But, while most of the information on this recent episode of Dr. Oz Healthy Home Investigation was correct, a simple mold fact check reveals some important errors.
First, the good parts of this show:
Dr. Oz did cover the types of mold scam artists out there. He teamed up with Mike Holmes (of Holmes on Homes fame) and consumer expert Lisa Lee Freeman and demonstrated some of the common mold inspection and remediation scams.
From a backdrop of investigative reporting, Dr. Oz summed up the 5 biggest red flags that alert you to mold scam artists.
So if you see:
- Mold inspectors that have no equipment like meters to measure the moisture.
- Mold inspectors with no licenses.
- A mold removal contractor who suggests you clean with bleach.
- Or any mold inspector or remediator who suggests that “your homeowner’s insurance will pay to remove mold.” (Most homeowner and business insurance policies don’t cover mold remediation, unless you paid to have a “mold rider” on your policy.)
- Or if a mold abatement contractor gives a verbal estimate, usually a high dollar amount, without a written, detailed scope of work.
Then be wary!
Like it says on the show: “This is just a scare tactic.”
And, we heartily agree! Don’t be fooled! If you see any of these red flags when a mold inspector and removal contractor visits your home, be on guard!
However, there are a couple of errors with the presentation that need clarification.
Here’s where a mold fact check with industry experts might have helped.
First, Mike Holmes says:
“You hire an electrician and they don’t have a license, would you let him do the electrical? I don’t think so. The same should be true of mold.”
Yeah, that sounds good.
But here’s the deal….
Consumers California need to know there is NO license or certification required to perform mold inspection or mold removal in our area.
In fact, there are currently only three states New York, Texas, and Florida, that actually require mold inspectors and mold removal contractors to have a license to operate.
What that means is that you can be at a greater risk of a mold scam.
But, that doesn’t mean that every contractor who has a home improvement license or certificate knows how to remove mold safely from your home.
Second, Mike Holmes states you don’t use bleach to kill mold. And, most times, we agree with that.
I understand that the investigators were trying to make a point. They were trying to illustrate the prevalence of mold removal scams. But, it’s only partly true that you don’t use bleach to kill mold.
In the next section of the program Dr. Oz shares 3 questions every homeowner should ask their mold inspector or mold remediation company during the initial site visit.
- The first questions is “Are you certified?”
- The second question is “How long have they been certified?” And Dr. Oz suggests homeowners ask for documentation to prove this!
- And the last question is, “Do you do both testing and cleaning?”
The experts on the show suggest that if a contractor does both, it’s a conflict of interest.Because we’ve written about this issue in a previous blog post, we most definitely agree!
So keeping these questions in mind will, as Dr. Oz says, helps “protect yourself from false claims and blatant lies from something as scary as mold.”
But then Mike Holmes states:
“In most places you’re not even allowed to do both.”
And this is simply not true!
A simple mold fact check reveals that there are only three states that specifically prohibit companies from doing both mold testing and mold remediation.
As mentioned above, those states are Florida, Texas, and New York.
In the third section of the program focusing on mold, “Healthy Home Experts,” Lisa and Ron Beres, evaluate the effectiveness of 3 different “at home” mold testing kits.
First, they tested the petri dish method.
I was relieved to hear Lisa state, “These can create false positives and false negatives. … I’d say this test is not worth it. Skip it.”
Next, they evaluated the swab test method.
Again, I was relieved to hear Ron state that these tests are “Fairly limited because it only focuses on one specific type of mold. It won’t give a detailed analysis if there are other molds there.”
And we agree with this too!
But then, the third test Ron recommended was the ERMI test, or the “Environmental Relative Moldiness Index.”
He states it involves “Taking a dust sample from your carpet.” And then he claims “It’s going to give you accurate results.”
A simple mold fact check would have revealed that the ERMI test should NOT be used for do it yourself, in-home mold testing!
The EPA developed this test for research purposes, and then patented it. It’s been on the market since the year 2000 for certified professionals to use.