Do You Need Mold Testing?
Performing a Mold Inspection
There are several ways to perform a mold inspection and do mold testing. Some people like to use their senses like the sense of smell to determine if there is a mold problem. For example, it may smell musty in a basement or crawl space. There are mold detecting canines that also have been trained to sniff out mold in walls and hidden black mold in carpet. Some use elaborate camera systems that can see changes in temperature to help determine where mold may be hiding in a bathroom or behind sheet rock. However, relying on trained professionals with the mold remediation experience to seek out not only the mold but what is causing the mold is a great way to ensure your #1 investment stays a healthy place to live for years to come. Also, utilizing an independent laboratory for mold sample results is also recommended.
Types of Mold Tests
The DIY mold test kit is becoming very popular and can be a great first step in determining if there is mold in your home or office. There are petri dish style kits that are available at retail stores that will grow pretty greens and black molds to give you a visual representation that you may have a problem. Keep in mind that every building has mold and just because that petri dish grew something doesn’t mean it is at a dangerous level. Also, just because what it grew is black doesn’t mean it is black mold. Stachybotrys is black mold but other molds can appear black depending on what they grow on and are using as a food source. We have seen stachybotrys that is orange in color because it was growing on a piece of pine wood with an orange polyurethane finish but the independent laboratory results showed it to be stachybotrys or black mold.
Non-Viable Mold Sample – a non viable mold test is basically a test that shows molds present whether they are alive or dead. It does not determine if mold is still active and growing, only that it is present. The three ways we perform non-viable mold testing is through a tape lift, swab, or air sample.
Best uses of Non-Viable Mold Sample – Air samples or spore traps is a fast mold screening tool used to detect elevated airborne mold concentrations. To determine elevation, a control sample from the outdoors is generally taken at the time of sampling for comparison. Swabs and tape lifts also offer quick turnaround times for results and are best for sampling an area where suspect mold is growing on a substrate, such as drywall, cabinets, crawl space and attic. Air samples are not recommended in non-conditioned spaces like crawl spaces, attics or unfinished basements. Tape lifts and swabs work best in these areas in most cases.
Viable Mold Sample – A viable mold sample is a live sample. In other words it is grown to determine if the fungi present are actually alive and reproducing. The most common practice for viable or live samples is a swab.
Best uses of Viable Mold Sample – Viable fungal analysis is used when viability of mold spores present needs to be known. Examples include: The knowledge of spores to infect people such as in an operating room or post mold remediation to determine if the residual mold spores are viable and can begin to grow again if growth conditions are met. A great time to use a viable sample is after a company sprays the visible mold with a disinfectant and then informs you the mold is dead. Only a viable mold sample can determine if the fungi is truly non-reproducing.
Mold Sample Collection
Mold Swab Samples can be collected in much the same way as a tape lift by touching a suspected colony with a sterile swab. Another method is by swabbing a measurable area with the sterile swab.
Mold Bulk Sampling materials such as carpeting may be sent to a laboratory and analyzed for viable fungi or mold.
Mold Air Sampling requires special equipment to pull air into a sterile cassette and the media is sent back to a laboratory for analysis.