Many NADCA members will be traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next month for the group's 14th annual convention.

Much like mold - which members say they are increasingly being called on to deal with - the National Air Duct Cleaners Association keeps growing. NADCA now counts its members at around 700, many of whom will be traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., next month for the group's 14th annual convention.

"Indoor Environments 2003," as NADCA is calling the event, will take place March 4-8 at the Wyndham Bonaventure Resort and Spa. Association officials say this year's conference continues with the integrated approach to indoor air quality issues first used at last year's Las Vegas convention. More than a dozen educational seminars on topics such as mold remediation, duct replacement and new filter technologies are planned.

"Our membership told us more education was what they wanted, and that is what we're giving them," NADCA President John Srofe said.

On March 6, NADCA will offer nine educational seminars that fit into one of three categories: commercial issues, residential issues, and business and compliance concerns. Examples include: "Robots and How Best to Use Them in Ventilation Cleaning"; "Structuring and Using Contracts Designed to Protect Your Customers and Business"; and "Protecting Yourself When Dealing with Mold in Residential Environments."

Noting that NADCA members may be called on to help in the event of a chemical attack by terrorists, for the first time, the association will offer "Reducing the Effects of a Chemical, Biological or Radiological Event."

Seminars are staggered to allow members to attend as many as possible. "Our members don't want to play that much," Srofe said.

NADCA's keynote speaker this year is Frank Sanders, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Antimicrobial Division. The department, which oversees mold- and fungus-fighting products used in hvac systems, issued a memo in March 2002 warning that it had not approved any surface sanitizers or disinfectants for use in hvac systems.

Many NADCA members have called the memo confusing, and NADCA Executive Director Aaron Mindel said the group invited Sanders hoping his appearance would clear up any outstanding concerns duct cleaners may have.

"We think it will answer a lot of the questions that have been floating out there since the letter was released in March," Mindel said.

Mold means opportunity

While mold has meant headaches - literally and figuratively - for many homeowners, building managers and insurance companies, for air duct cleaning companies, it represents opportunity. Many people are willing to pay almost anything to get rid of the possibly toxic substance, a fact the business-savvy NADCA member needs to be aware of, Srofe said.

"If you are not into mold, I don't know how you can be an air duct cleaner today," he said.

Srofe reports that NADCA members are getting "swamped" with requests to remove the potentially hazardous material.

In response, the association has added a program for NADCA air systems cleaning specialists to receive certification in mold remediation. The March 4-5 class will include mold verification, safety, project planning and cleaning.

On March 7, NADCA will offer a course in mold containment. The session will include information on the proper use of respirators other protective equipment. On March 7-8, NADCA will hold its first class on certified systems inspectors. Graduates will learn how to conduct an IAQ inspection and measure air quality.

Also planned for the convention is a two-day product show, featuring exhibits on some of the latest new products for the IAQ and air duct cleaning industries.

(For more information about NADCA's 14th annual conference, contact the group at 1518 K St., NW, Suite 503, Washington, D.C., 20005; call (202) 737-2926; fax (202) 347-8847; on the Internet.)