Mold and its health effects present a growing concern for home owners, physicians, real estate professionals and new home buyers. For the detection and quantification of mold, the Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) has recently been developed by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) scientists.
"This is a significant and exciting new development as it applies a new DNA technology in a meaningful test for mold in homes." states Guaranteed Property Inspection and Mold Investigation (GPI) Senior Microbial Consultant Steve Zivolich.
GPI is the first firm in the Southern California area to offer this advanced environmental test option for both home inspection and mold investigation clients.
In initial studies by the EPA, the concentrations of different mold species in "moldy homes" (homes with visible mold) and "reference homes" (homes with no visible mold) were compared. Based on those results, mold species were selected and grouped into those with higher concentrations in moldy homes and those with lower concentrations.
The ERMI test involves the analysis of a single sample of dust from a home. The sample is analyzed using a highly specific DNA-based method for quantifying mold species. The ERMI report includes the detection and concentrations 36 mold species along with the ERMI value itself. This provides a single number to rank the "moldiness" making it easy to compare the results to a national scale.
In addition to the simplicity of taking only one sample, the ERMI offers several advantages over traditional mold screening methods. Carpet dust acts as a reservoir for mold spores and is more representative of mold levels over time versus traditional short term air samples. Further, the use of a DNA-based method for this test allows for increased precision of mold identification as it is based on a biochemical assay using calibrated instrumentation.
The EPA is conducting further research that will link the ERMI scores to assessing health risks for susceptible individuals. This new scientific information, along with the national database will be invaluable in providing a more objective and standardized method for screening homes for mold.