Mold/fungus question

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Mold/fungus question

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jgoryl
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 5:03 PM       Post Subject:

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I did my first home inspection yesterday afternoon (what an experience) and ran into some sort of fungus in one of the showers where the walls met the shower floor. I'm not sure exactly how to word what I found in my report and I am looking for suggestions. If you would like to see a picture of what I'm talking about try this link:

http://mercury.alamode.com/common/viewdocument.aspx?ID=29448

Anything anyone could provide would be great icon_biggrin.gif
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rzimmerman
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 5:09 PM       Post Subject:

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The link is asking for a log-in
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jgoryl
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 5:13 PM       Post Subject:

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Try sample_client for the ID and sample_client for the password.
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rzimmerman
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 6:27 PM       Post Subject:

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That worked.

WOW a huge file 1.7meg. a little big for dial-up users icon_confused.gif

Here is a smaller version
[ Image: https://www.nachi.org/bbsystem/usrimages/I/IMG_4917.JPG ]

Looks like good old home grown mold icon_biggrin.gif

Mold requires three things to grow. Water, Food and the correct temp. Guess what a shower provides icon_biggrin.gif Water - Yup Good temp range - Yup Food - Yup, in the form of soap sum dead skin and particles washed off your body. YUM, good stuff

I would enter it like this.

-----------------------------------

Observed discoloration in corner of shower. This is most likley mold, but without a lab analysis this is only speculation. Mentioned here as an FYI only.

Recommend regular cleaning of shower area using one of the anti fungal cleaners.

------------------------------

Not a cause for alarm in my book. I would not even recommend testing if this were the only area.

Hope this helped some.
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Gary Van Florcke
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 6:28 PM       Post Subject:

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I would suggest additional testing. Here we go
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Larry Kage

Welcome Home Inspection Services, LLC
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 8:22 PM       Post Subject:
rzimmerman wrote:

I would enter it like this.

-----------------------------------

Observed discoloration in corner of shower. This is most likley mold, but without a lab analysis this is only speculation. Mentioned here as an FYI only.

Recommend regular cleaning of shower area using one of the anti fungal cleaners.

------------------------------

Not a cause for alarm in my book. I would not even recommend testing if this were the only area.

Hope this helped some.


I agree, no further testing in this case.

--
"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."
Galileo Galilei

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wpedley
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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 10:35 PM       Post Subject:

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James,

I hope you turned the shower on to test it.

icon_smile.gif icon_smile.gif

--
BPedley
Inspecting for the unexpected

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Will Handley

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Posted: Feb 22, 2005 11:49 PM       Post Subject:
Bleach icon_idea.gif
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Caoimh?n P. Connell
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Posted: May 1, 2005 11:29 AM       Post Subject:

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Hello Mr. Goryl:

As an expert witness in mould (mold) issues, I agree with the poster Rob Z. In fact, I will go further and say that any additional testing would be irresponsible. For a start, before ANYONE does ANY kind of sampling of ANY kind, one should have established what are known as ?data quality objectives.? If you have not established DQOs, and you cannot articulate those DQOs to the client, you simply should not perform ANY sampling of ANY kind. If you do, and you get sued, then you will have to face an expert witness on the stand who will argue that your DQOs were invalid, and therefore, you sample was invalid, and therefore any decisions you made based on those results of the sample were invalid.

Ta-Da! $$$ for the plaintiff (and their experts) and tears for the defense.

Just my thought. But then, I think rain is wet ? so what do I know.

BTW, I would avoid the bleach idea, since it will achieve nothing. If you want to know what to do about this mould problem, call you Mother, she really DOES know best, in this case.

