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AIHA finds flaws with mold bill

May 2, 2003
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H.R. 1268, the "United States Toxic Mold Safety and Protection Act of 2003," has drawn these comments from the American Industrial Hygiene Association:

It's not possible to define or set permissible exposure levels for "toxic mold." The term has originated in the media and has no scientific basis. With the current science, AIHA does not believe it is possible for any single study to ascertain levels of exposure to mold or their products that may be harmful to human health. It's virtually impossible to specify levels at which the many different kinds of mold may be considered "toxic."

AIHA is concerned about standards for individuals involved with inspection and remediation of mold. AIHA is developing a standardized training protocol to assure that industrial hygienists receive the most up-to-date information on addressing this issue. The training program is being designed to the highest standards to ensure that individuals completing the course understand the complex issues involved in microbial investigations and can implement procedures appropriate to each individual situation.

AIHA is not opposed to standards that allow other individuals to become involved in mold inspection and remediation through training and examination, but wants any legislation or regulation to recognize individuals already deemed pre-qualified, such as certified industrial hygienists. Requirements for individuals without any prior education and/or experience should greatly exceed the one-week training used to qualify persons for previously recognized hazards (asbestos and lead).

Need for accredited laboratories to analyze mold samples. If sampling is conducted to identify the mold or assess potential mold exposures or other issues (or in research), AIHA feels it is advisable that only qualified laboratories should be used to correctly analyze samples collected as part of the investigation process.

AIHA offers accreditation to microbial laboratories (Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP). The group says it's imperative that only laboratories accredited for the appropriate analyses by a nationally recognized accrediting body or authority conduct mold testing.

OSHA and NIOSH should be among the agencies designated to implement this legislation. AIHA is concerned that HR 1268 gives EPA complete oversight of the mold issue. The group believes that mold growth is found not only in residential buildings but also in many workplaces with numerous employees. Plus, there is the concern for workers involved with inspection and remediation. Because of this, AIHA believes the OSHA must be a partner in developing any guidelines.

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