Interpreting Mold Testing Laboratory Results
Youve got the data, now what? This is where the frustrations begin.
Heres a typical mold testing scenario:
A homeowner hires an inspector to sample their house for mold. They receive the results and are told everything is fine, the mold spore counts are well within the expected range. But theyre a little unsure of the result, so they hire another firm to get a second opinion. This inspector collects more mold samples, using the exact same techniques. After a couple days the homeowner receives the results. The spore counts are very similar, but the second inspector tells them to evacuate immediately their home is full of dangerous levels of mold.
Whos right? Why the wild discrepancy?
The problem is due to a lack of understanding of how to interpret the results of mold testing. Unfortunately, there are no agreed upon standards for interpreting this type of sampling. The EPA doesnt have a guideline, nor does any other federal agency. Other guidelines exist, but they vary tremendously in their conclusions.
Testing For Hidden Or Airborne Mold
Where Should I Check For Mold In My Home
If you are checking your home for mold, then you should try to check every possible nook and cranny. As I see it, the best amount of mold in your home is no mold.
When checking your house for mold, start in your bathroom. Check around your toilet, sink, and shower. Moldmildew in particularlikes to start growing in grout and in whatever crack it can find. Also be sure to check your garage, basement/crawlspace, and attic for mold. Anywhere where moisture is present can be a place for mold to start growing.
The humidity in your bathroom makes it the prime spot for mold to start, so Id personally spend a lot of time there searching for any signs of mold. Once Ive done that, I would walk around my homes exterior and look for any signs of mold. Once that was done, Id check the basement, which is always wet and dark. Youll be looking for dark patches or other odd-colored patches on your walls, floor, or ceiling. Finally, check all the rooms in your home, including your garage.
When youre checking all of these spots, be sure to check the corners of the rooms, behind cupboards, inside of them, and beneath your sinks. Mold can pop up anywhere, but it especially likes dark areas that stay wet.
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How Do Doctors Test For Mold Exposure
If you have molds in your home and youre not paying any heed to your surroundings, you are putting your health in jeopardy. Molds are fungal species known to create havoc in your life. It is the moisture to be blamed for insidious mold growth in your homes. Having molds in homes and buildings is a pressing problem that should not be overlooked.
Wherever there is high humidity, these spores grow abundantly. Not only humidity feeds molds but also the puddles and the damp materials in your homes give these molds a safe and favorable place to live. Therefore, living in a water-damaged home or building can lead to serious health issues. This allows the tiny bubble of fear to expand in the heads of landowners and business owners.
If you have a hunch that molds are thriving at your place, take it seriously. The best way to get to these molds is by noticing water stains on walls, discoloration of paint, surface deterioration, flaky wallpaper, musty odor, etc.
Before we let you know how doctors test for mold exposure, it is of supreme importance to first get you acquainted with the mold-centered health problems for which youll turn to your doctor.
Molds are capable of producing many substances that can be detrimental. Allergens, irritants, and biotoxins are a threat to human health.
Professional Testing For Mold
We recommend having a professional come in and conduct testing for mold if you arent sure youve located all the mold in your home or if youre having health problems that might be related to mold. Most professionals that do mold testing are actually engineers and they are trained to conduct mold tests with precision to ensure accurate results. They also know where to test for mold in order to make sure all the mold in the home is located. Their tests can tell you what type or types of mold is growing in your home, information which may help your physician in formulating the best treatment plan if youre suffering from mold-related health problems. A certified mold tester can also tell you the expected and safe levels of mold in the home and let you know if the levels in your home are unusual or unsafe. For a list of certified mold testers in your area, follow the link.
Home Mold Test Kit Reviews – Although the home mold testing kits are generally inaccurate and the results vary greatly due to improper testing techniques and handling, we get questions about them every week. To answer those questions we have published our reviews of the most popular home testing kits for mold.
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What To Do If You Find Mold In Your Apartment
You need to talk to your landlord right away. They will either come over themselves or send a maintenance guy over to assess the situation. From there, they will probably call a professional mold or restoration company to come and deal with the problem.
These services are expensive though, so your landlord is going to want to know with high certainty that there actually IS mold where you say there is. Especially if this is behind a wall or ceiling that they are going to have to cut out and repair because everything they do from here on out is going to have a cost.
This is where getting one of the two mold kits would be a good idea. If there IS mold that shows up on the test, and you know it is a problem from before you moved in, just send your landlord the receipt for the test. More than likely he is going to be happy to pay for it, as it is going to be a fraction of the cost a professional company would charge them to test for it. You have shown initiative in finding and detecting the problem, they will probably reimburse you for your trouble.
Landlords, almost across the board, are going to work at getting the mold out one way or another, even if they arent happy about it because mold is something that can damage their property, and thats the last thing they want.
When To Inspect For Mold
One good thing about mold- if you can see it, you have mold in your house. Seeing mold in the cracks and corners of your walls definitely means it is growing and spreading more spores. Keep in mind that mold may also grow in places you cannot see, such as in your ducts or between your walls. It may also form colonies so tiny they escape the eye. A few situations should make you look for any mold problems in your house.
- Water damage. If your basement flooded, roof leaked, or a broken pipe sprayed water all over the kitchen, you need to inspect for mold. Any place that got wet and was not quickly dried could become contaminated by mold.
- Purchasing a new home. There is no way to know what kind of water damage may have happened in the house you are planning to buy. The only way to find out if mold is present is to do a mold inspection.
