NORMI, or the National Organization of Remediators and Microbial Inspectors, is a cooperative network of first responders working to solve indoor air quality (IAQ) and mold problems. It is an organization dedicated to improving indoor living environments by educating the public and training professionals to identify air and water quality issues and offer solutions to improve them.
What sets NORMI-certified IAQ specialists apart?
Many states require that indoor air quality and mold remediation specialists receive certification from a qualified organization, including NORMI. Although California is not among these states, we at Pure Maintenance of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo use NORMI-certified technicians to align with our commitment to provide unparalleled services you can count on to do the job right.
NORMI-certified professionals must have a robust understanding of how IAQ may affect human health, what conditions lead to diminished IAQ, and what solutions are necessary to restore a space with poor IAQ. Additionally, NORMI defines standards and procedures that certified specialists must use to ensure effective treatment.
We explain some of those standards below:
A mold assessment, or a mold inspection, is a process to determine where mold is growing in a building, what caused the mold to grow, and how severe the mold problem may be. When the severity of the mold problem exceeds NORMI’s minimum standard for healthy indoor air quality, we can recommend and provide solutions to remediate the mold problem and restore air quality to healthy levels. NORMI determines that a mold problem demands remediation when any of the following criteria are met:
- When the amount of visible mold exceeds 10 sq. ft., contiguous or cumulative in a single HVAC coverage area
- When visible mold is Stachybotrys (black mold) or any other zero-tolerance mold, as specified in the NORMI™ Sampling Interpretation Chart
- When the moisture content behind any visible mold exceeds 17%
High humidity, active moisture, or other water intrusion is a principal cause of mold growth and must be resolved before executing any remediation services.
The remediator is responsible for identifying, repairing, and resolving any excessive moisture intrusion that caused the mold or indoor air quality issues. The amount of visible mold and severity of the mold problem will also determine the level of protective gear and containment requirements necessary to protect the health of the workers and building occupants.
Additionally, the remediator must evaluate the building’s HVAC system to clear it of any mold infestation.
Remediation Project Levels
Every mold problem is unique, and any assessor and remediator must consider site-specific conditions when evaluating the necessary course of action. NORMI defines certain levels to guide IAQ specialists to the appropriate scale of remediation solutions. These are:
- Level One: There is less than ten sq. ft. of visible mold contamination, and contamination does not exceed safety standards defined by government regulation. The assessor may use their judgment to determine if conditions rise to higher levels despite contamination falling outside these standards.
- Level Two: There are between ten and one hundred square feet of visible mold contamination.
- Level Three: There is more than one hundred square feet of visible mold contamination.
- Level Four: Occupants of the space are environmentally sensitive or immunocompromised, regardless of the square footage. A remediator should implement special containment protocols in accordance with guidelines established by Infection Control Risk Assessment and, when appropriate, the practices included here. This level requires special training and may take more time than traditional remediation.
Where special containment is necessary for the remediation process, NORMI recommends the following guidelines
- Limited containment for areas with between ten and one hundred square feet of visible mold contamination
- Full containment for areas with more than one hundred square feet of visible mold contamination. The containment area must maintain the recommended negative pressure using specialized equipment such as a HEPA air filtration device or negative air machine. A minimum of four to six air changes per hour are recommended for containment ventilation and dilution. This can create airflow hazards in some climate conditions and must be executed with caution.
- Confined containment is the highest level and should be used on projects where environmentally sensitive or immunocompromised occupants will continue to use the space post-remediation. This level uses protocols established by Infection Control Risk Assessment Guidelines.
NORMI Sanitization Protocol
NORMI requires the following protocol on all projects with elevated mold counts, as interpreted by its certified professionals.
- Thorough fogging and wipe-down of the entire environment with an approved anti-microbial solution, taking special care not to damage sensitive materials. This step includes fogging of a second, protective solution to reduce the possibility of future mold problems.
- Recommendation, as necessary, that the HVAC system be cleaned by an approved HVAC technician or cleaning specialist. In these instances, the NADCA guidelines should be used.
- Installation of air filtration and purification equipment according to NORMI’s indoor air quality recommendations. Implementing air purification solutions will improve IAQ and reduce contaminants that lead to mold and bacteria proliferation.
- Installation of passive fresh-air exchange to reduce random air-pollutant infiltration and enhance the effectiveness of air purification systems is recommended but not required.
- Installation of electrical outlet cover insulators on all perimeter walls of the building envelope should be included to help mitigate air infiltration issues that could harm IAQ.
- Ongoing use of water-based cleaning solutions to reduce VOCs and odors. These solutions should be biodegradable and usable as an all-purpose cleaner.
- The mold professional should consider providing the client with a copy of NORMI’s sanitization protocol, which includes the article “36 Ways to Have a Healthier Indoor Environment” from Mold-Free Construction.
- Recommend post-treatment screening after remediation has concluded and on an annual basis to ensure maintenance of a clean, healthy environment.