Through our Environmental Health Division, HETI helps our insurance clients find effective solutions to their indoor air/mold problems - from assessment through remediation. We take a practical and professional approach to indoor air quality (IAQ) - blending environmental health, engineering, industrial hygiene, and risk management expertise with comprehensive knowledge of the surrounding liability and legal issues.
HETI offers a wide range of IAQ services - including:
|Environmental assessment and evaluation - using state-of-the-art methodologies and diagnostic tools to effectively assess indoor air quality and expertly evaluate potential human health risks and building contamination|
|Air monitoring - knowing when, where and how to sample and what to test…how to select qualified laboratories…and how to scientifically evaluate the results - in a "non-regulated" environment|
|Remediation services - ensuring effective mold/indoor air cleanup through the proper selection and management of qualified and experienced remediation contractors|
|Litigation and regulatory support - providing services tailored to client needs - including professional consultation, scientific/toxicological evidence, and expert witness testimony|
|Training and counsel - helping clients minimize potential hazards through the development, implementation and monitoring of effective training, indoor air quality, and risk management programs|
Representative Projects *
Construction Site Microbial Risk Assessment (Multi-State) – An environmental insurance company has retained HETI to assist in the underwriting decision-making process by conducting numerous microbial risk assessments of prospective insureds – owner-controlled insurance programs (OCIPS) that include developers and contractors involved in wrap-around construction projects – and by providing consultation in mold prevention. Risks have included “under-construction” projects such as: a 21-story luxury condominium hotel and twin 25-story residential condominium buildings in southern California; a 32-story casino resort hotel and a multi-use/multi-story retail/residential development project in Connecticut; a large museum in Washington, DC; and a 38-story luxury condominium resort hotel in Hawaii.
The scope of work has normally consisted of a meeting with construction management personnel and a site survey to gather information about the site – including type and stage of construction, occupancy, building components and design features (including building envelope components), selection of building materials, design reviews, project schedule, sequencing of construction operations, subcontractor qualification and selection, protection of delivered and stored building materials, emergency response procedures, building mechanical systems, environmental health and safety programs, water intrusion and mold prevention efforts, and post-construction activities and warranties. The purpose of the microbial risk assessment and mold prevention consultation has been to reduce the prospective insured’s exposure to water intrusion, water damage, and subsequent microbial growth in the built environment.
After review of a contractor’s mold prevention program and the completion of a construction site microbial risk inspection, HETI provides a comprehensive report to the underwriter, including opinions on whether project management is generally well-informed on proper management of microbial exposures, and site-specific recommendations for the developer, contractor and subcontractors necessary to reduce building mold exposures at the construction project site. HETI frequently provides: consultation in proper building design and construction, appropriate material selection for moisture tolerance and mold resistance, third-party testing and evaluation of the integrity of the building envelope, protecting building materials, and control methods to prevent problems caused by exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS)…assistance in modifying and/or implementing the mold prevention program…as well as inspections of work-in-progress for sources of water intrusion, water damage and mold growth during construction. In addition, HETI is often asked to conduct post-construction site inspections and/or provide contractor mold awareness training. HETI’s professional opinions and consultative services… along with the prospective insureds’ compliance with HETI’s recommendations…have resulted in binding hundreds of thousands of dollars in mold premium.
Indoor Air Quality Investigation (Florida) – HETI was retained by a large property and casualty insurance carrier to conduct an indoor air quality (IAQ)/mold assessment in a Florida hotel – where occupants of a conference/meeting room had submitted a general liability claim reporting illnesses alleged to have been caused by an odor in the hotel. Poor indoor air quality and/or microbial contamination were suspected to be the cause. The purpose of the investigation was to identify potential sources that could contribute to degradation of indoor air, to assess mold exposure, and to develop controls to eliminate/reduce exposure and interventions to correct the source of indoor air degradation, as needed.
HETI conducted a mold assessment of the hotel building, including inspection of: the conference/meeting room, to identify potential sources of water intrusion, microbial growth and indoor pollutants; interior and exterior walls, to evaluate potential microbial reservoirs indoors; as well as the roof and the perimeter around of the building. The building was also evaluated for design features that might contribute to water infiltration and/or mold amplification. An environmental sampling protocol was developed, based on the ability to identify microbiological indicators of microbial contamination; and viable/non-viable fungal air samples were collected in the suspect conference/meeting room, in a non-suspect area in a new conference/meeting room, and outdoors. Surface moisture measurements were taken on interior walls; and indoor environmental conditions, relative humidity and temperature were measured to determine indoor conditions conducive to mold contamination. HETI submitted eight recommendations (including specific control methods) to correct the source of the mold contamination (signs of structural building problems and evidence of water damage were observed on the roof and in an interstitial wall cavity in the conference/meeting room), along with a mold remediation work plan, to the insurance company and building owner. The information was used to correct the roof and building problems and to remediate the conference/meeting room.
