ERMI Testing


Ermi and Hertsmi are a type of test that our customers often ask us about.  It is essentially a test in which they gather dust samples via a vacuum attachment or a “swiffer” duster and send the dust into the lab.  At that point, the lab breaks down the sample into the actual DNA of the microbial growth. Armed with this DNA info, they can give your home a relative moldiness score, compared to a sampling of average homes across the U.S.   They feel that they need to get to the DNA for the simple reason that some aspergillis are dangerous and some are not.  Some penicillium are dangerous and some are not, etc etc.  By getting to the very DNA, they can determine the genus of the fungi and know the mycotoxin coming off of the mold. 

 Here is what we, in the Pure Maintenance family need to understand.  If you take an after “ermi” test, there still may very well be DNA present. In fact, it is likely that DNA strands will be present.  Even though we have completely denatured the cell, and left it completely lifeless and harmless, there still will be DNA. Therefore, it is extremely important for us to educate healthcare practitioners as well as customers that the ERMI “after” test may not give them true picture of the health of the home.  I have had a number of conversations with healthcare practitioners and they all understand this and are fine with it.  One last thing, the ermi was never meant to be “released” as a standard for testing.  It was for research purposes.  It has inherent flaws in that it gives you a history of the microbial growth of a home, but does not give you a “real time” assessment of the home.  We at PureMaintenance are continuing our work in finding a “perfect” fit for testing homes both before and after.  

Safety Relief Valve

Do Not Alter Leased Equipment

Remember the equipment is set up for your success and safety. If the pressure relief valve is “leaking” it is because the air pressure is too high inside your tank. It automatically releases at 40 psi. If you remove the pressure relief valve or alter the machine in anyway, you are in violation of your contract and may be subject to your license being revoked.

Understanding the Science

Synergistic Behavior with Acetic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide?

Peracetic acid solutions also contain hydrogen peroxide. PeroxyChem’s VigorOx® WWT II PAA solution contains 15% PAA by weight, but also 23% hydrogen peroxide. It is believed that the predominant disinfection comes from the peracetic acid, as PAA is a much more potent antimicrobial agent than hydrogen peroxide, especially at low concentrations. Several research studies have shown that there are virtually no synergistic effects between the PAA and hydrogen peroxide.However, several investigations suggest that there may be enhanced microbial efficiency due to a potential efficacious synergy in PAA and hydrogen peroxide. These investigations compared solutions containing “pure” PAA, hydrogen peroxide only and commercially available combinations of both PAA and hydrogen peroxide. The results suggest that the kinetic model of combined PAA and hydrogen microbial inactivation occurs in a staged process, including sensitization, catalase attack and irreversible attack leading to lysis. These works indicate that PAA must first initiate the attack on the cell, damaging the protective systems before the hydrogen peroxide can participate in actively in the bacterial inactivation reaction, and that once the catalase within the microorganism is inhibited by PAA, the hydroxyl radical can rapidly damage the cell.

Running Into Other Companies

Running into other Mold Remediators at bid processes, and how to handle the situation.

Occasionally, I have been in a situation where there are a number of mold remediation companies at the same bid. It’s not a matter of if this happens to you, but rather, when this happens to you. I wish I had been prepared for the first time this happened to me. It turned into an ugly, confrontational setting in front of the customer. To make a long story short, I and a representative from a national company were scheduled for a bid at a home on the same day. When I drove up to the home, I saw the other Company, but didn’t think much of it. Upon entering, the customer informed me that the other Company was scheduled about an hour earlier, but they were late and so we are “all here together”!

The Customer then explained that their roof had been leaking for some time and is now full of mold. We both took a look at the attic, and both agreed that remediation was appropriate. The next few minutes I tried to explain to the customer that demolition was not necessary, since the structural integrity of the roof is still fine. Its surface mold, and can be remediated through the Pure Maintenance Dry Fog System. As I was finishing, I said I would send a bid. At this point, the other guy jumped into the conversation and said something to the effect of, “I cant hold back any longer”. “He proceeded to tell the customer that the roof needs to be torn off, there is no such thing as a “magic fog”, and I am trying to pull something over on the customer. I rarely get mad, but for whatever reason, I really got mad and the exchange between myself and the other company was really really ugly. The overall message I was attempting to deliver was that I am offering a solution to the customers problem at a fraction of the price, so please explain to me how I am trying to “trick” the customer. I went on to say that a ton of our work is after “you guys” have done work, and the homeowner is still sick. Anyway, back and forth it went. I said to the customer that I was leaving, and please just do me a favor. Look at their reviews and customer comments, then look at our reviews and customer comments. Based on that, please call when you are ready to take care of the problem. I left feeling rotten, and I was not proud of how I handled it. I also realized I had talked more to the guy from the other company than I had to the customer. Never good.

In retrospect, I wish someone had given me the following advice before I entered the home.

  • Try to always be the last bid, if you have learned that the customer has scheduled a number of bids, tell them you would like to be last.

  • Try not to enter a home when there is another remediation representative present. • If you do find yourself in the home at the same time, remain polite and respectful. I have even said to them at the site, “look, we do things differently. That doesn’t mean what you do is not needed in some projects, but what we do is very very different from what you guys do”

  • Do not engage in any type of argument. Repeat. Do not engage in any type of argument. • Take a look at the situation, ask the customer any questions you may have and inform the customer that you will be sending them a bid. As hard as it is, do not get sucked into a debate. They typically are not knowledgeable enough to even have a discussion relative to mold, so what is the point. The customer will see your confidence in our process and be drawn to selecting the dry fog method.

  • Direct all communication toward the Customer.

  • Remain professional from the beginning to where you pull away from the property. • Contact the customer by phone later in the day and explain that our process is very different and it is a better use of our time to explain it to them without having the other guy interrupting.

While explaining, the two main points I always try to reinforce are:

1. Mold spores move throughout the home quickly. When you have a mold issue, it is impossible to remediate just one area, and declare that the home is now safe for the inhabitants.

2. Pure Maintenance Dry Fog System addresses the health of the entire home, not just a single affected area.