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Wayne S.

Top 10 states for mold contamination may surprise you

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Atlanta/July 10,2006/PRNewswire/—Contrary to popular belief, climate is not a good gauge for mold risk, according to a ranking of states at risk for mold contamination on commercial and residential property. Areas with dry climates like Nevada and Arizona made it to the top 10 while some Gulf States did not come close.

Because mold damage is now excluded or severely limited on standard property insurance, concerns about the financial impact of a mold outbreak in a home or business continue to rise.

In the relative hazard ranking model developed by American Risk Management Resources (ARMR) and now being used by www.Greenguard Environmental Institute.org (GEI), "dry states" (Oklahoma, Kansas) intermingle with predictably high-risk mold zones (Florida, South Carolina) as high risk. But Texas beat them all:

Top 10 Relative Hazard Mold Ranking

1. Texas 2.95

2. Florida 2.50

3. Oklahoma 2.45

4. South Carolina 1.91

5. Nevada 1.90

6. Arizona 1.90

7. California 1.73

8. South Dakota 1.47

9. Tennessee 1.33

10. Kansas 1.25

Bottom 5 Relative Hazard Mold Ranking

1. Wisconsin .06

2. West Virginia .07

3. Alabama .13

4. Massachusetts .18

5. Minnesota .19

The GEI/ARMR relative hazard ranking model was developed by comparing mold losses on insurance claims with premiums paid on property and liability coverage in each of the 50 states. The hazard ranking model does not yet reflect claims associated with 2005 hurricanes that struck the Southeastern US. Wisconsin has the lowest relative mold loss rate, which is one-50th the loss rate in Texas based on the relative frequency of insurance claims.

"Mention mold right now, and the Gulf Coast comes to mind first, but the contamination on real estate hit by hurricanes was generally less significant overall than mold growth caused by inferior building materials or poor construction," said Carl Smith, CEO/Executive Director of GEI, a non-profit organization working with lenders and developers on mold risk mitigation techniques. "It's counterintuitive to think of shopping centers in Phoenix or casinos in Las Vegas as being at risk for mold, but it makes sense when you examine the causes of mold and problems often caused by modern building practices and materials."

According to Smith, many buildings and houses in dry climates develop mold issues when moisture is nurtured within walls and windows that are tightly sealed off from consistently hot conditions outside.

"Think of a glass of ice water sitting on your porch in 95-degree heat," said Smith. "Condensation quickly forms on the outside of the glass, but unlike your drink, condensation in a home or business has nowhere to run off so it builds up in the cavities of the structure, creating an ideal climate for mold contamination."As mold decreases property values, it could force many owners into default, forcing mortgages into a "non-performing loan" category, the worst-case scenario for lenders. That classification causes a negative chain reaction from ratings agencies, regulatory authorities and shareholders.

"In the age of universal mold exclusions on insurance policies, everyone involved in real estate needs to diligently manage the mold risk," said David J. Dybdahl, head of ARMR, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm specializing in environmental insurance covering mold.

GEI recently announced a mold risk reduction program, based on a compilation of best practices that GEI has proposed as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. The proposed standard has been preliminarily reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and piloted with several building owners. Building consultancies review and assess properties based on the standard; once this is successfully completed, property owners can apply to GEI for certification under the Greenguard Mold Protection Program. Once a property is certified, it can be promoted to lenders, insurers and prospective tenants. "Who is ultimately holding the financial bag for construction and permanent mortgages along with business loans to builders? The lender," said Smith. "The bank typically holds 80% or more of the risk in these loans (since 20% is typically invested by the borrower). Therefore, the smart lenders will work even faster to protect themselves."

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I not discrediting the findings or how it relates to our businesses but, it makes since that these states have more mold damage insurance claims since they generally have a higher population of people. It would be neat to see which states have the highest amount of mold per capita or percentage of homes with mold damage but I guess that wouldn't be useful other than to us.

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Has anyone ever had to deal with mold in there homes? I have a small problem in a damp basement and I have been trying to find a product I can use myself to clean and kill the mold so I do not have to hire someone and pay the big bucks. Any suggestions or Info would be greatly appreiciated.

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You can use regular hosehold bleach and water, (50/50) to kill the mold. But, it will continue to come back until you remove the moisture problem. You need to seal basement walls with a product like "damtite" or others and possibly run a dehumidifier to help solve the moisture problem.

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With regard to Mold if you have a problem with mold, first find the source of the water, or moisture and FIX it NOW!!!! Sometimes with regard to a damp basement Dryloc or similiar product the walls. Invest in a dehumidifier NOW. I am surprised that a simple purchase of a dehumidifier can be the answer to preventing a mold problem. Another issue that was written is someone mentioned Mold claims, you had better check your insurance policy, NOT Covered (most of the time) now water damage generally is, check your policy. I have posted in all three sections under mold different responses for each because I feel there is alot of misinformation out there. The biggest thing I can say is go get educated. A good mold assessment/evaluation course is a minimum of 2 days. A good remediation course should be atleast 4-5 days. There are two different courses.Don't skimp on those single day course they are worthless. Get educated about mold and good luck.

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