Microbial Investigation (Florida) – A healthcare facility retained HETI to conduct a microbial investigation to determine the existence and extent of microbial contamination suspected within a medical office building, occupied by approximately 20 physicians and healthcare providers. According to many tenants, water leaks had occurred within the building, over several years, which had reportedly caused employee and patient health complaints.
HETI developed an investigation strategy for the site, based on the ability to identify indicators of microbial contamination and degradation of indoor air caused by building conditions. A visual inspection of the premises was conducted – including various public/private rooms and offices (including laboratories, kitchens, cleaning storage rooms, and bathrooms) and adjoining hallways; the ceiling plenum in several area; as well as the roof of the building. Indoor environmental conditions, relative humidity and temperature were measured to determine indoor conditions conducive to mold contamination; and surface moisture measurements were taken on suspected water-impacted interior walls to determine structural water damage. A sampling strategy was developed to characterize building mold contamination and degradation of indoor air caused by water intrusion and building conditions – without significant invasive/destructive testing. Viable and non-viable microbial air samples were collected in the suspect areas and outdoors; and viable/nonviable microbial and culturable surface samples were collected in suspect and non-suspect areas. The results of the microbial investigation indicated mold contamination in several areas of the healthcare facility. Visual signs of active water intrusion, water damage, and mold contamination and/or potential for mold amplification were observed in patient treatment rooms, medical diagnostic rooms, and common areas. Extremely high levels of Stachybotrys, a toxigenic fungus, were reported in one surface sample. Numerous historical structural building problems and substandard building maintenance practices were determined to be the source of the contamination. HETI submitted numerous recommendations to the healthcare tenants to provide to the building owner…and strongly encouraged that appropriate action be taken to correct the building problems and prevent microbial growth, to protect building occupants, patients and employees.
EIFS Awareness Training (Oregon) – HETI was contracted by an environmental insurance company to develop an EIFS awareness training program for a general contractor that specializes in building unique industrial, commercial, governmental, educational and institutional projects in the Pacific Northwest, frequently using EIFS cladding as a design feature. After a review and critique of the insured’s existing training, HETI developed a customized EIFS awareness training program – including comprehensive checklists for use during construction – to help mitigate problems with EIFS alleged to have caused water intrusion in buildings. HETI conducted the three-hour training seminar for the contractor’s 15 construction superintendents to facilitate program implementation, as well as risk assessments on two of the insured’s construction projects, in the following policy year, to evaluate execution of the EIFS training.
Microbial Risk Assessment (California) – An environmental insurance carrier contracted HETI to conduct a Microbial Risk Assessment of a recently completed two-tower, 18-story condominium located in southern California. A significant water loss had occurred during the final stages of construction when a high pressure fire sprinkler head ruptured in a condominium unit on the top floor of one of the towers – damaging, in varying degrees, a significant portion of the building. The scope of work consisted of a review of documents related to the water loss, and water damage/mold remediation activities performed at the water-impacted building tower; and a microbial risk site inspection to gather information about the condominium buildings, occupancy, property management and building maintenance, building components (including building envelope), emergency response procedures, building mechanical systems, environmental health and safety programs, water intrusion and mold prevention efforts, and post-construction activities and warranties. The purpose of the microbial risk assessment and mold prevention consultation was to provide information to be utilized in the underwriting decision-making process and to reduce the prospective insured’s exposure to water intrusion, water damage, and subsequent microbial growth in the built environment.
HETI reviewed all documentation provided relating to the water loss and building construction and conducted a series of conference calls with the prospective insured and their environmental consultants – to evaluate the efficacy of restorative drying and mold remediation conducted in the building. HETI also conducted conference calls with the prospective insured, the EIFS subcontractor, and a third-party consultant retained to evaluate EIFS installation on the project – to review EIFS design issues and to evaluate corrective actions taken in response to recommendations made by the consultant during construction of the condominium buildings. After conducting a comprehensive microbial risk site inspection, HETI concluded that the water loss was handled appropriately by the developer and contractor to mitigate damages and prevent microbial growth; that the building envelope including roof, walls, floors, windows, doors and EIFS cladding were in good condition, with no visible signs of construction defects or latent problems that could cause water intrusion or mold growth; and that the EIFS issues identified during construction were found to be adequately corrected. In total, HETI provided 11 site-specific recommendations to the insured to reduce building mold exposures. And the information provided by HETI was utilized by the underwriter to provide environmental insurance on the building.
