The EPA is continuing research on DNA mold test that will be suited to screen homes for mold. Based on published data from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) researchers, the Relative Mold Index (ERMI) test has been developed as a research tool to evaluate the potential risk of indoor mold growth and associated health effects. Mold and its health effects present a growing concern for home owners, physicians, real estate professionals and home buyers.
Because ERMI was developed using a nationally representative sampling of homes, the EPA and HUD researchers believe that one can compare any newly sampled home in the United States to ERMI, and assess the home’s mold burden relative to the national sampling of 1,096 homes (i.e., lowest 25 percent, highest 25 percent, etc.).
Using ERMI protocols, targeted mold species are be quantified bio-chemically. Mold species are divided into two groups by the ERMI. The first group of 26 indicator species represents molds associated with water damage, while the second group represents common indoor molds. The ERMI report includes the detection and concentrations of 36 specific mold species along with the combined ERMI value itself. The overall ERMI measurement provides a rank of the “moldiness” to compare the results to a national scale. An ERMI score is also used in conjunction with individual mold species quantifications to determine mold conditions.
EPA researchers have applied ERMI in childhood asthma studies in cities across the United States, including Cincinnati, Chapel Hill, Detroit, Boston, Kansas City and San Diego. The studies have found higher ERMI values in homes of asthmatic children compared to controls. The EPA readily acknowledges that MSQPCR and ERMI are research protocols and have not been validated or peer reviewed by EPA for public use. Ongoing research by Dr. Richie Shoemaker M.D. and others show promising mold illness patient outcomes utilizing ERMI testing data.