Cheers,
Caoimh?n P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist

http://members.aol.com/fiosrach/main.html

(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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Douglas Plummer

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Posted: May 1, 2005 2:02 PM       Post Subject:
Caoimhin, please explain how one determines DQOs? I find this very interesting. I notice you spell mould (mold) the way we do here in Canada. Are you from the Great White North eh? Doug
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Caoimh?n P. Connell
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Posted: May 2, 2005 9:25 AM       Post Subject:

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Hello Mr. Plummer:

Actually, the correct spelling "mould" is becoming preferred even south of the border. For me, it is easy, as I spent time as a youth growing up in Ireland where we learned the King's English.

On to DQOs...

In 17 years as a forensic industrial hygienist, and having performed hundreds of mould assessments, and collected thousands of samples, I would say that none (without exception) of the mould sampling and analysis I have encountered by Home Inspectors were collected, analyzed and/or interpreted correctly. In the overwhelming vast majority of cases, the information the HI provided to the client was simply flat-wrong, and not even supported by the sampling and analysis results. Very frequently, the data presented by the HI actually contradicted the conclusions and recommendations of the HI.

In my experience, in the realm of microbial issues, poor/inappropriate sampling and/or analysis is the primary root of the client?s bad information, and the poor choices as a result of that bad information, and the root of the law suit that follows.

Remembering that Home Inspectors and Industrial Hygienists are different breeds. And that industrial hygienists don?t perform home inspections (even if we are performing inspections in a home). We specialize in understanding sampling theory and the statistical validity and limitations of sampling and analysis. When I purchased my last homes, I relied heavily on the competence of the professional Home Inspector to do what I am not competent to do. However, he knew me and stuck to HIS profession and didn?t get into mine ? as a result, he didn?t even attempt to perform environmental sampling (radon, moulds, asbestos, pesticides, etc).

Now having said that - The establishment of data quality objectives is a QA/QC part of a larger decision making process; the result of analysis will be the pivotal point upon which those decisions are going to be made. The DQOs ensure, through their prescription, that a sufficient number of samples are collected from statistically representative locations in an acceptable manner by a recognized method. The DQOs will further specify that the samples are submitted to a laboratory that is capable of proficiently analyzing the samples to within a definable uncertainty, using valid methods (not all mould labs can do this). Lastly, the sample results are interpreted according to by ?PARCC? parameters (defined below) to find out if the DQOs were ultimately met. The parameters of the DQOs themselves can be very simple or very complex. DQOs are what make your data meaningful (and tenable in the event you get sued). Without DQOs, you don?t have data, you have numbers or names on a lab report that possibly CANNOT be interpreted by anyone, since ?data? has no intrinsic meaning outside of a priori decision criteria.

The DQO process is so entrenched in environmental sampling that it is discussed in great detail in many broad-spectrum governmental sampling protocol. For example, one of the ?bibles? of general environmental sampling is the US EPA SW846. The QA/QC chapters should be ESSENTIAL reading to any Home Inspector who wants to begin collecting samples for mould or other environmental contaminants.

The SW 846 describes DQOs thusly:

?2.1 DATA QUALITY OBJECTIVES
Data quality objectives (DQOs) for the data collection activity describe the overall level of uncertainty that a decision-maker is willing to accept in results derived from environmental data. This uncertainty is used to specify the quality of the measurement data required, usually in terms of objectives for precision, bias, representativeness, comparability and completeness. The DQOs should be defined prior to the initiation of the field and laboratory work. The field and laboratory organizations performing the work should be aware of the DQOs so that their personnel may make informed decisions during the course of the project to attain those DQOs. More detailed information on DQOs is available from the U.S. EPA Quality Assurance Management Staff (QAMS) (see references 2 and 4).?


Now we are getting to the nub of the issue ? ??usually in terms of objectives for precision, bias, representativeness, comparability and completeness.? These are the ?PARCC? parameters I mentioned above:

Precision:
How reproducible are measurements?
Accuracy:
How close is the value to the true value?
Relevancy:
Do the data speak to the a priori question being asked?
Comparability (Points of reference):
Can decisions be based by comparing the results against regulatory or nationally accepted guidelines or at least arbitrary guidelines that we established before we sampled?
Completeness:
Have the DQOs been met?

