Lab microscope and camera (C) Daniel Friedman Technical Lab Procedures for Mold and other Indoor Air Quality IAQ Contaminants
     


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Index to articles on mold testing & indoor air quality test procedures: technical guide to testing for mold contamination in buildings. This article series answers most questions on what to do about mold, providing expert, un-biased information for owners, occupants, inspectors. How to recognize mold, how to test mold, how to clean up or remove mold, how to prevent mold in buildings, and what mold related illnesses and symptoms have been reported are all discussed in depth.

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Mold Lab Technical Procedures & SOPs: Forensic Particle Analysis Technical & Laboratory Procedures

Photograph of preparation of a microscope slide using Cargille's Meltmount.Good Laboratory and Microscope Procedures are critical in making sense of environmental test field samples just as good and thorough field investigations produce more useful results than a quick "air test for mold" or "culture test for mold" performed with no building inspection and no client history collection.

Competent, trained, experienced aerobiologists, mycologists, and microbiologists can identify mold or other particle sample contents with good accuracy.

Depending on the experience of the laboratory, it is also possible to interpret the meaning of the sample for the building and its occupants. Laboratory professionals who have also performed the field inspection can make useful extrapolations from lab results. Hasty work by disinterested parties may be less than accurate or useful for building occupants and owners.

  • Air Sampler Specifications Required for Airborne Particle Calculations
  • Airborne Particle Concentration Calculations - Spores per Cubic Meter for airborne mold or other particles - Lab SOP and Examples
  • BASKETBALL MOLD SYNDROME - BBMS - sudden attention to old clues in buildings makes them seem brand new to some observers
  • Bibliography of Mold Identification, Aerobiology, Forensic Microscopy - References used in our Laboratory for Aerobiology, Mycology, Indoor Air Quality Investigations, Particle ID, Forensic Microscopy, etc.

Lab microscope and camera (C) Daniel Friedman

  • Digital photography for microscopists - getting the image from the microscope slide to the computer to the database or printer
  • Light-microscope examination methods, education, references, suppliers
  • Museums & Restorations:Cultural Heritage and Aerobiology Mandrioli, Caneva, and Sabbioni (English version), museum artifact preservation from mold, acid gases etc. - book review in Pan American Aerobiology Association Newsletter
  • Slide preparation methods, formulas, suppliers
  • Slide Preparation - Permanent Slides, A Method For Preparing Cargille meltmount™ Permanent Microscope Slides for Rapid Field or Laboratory Use
  • Tape Sample Analysis for Mold - How to Report Mold Levels in Mold Test Samples of Surfaces in buildings

Here are the BASICS YOU NEED to FIND, TEST, REMOVE & PREVENT MOLD - what to do about mold in buildings

HIRE AN EXPERT - Do you need to hire a mold expert, bring in a mold remediator, hire a handyman, or clean up for yourself?

Readers should see WHEN TO HIRE A MOLD EXPERT for details about how to decide when hiring a mold expert is justified and appropriate. See MOLD INSPECTORS & MOLD TESTERS for a list of mold investigators whose work is familiar to us. Other mold investigators and test consultants may also be competent and qualified.

MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD gives basic advice for a do-it-yourself mold cleanup project, and detailed guidance about what to do about mold is provided at ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD.

Photo of a wet moldy crawl space: We go to find mold reservoirs in locations where no one else wants-to enter.

  • When to hire a professional to inspect, test, write a cleanup plan
  • Find a mold inspector A Directory of well qualified Mold/IAQ Service Providers
  • Associations Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
  • Mold Clearance Inspections When & How to Perform a Mold Remediation Clearance Inspection
  • MOLD LEVEL REPORTS Reporting the Results of Mold and IAQ Investigations & Clearance Inspections: what should be included
  • Our Field Investigation Service our senior expert goes where no one else wanted to look, uses non-invasive tools and sophisticated testing equipment for mold, gases, moisture, air quality, contaminants, Building problem diagnosis.
    Contact Us to arrange mold/IAQ Building on site inspection and testing.

MOLD TEST PROCEDURES - Valid and in-valid mold testing methods & protocols. Are some mold test kits junk science?

Please see Mold Sampling Methods in the Indoor Environment and in addition, the mold test critique articles listed just below.

  • This expert-recommended mold test kit is cheap and yet
top performing *IF* you use a competent analysis laboratory!
    How to Send A Mold Sample to Our Lab: 6 Easy Steps
    for a Mold Test: How to Collect Mold Samples Using Adhesive Tape and Plastic Bags - a low-cost high-quality and very easy method to send a mold sample to a mold laboratory for analysis Use this simple, economical mold test kit by following our instructions on how to collect and mail mold samples to a lab


