photo of a moldy basement Dust, Mold & Particle Forensic Test Lab Services
Dust & Particle Testing for Black Mold and other Indoor Air Quality IAQ Contaminants
     


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This article describes forensic microscopy and aerobiology test laboratory methods & services used to accept and test both mold-expert-collected mold samples and client-submitted test samples for toxic mold, allergens, gases, odors, sewage backups, other indoor particles or other indoor contaminants that may be present in buildings.

This website provides free, in-depth information and procedures for finding, testing, cleaning and preventing indoor mold, toxic black mold, green mold, testing building indoor air quality, and other sick house / sick building investigations.

We give in-depth information about mold and other indoor air quality problems: causes of respiratory illness, asthma, or other symptoms such as neurological or psychological problems, air quality investigation methods, and remediation procedures such as mold cleanup, handling toxic mold contamination, and building or mechanical system repairs.

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MOLD TEST LABORATORY SERVICES - Laboratory Analysis Services

Our expert lab report includes photomicrographsMold test laboratory service includes analysis of expert-prepared field samples as well as processing of consumer-prepared adhesive-tape mail-in samples of mold or other particles.

For example, our mold testing lab provides identification services for bioaerosols such as mold, mildew, dust mites, pollen, and other allergens. We have considerable experience examining samples collected on tape, Zefon™ cassettes, MCE filter cassettes, slides, impaction air samplers, carpet, furniture, and other soft-goods vacuum samples, and in bulk material. Mold culture and bacterial surface contamination evaluation is available, and we also offer testing for carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and other gases.

Mold test laboratory education and experience include advanced indoor air quality, culture plate identification of fungal genera/species, house dust analysis, mold fungal spore quantitative analysis (spore counts in air), and qualitative analysis (particle types and what they mean), organic, and inorganic particle and fiber identification, mold culture methods and culture speciation. We have experience and special interest in identification of particles in building dust, paint failure field and lab analysis, paint sample analysis, and general forensic microscopy.

Mold test equipment education and experience include biological microscopy, forensic microscopy, particle identification using microscopic particle manipulation, microchemistry, transmitted light microscopy, polarized light microscopy, dispersion staining, determination of refractive index, interference patterns, phase-contrast, darkfield, focal screening, and other advanced techniques.

Stereo microscope (C) Daniel FriedmanIn the lab we make use of a variety of microscopes: low-power stereoscopic examination (photo at left) of samples for characterization and high-power microscopic examination (Page top photo, up to 1920x) for broad scope particle identification (not just mold) using transmitted and polarized light as well as darkfield and phase contrast microscopy.

Forensic particle identification can extend well beyond biological matter (mold spores, cat or dog dander, insect fragments, dust mites, mite fecals) to include both organic and inorganic particles and fibers.

Particle identification is supplemented by use of Cargille™ refractive index liquid particle differentiation for identification of biological particles such as mold spores, pollen grains, animal allergens, dog, cat, mouse dander, mite fecals, cockroach and other insect particles, and non-biological particles in house dust and debris such as road dust, tire particles, diesel soot, oil burner soot, copier toner, wood and paper fragments, skin cells, possible bacteria.

 

These methods help assure that the lab report accurately represents the character of the samples which were submitted.

Our field lab service permits emergency-response and immediate identification of most particle samples.Mobile Microscopy Lab: For immediate on-site particle determination where emergency response or remediation/salvage operation evaluation is necessary we offer mobile field microscopy lab service including field preparation of test samples and light microscopic examination for particle identification.

Field samples are used to prepare slides for examination by light microscope. Our own field work collects mold or biological particle samples using a variety of methods. From the public our lab also accepts mold surface samples using clear tape.

Chemical treatment and mounting media are selected based on the sample type, often including potassium hydroxide, acid or basic fuchsin, Calberla's solution, lacto phenol cotton blue, or other preparations.

When lab work is in support of legal proceedings or if otherwise appropriate we prepare permanent-mount slides using glycerine jelly or other media. Slides are examined at magnifications of 10x, 100x, 400x, and 1000x using tungsten and polarized light, darkfield, etc. as appropriate.

ONSITE INSPECTION / INVESTIGATION AVAILABILITY NOTICE: Except for special cases including our pro-bono services we no longer provide onsite building investigations.

