IICRC S520: Mold Has a New Enemy

The IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Mold Remediation has been published, the result of two years of collaborative efforts on the part of industry experts, microbiologists, public health experts, industrial hygienists, and other scientists, remediation contractors and professionals.

IICRC S520 is a procedural standard for use by those involved in the mold remediation industry, as well as a supplementary reference guide. The standard is printed first within the document in colored pages, followed by the longer reference guide section. This document was written primarily for technicians who remediate mold damage, and secondly for those who will investigate, write remediation specifications, protocols and procedures, and/or perform remediation investigations and management of remediation projects. The procedures outlined in the standard do not allow for shortcuts or partial remedies.

There are many areas in the document that initiated great discussion and debate. One very important consideration is the distinction between the procedural requirements for mold remediation contractors and indoor environmental professionals. It was decided the S520 would not attempt to address standards for indoor environmental assessments.

The S520 also presents a paradigm shift with the question of quantities of mold that triggers different remediation activities. The procedures used to remediate actual growth (Condition 3) are different from those used for the cleanup of spores that have contaminated the surrounding area (Condition 2) as a result of being dispersed from the areas of actual growth. The S520 recognizes that uncontaminated buildings (Condition 1) will have some presence of fungal growth or settled spores, and the successful remediation of areas of actual growth and dissemination of spores requires the building be returned to that uncontaminated condition.

The principles and processes of remediation used in the S520 include five areas:
  • Provide for the health and safety of occupants and workers.
  • Assessments and pre-remediation documentation.
  • Control the contaminant at its source.
  • Physically remove the contamination.
  • Correct the moisture problem to prevent recontamination.

    The intention of the S520 Standard was to put into writing the best, most-current information "of the time" for performing mold-remediation work. Committee members researched and reviewed available literature and information previously peer-reviewed and accepted. By putting the information in writing in the standard and reference guide, the industry can review and put in place procedures to follow in their own companies and then, through fieldwork and testing, challenge the information to improve and update or validate the procedures. This process allows our industry to grow the science of remediation and achieve our overall goal to protect human health in the indoor environment.

    The document was developed by a large group of volunteers. The S520 Standard Committee was made up of 28 very dedicated people, many of whom then chaired or co-chaired the 14 subcommittees that created the various chapters and sections of the reference guide. The main committee wrote the outline of the chapters and the "flow" within the sections of those chapters, and submitted them to the subcommittees, who then spent nine months writing their chapters and submitting their documents to the main committee for peer review and comment.

    The S520 was then turned over to a 14-member editing committee that worked with technical writers and editors to produce the final document prior to publication. It was also was sent to more than 300 industry professionals for peer review. In addition, several presentations were made to related professional associations and groups in an effort to invite industry wide participation.

    The reference guide includes 12 chapters, an appendix, a glossary of terms and an index. The chapters include discussions on fungal ecology; health effects; principles of mold remediation; administrative procedures and insurance; limitations, complexities, complications and conflicts; inspections and preliminary determinations; structural remediation; HVAC remediation; contents remediation; tools, equipment and materials; health and safety; and indoor environmental professionals.

    The reference guide was written using the most-up-to-date information available. The IICRC S520 Standards Committee attempted to combine essential academic principles in conjunction with elements of water damage restoration for field technicians facing "real-life" residential and commercial mold remediation processes from the perspective of multiple disciplines.

    The IICRC S520 Standard was written in an ANSI (American National Standards Institute)-type format and is therefore short and concise. The standard has 16 sections, and includes information from the standards committee about the document.

    The work, research and final product could not have been accomplished without dozens of volunteers who committed endless hours to this vitally important document. The following individuals and organizations provided outstanding efforts in the development of this standard: Barry Costa, Vice-Chair/Secretary, The Costa Group, Inc.; Jeff Bishop, IICRC Technical Advisor, Clean Care Seminars; Eugene Cole, PhD, Brigham Young University; Daniel Bernazzani, Liberty Consulting; Cliff Grost, Multi-Maintenance; Carl Grimes, Healthy Habitats, Darrell Paulsen, Advanced Restoration Specialists; Peter Sierck, Environmental Testing and Technology, Inc.; Richard Shaughnessy, PhD, University of Tulsa; John Banta, Restoration Consultants, Inc.; Patrick Moffett, Environmental Management and Engineering, Inc.; Rachel Adams, Indoor Air Management; Rusty Amarante, Belfor; Edward H. Cross, Esq., Edward H. Cross & Associates, PC; Tom Yacobellis, Indoor Air Quality Association and Ductbusters, Inc.; Jim Pearson, Association of Specialist in Cleaning and Restoration; Robert Baker, BBJ Environmental Solutions, Inc.; Frank Van Zant, Steamatic Corporation; Dane Gregory, 3D Corporation; Cliff Zlotnik, Unsmoke Systems; Charlie Wiles, Executive Director, American Indoor Air Quality Council; Chris Netherton, National Carpet Cleaners Association, England; Steven J. Phillips, PhD, The Carpet and Rug Institute; Tim Toburen, Restcon, Inc.; Kirk Lively, Belfor; Ruth Travis, International Society of Cleaning Technicians, IICRC Vice-President, RL Seminars; James Craner, MD; Sean Abbott, Mold Lab; Kathi Giaramita, ServiceMaster Clean; Jeanna R. Sellmeyer, Asset Group, Inc.; Don Cochlin, J and M Keystone, Inc.; Jim Mosier, Reiter Mosier, Restoration Specialist, and many more. The IICRC is proud to have partnered in this effort with the IEI, the IAQA, the AIAQC, the ISCT and the NADCA.

    This standard was developed with reference to previously published guidelines for mold remediation. It updates and addresses new research on potential adverse health effects brought about by fungal exposure. While IICRC S500 deals with procedures for documenting and drying structures and contents, IICRC S520 addresses procedures for inspecting fungal contamination, proper containment, air management and control, and physical procedures for remediation.

    As with all the IICRC standards, IICRC S520 was designed to be a "living document." Improvements in the technology of mold remediation coupled with research and testing necessitate periodic updates. In fact, research, testing and other work to further advance the science of mold remediation is ongoing as this document is being published. We encourage participation and comments about the written material. We further encourage the industry to fund future testing of areas within this document and have them reviewed, published and accepting by our industry.

    The field of mold remediation is enormous. Currently there is not enough valid testing and published information in all areas. Any comments, suggestions and valid data should be forwarded to the IICRC to help further the industry consensus process. ICS

    (Editor's Note: Beginning in February, ICS columnist Jeff Bishop will begin closely examining the IICRC S520 in his "Rx for Restoration" column. Watch for it!)

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