Without picking on Mr. Goryl, let?s look at the example which started this discussion. A black smudge in the shower. ?Should I sample?? becomes, ?Why would I sample?? Is it to find out if the house has mould? No. We already know that ALL houses have mould, so that question has already been answered. Is it to find out if the house has Bacteria? No. We already know that ALL houses have Bacteria, so that question also has already been answered. Is it to find out if the mould is Stachybotrys (the notorious, but largely harmless ?toxic black mould? of science fiction)? No. We already know that ALL houses in the U.S. contain Stachybotrys and that there has not ever been even one confirmed case of Stachybotrys induced mycotoxicosis from residential indoor air; so THAT question has already been answered. Should we sample to find out which species or genus it is? Well, unless we first answer the question ?Is it a mould or Bacteria? we don?t know if it HAS a genus or species. In the event that it does belong to a particular genus or species, which decisions will we make differently depending on the identification of genus or the species? For example, if it is Alternaria, will I recommend anything different than if it belongs to the Cladosporia or Memnoniella? Am I a competent microbiologist or industrial hygienist whose background permits me to make that differentiation? OK, then let?s sample to see if it?s a mould or Bacteria. OK ? which and why? Well to see if the house has a mould problem. Answer: Since when does a 3 square inch patch of mould in a shower constitute a mould problem in a house? If I want to find out if the house has a mould problem, shouldn?t I design a sampling scheme that will reliably answer that question?

In short, collecting a sample of the smudge in the shower, in the absence of any DQOs, leaves you with a lab result that it ENTIRELY meaningless. Let?s say for example, Mr. Gorly did collect a swab of the smudge, and the lab report came back and stated ?2.6E3 CFUs Cladosporium.? Jolly good. Now, what does that mean? Does that indicate the house has a mould problem? No. Does it indicate a health hazard exists in the house? No. Does it mean the house contains 2.6E3 CFUs Cladosporium? No. Does it even mean that the smudge contains 2.6E3 CFUs Cladosporium? NO! Does it even mean that I actually analyzed the smudge? NO!!! For all we know, the 2.6E3 CFUs Cladosporium could be the normal background count of the entire shower wall, and the smudge is a biofilm growing on that mould.)

Then, what does it mean? Answer: The laboratory report is completely and entirely meaningless because there were NO a priori questions being asked and there were no DQOs established to determine if the lab results would properly answer the unasked question. Finally, we have NO information that the lab is even capable of properly analyzing for mould! (Any lab that tries to interpret the data should NEVER be used.)

Result ? If the lab report is used, there will be confusion, bad advice, poor conclusions, possible law suits, and a complete waste of the client?s money.

If you would like to see the practical establishment of DQOs, you can see how I wrote the sampling protocol for the State of Colorado in their new regulations for the assessment of methamphetamine contamination in homes that have been identified as meth-labs. Those sections are Appendix A and Attachment to Appendix A of the regulation found at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/regs/boardofhealth/101403methlabrules.pdf and the complete risk assessment model is at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hm/methlabcleanuplevelsupport.pdf

I hope that sheds some light on mould sampling. By the way, I am on the ASTM International committee that has been tasked with writing the new Standard Sampling and Analysis protocols for moulds. My peers are not unlike me, and these are the thought processes that will go into the standard.

But then, those are just my opinions, and I think rain is wet; so what do I know, eh?

Cheers,
Caoimh?n P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
www.forensic-applications.com

(Having just learned that I can edit these posts, I have erased my old website and added our new web address - that is the only edit made - Cheers, Oct. 29, 2005)
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Caoimh?n P. Connell
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Posted: May 2, 2005 9:31 AM       Post Subject:

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Addendum (I forgot the requisite disclaimer?.)

