Friday, January 07, 2011

NYS Toxic Mold Task Force Completes Final Report

Section 1384 of the New York State (NYS) Public Health Law established the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force.  The goals of the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force was to:
  • assess and measure, based on scientific evidence, the adverse environmental and health effects of mold exposure, including specific effects on population subgroups at greater risk of adverse effects;
  • assess the latest scientific data on mold exposure limits;
  • identify actions taken by state and local government and other entities;
  • determine methods to control and mitigate mold;
  • and prepare a report to the Governor and Legislature.
To achieve these goals the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force activities were organized into four main areas of inquiry:
  • health effects of molds in indoor environments;
  • exposure limits and assessment of mold in buildings;
  • approaches to mold mitigation and remediation;
  • building codes, regulations and other actions taken by other governments and private-sector organizations that relate to building mold problems.
In reading the executive summary it is clear that the NYS Toxic Mold Task Force came to the usual conclusions regarding mold that the many in the industry already know.  For example:
  • Since mold problems in buildings are preventable with proper building construction, maintenance, and housekeeping aimed at preventing excess building dampness, mold exposure is preventable.
  • Overabundant growth of any mold or other dampness-related organisms is undesirable and can be addressed by removing contaminants and correcting water problems.  Whether or not exposure to mold toxins is likely when mold growth occurs in a damp building does not substantially change the need for mitigation of the water and mold problem.
  • Continue to improve building code requirements that address building design, construction techniques, and property maintenance so that they prevent or minimize the potential for water problems to occur.
  • The presence and power of the code enforcement official (CEO) can also help minimize the potential mold problems in buildings when approving construction documents, during construction inspections of new buildings, and when issuing property-maintenance violations related to moisture conditions in existing buildings during required inspections.
  • Regulating the mold assessment and remediation service industry is dependent upon how desirable it is to have persons poperly trained and following acceptable protocols.  The main public health goal of any regulation or additional guidance to the mold industry will be to reduce the potential for mold exposures and the risk of health effects in damp buildings.  Costs for such a program can range from $150,000 for using already developed general recommended work practices and certification programs to $4.5 million per year for a full regulatory program like the NYS asbestos program.
  • The development of reliable, health-based quantitative mold exposure limits is not currently feasible.
  • Their is limited evidence of the benefits of chemical disinfectants or encapsulant treatments for mitigating or preventing mold growth on building materials.
  • The main approach to mold control and mitigation should be focused on identifying and repairing water damage in buildings and removing mold source materials.  This method of mitigation is less complicated to implement than mitigation based on attaining a numerical clearance critertion, because the main goal is to return the building to a clean and dry condition.
The document is 150 pages including tables and exhibits.  It will be interesting to see if this document actually goes anywhere in regulating the mold assessment and remediation industry.


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