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  • Writer's pictureCorey Provencal

Mold Scams. Is anything really Free???

More often than not, free comes with a hefty price that ends up costing far more than you thought it would and never has that been truer than in the mold business.

The safest thing consumers can do whenever the word “FREE” is used to sell a mold remediation job is to avoid that contractor all together. Think about it. No one is in business to do anything for free. Anyone offering something for free is doing so to sell you something else. While that may be fine when it comes to “buy one – get one free” deals offered on TV infomercials, in the mold business a free inspections and testing can end up costing you thousands of dollars for remediation work that may be grossly exaggerated or in some cases doesn’t need to be done at all.

The biggest mold scam is and always has been – mold remediation contractors who perform “FREE” mold inspections. When it comes to mold, you do NOT want a mold inspector who is motivated to find mold removal jobs for themselves.

Mold remediation is a very profitable business and engaging in both mold inspections and mold remediation is a serious conflict of interest. The potential for fraudulently creating thousands of dollars in bogus and unnecessary mold remediation work is tremendous and – unfortunately – an everyday occurrence in this industry.

This fraudulent practice of the mold remediation contractor securing work by providing “FREE” mold inspections then offering to remediate the mold is against the Law in the State of Florida.

Your Mold Remediator and Mold Inspector MUST be Licensed by the State of Florida. Under the Florida Licensing Law the Mold Remediator Cannot perform Mold Remediation on any job that he or she has performed the Mold Inspection.

This is the oldest mold scam in the mold remediation and restoration industry and it’s easy to pull off because most consumers don’t know enough about mold to realize when they’re being bamboozled into work that is often grossly exaggerated, and in some instances, not even necessary.

Beware of the mold remediation contractor that offers “Free” Mold Inspections and uses terms such as “Black Mold”, “Toxic Mold”, or “Toxic Black Mold”.

Those terms are a clear indication that the mold remediation contractor providing the “Free Mold Inspection” is using scare tactics to convince you that you need the mold remediation work for your immediate safety.  Not likely. 

To establish the presence of mycotoxins in any indoor environment the Licensed Mold Assessor would need to collect samples that would identify the species of mold.  This cannot be accomplished with the collection of spore trap samples.  The spore trap samples will only provide mold spore identification to the genus not the species.  Or feline if you will and not house cat vs. Bengal tiger, Genus vs. species.

To identify the species of mold the Licensed Mold Assessor would need to collect either culturable (viable or living) or PCR samples. 

Culturable must be collected using a pump, impactor, and agar plates. These samples are then sent to the laboratory and take time to grow and are more expensive than mold spore trap samples.

PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction, is used to detect the DNA of the spore and is collected using a pump and a 3-piece PCR air-sampling cassette.  PCR is even more expensive than the mold cultures and spore traps combined, but they are much faster than waiting for the culturable samples to grow. 

It gets even more expensive when you realize that now that you’ve identified the mold in the indoor environment as a species that MAY produce mycotoxins you now have to determine if the potentially mycotoxin producing mold species actually produced any mycotoxins in the indoor environment being sampled. Whew!

Yes it takes much more than a “FREE Mold Inspection” to establish that you home or office has a mold that produced mycotoxins.  It’s more likely that the mold remediation contractor offering the “FREE Mold Inspection” and using terms like “Black Mold”, “Toxic Mold”, or “Toxic Black Mold” is just trying to scare you into more mold remediation than you actually need.

No indoor environmental professional would ever use those term, ever!  If they are being used you are being played.  Ask the individual to stop using unprofessional scare tactics and leave.

Remember, Convenience Can Cost You. Most people prefer to deal with one contractor for everything because it’s convenient. But when it comes to mold that convenience can end up costing you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repair work. There are enough reputable and Florida State Licensed Mold Inspectors who do not engage in remediation work to risk getting ripped off.

Remember a mold inspection should be completely unbiased. Mold inspectors should have no personal interest in how an inspection turns out, nor should they ever profit from what they find, either directly by doing the removal themselves, or indirectly by referring work to their friends for a kick-back.

The only way to ensure you will get an unbiased inspection report and avoid this mold scam is to hire a Florida State Licensed Mold Inspector who does not perform mold remediation.  And always ask if they will be following the ANSI Approved S-520.

The S-520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation is procedural standard and reference guide for the remediation of mold damaged structures and contents. The S-520 is based on reliable remediation and restoration principles, research and practical experience.

The S520 provides a philosophical shift away from setting numerical mold contamination action levels. Instead, it establishes mold contamination definitions, descriptions and conditions (1, 2, 3), and general guidance, which, when properly applied, can assist remediators and others in determining criteria that trigger remediation activities or confirm remediation success.

Contaminated as the presence of indoor mold growth and/or spores, whose identity, location and amplification are not reflective of a normal fungal ecology for an indoor environment, and which may produce adverse health effects and cause damage to materials, and adversely affect the operation or function of building systems.

Condition 1 (normal ecology) – may have settled spores, fungal fragments or traces of actual growth whose identity, location and quantity is reflective of a normal fungal ecology for an indoor environment.

Condition 2 (settled spores) – an indoor environment which is primarily contaminated with settled spores that were dispersed directly or indirectly from a Condition 3 area, and which may have traces of actual growth.

Condition 3 (actual growth) – an indoor environment contaminated with the presence of actual growth and associated spores. Actual growth includes growth that is active or dormant, visible or hidden.

  1. John P. Lapotaire, CIEC

  2. Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant

  3. Microshield Environmental Services, LLC


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