem.

    Keep up the good work, and keep spreading the word about mold.


  22. #22
    vincent jennings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lumber Left Outside For a Little While?

    How refreshing to have somebody take the bull by the horns and call a spade a spade.
    No hiding behind disclaimers for Caoimhín.
    If only others would be as straightforward, life would be easier.
    Thanks Kevin.


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