Will Indoor Mold Still Reign as Top IAQ Issue for Legislators?

Primarily fueled by the worry over indoor mold growth, 2003 will be remembered as one of most active years for indoor air quality (IAQ) state legislative initiatives, but will 2004 be as active and will indoor mold growth still reign as the top IAQ issue?

Attention seems to be focused more on IAQ in schools and in public buildings than on mold, according to a preview of the 2004 state legislative season, available on Aerias (http://www.aerias.orgwww.aerias.org), a comprehensive online resource for IAQ information and education.

In 2003, 27 state legislatures considered more than 60 pieces of IAQ-related legislation, with 18 becoming law. Some predict another very active year in 2004. Some highlights of bills already proposed include a comprehensive school IAQ bill in Florida that would require each school district to adopt and implement an IAQ management program as well as uniform IAQ inspections and evaluations. A proposed bill in New Hampshire would mandate the state's Department of Education to develop and implement IAQ standards for public elementary and secondary schools. In Pennsylvania, a bill to set minimum IAQ and ventilation standards for all places of employment is presently working its way through committee.

Mold certification and training are still of prime interest to legislators, with Wisconsin, Kentucky and Florida already working on proposed bills to ensure that those who assess and remediate mold in indoor environments are properly trained.

The Florida bill, sponsored by Florida State Sen. Michael S. Bennett, is intended to regulate individuals and companies that promote themselves as qualified to perform mold-related activities. It has earned the support of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, which submitted comments to Bennett in a letter.

"AIHA members in Florida and around the country share Senator Bennett's concern about the potentially harmful effects microbial growth may have on the health of the public, workers and other exposed individuals," said AIHA President Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH.

Over the past several years, AIHA has reviewed dozens of legislative measures addressing the issue of mold, and the association believes that a successful bill must include language that adequately defines the terms "mold inspection" and "mold remediation." AIHA supports the definitions Bennett used in SB 1350.

In addition, the association is pleased that S.B. 1350 does not attempt to set "safe" exposure levels for mold. "With the current science, AIHA does not believe it is possible for any single study to ascertain levels of exposure to mold or their products that may be harmful to human health," said Grumbles. "It is virtually impossible to specify levels at which the many different kinds of mold may create health effects."

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