  • Validity of Common Indoor Mold Sampling Techniques
  • Examining the Validity of Current Indoor Mold Sampling Techniques, Daniel Friedman, (Illustrated Power Point Presentation) 15th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Environmental Association Technical Conference
  • Tape: Mold Testing by Tape of a Moldy Surface "bulk" or "tape" samples and their interpretation - a brief tutorial
  • Tape: How to Report Mold Levels in Tape Samples of Surfaces in buildings
  • Air: Mold Testing by Air Samples & their interpretation - a brief tutorial on indoor air sampling for mold - are spore counts per cubic meter of air accurate and valid? Using air sampling to determine if a mold problem is "present" or "absent" and the role of cultures for "viable spore sampling" are criticized. Air sampling used alone is an unreliable way to look for mold and is highly questionable as a means of characterizing a precise mold exposure level indoors.
  • BASKETBALL MOLD SYNDROME - BBMS - sudden attention to old clues in buildings makes them seem brand new to some observers
  • Carpet Mold Inspection how to look for mold in carpets
  • Carpet Mold Test Guide suggestions for alternative methods to test carpeting for mold
  • Culture: Mold Testing by Cultures & "Home Test Kits for Mold" - Validity of Settlement Plates or Swabs to test for toxic mold in buildings - a brief tutorial
  • New Mold Sampling Methods in the Indoor Environment a critique of popular mold testing methods - Is your "expert" using valid methods? Is your mold test kit worth the bother? (Technical Paper.)
  • Toxic Mold Testing Methods Compared, also Toxic Gas Testing Methods and MVOC's - valid vs. invalid methods, recommendations compares air sampling for mold, surface or tape sampling for mold, culture or swab sampling for mold, and gas MVOC sampling methods for mold or other toxins, and organizes links to papers on each of these topics.
  • A Comparison of Some Indoor Air Sampling Devices - simultaneous application of popular sampling cassettes and slide samplers allows comparison of typical particle collection variation by device in actual field use. A field study in process by DJF, 2008 - 2005 (Technical Paper)
  • Burkard personal air sampler used by many residential investigators (we use multiple units simultaneously in some investigations). We also employ other residential building sampling equipment for surface, air, vacuum, and bulk sample collection methods as well as for gases.
  • Alternative, low-cost air sampling equipment and methods such as the mini-vacuum pump and Zefon Air-o-Cell or Allergenco-d cassettes or MCE filter cassettes for viable, non-viable or other forensic particle identification in buildings. A field study in process by DJF, 2005 - 2006 (Technical Paper)
  • Allergenco Mk-III time-lapse impaction air sampling equipment - study changes in particle dispersion under varying conditions (furnace on/off) A field study in process by DJF, 2004 - 2006 (Technical Paper)
  • Mold Testing: Bulk or Tape Surface Samples and their interpretation - a quick tutorial A brief introduction to using adhesive tape to collect particle samples such as from mold-covered surfaces; scrapes onto microscope slide and other methods also used by do-it-yourselfers and by experts
  • Vacuum Samples of Building Cavities: Wall Check™ type vacuum pump and canister permits "sampling" of mold and allergens in wall, ceiling, and floor cavities but our direct field testing indicates that this method is highly unreliable. See Mold in Fiberglass Insulation for details of the occurrence of mold contamination in building insulation, and see  Vacuuming building cavitiesas a screen for building mold as well as VACUUM TEST INSULATION CONTAMINANTS for finding mold-contaminated fiberglass.

    Working with Louis Relle, a Louisiana mold remediation expert on a New Orleans Building which was to be demolished we collected wall-check samples from every suspect Building cavity.

    When the building interior surfaces were demolished we then performed a visual inspection and collected bulk surface samples using tape.The wall check samples were completely unable to detect large and significant mold contamination in the cavities of this building.

    We postulate that even with mechanical agitation (banging on the wall during wall check sampling) the flow rate of the sampling method does not move enough air to reliably pick up surface contamination unless the mold genera/species happens to be at a particularly high state of active sporulation. The tool remains in the professional's arsenal, to be used with discretion.
  • Vacuum samples of Soft Goods of carpeting, drapes, furniture, clothing permits testing for mold contamination. We use this method for screening of areas where mold is not visible, and in clearance testing.
  • Toxic gases, indoor exposure levels, testing, identification
    • Toxic Gas Testing: A Sampling Plan for Residential buildings lists some of the toxic indoor gases for which we test, depending on the Building complaint and Building conditions
    • Gas Exposure Hazard Levels: for Toxic Gas Exposure to Ammonia, Arsine, Arsenic, Bromine, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Hydride, Ozone - allowable exposure levels and hazard levels
    • Carbon Dioxide Gas Toxicity hazard levels & testing
    • Carbon Monoxide Gas Toxicity hazard levels & testing
    • Formaldehyde: US EPA. UFFI (Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation) was previously considered a hazard (formaldehyde outgassing). Original source: epa.gov/iedweb00/formalde.html. Subsequent research virtually closed concern regarding this material; however formaldehyde appears to remain a health concern for sensitive individuals. Original source carsondunlop.com/OBS/pdf/uffi.pdf .
    • Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
    • Sampling for gases in air such as VOC's, MVOC's, toxic chemicals, and combustion products.

      Unfortunately no single test or tool can detect all possible Building contaminants. We use methods and equipment which can test for common contaminants. If the identity of a specific contaminant is known in advance we can also test for a very large number of specific contaminant gases in buildings.

      We use gas sampling equipment provided by the two most reliable companies in the world, Draeger-Safety's detector-tubes and Drager accuro� bellows pump, the Gastec� cylinder pump and detector-tube system produced by Gastec or Sensidyne, and we also use Sensidyne's Gilian air pump. For broad screening for combustibles and a number of other toxic gases and for leak tracing we also use Amprobe's Tif8850. All of these instruments, their applications, and sensitivities (minimum detectable limits) for specific gases are described in our Gas Sampling Plan online document.
    • Radon Gas U.S. EPA Radon level maps
  • Legionella sp. Health Concerns and advice, cleaning air conditioning systems, when to test for Legionella

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