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I'm glad you found value in it, @Mold Guru .
This is good info!!!

Safety first & best practices are paramount!!!!!!
When we talk about indoor environmental quality, we aren't just talking about the air's quality; rather, we're discussing the overall environmental quality.  Here's a brief example of what I'm talking about: While air quality might look at those things that make up the climate of a building, environmental quality includes other stressors, like noise, light, ergonomic conditions, overcrowding and other factors. I open with this; because, I want to stress something greater than air quality in this article.  I want us to focus on indoor environmental quality, in order to gain a clearer understanding of the subject at hand: indoor environmental carcinogens.

A carcinogen is a substance capable of causing neoplasm, which literally means "new form".  This new form is given the name: cancer.  The mechanism by which a substance causes growth of abnormal cells (this new form) depends upon the substance, itself, and the age, sex and overall health of the person exposed.  This makes establishing a threshold dose nearly impossible for some substances; because, (1) for some carcinogens there is a chance cancer will develop no matter the dose (amount of the substance) one is exposed and (2) individual sensitivities (i.e., susceptibility) vary from person to person.  Concerning this later point: What might be acceptable level of exposure for one person may not be enough for another to experience the severe irritation of disease development.  These are an important points we'll come back to in a moment.  For now note that dose-response curves for risk assessment are unreliable factors in risk assessment in relation to carcinogenic substances.

What research has shown is that there are specific genes that are associated with some cancers, and there may be inherited factors that play a part in the disease, as well.  Among cancer researchers there are at least two general classes of carcinogens: genotoxic carcinogens and epigenetic carcinogens.  The former class include those substances that react with the DNA (which is the genetic material containing information for cellular function, metabolism and growth).  The later class does not interact with the genetic material; rather, it causes the disease through some other form of interaction (e.g., asbestos, which you can read more about here:'s-impact-on-one's-health/).  There are, however, some carcinogenic substances that do not fit into either of these categories.
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As noted above, the mechanism of cancer causation is important to risk assessors (i.e., inspectors), industrial hygienists and occupational safety and health professionals because of the clear implications that there may not be a threshold dose for many carcinogenic substances, especially for those in the genotoxic class.  It's important that inspectors understand this when performing a risk assessment; otherwise, improper determinations/conclusions can be made at terrible costs.

There are various ways carcinogenic substances are categorized by various governmental and industry organizations.  Here are a few:

1.)  The National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) uses the notation Ca to indicate that a substance is a potential occupational carcinogenic.  While NIOSH may establish Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) for some of these substances, they do not all (for many of the reasons cited above).  The ones that they do not establish RELs, NIOSH recommends exposure be avoided.
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2.)  The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) addresses these substances through specific standards, some of which include Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).  An example of this is 4-nitrobiphenyl, addressing manufacturing, processing and handling, found in 29 CFR 1910.1003.  No PEL (or action level) is given; however, there are many provisions included, such as but not limited to clean change rooms for workers.  The lack of a PEL means that any detectable level is unacceptable by OSHA's standard.

3.)  The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) uses a 5-category classification system for carcinogenic substances, in effect since 1992.  A1 indicates an agent that is a confirmed human carcinogen, evidenced by epidemiological studies or convincing clinical evidence in humans.  A2 is for suspected human carcinogens, as demonstrated in experimental animals at dose levels by routes of administration, sites, histological types or mechanisms that are considered relevant to worker exposure.  A3 are animal carcinogens, as demonstrated in experimental animals at relatively high doses, or by routes of administration, at sites, of histological types, or by mechanisms that are considered relevant to worker exposure.  A4 indicates the agent is not classifiable as a human carcinogen, based on inadequate data for humans and animals.  A5 designates substances that are not suspected as human carcinogens, based on (1) studies that have gone on long enough to allow for any latency period associated with cancer, (2) data that has been collected in a reliable and scientific manner, and (3) studies that have adequate statistical power, concluding exposure does not convey a significant risk of cancer. 

What are some examples of carcinogens that can be found indoors?

Asbestos, benzene, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, and vinyl chloride are just a few.  I won't get into each of these in this article, as each could be the subject of its own....

How do I know what to look for?

Most people don't, and can't.  They lack the training in industrial hygiene and toxicology to do so.  This is where you need to seek out a credible industrial hygienist and medical professional to help you (1) diagnose and treat your illness (medical professional) and (2) diagnose your building (industrial hygienist).  To learn more about industrial hygiene and industrial hygienists, read the following:  An industrial hygienist will guide you through the process and perform the necessary inspections in conjunction with your medical doctor's diagnosis and treatment.

