States Consider Mold Legislation

May 15, 2003
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Photo by Lisa Loucks Christenson.
Who is qualified to detect mold, and who is qualified to remediate mold in homes and other buildings? Should they be licensed? Should those who find mold be separate from those who remediate it? Must you stop work if you find a little mold on an evaporator coil or air handler that you’re servicing as a contractor?

Eager to keep mold contamination from becoming either a boondoggle or a quagmire of rules that would hamper normal HVAC work, air conditioning contractors are actively trying to shape proposed mold laws in both Florida and Texas.

Bills pending in both states would require testing or other qualification, as well as registration or licensing of mold detecting and mold remediation companies and individuals. Contractors bills in both states are working to ensure that HVAC contractors, plumbers, and electricians won’t run afoul of the law if they find and clean up small patches of mold during normal service and replacement work.

Both the Florida and Texas bills would require that separate companies conduct mold detection and remediation services for a customer. One company could not do both jobs.

All mold detection and remediation would require licensing. The active Florida proposal assigns that to the Construction Industry Licensing Board of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The current Texas proposal gives the job to the state’s Department of Health.

In Florida, Sen. Michael S. (Mike) Bennett, an electrical and air conditioning contractor as well as a legislator, plans to gather more information this summer on the bill he sponsored. He welcomes comments from fellow industry members while the proposal is studied this summer.

Stephen Pape, legislative chairman for the Texas state chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (TACCA), testified in Austin late last month about protecting HVAC contractors (as well as plumbers and electricians) if they encounter small amounts of mold in their normal operations. Pape is president of Pape Air Conditioning in DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas.

Some proposed legislation launched a storm of protest among indoor air quality professionals and others on an online IAQ Forum. The protesters argued that the bills in both states seemed to give certification or qualification preference to Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH).

The committee version of Bennett’s bill now accepts eligibility requirements set by the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the Indoor Air Quality Association, and the American Society of Safety Engineers for registrants under the act.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) says it didn’t request such exemption, but Aaron K. Trippler, government affairs director, acknowledges that AIHA “has responded to more than 40 bills...introduced in more than 20 states.”

Photo by Lisa Loucks Christenson.

Citing A Need

Pape and Bennett each said mold remediation work in their respective states is completely unregulated at present, and mold has resulted in some huge damage claims and scams.

Pape observed that in Texas, “insurance companies have been complaining that they’ve had to pay out some pretty large sums, and a lot of that has to do with the companies that have come in” to do the mold work.

“Every jughead and his brother are holding themselves out as mold remediation contractors or consultants,” said Bennett. “We’ve got to have some sort of licensure.”

“There are two or three groups around that want to do their own thing” in training or certification, Bennett said. “I’m not nuts about that because that often requires the contractor to buy their books and their materials, so we’re modifying that as we go along. I’m not into giving anybody a free pass on this, not on mold.”

Explaining TACCA’s support of an amendment adopted April 30, Pape said, “Just to do normal things like cleaning blower wheels, ductwork, and evaporator coils, things of that sort, we would have some liability from this if we were not licensed as a mold remediator or assessor.”

Comments on the Florida bill, SB 2746, should be sent to Sen. Mike Bennett, 3653 Cortez Road West, Suite 90, Bradenton, FL 34210, Attention: Cheryl Ennis. Ennis is the legislative staffer handling the bill. Comments can be sent by e-mail to Ennis.Cheryl@flsenate.gov.

Publication date: 05/19/2003

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