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  1. #1

    Default A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Hello All!

    As some of you know, I belong to a number of national and international organizations and think-tanks, and rub elbows with health regulators on a regular basis. This morning, I received an email from a regulator in a state that has been dealing with debunking the toxic mould issue for quite some time. Since this regulator discussed the Home Inspection business, I thought I would share with you the initial email and my response.

    This past fall we had a hurricane and then winter storm (1 month apart). Both caused an unprecedented amount of damage. Citizens were telling us that realtors and insurance agents were telling them ridiculous things to do regarding mold. That kind of pushed me over the edge to write something specifically aimed at those groups. As a result of this new document, I have been giving talks for groups of realtors to go over the document. It has been very well received by these groups. Next, I’m going to re-visit the home inspector groups with the same talk.

    Let me ask your opinion about this- as you know, there are camps of home inspectors that do their own mold testing. They view my attacks of this as taking business away from them, despite my reassurance that I am actually bringing them more business by telling citizens to call a home inspector to locate leaks and other moisture sources.

    During the past year, I have had some opportunities to play with IR Thermography. I think this is an awesome tool to locate moisture, but realize that it takes a lot of training and experience to properly use this tool and be able to interpret the results. What do you think about talking to home inspectors about becoming educated enough to use this tool as part of their inspections? Right now, the weatherization folks use it to look at temperature differentials. Many of those folks have similar education levels.
    And my response:

    Good morning, XXXXXX!

    I frequently give talks to Home Inspection organizations on various issues, and about five years ago, we began to really turn the Home Inspection industry around on the mould issue. The primary thrust for Home Inspectors to begin sampling was the one or two-day classes they could attend to become “certified” in moulds – of course, the “classes” were primarily taught by labs who merely taught the inspectors how to collect a sample and send their sample to the lab.

    Based on my experience, we have had a 90% (fake statistic) turn-around in the thinking of Home Inspectors, and the remaining 10% that are still collecting samples are what I call “The Elvis Factor” (those who also believe that Elvis Presley is still alive and living in Bolivia.. or wherever….).

    Generally, the Home Inspectors who are still collecting samples are those who are not well connected to their professional organizations, and who are not particularly well educated, and who also tend to believe in anti-scientific conspiracies such as toxic mould; one will never get through to that faction since they exhibit "invincible ignorance."

    We try to encourage Home Inspectors to perform inspections for mould, by pointing out that they already possess the necessary skills for such an assessment (in fact, superior skills), provided they don’t engage in sampling and testing. In fact, we stress that they are in fact, better educated in moulds if they have NOT gone through a “certification” class, and had their heads filled with a lot of anti-scientific nonsense. An intelligent, common sense, Home Inspector is perfectly qualified to perform a mould inspection, they have just been lead into thinking they are not qualified.

    Many of the Home Inspector are now using thermography, and using it very effectively to identify structural deficiencies. I think it is an excellent tool in the right hands.

    Keep up the good work!

    Public service announcements, Health Department White Papers, and other such outreaches simply do not have the panache and flare and sensationalism of an headline that reads “Ed McMahan’s Canary DIES from Toxic Mold”…. or whatever the scare du jour happens to be. Neither do Health Department engage in scare mongering employed by “Certified Mould Inspectors.” And since it is easier to sell fear than facts, PSAs such as the one I’ve linked here fall on deaf ears.

    Nevertheless, most states have PSAs that are very similar to this one: http://forensic-applications.com/mou...ance_Jan12.pdf

    I know that Colorado, Nevada, NJ, California, NY have very similar PSAs. Just food for thought.

    Cheers!

    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

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Hi Caoimhín,

    I enjoy reading your posts and usually rely upon your opinion to bolster my own.

    I do not push the Panic button when I see mould since it exists almost everywhere on Earth and most are not toxic. My recommendation is basically to resolve the excessive moisture issue, and clean up the mess.

