Air Quality Tests: How To Detect Toxic Mold
A mold outbreak may be expensive if it does a lot of damage, can spread easily once its established, and has potential health implications. Its also impossible to prevent mold from getting into a building in the first place; it can come in on clothes, pets, HVAC systems, packaging materials, and windows and doors.
The good news is that what we call toxic mold isnt truly toxic or poisonous. Some molds can produce toxins or mycotoxins, but the molds themselves arent and havent been directly linked to rare or serious conditions. However, you still should remove mold as soon as possible and test the air quality to ensure the health and safety of building occupants. All it takes is a little mold know-how.
Mold In The Air Conditioner: How Do You Know If Your Car Air Conditioner Has Mold
Since mold in the air conditioner can cause a number of health problems and is considered dangerous, many people might ask, how do you know if your car air conditioner has mold? You will know if there is mold in the air conditioner when you notice these signs.
- Musty smell
Like mentioned earlier, mold has a very recognizable odor. It has an unpleasant, musty smell that can cause discomfort for you and your passengers. The more mold your car air conditioner has, the worse the problem becomes.
When you smell this strong foul odor when you turn on your air conditioner, it can be an indication that there is mold in it. This can happen because the air that passes over the evaporator has mold and it reaches into your car cabin through the AC vents. This foul smell will then circulate throughout your car when the AC is turned on.
- Air conditioner not blowing enough cold air
When you notice that your car air conditioner is not blowing enough cold air like it used to, it can be an indication that there is mold in the air conditioner. This type of fungus can block the AC vent which can affect the cooling system. The mold can also block the air filter and keep cold air from being blown out into your cars cabin. When this happens, your cars AC wont be pushing enough cold air out no matter how much you try.
- You or your passengers suffer allergic reactions or difficulty breathing
- Mold in your cars air vents
What Mold Looks Like
Molds are a type of fungus and can look like their fungal cousins, mushrooms and yeasts. Outdoors, molds can be seen gobbling up the dead organic matter on decomposing surfaces like fallen leaves and rotting logs; indoors, house mold thrives in wet, humid environments like bathrooms and basements or anywhere that has recently flooded. There are thousands of types of mold, and their appearance can vary depending on the type of mold and where its growing.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum , is also sometimes found in homes and other buildings. This greenish-black growth can grow on fiberboard, paper, dust, and lint, particularly in areas that may have recently flooded or suffered other types of water damage. While black mold can certainly look scary, the CDC says that Stachybotrys chartarum isnt any more harmful than other types of mold.
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Check Your Petri Dish
After 48 hours, check your petri dish for signs of mold growth. If you do not see mold, wait another 24 hours and check again. If you still dont see mold, wait again for 24 hours and check one last time. If you do not see mold growth after 96 hours, your test did not detect any mold. If you do see mold on your test plate, you should take additional steps to remove the mold.
What Testing Cannot Do
As described earlier, the commonly used testing methods are limited in what they can detect and measure. Skilled investigators are aware of these limitations and dont rely on testing when it is not appropriate. However, many people have unrealistic expectations of what mold testing can do and they can be taken advantage of by those who perform testing poorly or for inappropriate reasons. Below are some impractical reasons commonly given for requesting mold testing.
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Poor Reason For Testing #2 To Identify What Type Of Mold Is Present
Some testing can be used to identify a portion of the live mold in a sample by growing it in the lab. This gives only a partial description of the total amount of molds, because those not present at the sampled time and location or those that didnt grow in the sample are not seen by the analysis. Most importantly, nonliving molds will not be identifiable, but they can still contribute significantly to health complaints.
From a practical, health-protective perspective, knowing the types of molds is usually not very important because any indoor mold growth represents a problem. The problem should be corrected regardless of the types of molds that can be identified.
I Heard About Toxic Molds And Black Molds That Grow In Homes And Other Buildings Should I Be Concerned About A Serious Health Risk To Me And My Family
There is always a little mold everywhere in the air and on many surfaces.
Certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins . Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. Not all fungi produce mycotoxins and even those that do will not do so under all surface or environmental conditions.
Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty.; Color is not an indication of how dangerous a mold may be.; Any mold should be removed and the moisture source that helped it grow should be removed.
There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.
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Poor Reason For Testing #7 To Make A Party Respond To The Problem
There is no legal requirement to correct a mold problem in most residential or occupational settings. Collecting mold test results does not change this fact. While common sense supports the importance of correcting indoor mold problems quickly and effectively, there is rarely any rule or law that requires a property owner to do so.
Private homeowners are responsible for deciding how they will respond to real or suspected mold problems. This includes owner-occupied condominiums and townhouses, although issues of preventive maintenance and liability may be more confusing when an association is involved. Their insurance company may or may not cover any related costs depending on the details of their policy and other factors. In occupational settings, mold and any related health concerns are solely the responsibility of the employer and/or the property manager. In leased space, terms of the lease agreement may or may not address responsibility for mold and air quality complaints.
In rental housing, tenants should promptly alert the property owner or manager to evidence of mold or moisture problems if they cannot fix the problem on their own. Tenants concerned about mold in rental properties may also ask their city or county housing officials for help. If and how local authorities address mold complaints in rental situations depends on the status of local codes or ordinances and what authority the local program has to deal with this issue.
How Are Mold Air Test Samples Examined In Thelaboratory
Mold spore sample slides are prepared in the laboratory and then examined atmagnifications from 100x to 1920x to identify the dominant or other indicativeparticles collected. Particle counting, such as spores/M3 of air, ifprovided, is performed at 400x, 480x, 720x, 1000x, up to 1920x.
