The EPA Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI)

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Environmental Relative Moldiness Index
ERMI

MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.
The EPA Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) and the American Relative Moldiness Index (ARMI) was developed by Dr. Steve Vesper and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ERMI and ARMI is a DNA based analytical method for identifying and quantifying molds to the species level.

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The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index:

A Research Tool


Summary
ERMI
A research tool, called the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI), has been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development (ORD). Dust samples are collected in a home and DNA from mold in the dust is analyzed. The sample is then compared to the ERMI, an index or scale, which was developed for use in the U.S. The analysis can be used by researchers to estimate the amount of mold in a home as well as indicate some of the types of mold that are present.
ERMI
As research continues, the index will be refined. At this point in its development, the ERMI should be used only for research. The ERMI has not been validated for routine public use in homes, schools, or other buildings.
ERMI
EPA does not recommend that homes routinely be tested or sampled for mold. Testing may be done for research. Testing may also be useful to help characterize or identify mold problems in some buildings. Physical inspection for water damage and mold is a key part of current EPA mold remediation guidance.

Background - Why develop a moldiness index?
ERMI
The Institute of Medicine report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health (2004), recommended the development of “More rapid measurement methods for specific microorganisms that use DNA-based and other technology.” This report also indicated that the “Application of the new or improved methods will allow more valid exposure assessment of microorganisms and their components, which should facilitate more-informed risk assessments.” After ten years of research, EPA patented such a method called mold specific quantitative PCR (MSQPCR). MSQPCR is a DNA based method for quantifying molds. The “application” of the MSQPCR technology has resulted in the development of the ERMI.

 

What Is ERMI?


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  • The ERMI is an acronym for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index.
  • It was developed by scientists at the USEPA to provide a straightforward, objective, and standardized way to obtain results for indoor air quality investigations.
  • The EPA is developing an ERMI ranking system based on dust samples collected from homes across the U.S.
  • The ERMI will help predict the moldiness of homes. Homes with high ERMI values have a greater chance of having a mold problem then homes with a low ERMI.
  • 36 different fungi make up the ERMI and are designated as Group I (those found in atypical, water damaged homes) and Group II (those commonly found in all homes)

What is the ARMI?

  • The ARMI is an acronym for American Relative Moldiness Index.
  • It was developed by EPA as more cost effective analytical method than the ERMI
  • It has been proven by EPA to have good correlation with the ERMI for predicting the moldiness of homes
  • 13 different fungi make up the ARMI and are designated a Group 1 (found in atypical, water damaged homes) and Group 11 (commonly found in all homes).
  • The fungi for the ARMI are boldfaced below.

 
ERMI Group I 

Stachybotrys chartarum, Chaetomium globosum, Cladosporium sphaerospermum, Aspergillus versicolor, Eurotium (A.)amstalodami, Penicillium variabile, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus restrictus, Penicillium crustosum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus sclerotiorum, Penicillium purpurogenum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Penicillium corylophilum, Aureobasidium pullulans, Aspergillus ochraceus, Penicillium brevicompactum, Paecilomyces variotii, Aspergillus sydowii, Penicillium spinulosum, Wallemia sebi, Aspergillus unguis, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, Scopulariopsis chartarum, Aspergillus penicillioides, Trichoderma viride.

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ERMI Group II
 
Acremonium strictum, Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus ustus, Cladosporium cladosporioides v1, Cladosporium cladosporioides v2, Cladosporium herbarum, Epicoccum nigrum, Mucor & Rhizopus group, Penicillium chrysogenum, Rhizopus stolonifer

 
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What is MSQPCR?
 
MSQPCR is an acronym for Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction.

The ERMI value is determined using the MSQPCR method in the lab. It was developed by scientists at the USEPA to detect and quantify fungi associated with indoor air quality problems.

It’s a FAST, ACCURATE, and SENSITIVE DNA-based analytical method for identifying and quantifying molds to the species level. The method looks for the presence of DNA sequences that are unique to a particular mold species.

 
How does ERMI work?

The ERMI test involves the analysis of a single sample of dust from a home.

The sample is analyzed using mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MSQPCR), a highly specific DNA-based method for quantifying mold species.

A simple algorithm is used to calculate a ratio of water damage-related species to common indoor molds and the resulting score is called the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index or ERMI.

The ERMI value is typically between -10 and 20.In order to most effectively use this new tool, the ERMI must be compared to a national database. Indices were determined using this method for 1,096 homes across the U.S. as part of the 2006 HUD American Healthy Home Survey.

Individual indices, ranked from lowest to highest were used to create a national Relative Moldiness Index (RMI) Scale.

 
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MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.
MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.
 
What ERMI is Not

The ERMI is a mold index, not a health index. Each person responds differently to mold exposure due to genetics, pre-existing health conditions, age, etc. Medical questions about mold are for the Health Professionals to address.

 
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What type of report will I get from the lab and how do I interpret it?

Your customized report will identify how many of the 36 molds were found that make up the ERMI and the quantity of each.

The report will also calculate the ERMI value and reports whether the value falls within EPA’s Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 designations.

These levels were determined from the EPA’s preliminary research and will be refined further as new research is performed.

An ERMI result in Level 1 or Level 2 indicates that there is a low likelihood that the building has a mold contamination problem.

An ERMI result in Level 3 indicates a moderate likelihood and a Level 4 indicates a high likelihood of a mold problem.

An appropriate, more in-depth follow up assessment and determination of the contamination can now take place in Level 3 and 4 buildings.

MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.
MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company
MicroShield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.
Microshield, Orlando and Central Florida’s Leading IAQ Indoor Air Quality, ERMI Mold Inspection and ERMI Mold Testing Company.

How to Collect an EPA ERMI Sample