    I believe that most mould companies rely on scare tactics. But since I also believe that some folks are more sensitive than others, if they are concerned and want it identified; I recommend an industrial hygenist or micologist.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Thanks Caoimhin,

    Good Stuff all but this " what I call “The Elvis Factor” (those who also believe that Elvis Presley is still alive and living in Bolivia.. or wherever….)."
    .
    seen waiting in line at Grumpy's Hot Wings on South 3rd.
    .

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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Thanks Caoimhin,

    Good Stuff all but this " what I call “The Elvis Factor” (those who also believe that Elvis Presley is still alive and living in Bolivia.. or wherever….)."
    .
    seen waiting in line at Grumpy's Hot Wings on South 3rd.
    .
    Billy,

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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:


    Generally, the Home Inspectors who are still collecting samples are those who are not well connected to their professional organizations, and who are not particularly well educated, and who also tend to believe in anti-scientific conspiracies such as toxic mould; one will never get through to that faction since they exhibit "invincible ignorance."

    Wow. Anti-scientific conspiracies! That's some heavy stuff.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Boy, if I had a nickel for every time a client starting ranting about toxic mold and its their major concern in purchasing a home and they don't want their perfect little child to die, blah blah ...
    I explain to people
    - you should get rid of any damaged areas that show mold like substance from water intrusion etc
    - you can do it yourself, reasonably, safely, using average precautions etc and things should be fine
    - you can go crazy, hire a professional, pay through the nose and make yourself feel good that little johnny won't end up dead or damaged
    - A lot of it has to do with personal immune system tolerance, some people aren't affected by exposure very much at all, other people can get very sick by just a little exposure. People should assess their own tolerance levels and make realistic decisions
    The EPA did an article about this a couple years ago maybe. I think may have even read about it on here, can't remember. The gist of it was that normal adults are generally Ok. Kids and old folks with weaker immune systems are at higher risk.
    I get exposed to a lot of mold on a regular basis. Somehow I'm still here. I know when I start hacking up blood its time to get out of the building fast.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Good morning Caoimhin,

    This article and the authors comments should worry any inspector who reads this and the publics uptake on erroneous opinions of the author.

    Home inspector liable for cost of removing mould - Moneyville.ca

    Mould is becoming a serious issue for buyers. It can cause illness if one is exposed to it over an extended period of time and costs a lot to remove. The problem was that testing for mould once cost over $1,000.

    Now companies such as Tristar Disaster Recovery with offices in Hamilton, Toronto and Waterloo, can conduct tests for mould for as low as $250, and can assist homeowners with removing mould as well. Since most homes for sale in the GTA are over 50 years’ old, a mould test should be mandatory for every buyer.

    Mark Weisleder is a real estate lawyer. Contact him at mark@markweisleder.com
    Also don't know if you followed the posts on this case, but it may be worth a look particularly the findings of the court on the mould issues.

    It is readily apparent that no expert evidence per mould was offered by an expert because he is an engineer and the court did not mention he was qualified as a mould expert, which I feel would have gone a long way in informing the facts and fiction about mould.

    CanLII - 2011 ONSC 390 (CanLII) - Halliwell v. Lazarus, 2011 ONSC 390 (CanLII)


    [15] Ron Koerth was qualified as an expert by the Plaintiff to give opinion evidence on civil engineering, forensic engineering, residential building science and analysis, including building envelop component failure, and inspections standards of home inspectors in Ontario. He was useful to the court in determining the cause of the condition in Glenda Halliwell’s home.

    Needless to say I would love your feed back Caoimhin.

    Thank you.


  8. #8

    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    Ms. Silber –

    It may seem over-the-top, but in fact, my comment is pretty mainstream and on target.

    One “expert” against whom I testified (a chap with a fake PhD in toxicology and very long list of faked credentials) posted on the internet that I was a secret employee of the Hartford Insurance Company, for whom I ran a “Mold Misinformation Bureau.”

    Elsewhere it has been posted by another, nationally known “Toxic Mold Advocate For Truth” that I am being investigated by the Federal Government for fraud, RICO violations and perjury.

    Elsewhere, the toxic-mould pot-bangers have posted long, rambling incoherent diatribes concerning why the tenets of science don’t apply to toxic mold diseases, and only those who reject science are qualified to assess mould exposures and their consequences.

