We recently sent an email newsletter and article entitled “Is ERMI the Right Home Mold Test?” and received several communications from those in the CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) community expressing concern that the message would be misinterpreted. These medical and environmental professionals felt that our newsletter might lead to confusion for their patients and associates, along with other technical disagreements. We thought that we should take this opportunity to provide clarity on our stance regarding ERMI testing.

The previous email newsletter and article was intended to address our DIY clients who are often told to “do an ERMI.” We are strongly against the use of a single sample, whether ERMI, gravity plate, spore trap, etc. to make major decisions. Every testing methodology is prone to error. A primary means of increasing statistical confidence is by increasing the number of samples collected. For a non-homogenous environment such as a home, this needs to be a minimum of three samples, even if composite samples from multiple rooms are collected. It is extremely rare to see any DIY client collect three ERMI or HERTSMI samples from their home. This is a problem.

Without getting too far into the weeds, there are several technical issues with the ERMI testing process that inform our stance for not using ERMI in a DIY setting. These include our assessment of peer reviewed papers and the EPA position on the purpose in developing the methodology, difficulty in obtaining homogenous samples representing an entire home using Swiffer cloths, and various sets of sampling data that we have evaluated from split samples sent to the three primary commercial laboratories used for this testing. 

In the hands of an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) with the technical skills, such as those listed on the ISEAI website, MSQPCR (think ERMI and HERTSMI) testing can be a valuable tool. They understand the concerns with obtaining an accurate sample and the art of data evaluation. We fully support this community of IEPs and their preferred tools. 

Finally, ImmunoLytics recommends using several gravity test plates and swabs for air and surface sampling to determine if an environment has amplified biological contamination. We have worked very hard to produce a cost-effective process by which any client of any ability and any budget can get some information that will result in making positive improvements to their environments and their health. This process includes gravity plates for air testing, agar plates for tap testing objects that may be mold contaminated including carpeting, clothing, fabrics, and pets, and the use of swab samples for microscopic analysis of dust and potential visible mold contamination. Every test we perform has an optional free consultation with one of our IEPs, whose job it is to interpret the data for our clients, ask probing questions in attempt to locate hidden mold sources, then provide recommendations for improving their environment. We believe that this is the best bang for the buck. If we find something better, we will adjust.