It has been asked if Industrial Hygienists are needed to properly test and inspect a home for mold?
The short answer is no. While Industrial Hygienists are trained in the theory of environmental testing, (per the American Industrial Hygiene Association's web site- "A professional industrial hygienist is a person possessing either a baccalaureate degree in engineering, chemistry, or physics or a baccalaureate degree in a closely related biological or physical science from an accredited college or university, who also has a minimum of three years of industrial hygiene experience. A completed doctoral in a related physical, biological or medical science or in related engineering can be substituted for two years of the three-year requirement. A completed master's degree in a related physical or biological science or in related engineering can be substituted for one year of the three-year requirement. Under no circumstances can more than two years of graduate training be applied toward the three-year period."), an Industrial Hygienist is just that. Industrial!
In regards to mold testing, lets take for example P&G; an Industrial Hygienist is more than capable of testing that facility. Unfortunately though for the Industrial Hygienist, there is no requirement for any type of construction training or experience listed in the American Industrial Hygiene Association's requirements for membership. When a large industrial company calls an industrial hygienist, they are expecting to retain the services of a highly educated "air quality" tester (in regards to mold testing) trained in an industrial climate. If the air quality tests come back positive for unusual or an elevated mold level(s), they would then have to hire/transfer to the appropriate specialist to evaluate construction or building component defects to establish a cause for the problem.
There are several problems with this in regards to residential - retail & most commercial mold testing applications.
Although an Industrial Hygienist is over qualified to test a broad range of indoor air quality problems, they are disproportionately under qualified in diagnosing the cause of such. In other words, an Industrial Hygienist is incapable of providing a complete residential or commercial mold inspection based on their documentable training and expertise to become an Industrial Hygienist (as accepted by the American Industrial Hygiene Association). On the other hand many certified mold tester's are experienced in residential & commercial construction techniques as certified residential & commercial building inspectors or building contractors. This is of great advantage to the residential & savvy business owner! A certified mold tester with training or experience as a certified building inspector can not only properly detect and report elevated or unusual mold levels within a house but, also the construction/component defects that has caused the problem at a reasonable cost.
The costs to hire an Industrial Hygienist as well as a follow-up Construction Specialist are cost prohibitive to most home & business owners.
There has been some debate for some time on whether or not it is better to hire an engineer to perform a building inspection. Although highly educated, an engineer's training usually falls short of the many disciplines needed to properly perform a complete residential home inspection. Let's take for example, an electrical engineer would be overqualified to perform an electrical inspection but fall short on HVAC, Structure, Roofing, Insulation & Ventilation, Interior, Exterior and etc. The same could be said for other engineers as well. This example is important to understand in regards to an Industrial Hygienist testing and evaluating mold problems in a residential setting.