(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

Caoimh?n P. Connell
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Douglas Plummer

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Posted: May 2, 2005 4:51 PM       Post Subject:
Caoimhin, Thank You for your quick response. I will follow up on the links you provided. We are very informal on this board. Hope you don't mind me addressing on a first name basis. Please, call me Doug. Mr. Plummer is my father. Cheers! Doug
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Brian Kelly

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Posted: May 4, 2005 10:13 PM       Post Subject:
When I see something in the shower or elsewhere that is questionable I call it out as "organic growth". Then I reccomend that it be evaluated by a competent person with remedy as necessary.

Maybe it is mold maybe not, call an expert.

--
"I used to be disgusted, Now I try to Be amused"-Elvis Costello

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Ben Kelly

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Posted: Oct 3, 2005 8:27 PM       Post Subject:
Is this mold , the termite inspectors here say it is called "brown Pocket Fungus"



[ Image: https://www.nachi.org/bbsystem/usrimages/f/fungus.JPG ]
[ Image: https://www.nachi.org/bbsystem/usrimages/f/fungus_1.JPG ][/list]
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Justo Mickey Rivera

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Posted: Oct 4, 2005 6:16 AM       Post Subject:
Mr. Connell that was good stuff.
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David Andersen

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Posted: Oct 4, 2005 7:04 AM       Post Subject:
When I find mould, I do moisture intrusion testing to attempt to determine the source of excessive moisture that is producing this growth. I address the point of the moisture intrusion and simply note that there is evidence of a mold like substance growing as a result of this excessive moisture. I then recommend an action to control the moisture conditions creating the issue, then throw in a disclaimer stating that further testing of the mold substance should be based on the decision of the client.

I agree that advising further testing is a liability issue. We do not see very many lawsuits against home inspectors for making these costly recommendations without cause, however they are out there and they will occur and you are liable.

I feel the reason for these low lawsuit numbers is because the client generally runs from the property when the mold issue arises due to public hysteria. However, this does not release you from your liability from the current homeowner for causing the client to run if it could be proven.
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Gary Porter

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Posted: Oct 4, 2005 9:05 PM       Post Subject:
Mr. Connell have you ever challenged the press to stop causing the so-called mould health problem panic.

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Caoimh?n P. Connell
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Posted: Oct 5, 2005 11:01 AM       Post Subject:

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Hello Gary ?

I have addressed the media regarding many issues including mould. Over the years, as a result of these interactions, I have developed a very low professional opinion of today?s profession of journalism. It is my opinion that today?s journalist is far, far more interested in a ripping good yarn full of emotion, pathos and hyperbole than objectivity. Today?s journalist isn?t about to let facts get in the way of a really good story.

As an example, recently a ?newspaper of record? did a small piece on me and spent two hours interviewing me. In the end, they published a piece that was only about 40% accurate, and remarkably identified me as ?the only certified Industrial Hygienist in the State of Colorado.? It is difficult for me to understand how supposedly educated people can possibly screw up objective information to such a degree.

I very recently criticized the Centers for Disease Control for referring to petroleum products and pesticides as ?toxins,? and the EPA for referring to ?toxic moulds.? Although the CDC never replied, the EPA stupidly defended itself by saying that they felt is was important to communicate in layman?s terms rather than be technically correct. How backwards is that? In other words, the EPA is happy to propagate myths and provide wrong information, so long as everyone understands it. Good Gawd ? only a PhD could come up with something so condescending and asinine.

I have watched news reports of some of my investigations, and it is beyond frustrating to hear how reporters can get such simple facts COMPLETELY wrong. I have virtually no faith whatever in today?s media, and I filter virtually everything I hear from the ?news.?

But that?s just me and my biases, isn?t it?

Cheers,
Caoimh?n P. Connell
President,
Cranky Old Chemists Society

(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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Doug Edwards

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Posted: Oct 5, 2005 1:39 PM       Post Subject:
Me too. Parents used to say.."Believe none of what you hear and only about 10% of what you see." Pretty good advice
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