Hussey To Congress: Mold Concerns Demand Research, Education, Liability Help

Growing concerns over toxic mold in buildings need to be addressed through greater research, education, performance standards, and assistance with liability costs, the chairman of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) recently told Congress. "When toxic mold invades our living and working space, it can pose serious health threats to some," said Jim Hussey, president of Marina Mechanical in San Leandro, CA in written testimony to a joint subcommittee hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. "Unfortunately, there are no authoritative studies establishing a reliable, scientific link between mold and the illnesses we are reading about." Rampant news reports have fueled fear among consumers, and opportunistic activity by trial lawyers, Hussey said, which is leading to a liability insurance problem for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) contractors. "Many people spot mold and immediately hire an attorney, regardless of the type of mold. It doesn't occur to them to first identify the mold through testing, which is every bit as important as remediation." Hussey pointed out that HVACR systems do not cause mold. "On the contrary, a well-functioning HVACR system and a well-trained, alert technician [are the] best defense against the spread of mold." Hussey recommended that Congress focus its efforts on the following key areas: • Fund research to investigate and establish methods and approaches to control moisture, and determine what molds, if any, are toxic and their long-term health effects • Raise standards of performance in mold remediation to fight the growing number of "scam artists" who take advantage of uneducated homeowners • Help professional contractors find and maintain affordable mold liability insurance coverage • Educate consumers to reduce the risk of mold contamination through the proper sizing, installation, and maintenance of HVACR systems in accordance with accepted industry practices, such as ACCA’s Manual J[TM] • Investigate the possible establishment of an insurance pool to cover consumers as well as contractors and their technicians who work around mold • Establish geographic benchmarks so toxic mold can be controlled, taking into account the climatic differences around the country. A copy of Hussey's testimony is available at www.acca.org.

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