John Jones, Mold Test Expert

John JonesJohn A. Jones, PE, CBO, is currently the president and CEO of Dart Engineering LLC. Mr. Jones has a bachelor of science degree in engineering (cum laude) from the University of Akron. He has completed formal training courses with the Schatz Mold Inspection Institute, the American Management Association, the American Arbitration Association, the American Concrete Institute and the USAF Civil Engineering School. Mr. Jones has over 35 years of worldwide professional engineering and construction experience, most of which has been in Florida.

Mr. Jones has current active Florida licenses as a professional engineer, general contractor, mechanical contractor, building code administrator, building code inspector, and building plans examiner. he has also been certified as a mold inspector, ICC building code official, AAA commercial arbitrator, and as an FDOT construction engineering inspector. He is a professional member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the International Code Council (ICC).

As president of Dart Engineering LLC since 2000, Mr. Jones has focused his expertise in construction consulting with particular emphasis in building inspections and litigation support. His experience includes termite damage assessments, mold and indoor air quality investigations, building maintenance evaluations and expert witness testimony. He also performs condominium reserve calculations for new and converted condominium properties. As a product of his extensive knowledge and expertise, Mr. Jones has been a guest speaker at numerous professional gatherings, continuing education seminars and at the University of Florida’s Rinker School of Building Construction.

What initially sparked your interest in becoming an expert on mold testing?
In my forensic engineering practice I routinely got involved in projects where water intrusion had damaged buildings and created a mold problem. Rather than refer the mold evaluation work out to other firms, two of my associates and I got certified and now handle this ourselves.

Why is it important to have mold testing conducted?
Mold testing is important for several reasons:
  • Mold can adversely affect the health of the building occupants. People get sick and the property owner gets sued.
  • The presence of mold means there is a problem with the building. Testing can help determine the nature and location of the moisture source causing the problem, as well as the extent of the problem.
  • Mold testing can also be used to establish that a building does not have a mold problem and is a healthy building. This can be important when selling a building or defending a “sick building” claim made by an occupant.
What is the most hazardous type of mold, and where in a building is it usually found?
According to EMLab P&K, a certified microbiology lab used exclusively by our company, the following fungi are capable of mycotoxin production:
  • Ascospores:Commonly found outdoors and/or growing on damp organic substrates
  • Chaetomium:Often found on paper products such as wet sheetrock
  • Fusarium:Requires a very damp location and can often be found on sheetrock and water reservoirs such as humidifiers and air conditioner drip pans.
  • Penicilium/Aspergillus:Tend to colonize on continuously damp materials such as sheetrock, household fabrics, and house dusts.
  • Stachybotrys:Commonly found on materials containing cellulose such as sheetrock, jute, wicker, straw baskets, books, and newspaper.

How can people tell if they have a mold problem? Are there any tell-tale signs a homeowner should be aware of?
There are several simple signs of high levels of mold:
  • Musty smell
  • Visible growth of mold. Green, brown, black colored spots. Mildew is mold.
  • Health problems similar to asthmatic conditions, including burning eyes, nose, and throat; watering eyes; coughing and sneezing; and breathing problems.
When high levels of mold are found in a home, what measures must be taken before a home is considered safe to reenter?
Mold remediation is a multi-step process and should be done by a professional with the proper protective equipment following EPA guidelines:
  • Immediately locate the source of the moisture and eliminate it. Typical causes include roof leaks, leaky plumbing, inadequate humidity control of the air conditioning system, spillage, boiling water/cooking, ground water, and flooding.
  • Identify all wet materials and dry them out within 48 hours of becoming wet. If not possible to dry out within 48 hours, remove and destroy. Ventilate affected areas.
  • Wash down all impervious surfaces with a biocide.
  • Retest to confirm mold has been remediated. If not adequately remediated, start over.
What are the most important pieces of equipment and supplies that mold testing companies must have?
Mandatory equipment:
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including a respirator, surgical gloves, eye protection, etc.
  • Electronic moisture meter to determine moisture levels in solid materials
  • Bioaerosol testing equipment (spore trap and laboratory quality vacuum pump) for taking air samples
  • Electronic psychrometer to measure dew points and relative humidity levels in the indoor and outdoor air
  • Infrared scanning device to determine cool spots indicative of moisture presence
  • Digital camera for documentation
What education and training is necessary to do mold testing and who provides it?
Taking the samples is the easy part and can be learned by someone in a few days. Knowing where to take the samples and how to diagnose the problem and understand the test results are a different story. This takes technical training and experience in engineering and/or the sciences. A background in building construction or building sciences is a big plus. Finally, specialized training in mold, mold testing, EPA guidelines and protocol, and other relevant subjects is essential before one is qualified and certified to go into the field. Even after certification, working as an intern under a seasoned technician is recommended.

What is the most significant piece of advice you can offer to consumers who wish to get their homes or businesses tested for mold?
My #1 advice to consumers when selecting a firm to test their property is that this is a very serious and potentially costly issue. Focus on selecting the most experienced and qualified firm who has both general and professional liability insurance, plus workers compensation. Testing fees and costs should be secondary in your decision.

To learn more about mold tests, read our Mold Test Guide. To find a mold test or testing organization, consult our Mold Test Directory.
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