For on-site building & home inspections the extensive list of building inspectors and specialists at
Directory of Professionals to Inspect or Test a Building

Identification of toxic, allergenic, or cosmetic mold genera/species in the Mold Test Lab

Pleospora spores being born (C) Daniel FriedmanGenera/species identifications are made based on experience, education, reference texts, comparison with known samples, and when appropriate, consultation with fellow mycologists and other experts.

There are more than 70,000 mold species which have been identified and an estimated 1 million remaining to be identified, so it is common to encounter unidentified spores. (Our lab photo, left, shows an Pleospora sp., an Ascomycete, being released from its perithecium.)

However fortunately, in most areas there common protagonists which have been studied and which can be identified to genera and often to species.

Because mold toxicity varies widely within a particular genera, speciation is an important step, omitted by some high-volume labs and investigators who may fail to distinguish between harmless amerospores such as basidiomycetes and potentially harmful Penicillium/Aspergillus spores in samples.

Aspergillus niger spore chain (C) Daniel FriedmanA detailed written mold test laboratory report of laboratory finding, medical information, and recommendations is provided. The lab report describes:

  • "Significant/dominant particles" in each sample examined: likely to be most important in the Building
  • "Other spores/particles present" in each sample at notable but not dominant frequency, possibly important
  • "Incidental spores or particles detected", which in special cases may still be diagnostic even though the absolute spore count is so low that many labs and consultants ignore this data. An example is the Aspergillus niger spore-chains in our lab photo (left). The presence of these spores in chains suggests nearby active indoor growth of this toxic mold, even though the actual spore count would be reported as just 31 spores!
  • Our lab reports use clear, specific definitions of "mold levels" and we explain what certain particle findings suggest about the area or surface from which the sample was collected.

    Study of sample contents with special understanding of mycology and building science is important: Similarly, the appearance of certain fungal structures, such as Penicillium/Aspergillus spore chains in an indoor sample may be an important indicator of a local problematic mold reservoir, even though a quantitative analysis alone would produce an apparently low spore count and would fail to detect this problem indicator.
  • Quantitative analysis such as fungal spore or particle counts per cubic meter of air sampled are also available when such measures are appropriate.
  • Significant microscopic observations are documented in our reports using microphotography. These are our tips for taking digital photographs through the microscope - photomicrographs, or microphotographs if you prefer.
  • Photographic documentation of site conditions and laboratory observations are included with our site and lab reports.
  • Lab reports also include a summary of contemporary medical information about particles identified.

Independent inspectors as well as many Building owners or occupants may also use our mold testing laboratory service.

If you do not want to bring a professional investigator to your property, here are instructions explaining how to collect and mail mold samples to our lab for identification, analysis, and advice.

If you wish to send samples collected by other means than described in our guidelines, such as bulk mold samples or mold culture plates, please call first for special instructions and fees.

If you have questions about our instructions for mailing a mold sample to the lab or if you need to request special field or lab services.

This Low-Cost Do-it-Yourself Inexpensive Mold Test Kit Can Provide Most Accurate Results

This expert-recommended mold test kit is cheap and yet
top performing *IF* you use a competent analysis laboratory!
Use this simple, economical mold test kit by following our instructions
on how to collect and mail mold samples to a lab

Review MOLD CULTURES to learn why a particle sample from settled dust might be more reliable than mold culture kits.

At MOLD TEST PROCEDURES we review all of the popular mold test methods, explaining the pros and cons of each method.

On-site field investigation services are described at FORENSIC BUILDING INVESTIGATION SERVICES.

Before hiring any onsite test or investigation expert for a field investigation, inspection, or testing, be sure to review MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?.

If you want to collect and send your own mold or other particle test samples to a lab,

see TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS. Readers interested in laboratory procedures should also

see TECHNICAL & LAB PROCEDURES as well

as DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY & the MICROSCOPE.


 

Continue reading at ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see FORENSIC BUILDING INVESTIGATION SERVICES

TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS

ARTWORK MOLD CONTAMINATION

BLACK LIGHT & UV LIGHT USES

BLOOD in ART WORKS, TESTING FOR

BOOK MOLD, CLEANING

FLOODS in BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION

FOXING STAINS on books & papers

Suggested citation for this web page

FORENSIC & IAQ LABORATORY SERVICES at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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