We are often asked how the innocent consumer can determine that the mold company they hire is qualified. How do they know the difference between the professional and the charlatan? There are several important clues, as long as you know what to look for.
I find it very important that the consultant has been schooled in science. This allows him to understand the concepts, decipher the industry standards (written by other science guys) and dismiss nonsense. If your consultant has a degree in marketing or finance, he will probably be adept at taking your money. Not so much at fixing your water and mold problem.
This factor ties directly into the educational aspect, since there are some certifications that can be achieved just by showing up at the 2-day class. Virtually all of the common mold certifications are in this category. You do not need any particular background or education, just attend the course and pass the test. I have the “Certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor” (CMRS), issued by the ACAC after a 3-day course. I enjoyed the course, debated with the instructors during the whole thing, and still managed to pass somehow.
Look for more broadly based certifications. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene awards a certification called the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) which is the gold standard in the industry. It is not a 3-day deal. It requires a minimum of 5 years working and learning under another CIH. It also requires extensive continuing education credits and then passing tests that are designed to kill a horse. It is equivalent to what a professional engineer (PE) or registered architect (AIA) has to go through, only with a sole focus on exposures to environmental contaminants. Ask your guy if he has the broad based industrial hygiene certification.
Presuming you have checked the above, this may be the most important criterion. Does he have 20 years experience assessing environmental exposure issues, or 20 years in sales and marketing? Experience in the field of indoor air quality, mold and moisture intrusion allows one to correctly identify not only the issues but also the solutions. It is a major bonus when the consultant can not only fix the mold problem but also fix the water issue.
I offer a word of warning. When a consultant is trying to scare you, they are sales based and not science based. There is no hysteria in science. The alarmist sales approach is frequently successful but it will not solve your problem. It will simply cost you more money than necessary. Honesty and integrity are pretty important attributes of the consultant you want.
Find someone who is calm and matter-of-fact. I don’t want to sound like Joe Friday, but he was right. “Just the facts ma’m, nothing but the facts”. The science approach may not seem exciting to you (it is to me), but it sure is effective. Let’s get this puppy figured out.