Somecompanies also use polarized light and darkfield methods and a variety of slidepreparation chemicals and stains.
Where To Take A Mold Air Sample And Ideal Conditions
Air samples can be taken to help verify and gather more information in any areas of a house suspected or confirmed to have mold growth. ;Moisture intrusion, water damage, musty odors, apparent mold growth, or conditions conducive to mold growth are all common reasons to gather an air sample.;
Samples typicallyshould be taken near the center of the room, with the collection devicepositioned 3 to 6 feet off the ground.
Sampling should take place in livable spaces within the house under closed conditions in order to help stabilize the air and allow for reproducibility of the sampling and measurement.; While the sample is being collected, windows and exterior doors should be kept closed.; It is best to have air exchangers or fans that exchange indoor-outdoor air switched off during sampling.
Weatherconditions can be an important factor in gathering accurate data. Severe thunderstormsor unusually high winds can affect the sampling and analysis results.;High winds or rapid changes in barometric pressure increase the difference inair pressure between the interior and exterior, which can increase thevariability of airborne mold-spore concentration.; Large differences inair pressure between the interior and exterior can cause more airborne sporesto be sucked inside, skewing the results of the sample.;
What Is Black Mold
When people say black mold, they refer to Stachybotrys, a greenish-black mold that grows on damp material with a high cellulose content. In our homes, that includes wood, fiber or gypsum board, paper, fabric, or green insulation. Just because mold is black doesnt mean its the dreaded Stachybotrys though, which by the way also manifests itself in blue and grey. But because Stachybotrys can off-gas dangerous mycotoxins, its the mold variety most feared.
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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
What Causes The Mold Smell In Your Car
The AC in your car does not create its own air, so it has to pull air from either the outside or inside of your car to keep you cool.
The problem is that this air is moist and warm, so the unit has to cool it down and remove the moisture from it before sending it through your vents. Moisture from the air often starts to accumulate on the units evaporator core, which is located inside the dashboard. The result is a damp, humid environment that encourages mold growth in the AC unit.
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Why Knowing How To Test For Mold Is Important
Mold serves an important purpose in nature. Molds break down organic material such as dead leaves. In the home, however, they also break down wood, drywall, and other building materials. More importantly, however, they can make us sick, especially the species known as black mold. While rare, this mold type produces dangerous chemicals that impact health and causes chronic headaches and fatigue, even memory loss.
Mold Swab & Mold Testing
Mold Testing or a Mold Swab is one of the ways of determining what type of mold is present. This typically needs to be done when there is visible mold. This type of testing does not let you know the elevations of mold spores and if it is present in the air. With Canada’s regulations,;you do not need to know what type of mold is present -; industry standards recommend that the area should be cleaned & mold should be removed. Some molds are safe for you to remove yourself but we advise homeowners to contact a professional mold remediation company before doing so.
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Can I Paint Over A Treated Mold Damaged Wall
It is probably your question after finishing the mold removal phase, and yes, you can paint over your disinfected walls using paint with mold-resistant ingredients.
Its best to use encapsulating primer and paint to prevent the fungal properties from growing on the wood surface. However, ensure that the wood is completely dried before you encapsulate them.
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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Using A Mold Exposure Test
A mold exposure test is often the best way for you to check for mold on your own. You can pick one up at any home improvement or home supply store.
Simply follow the instructions on the box. Usually, youll just brush the surface where you think mold may be present, and send the test strip or brush in for a laboratory analysis. If mold is present, youll be notified.
Mold Armor Fg500 Do It Yourself Mold Test Kit
The Mold Armor kit includes a test swab, petri dish, and a bottle of mold growth medium. You can use this single kit in one of three waysto test the air for mold spores, to test air quality in your HVAC duct, or to test for surface mold.
To use the kit, pour the growth medium in the petri dish, replace the lid, and allow it to gel for one hour. Then, either allow it to remain open to the atmosphere for an air quality test, tape it to your air duct for a HVAC test, or use the swab to remove a sample from a surface and apply it to the growth medium for a surface test.
If after 48-96 hours mold begins to grow in your dish, you may choose to send it to a lab for analysis. With a price tag of under $10, this mold test kit is affordable. But the lab fee is an additional $40.
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Where Does Mold Grow
When mold is hidden from sight its harder to detect. Since mold thrives on moisture, likely places to look include kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Mold forms on or near leaky pipes and windows, wet building materials, behind appliances, under carpetingany place moisture can get, mold can grow.
The good news is a home mold test kit lets homeowners test for mold in their homes. They can also be used in the workplace. Order a do-it-yourself kit, use it to collect samples, then mail it to the lab and get results in 3-5 days.;
Having a professional mold test gets expensive and may require several visits. Sometimes it takes weeks to get the results. That means people in the building continue to suffer allergy-like symptoms. For those with asthma and other respiratory conditions, this is serious.
If the test determines a mold problem exists the next step is to get rid of it.;
Are Diy Mold Air Test Kits Like Mymold Detective Clean Vent Air And Home Air Check Worth The Money
If I already knew I had mold then I wouldnt waste my money on it. If I thought I had mold and there was a possibility that I might get into litigation because of it, I wouldnt use a DIY mold air test. If my budget was tight and I wanted to conduct a mold test that was reliable then I would run an ERMI test and not use any of these DIY mold air test kits.
It wouldnt matter what DIY mold airtest was available. The bottom line is that air sampling for mold is highlyunreliable and not the best way to learn what is going on in your home.
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