- After a house has been unoccupied. If a house has been closed up and unoccupied for months or years, humidity could have built up inside and caused mold to grow. This is especially a problem in warmer areas with high humidity.
- After mold remediation. If you have gone through the often expensive and difficult steps to deal with a mold problem, regular mold inspections are a good idea to make sure you really got rid of it all.
- You see some mold. If you notice some green, blue, black or white stuff growing in your house, do a mold inspection to make sure you find it all. It might not be restricted to one location.
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How To Test For Mold In Air
In order to test your air for mold, youll need a viable mold test kit. These are widely available at any home improvement store and online at sites like Amazon and Home Depot.
Once mold is determined, call a professional to do additional tests to see what type of mold is present and how to remove it.
Keep In Mind
Putting It All Together With Real World Examples
Lets compare two real projects and with unusual sampling results. The first project involved a basement with a strong musty odor. The odor was limited to just the basement storage area. Numerous items were stores in the basement but no visible mold growth was observed. The client also did not recall any recent flooding events or moisture problems in the basement.
During the inspection, a small area rug was moved, exposing an area of discolored concrete. Based on this observations, moisture meter readings were taken from the rug, which revealed high amounts of moisture. The rug was also wet to the touch. After removing the rug, the concrete was tested using the comparison technique. This confirmed the initial hypothesis. The discolored area of concrete was in fact wet. Based on these results, what would you expect to find in an air test?
Before we answer that question, lets look at another scenario:
A client was attempting to install built in book shelves and after removing a piece of sheet rock found mold growth on the exterior sheathing. The client subsequently removed other areas of sheet rock and found mold growth in many other exterior walls . Throughout the entire home, mold growth was found on the sheathing. Moisture meter testing indicated dry conditions throughout and it was determined that the mold growth was due to rain water saturation during the original construction of the home.
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How To Identify And Treat Mold In Your Basement
- Working Time: 3 – 4 hrs
- Total Time: 3 – 4 days
- Yield: 80 square feet of basement wall
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Estimated Cost: $30 to $60
If any place in the house will grow mold, it’s the basement. Basements collect and trap moisture, and moisture is one factor that leads to mold growth. And because basements have less natural light and airflow than other parts of the home, that mold will not die off on its own.
Some strains of black mold can be a health hazard. Plus, mold can quickly decay organic materials such as wood, leading to structural failure. This means that identifying and treating mold in the basement should be a priority as soon as you believe that you have it.
The Facts About Mold In Your Home
Mold is a fungus that reproduces by creating small spores that work like seeds. Every home has mold. Mold spores can be unwelcome guests floating in on the breeze through an open window or door, hitching a ride on clothing or hiding in plain sight on packaging materials like cardboard or paper. Once established, it will look like fuzzy spots or blotches that can be black, green, brown, yellow, and even orange or white.
There are nearly 1,000 types of household mold. A few common culprits are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Penicillium. The dreaded black or toxic mold that you see in the headlines, Stachybotrys chartarum, also know as Stachybotrys atra, isn’t a common mold, but it’s not rare either. It will look dark green or black.
You can’t keep mold out, but you can make it less welcome. Household mold needs hospitable conditions in which to thrive. One key ingredient in establishing and maintaining a mold colony is moisture. If you don’t have a consistent source of moisture, mold won’t be able to survive.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at ways to check for mold.
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How To Test A Home For Mold
This article was co-authored by Chris Willatt. Chris Willatt is the owner and founder of Alpine Maids, a cleaning agency in Denver, Colorado started in 2015. Alpine Maids has received Angie’s List Super Service Award for three years in a row since 2016 and has been awarded Colorado’s “Top Rated Local House Cleaning” Award in 2018. This article has been viewed 10,789 times.
Mold can grow in your home no matter where you live, although its most likely to grow in warm, humid environments. To test your home for mold, you can use a mold-inspection kit, or contact mold-detecting professionals to examine problem areas in your home. Mold testing will reveal where mold is hiding in your home, how much mold there is, and what type youre dealing with.
A Qualified Environmental Lab Took Samples Of The Mold In My Home And Gave Me The Results Can Cdc Interpret These Results
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the buildings characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.
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I Found Mold Growing In My Home How Do I Test The Mold
If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk.
Comparison Of Airborne Mold Testing Techniques
Viable or culturable samples have a lengthy analysis time, often 10-14 days. This is the amount of time required for the mold spores to begin to grow. Non-viable samples can be processed immediately, even the same day if necessary.
Viable samples can provide a species level analysis. This can be important when attempting to draw a correlation between mold growing in a particular area and elevated mold spores in the air. While a non-viable sample can provide a likely correlation, only a viable sample can prove the connection. For this reason, when theres a chance a sample will be used in a court case, a viable sample is recommended.
Notice how Penicillium and Aspergillus are grouped together
Viable samples are important when testing areas with severely immunocompromised patients. These people are susceptible to infections from mold. And because only viable spores can cause infections, testing for viability is critical.
One major drawback of viable sampling is the limited number of mold spores that can be measured. Only spores capable of reproducing will be measured. With non-viable testing, all spores are counted. Non-viable spores may still be able to produce allergies, and therefore a viable sample may miss a critical mold exposure problem.
Due to the processing time required for viable sampling, the cost is much higher, often 4-6 times as expensive. In most situations, the fast turn around time and lower cost of the non-viable sample makes it the best choice.
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