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Jason, I live in Terre Haute, Indiana, and I've heard some companies tell me they can use pesticides to remediate mold.  They claim that they're the only ones who can remediate my home; because, they are the only ones with license to handle pesticides.  Is this true?

No.  In fact, it can be a violation of the (federal) law for them to make such claims, as they are using the products against the labeling instructions.  That said: I'd point you to the original post and the brief on what biocides/pesticides/microbicides do (at best) and what's left behind.  The application of any life-killing agent is not remediation.  Remediation require (1) causal factors be identified and corrected; (2) mold contamination on physical surfaces be addressed so the building is returned to a normal fungal condition; and, (3) the indoor air quality be processed to return it to a normal fungal condition.  Anything less is mitigatory, not remedial.
Over the course of my twenty-seven years in the indoor environmental inspection and remediation industry I have heard all kinds of sales-pitches for various products, meant to help mold remediators perform their duties “faster”, “safer” and “with less mess”.  And, I’ve tested behind many of their applications. . . .   One such product is chlorine dioxide (ClO₂).  Since its introduction in the mold remediation industry (used in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster), I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to this product and the results of its application on mold remediation projects.

ClO₂ is not found naturally in the environment.  At room temperature it is a red-yellow gas that is highly unstable, decomposing into its elements at an explosive rate.  Because of this, it is never shipped “ready to use”; rather, it is produced near the point of its intended use.  That production is a two-step process (each of which is conducted under vacuum conditions):

1.)   Sodium hypochlorite is reacted with hydrochloric acid to generate chlorine; then,
2.)   The chlorine is reacted with a sodium chlorite solution, which results in the generation of chlorine dioxide.

The exception to this transportation rule is when the chlorine dioxide is frozen as a hydrate.  When chlorine dioxide is dissolved in water, an aqueous solution is produced known as chlorine dioxide hydrate.  (This frozen solid is orange-colored, appearing as a block of ice, with a faint odor of chlorine.)  When shippers offer the frozen hydrate for transportation, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires them to maintain the gas in the solid state using dry ice or other means, and requires identification of the gas on the accompanying shipping paper as follows:
NA9191, Chlorine dioxide, hydrate, frozen, 5.1, (6.1), PGII (Poison)

ClO₂ was used as a microbicide in many ways prior to Hurricane Katrina; for example, it was used to disinfect water in the dairy, beverage and other food industries.  And, at water-treatment plants it is used to kill bacteria.  Along that same line, ClO₂ has been used to kill anthrax in mail packages, like the Hart Senate Office Building, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  It was these uses that led insurance companies and remediation companies to believe that ClO₂ could successfully be used to remediate mold in contaminated buildings.  (It is interesting to note that it was found effective when the microorganism was present in low concentrations.)

Anthrax on a petri dish

In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, ClO₂ was used in a number of houses all across the Gulf Coast; however, unlike its previous uses listed above, this application would prove unsuccessful.  All over Louisiana and Mississippi (where the product was mainly applied) people were returning home to find visible mold contamination in their homes and offices – despite its application.  Eventually this led the State of Louisiana to sue insurance and remediation companies on behalf of its citizens, and the State won their case.  So, what went wrong?  After all, if it is such a highly unstable, life-killing agent, why didn’t it work in remediating these buildings?

With any microbicide, like ClO₂, the most one can hope for is that it will kill the organisms present.  That means that even if it works (as a life-killing agent), the dead organisms will remain.  In the cases involved in the Hurricane Katrina applications, this meant many houses were left with visible contamination; and whether living or not, it was contamination that required further work to remediate the buildings of mold contamination. 

Mold found on drywall after treatment with ClO₂
Is dead mold still a threat to one’s health?

Yes.  Dead organisms can be an allergy or asthma trigger, or instigate other negative responses in those biologically sensitive.  Some organisms, capable of producing toxins, may continue to release toxins as their cell-structure breaks down (i.e., the organism decays).

Is this product still used today?

I have seen a few companies utilize it.  Yes.

Is the product dangerous for people?

Yes.  When chlorine dioxide hydrate warms up and thaws, it gives off a chlorine dioxide gas that is highly toxic if inhaled.  (The odor is similar to chlorine and nitric acid.)  The following are a few hazards associated with ClO₂:

1)   Highly irritating to skin and mucous membranes of respiratory tract.

