ment, it performs well for many projects.
However, some projects may benefit from
sample collection, which is a more objective method of assessing condition.
Sampling may be beneficial in the deci-sion-making process if high-value items
are involved, the sampling method can
be interpreted, and the reported sample
results can be associated with condition.
Validated sampling methods that meet
these criteria exist, however, sample collection is often discouraged because
sampling methods that are difficult to
interpret have often been used in field investigations.
For example, assume a substantial
water loss occurred in the kitchen of a
two-story house. It would be reasonable
to classify the kitchen as a Condition 3
area, and since the adjacent dining room
and living room may have been affected
by elevated humidity, those rooms might
be classified as Condition 2. Assuming
the upstairs bedrooms were not affected
by the water loss, the second floor might
be classified as a Condition 1 area. These
decisions may determine whether the
soft-surface items in each of those areas
are cleaned or discarded.
These classifications, which directly affect the extent of the remediation, would
typically be subjective decisions based on
professional judgment. However, let’s assume the dining room contained a 10x12
Persian rug valued at $500 per square
foot, there was a fabric-covered sofa in
the living room valued at $20,000, and the
homeowner was insisting that both items
could not be adequately cleaned and
should be discarded. Under these conditions an objective, defensible assessment
of condition based on sample results may
be both warranted and prudent if the referenced sampling criteria were met.
One task of the adjuster is to provide an
assessment of the condition of soft-sur-
face items, as well as recommendations
for either their restoration or replace-
ment. This task requires the adjuster or
RC to differentiate between soft-surface
items that can and cannot be effectively
cleaned. However, other than observing
visible damage, classifying an item as
Condition 2 or Condition 3 is often sub-
A differential sampling method can
objectively distinguish between Condi-
tion 2 and Condition 3 soft-surface items.
The method is based on the assumption
that Condition 2 primarily results in the
deposition of contaminants on the sur-
face of an item, while the interior surfaces
of Condition 3 items are assumed to also
be colonized by contaminants.
Two samples are collected from a soft-
surface item, one from the surface of the
item and the second from both the sur-
face and the interior of the same item.
The difference between the two sample
results indicates the extent of internal col-
onization. If colonization of the interior
surfaces is nominal, then the item can be
cleaned and restored to service. If the in-
terior surfaces are heavily colonized, then
the item should be discarded.
The differential sampling method for
soft-surface items has been used to provide objective criteria for making a clean-discard decision. It has been applied to
both residential and commercial restoration projects, recently water-damaged
items and to those stored for a year post-remediation.
Sampling can also be used to determine
whether or not carpets can be saved or
should be replaced. Following a loss,
dust samples can be collected from a carpet utilizing the Open-Face Fixed Area
method. Using sample results, the carpet
can be classified as uncontaminated, potentially contaminated, or contaminated.
The clean-discard decision is frequent-
ly based on professional judgment. How-
ever, validated sampling methods may be
used to provide objective criteria when
Joe C. Spurgeon, Ph.D., (jospur46@
gmail.com) has a multi-disciplinary
doctorate degree in analytical chemistry
and environmental health; and he was a
Certified Industrial Hygienist until 2012. Dr.
Spurgeon has been performing residential
and commercial IAQ investigations since
1993, and has served as an expert witness
in microbial IAQ and wildfire smoke
Sampling may be beneficial...if
high-value items are involved, the
sampling method can be interpreted,
and the reported sample results
can be associated with condition.
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