    Toxic mould psychosis is a very real and recognized phenomenon and follows on the heels of a long history of pseudoillnesses sometimes grouped together as “auto-intoxication diseases;” these include Neuresthenia described by Frantz Glenard in 1886, Auto-Intoxication described by Bouchard in 1887 and Les Ptosis Viscerales (Glenard, 1899). More recently, we see “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome” and “Electromagnetic Sensitivity Syndrome” being added to the list. The psychological parameters and the features surrounding these presentations are the same.

    Barzin and Bardana Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2005) describe the clinical presentations of 50 patients with complaints of illness the patients attributed to mould their environments. The two physicians reported there was no consistent set of symptoms, with patients having an average of more than eight symptoms (in my last two toxic mould cases, one “patient” had 14 reported symptoms, and one had 23). Most of the patients in the 2005 article reported a family or personal history of allergy or asthma. Three quarters of the patients had abnormal physical examination results, the researchers note, with inflammation of the eye or skin and congestion occurring most commonly. Thirty patients had other non-mold-related illnesses that could explain most, if not all, of their mold-related complaints, the report indicates, and nearly two thirds of the individuals had evidence of a previously diagnosed mood disorder.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barzin, Bardana, 2005
    In fact, when the entire history and objective evidence were scrutinized, a number of well-established and plausible diagnoses emerged that explained many, if not all, the complaints."
    In the same journal, Dr. Abba I. Terr from UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco contends that toxic mold disease is just the latest in a series of environmentally related pseudo-illnesses that include multiple chemical sensitivity, idiopathic environmental intolerance, and chronic fatigue syndrome, which was attributed at one time to infection with Epstein-Barr virus. Terr concluded "Since these authors have determined that the patients they describe do not have a mold-related disease but are nevertheless seeking compensation for presumed illness through a legal process that has defined it in those terms, toxic mold disease is truly a diagnosis of litigation."

    I’ve been involved in the “toxic-mould” nonsense for going on 23 years now – I have received numerous death threats, my family has received threats of violence (and even dismemberment by a vicious CIH in Texas), and it all has to do with the psychosis that accompanies the “toxic-mould” phenomenon. So, when I mention “conspiracy”… it isn’t melodrama, it’s the real deal!

    By the way, I spend some time cleaning up the graph on my web discussion so that there now are no black bars, and the graph is a little clearer, and I also clarified that each vertical bar represents the MVUE from a single house – thanks for the criticisms!

    Cheers, and good health to yez!

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


    P.S. Markus and Raymond - Sorry Gents - I didn't mean to whizz by your posts - you two posted at the exact same time I posted my response to Ms. Silber. I should be back in my office this p.m. and will look at the info provided!!

    Cheers!
    (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

    Last edited by Caoimhín P. Connell; 06-13-2012 at 06:41 AM. Reason: Post-script to Markus and Raymond

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A Regulator's thoughts on mould testing:

    "Toxic mould psychosis is a very real and recognized phenomenon"
    Are you being sarcastic here?

    Chronic fatigue syndrome is a pseudoillness?

    Anti-scientific conspiracies - so multiple people are getting together and planning to do something illegal to science? Blow up university labs? Put bananas in microbiologists' tailpipes?

    That's pretty wild that you've had death threats. You must rub some people the wrong way!

    So in your graph you aren't differentiating among fungal species, is that right? How do you collect and count your samples?

    As I understand it, the problem with deciding that mold is not a health issue because of the fact that studies haven't shown it is, is that the studies have been faulty to begin with, which is why they aren't accepted. I'd like to see a really large, well-designed study showing an absence of effect. The problem is, it's so hard to do. There are too many confounding factors. One almost has to rely in animal studies to look at it scientifically. In my opinion, the issue has not been decided either way.

    "thanks for the criticisms!" Glad to oblige! But seriously, I wish only to constructively criticize - or "critique" may be a better word. I'm learning a lot through these discussions, and I appreciate it. It's been fun talking science. Keep in mind that I'm a born skeptic.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

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