2)   May explode on heating or on exposure to sunlight or on shock or if subjected to sparks.  The substance is a strong oxidant.  It reacts with combustible and reducing materials.  Reacts violently with organics, phosphorus, potassium hydroxide and sulfur.  This generates fire and explosion hazard.  Reacts with water.  This produces hydrochloric acid and chloric acid.

3)   Inhalation, ingestion or contact (skin, eyes) with vapors, dusts or substance may cause severe injury, burns or death.  It has been shown to cause DNA damage in laboratory tests.

ClO₂ is not classifiable as a human carcinogen because of inadequate data in humans and animals.  Under the draft Carcinogen Assessment Guidelines (USEPA, 1996), the human carcinogenicity of chlorine dioxide cannot be determined because no satisfactory human or animal studies assessing the chronic carcinogenic potential of chlorine dioxide have been located.

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For more on ClO₂ visit this website:
In the past we've discussed how it is a conflict of interest for someone or some company to provide inspection and remediation/restoration services.  What I'd like to do in this article is expand on that conversation by sharing some of the federal and industry-based standards which have been used in court cases across the Midwestern United States (U.S.), defining such provisions of service as a conflict of interest.

First, the courts look to previously defined uses of conflict of interest.  Therein, the courts have defined the burden of proof in relation to proving conflict of interest is this: A person or company's actions may have been corrupted by a self-interest rather than proving the conflict existed; in other words, the person or company cannot provide the services without being effected by providing both - regardless of whether or not they were effected.  An example of this is a mold inspector who provides mold remediation services.  The outcome of his or her inspection of your property may effect his remediation practice.  Whether or not the inspection actual does is irrelevant to the courts.  The fact that it can means the court sees it as a conflict of interest.

Secondly, the courts look at federal standards and guidelines, which outline certain necessities on every work-site.  One such necessity is the definition of specific hazards on a work-site by competent persons, defined by OSHA as industrial hygienists.  While the term industrial hygienist is not owned by any one organization or association, it is defined in relation to the science used by these professionals and their competency in that science: industrial hygiene.  To learn more about industrial hygiene and industrial hygienists, I point you to the following two resources:

1.)  OSHA website on industrial hygiene:

2.)  My article on industrial hygiene and industrial hygienists:

Thirdly, the courts will look at industry-based standards of care.  In this case we can find more specific discussions of conflict of interest in the way it is warned against, such as but not limited to the following examples:

1.) Independence.  It is preferable, it states in many industry standards, that the industrial hygienist be an unbiased resource.  This industrial hygienist should be independent of the remediator, and any remediator acting as their own industrial hygienist is to disclose that - in writing - to their customer before providing services.

2.) Confidentiality.  There are various confidentiality clauses that exist in every industry, and the industrial hygiene and remediation industries are no different.  Where an industrial hygienist is retained by someone other than the remediator, there may be a limit on what the industrial hygienist can share with parties other than their client (and vice versa).  This is especially true of legal cases.  Where the same person or company has performed both services these protections are violated and, especially in legal cases, prove impossible to use in favor of anyone involved.

3.)  Overlap.  The overlap of services are frowned upon by most industry standards as an ethical violation.  They go so far as to warn remediators to keep aware of situations where overlaps exist and encourage them to educate their clients by recommending or transferring responsibility to an industrial hygienist for proper assessments, inspections, testing, sampling and verification.

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So, when looking to hire someone for your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) or occupational safety and health needs, make sure to confirm they're providing you defensible, honest, reliable, need-specific work, void of conflict of interest practices (e.g., product sales and restoration, restoration and inspection, inspection and remediation, property sales and inspection, etc.).
Fire & Smoke Restoration / OSHA Regulations on Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration
« Last post by JasonYost on April 10, 2018, 03:13:04 PM »
An Indiana fire damage restoration technician writes:
Jason, does OSHA regulate the fire and smoke damage restoration work?

Although few  specific federal safety and health regulations related to fire and smoke damage restoration exist, there are regulations that are applicable to businesses that perform such work.  Employers (and their employees) are responsible for complying with these safety and health regulatory requirements.

The two broad categories of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) standards that apply to this type of work are called Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) parts 1910 (General Industry Standard) and 1926 (Construction Industry Standard).  Restoration companies are required to comply with both of these standards, and, as such, shall establish all required safety and health plans within them and their local, state and provincial governmental authorities' regulations.

