Originally Posted By: Caoimh?n P. Connell
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.
Hello Gents ?
A lot of good comments and criticisms. Mr. Porter, it?s not that I am ?out to get the tester,? but rather, testers get themselves into trouble by going outside their area of expertise. I?m just an industrial hygienist doing my job.
I agree with Mr. Eubank that environmental testing by HIs is a valid service to offer, and I have said so many times on this board that HIs should be offering those services. However, as with ANY kind of service, if it is offered in a vacuum, or without proper training, or performed badly, or interpreted incorrectly, then it is a disservice; however well intentioned.
However, regarding, interpretation ? it is one thing for an home inspector to say ?I have performed a radon test according to EPA protocol, and I have sent the test to a lab that analyzed the test according to EPA protocol. The results from the lab were X pCi/l. According to the EPA, ?.etc
? That is good and is NOT interpreting the results. However, that is NOT what a lot of home inspectors say in their reports. Instead, HIs say they have measured the radon concentration in a house (which they haven?t done) and the radon concentration in the house is X pCi/l (which it isn?t), and the risk of cancer is XXX (which they can?t support or defend); THAT is interpretation (worse still, it is misinterpretation) and is not good.
Similarly, it is one thing for an HI to take a mould swab and send it off to the lab, and then report: ?The laboratory reported observing spores of Chaetomium, Penicillia and Stachybotrys in the swab.
? That is NOT interpreting the results; but another thing entirely to say ?The lab reported finding toxic moulds?
(which they are not), and these pathogenic moulds
(interpretation out of context) have been associated with X diseases
(out of context, and not meeting with any DQOs), and this indicates a mould problem in the house
(which it doesn?t). Big difference.
What may seem an easy interpretation may not be correct at all. For example, If you have just collected a vacuum sample from a carpet for mould, and submitted the results to the lab who reports the values in CFU/g, which number below represents an higher
mould concentration in a carpet sample:
if you answered that 5,000 CFUs/g was higher than 1,000 CFUs/g, then get your attorney ready, because you are going to need his services to save your business when I take the stand and blow your "interpretation" out of the water within 20 seconds.
Mr. Burkeson: You state ? ?Primarily our services are utilized by out of state home buyers who simply want to know if there is an elevated mold condition within the home?? But my point is precisely that ? I will wager that you have NEVER actually EVER determined what the concentration of mould spores in a house are let alone made a determination of whether or not, based on those results, the concentration is elevated or not. For a start, it is very expensive to do ? I just wrapped up such a determination, and it was pretty cheap at $2,800.00.
Also ? you say ?The recipient of this report is advised to notify the lab if they should ever have any questions about the lab report.? Again, that is my point, because the lab has ABSOLUTELY no knowledge of the home, the conditions, the test parameters, or any other knowledge whatsoever about the property and CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT answer any of the questions concerning interpretation of the results for the property. As I said, if the consultant cannot completely and thoroughly interpret the raw data from the lab, then, in my opinion, they should not be collecting samples in the first place. The ONLY answers the lab can (and should) give is 1) who analyzed the sample 2) how was the sample analyzed 3) when was the sample analyzed and 4) what was the QA/QC. The lab should NEVER even attempt to answer the question ?What do the results mean?? because they CANNOT answer that question; and yet, that is precisely what Pro-labs does, and they get slammed for it every time a respectable industrial hygienist/ microbiologist has to discredit their lab reports.
Then you say ? ?We never attempt to advise or interpreter the report, we are just not qualified to make such determinations.? And yet, how can you possibly determine if there is an elevated spore count, if you do not interpret the data, and the laboratory cannot interpret the data? I don?t get it, and I think that there are certainly inconsistencies in the service you are providing.
I?m not trying to beat up on the HI profession ? I have tremendous professional respect for HIs, and their excellent technical knowledge and expertise in their field
? I have relied heavily on HIs for my own home purchases since I am not technically competent in that area. However, I have never yet, not once, in 17 years, come across a ?mould test? performed by a HI that was even slightly collected correctly and/or interpreted correctly. Without exception, I have successfully shot down absolutely every such test performed by a HI, based solely on the gross technical errors and lack of microbial expertise used by inspector who frequently, in their report, regurgitate technically inaccurate goo and microbial myths that they have gleaned from goofy sources.
When I am in somebody?s house, I don?t make any comments about foundations, siding, or wiring, etc, because I am not technically competent to so do; and I know that a competent HI would make dog?s dinner out of me for my incompetent comments. Why, then, should an HI, who probably hasn?t got the first notion of sampling theory, and couldn?t develop a DQO or describe the difference between authoritative sampling and judgmental sampling and who wouldn?t know a chemoorganotroph from a basidiospore take mould samples?
Ultimately, my only point is this ? if you, or if I step out of our areas of expertise and venture into testing and professional consultation for which we have no knowledge or expertise, we are going to get egg on the face or sued. And an expert who really does have knowledge in that area will make us look like monkeys and harm our professional reputations.
If you are interested in seeing how sampling plans are
derived, you may be interesting in reading the sampling plan I prepared for some regulations for the State of Colorado. In 6 CCR 1014-3, Appendix A and Attachment to Appendix A, I lay out some standard concepts that are used in sampling. These are the very same concepts used whether sampling for mould, or lead, or radon or asbestos, or methamphetamine, or_______ fill in the blank. And if an HI is not already familiar with that kind of discussion, and could not sit down with their client and clearly describe these things, then that HI, in my humble opinion, should not be collecting any
samples for which a definitive protocol does not exist (such as radon) and certainly should NEVER attempt interpretation. Those appendices, by the way, are found on the Colorado Dept. of Public Health page at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/regulate.asp
just scroll down to ?6 CCR 1014-3? and download the PDF, or go to my website and I have it there as well. If you are interested specifically in mould air monitoring aspects, I discuss that elsewhere at
and you may find that interesting.
I see most projects as teamwork ? and few of us have such a broad spectrum of expertise that we can do it all, do it all by ourselves, and still do it right. That is why I hire HIs, and why HIs hire me.
Caoimh?n P. Connell
Forensic Industrial Hygienist
<SMALL> (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.)