ARLINGTON, VA — The official introduction of U.S. House of Representatives bill HR 5040, “The United States Toxic Mold Safety & Protection Act,” by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has elicited solid support from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). But Paul T. Stalknecht, president and CEO of the national trade association, noted that this is the opening of the mold debate.

“ACCA applauds Rep. John Conyers for taking this important first step in ensuring that American homes are kept safe and healthy for our citizens,” stated Stalknecht. “While the extent to which toxic mold has an impact on human health is certainly debatable, it is a debate worth having.

“Mold in and of itself is not bad or dangerous, and is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Remember, penicillin is a mold before it is a lifesaving drug. However, when dangerous types of mold are allowed to concentrate in our homes and other buildings, it is undesirable. When combined with other accumulated dirt and moisture, all buildings are full of surfaces conducive to the growth of excess mold. The key to controlling mold is cleanliness combined with moisture control.

“Properly designed, installed, and maintained HVACR systems are the first line of defense in helping mitigate the growth of mold spores. HVACR systems do not generate mold growth themselves as their surfaces are metallic and cannot support mold growth, unless they have been poorly maintained by the homeowner, allowing debris to build up on system surfaces.

“However, HVACR systems that are designed, installed, and maintained according to ACCA-approved design standards, such as Manual J, control humidity and moisture and inhibit mold growth in other parts of a building. That’s why HVACR contractors should be viewed as ‘solution providers’ when consumers suspect mold problems, and as solution providers, ACCA proudly supports the effort to draft legislation that identifies and sets standards for this complex issue.

“As can be seen from the thoughtful development of this legislative language, Rep. Conyers is interested in arriving at a real, workable solution to this problem, from the funding of much-needed research to the establishment of mold toxicity and remediation standards. If a meaningful solution is to emerge from this dialogue, we must continue to approach the issue in a rational, focused way, and all of the stakeholders must be included in the conversation.

“The insurance industry must play a role in the development of a solution, and we encourage Rep. Conyers and his Democratic co-sponsors to reach across the aisle, and into the administration, to ensure that any final legislation is truly bipartisan. Such an accord must be reached if Congress is to enact legislation that is significant and meaningful in its impact.

“The question of mold growth in buildings, its causes, its effects, and its solution, is a very complicated one. Through introduction of this legislation, Rep. Conyers has offered us an opportunity to explore this important issue and its impact on American homes. ACCA and the HVACR contracting industry support this dialogue and look forward to working with Congress to shape a solution that works.”

Publication date: 07/08/2002