Don’t Rely On Useless Results
That Reveal Nothing
Sometimes, popular belief can be so strong that wishes overrun facts. The ERMI so-called test is a prime example of this error in thinking. But this misplaced faith in an activity that was never meant to be a homeowner run test has become so entrenched that even doctors consider its results meaningful.
How ERMI Came About
The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) was developed from a study conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called the American Healthy Homes Survey (AHHS). This was a study of 1096 homes selected to represent a cross-section of American homes throughout the nation.
The samples from these homes were lab-tested to check for the presence of DNA from 36 different mold species – 26 related to water-damaged buildings (WDB) and 10 Non-WDB related species.
Each sample was taken under a tightly controlled method using the following steps:
- Tape off a 3’ x 6’ section of carpet in the main living area and the main bedroom.
- Insert a sanitized canister into a vacuum hose
- Vacuum a taped off area for 5 minutes
- Remove the canister and replace it with a new one
- Repeat step 3 for the other room
- Send both canisters off for testing
The lab would then sift the debris in the canisters using a specific process, then test what remained for mold DNA. The amount of each of the 36 mold species would be laid out in tabled results, and then, through a proprietary series of calculations, you would receive an overall ERMI rating based on the graph below.
As you can see, the chart gives you a relative moldiness level for your home and measures that against the average American home. For example, if your ERMI rating is 5, your home is moldier than 75% of US homes, while an ERMI rating of 0 implies that your home is less moldy than half the homes in the United States.
The Value Of ERMI Testing
A properly conducted ERMI test can be useful for people considering buying a property or for families with a mysterious illness affecting a family member. It’s very useful for finding out the historical mold “load” in a home.
The medical profession now understands how dangerous high mold concentrations can be, especially for people with underlying conditions, and has used the ERMI test to rule out or prove mold as a cause of a patient’s suffering.
Tenants have also used ERMI results to force the hand or successfully sue landlords who refuse to acknowledge mold problems in their buildings. A true ERMI test is a powerful tool when performed correctly.
Why ERMI Testing Has Become
Little More Than A Scam
Once a successful scientific method becomes monetized, it is almost certain to become diluted. And when the sampling methods are difficult or exacting, that dilution happens rapidly and often results in useless samples that produce even more useless results.
Testing labs are not altruistic ventures. They are businesses with a single goal – making as much money as possible. When it comes to ERMI testing, that financial goal turned the test into a joke that borders on fraud.
Labs that perform ERMI testing understood that the rigorous sampling procedures would make selling the test to homeowners difficult, so they came up with a simple (and ultimately ridiculous) alternative.
They created ERMI kits that included a swatch of high-quality dusting cloth and the following set of instructions:
- Run the dust cloth along window sills, the tops of doors, and other areas prone to collecting dust until the cloth is visibly dirty.
- Seal the cloth in the provided packaging and mail it to the lab.
This method completely ignores the rigors of the true ERMI process and sends the homeowner all over their home searching for dust to collect. Plus, the dust they collect on top of doors, has little in common with the dust on a 3’ x 6’ area of floor.
Consequently, the careful logarithmic calculations embedded in the testing process have little to do with the dust collected on the cloth. Every parameter is changed, and each sample will have different parameters from the last. The chance of coming to a conclusion that is even close to accurate is essentially zero because there is no control of the sampling process.
And yet, perhaps ignorant of the problem caused by marketing decisions destroying the scientific process, there are respiratory doctors all over the nation relying on these results for both diagnosis and recommended treatments/actions.
And we’re not making this up. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is considered the first mold doctor to link mold sensitivity to genetics. Most of the current mold doctors were trained by his protocols and curriculums. Guess what? Shoemaker outlines the exact same 3×6 vacuuming method as the proper method to collect an ERMI sample.
A Substandard Standard
Unfortunately, the marketing gurus in the testing industry were right. The ERMI kits are a highly successful product that shows no signs of going away, despite being utterly useless. The good that a properly performed ERMI test can do has been reduced to the level of mood rings for all the scientific value they possess.
The kits sent to homeowners should be renamed McERMI tests to better reflect their general worth in the world of mold remediation and respiratory health.
Yet, as is so often the case, the combination of ease of use, fear-based marketing, and tremendous profit margins has rendered their assault on science a moot point.
If we’ve yet to convince you, check here to see what the EPA has to say about home ERMI kits:
“The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index, or ERMI, developed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers, is a research tool and is not recommended for use except as a research tool.”
We Refuse To Play Along
Due to the mountain of fallacies surrounding the modern ERMI test process, we will never promote, use, or acknowledge ERMI dust cloth results. Instead of making mounds of money from “remediating” mold problems that may not even exist, we spent tens of thousands of dollars to do right by our customers.
We bought one of only 70 InstaScope machines in the world to provide 100% accurate mold count results to our customers almost instantly. This mobile lab travels from room to room, providing in under 2 hours what other, far less accurate processes take weeks to present.
We can even test items within a room, such as a rug or blanket, to pinpoint the exact cause of elevated mold levels in your home. The InstaScope is a powerful tool and helps us offer our customers exacting answers and the most cost-effective path to solving their mold problem.
If you are worried that you have a mold problem in your Virginia or DC area home, contact us at Valor Mold Removal for a free estimate.