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ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is a relatively new form of mold test developed by the EPA. Its original purpose was to determine what effects if any, mold exposure had on children. They were specifically trying to figure out if mold exposure in childhood was linked to asthma or allergies.
In this article, we’ll explore what ERMI testing is and if it’s right for detecting mold in your Northern VA home.
The way the EPA does it (the right way) is to tape off a 3’ by 6’ square in the master bedroom and living room floor. This area is then vacuumed for five minutes, and the results are tested and averaged for a score ranging from -10 to +20. The higher the number, the worse the score.
Ideally, they say your score should be less than 0, with anything above a two being theoretically harmful to those with severe mold sensitivities.
The short answer is: probably not. There are several reasons this is the case.
First of all, even the EPA itself does not recommend using ERMI as a method of determining whether or not you have dangerous mold levels in your home. In fact, they state it should only be used as a research tool.
If you are insistent on doing an ERMI test, you need to be absolutely certain it is being performed correctly. Some less scrupulous and/or competent mold testers are recommending people simply wipe dust samples off of their baseboards, vents, and other dusty areas.
This is all well and good, but it has NOTHING to do with an actual ERMI test. Any score obtained this way is completely inaccurate and should be thrown out. As for a REAL ERMI test, only the aforementioned method of taping off your floor and then analyzing the vacuum samples can give you an accurate reading.
Even then, it does not actually tell you whether or not you have a mold problem in your home.
One problem is that an ERMI test determines the ratio of “good” mold spores to “bad” mold spores. When you perform the test with a HEPA vacuum, all mold spores will get sucked up: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So, even if you previously had successful mold remediation, you might still fail an ERMI test, leading you to believe you still have a mold problem.
Some people have conditions that make them more vulnerable to molds, such as severe allergies or asthma. Some people can be exposed to fairly substantial quantities of mold without major issues. Others can have SEVERE reactions from only minor exposure.
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is a condition related to exposure to biotoxins, specifically mold. While most people do not suffer from this condition, those who do can suffer major issues from exposure to even fairly low levels of mold.
If you do suffer from CIRS, you will have to take extra precautions. This is maybe the only percentage of the population that should actually bother with ERMI testing.
Even so, for at least a month after remediation, you will not be able to get an accurate reading. That’s why it is always best to go with mold testers and remediators in Northern VA that you can trust.
Because we recognize that ERMI is not the most accurate reading of dangerous mold being present in your home, it’s not our top choice for testing. To even assess the reading, we need to be certain it was done correctly by a qualified IEP.
We emphasize education because we know there is a lot of misinformation about mold, some of which is being spread by mold remediators and testers themselves. Before you do anything regarding mold in your home, do your RESEARCH! We cannot stress this point enough.
We remove mold the right way… and it would be an honor to hear from you.
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