Mold Management Program Development (Oregon) – A large property development company has retained HETI to develop customized mold management programs for residential condominium projects under development over the course of several years in the Pacific Northwest. Initially, a comprehensive visual assessment of each condominium site is performed by HETI during the final stages of construction to gather information about the site – including construction, occupancy, building components, building preventive maintenance practices and emergency response procedures, building mechanical systems, environmental health and safety programs, water intrusion and mold prevention efforts, the homeowners association, and warranties. A customized mold management program for the prevention, investigation, assessment and remediation of mold is then developed for each completed site based on the results of the assessment…and provided to the developer/owner, property manager, and condominium-owners’ association. The programs focus on a proactive approach to prevent conditions that cause mold growth; provide background information on mold; identify common sources of water intrusion and moisture buildup in residential occupancies; contain response procedures for water release incidents and visible mold growth; include decision-making criteria for water damage restoration and mold remediation, based on consensus guidelines and the current state of knowledge about mold and its adverse health effects; and include quality assurance tools to manage water intrusion and mold growth incidents and to monitor execution of the guidelines in an organized effective manner. In addition, HETI conducts Mold Awareness Training Seminars for the developer/owner, property management, and the condominium-owners’ association management, building managers, service subcontractors, and maintenance staff – to facilitate program implementation.
Mold Remediation Project Oversight (Florida) – HETI was hired by a large franchise owner of restaurants located throughout the United States to provide oversight project management of mold remediation on contaminated, exposed, unlined, sheet metal ductwork in a South Florida restaurant dining room. After performing a site inspection to identify the source and extent of contamination, HETI developed a written mold remediation plan for the contaminated HVAC system and recommended control methods to eliminate the source of the contamination. HETI solicited qualified contractors to perform the mold remediation and managed the project (working throughout several nights, while the restaurant was closed, with the remediation crew) to ensure that remediation protocols were being followed. Post-remediation verification visual inspection and air monitoring were conducted prior to completion of the project to ensure that the contaminated ductwork had been successfully remediated and that the restaurant’s dining room was clean.
Microbial Remediation Oversight (Louisiana) – HETI was retained by an environmental insurance carrier to assess and provide oversight for microbial remediation efforts at a building demolition/renovation and hotel construction site in downtown New Orleans. All of the renovated buildings on the site were over 110-years-old and had visible mold growth on structural building components. Asbestos containing material and lead-based paint were also present. The scope of work consisted of regular communication and meetings with the insured and construction site management during demolition and structural restoration, visual inspections of the construction site for microbial growth prior to building renovations, a review of an independent consultant’s bid specifications for microbial remediation, a review of a mold operations/maintenance plan for hotel personnel, and a review of remediation activities and post-remediation verification sampling results.
During the renovation project HETI determined that the environmental consulting company hired by the insured was not providing adequate assessment strategies of building contamination, quantitatively and qualitatively, and was not following their written scope of work. HETI developed supplementary specifications – which were included in a written mold remediation work plan – and met with all parties to preplan and agree on remediation protocols and post-remediation sampling strategy in order to avoid delays due to ambiguity. HETI also communicated regularly with the environmental consulting company to ensure prompt, judicious efforts in mold remediation prior to hotel occupancy.
Microbial Damage Assessment (Florida) – A leading excess and surplus lines insurance carrier retained HETI to evaluate the merits of a claim from an aircraft manufacturer for property damages resulting from mold contamination caused by water intrusion from Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. HETI performed a visual inspection of three large buildings with significant water damage. Bulk, surface, wall cavity and microbial air samples were collected from each building. Surface moisture measurements were taken to evaluate restorative drying measures taken by the insured after the hurricanes. Other parameters were measured – including relative humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels – to evaluate degradation of building substrates and materials caused by lack of climate control and ambient conditions in the damaged structures. HETI communicated preliminary findings to the insured based upon several sets of sampling results and data measured for each affected building. The results
were used to arrive at a cost settlement for property damages favorable to both the insured and the insurance company.
Mold Investigation (New Hampshire) - A leading property/casualty insurance company retained HETI to conduct a mold investigation at an insured's owned-and-occupied, three-story office building - abutting a fire-damaged building. This seven-story commercial structure had been left open to the weather elements for more than 18 months since the fire. HETI's task was to determine the effects on the insured premises caused by fire suppression activities and water infiltration over time…and to investigate health complaints by its tenants. During the initial office building inspection, HETI discovered active mold growth - associated with rainwater infiltration at the abutting wall, caused by the lack of a roof and other building envelope openings in the fire-damaged structure. Tenant health complaints were also found to be the result of this indoor mold growth. These conclusions were later confirmed by the analysis of culturable, microbial air samples taken within the insured building…that also indicated mold contamination within the air handler unit on the lower level. HETI met with the restoration contractor on site to discuss how to bring the insured building back to habitable condition. In addition, to prevent further water infiltration, HETI recommended that appropriate vapor barriers be installed in the wall cavity adjoining the fire-damaged structure. The contractor developed a mold remediation work plan, that was reviewed by HETI, and then remediated the contaminated parts of the building, including the HVAC system. Post remediation clearance sampling was performed by HETI - indicating that total fungal spores had significantly decreased in the remediated space - prior to re-occupancy.
* This is a brief description of selected Indoor Air Quality/Mold projects completed by HETI. For a more complete discussion of our capabilities, please contact us for a copy of our Statement of Qualifications.