IAQ1402:              Fungal Bioburden in Foreclosed Upon Homes Using ERMIsm as an Indicator

Speaker:              Nick Hopkins


Foreclosed homes sometimes remain empty or unmaintained for long periods of time, allowing the factors that contribute to fungal growth to go unchecked. Because fungi can cause adverse health effects like allergic and asthmatic reactions, this study examined the fungal bioburden in foreclosed homes. Dust samples were collected and analyzed for fungi using U.S. EPA's Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMIsm). Attend this session to learn how the ERMIsm was created, know when to use it, how to interpret the results, and what further research is needed for ERMIsm to become more broadly applicable to EH practice.



With the recent changes in the economy, there has been an increase in the number of homes in foreclosure.  These homes can remain empty for long periods of time, often with little or no activity inside the house.  A number of factors can lead to fungal growth, including water intrusion events and humidity.  Fungi are known to produce adverse health effects, often being the cause of allergic and asthmatic reactions.

This study examines the fungal bioburden in foreclosed upon homes.  Dust samples were collected from 44 houses and analyzed for fungi using The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMISM).  ERMIsm is a screening tool developed by the USEPA to assist in predicting the relative “mold burden” on a given home.  The ERMISM was developed by screening dust samples from 1096 homes across the United States as part of the 2006 HUD American Healthy Homes Survey, and ranking these homes in a RMI (Relative Moldiness Index).