888 4 ENV EDU

State Mold Task Force Releases Final Report

By Andy McLellan (EEA) 1/11/2011
The New York State Mold Task Force released its final report late last December. While the report doesn’t seem to take a strong position on any one issue, it does offer a thorough series of recommendations that, if adopted, would undoubtedly improve environmental health across the State. Here are a few excerpts:

1. NYS and NYC should 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. They should both work within the framework of the International Code Council (ICC) code adoption process to monitor and develop proposals to prevent or minimize mold in new and existing buildings.
2. State agencies should, at a minimum, provide guidance about recommended work practices for assessment and remediation and about the existence of training curricula and certification.
3. Governmental, private and non-profit organizations should develop or enhance educational materials related to building moisture prevention and tailor those materials to specific audiences dealing with building design, construction and maintenance. A coordinated proactive, multi-media educational campaign is likely to be more effective than simple distribution of brochures or other written outreach materials. Potential audiences for targeted education on preventing building moisture include architects, builders, contractors, remodelers, weatherization assistance programs, building performance consultants, building owners, Code Enforcement Officials (CEO) and building occupants.
4. Education and outreach messages for the general public should emphasize that potential health problems associated with dampness and mold in buildings can be reduced by correcting water problems and removing sources of indoor mold growth in a timely manner.

The Task Force takes pains to acknowledge the costs associated with developing a State managed program, and highlights the need for voluntary participation by State agencies and partnerships with other governmental organizations, such as NYC, private organizations and non-profits.

Not surprisingly, the report details a need for additional research on many fundamental issues that continue hamstring efforts to realize a truly professional mold mitigation industry, including lingering doubts expressing in the report between the relationship between indoor mold exposure and chronic health effects.

Thankfully the authors call attention to the important need to develop effective of methods for identifying moisture problems in buildings undergoing energy retrofits and the need for moisture-resistant building materials criteria for green building and energy conservation programs.

The report offers several examples of other government agencies and industry organizations that have developed practices and certification processes for building assessment and remediation, notably the Texas Department of State Health Services training and certification program. The Task Force concludes that if the State does choose to adopt a regulatory program, it follow an existing model, presumably asbestos.

Click here to view the full report.