Here are some examples of things include in these OSHA standards:
 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
 - Respiratory Protection
 - Emergency Action & Fire Protection Plans
 - Heat/Cold Disorders and Health Effects
 - Bloodborne Pathogens
 - Hazard Communication
 - Lockout/Tagout
 - Fall Protection
 - Scaffolds and Ladders
 - Noise Exposure
 - Asbestos, Lead and Other Regulated Materials
 - Warning Signage
 - Training of Workers
 - Multi-employer Doctrine
 - Engineering & Administrative Controls
 - Competent Person Clause

Additional to these two standards, OSHA, via its General Duty Clause, will enforce industry-based knowledge.  So, restoration companies want to keep up with the development of guidelines, standards and other documents as it pertains to the inspection, cleaning and restoration of such structures.

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Mold Inspection & Removal / A Case Against Mold Sampling: 1
« Last post by JasonYost on April 10, 2018, 12:31:45 PM »
A family in Indianapolis, Indiana recently contacted me with a familiar problem:

For a couple of years I've sensed something wasn't right in our home.  I'd not felt well, and the more I began to pay attention to it the more I realized my symptoms were unique to my home. I've seen a doctor, who tested me for various things.  And, I've been found to have a mold-related illness.

While mold related illnesses are controversial to many, they are not to those patients, like this one, who are under the care of a credible medical doctor.  And, when they begin to suspect their home is making their illness worse (or causing their illness), they want specifications for remedy. . . .

We hired two different "mold inspectors".  Each came out and did something different. One took air samples, and said everything looked okay.  The other took surface samples (in the attic and on some furniture), and found Stachybotrys in the crawl space and Chaetomium on some furniture.  Neither provided us any real [mold remediation] protocol, but we didn't think anything of it at the time.  We called some mold remediators to get quotes, thinking they could.  But they don't agree on what needs to be done.

What would you do in this family's situation?

One of the biggest issues I have with the mold assessment/inspection and remediation industries is greed.  Unqualified persons or persons practicing a conflict of interest - despite knowing better - taking advantage of people (e.g., "mold is gold") out of their own self-interest: greed.  It makes the entire industry look bad.  And, for those of us doing the job right and putting customers first, it makes our job harder - because people don't trust our industries.

We just want to know what to do next, and make sure the house is safe for me to live in again.  I don't want to move, but I will if I have to. . . .   Our problem, now, is, though, we don't know who we can trust.  We've tried several times to get guidance.  Are we just going to get someone else out here to take our money and not give us specific directions on how to make this safe for me?

Before I get into the discussion of mold sampling (the title's topic) I just need to say: Shame on you, everyone who takes advantage of people like this!

This example is one of many I can give against the practice of sample-only inspections of indoor environments.  Mold sampling isn't the end-all of the inspection process.  It is a single tool in a tool-box of many used by credible inspectors, called industrial hygienists by OSHA, in determining the building's condition in relation to mold and its causal factors.  Used by themselves, they do not tell the sampler (can't really call them inspectors) things like:

 -  What's causing the mold to be there?
 -  How do the causal factors (for mold contamination) need to be addressed?
 -  Is demolition necessary in order to remedy the building condition?
 -  Will the building be able to be occupied during remediation?
 -  What kind of engineering controls and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are necessary?
 -  What laws/standards will have to be complied with in order to secure the building?
 -  What should the criteria be for Post-mold Remediation Verification Inspection (i.e., what should the end condition of the building be before re-occupancy)?

...... the list goes on and on.
Since mold spores are present at background levels in a normal fungal ecology, mold growth is virtually inevitable if moisture is not controlled.  To prevent this, moisture problems shall be identified, located and corrected or controlled as soon as possible....  Reconstruction normally does not begin until moisture is controlled, mold remediation is competed and materials are dried.

That quote, taken from the Institute of Inspection, Clean and Restoration Certification's (IICRC's) S520, Standard & Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, is something often overlooked by "remediation" companies who only perform demolition and cleaning services.  It is, also, overlooked by inspectors who fail to perform adequate inspections and provide specifications for remediation (often called protocols by remediators).  If this (the above quote) is the standard of care for mold remediation, why aren't these so-called inspectors looking for the causal factors (i.e., moisture issues) in a building?  And, if this (the above quote) is the standard of care for mold remediation, why wouldn't you, the consumer of their services, expect the inspector to make every attempt to identify causal factors (for any real contamination present) and provide a corrective action plan (i.e., the protocol)?

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