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MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ANIMAL ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION S
ATTORNEYS and EXPERT WITNESSES
BIBLIOGAPHY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION
CAT DANDER in BUILDINGS
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
CPSC Indoor Air Pollution Book Online Copy
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES, TABLE OF
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURES
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SICK HOUSE IAQ QUESTIONNAIRE
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
How to find mold contamination in buildings: This is a 'how to' photo and text primer on finding and testing for mold in buildings using simple clear adhesive tape on suspect or visibly moldy surfaces. Choosing the Right Spot for Mold Testing Makes an Enormous Difference in Mold Test Results - here we start with a discussion of surface sampling of visible mold, settled dust, or any other dust, debris, or surface to be tested for particle identificvation.
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Choosing the Right Spot for Mold Testing Makes an Enormous Difference in Mold Test Results - here we discuss Where to Collect Tape Samples of Surfaces
This document describes how to find mold and test for mold in buildings, including how and where to collect mold samples using adhesive tape - an easy, inexpensive, low-tech but very effective mold testing method. This procedure helps identify the presence of or locate the probable sources of mold reservoirs in buildings, and helps decide which of these need more invasive, exhaustive inspection and testing.
Separately at AIR TEST FOR MOLD: ACCURACY we describe similarly critical decisions about where & how air tests for dust, mold, other particles may be conducted.
See TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS for added about how to use clear adhesive tape to collect surface samples of mold or dust or other materials.Also see HIDDEN MOLD, HOW TO FIND for a discussion of important but non-visible mold reservoirs, see MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES for an index of what mold genera/species are frequently found on various building surfaces and materials and see TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES for a discussion of the question of need to remove mold from mated building surfaces.
People collect surface samples of visible mold or of settled dust to be screened for mold testing using clear adhesive tape to identify a visible mold on a surface, to screen settled dust for mold/allergens, or to test the cleanliness of a surface after mold cleanup.
Regardless of the reason, the adhesive tape mold test method can be very effective, in fact more reliable than spot checks of airborne particles (which vary widely minute by minute) and far more reliable than culture samples (which only grow a small percentage of all possible molds).
But everything depends on the selection of the sample location - "where you stick the tape."
This document explains where and where not to "stick the tape" when sampling for mold.
Random mold samples, tape sampling of arbitrary surfaces, or sampling the obvious "black mold" when investigating a building are practices which increase the risk of a serious error - missing what's important and finding what's not very important. The result of these errors is the waste of time and money as well as the possible failure to find and address the real problem, leaving a health or cost risk in a Building to be handled again, and again, until it's addressed properly.
Mold is everywhere. You can't eliminate it. If you could we'd all be in trouble as nothing would ever decay and we'd all be so buried in junk and debris that nothing could grow on the earth. But we don't much like to see mold indoors and certainly not on our walls, ceilings, or furniture.
There we remove it or clean it off. This paper describes the detection of mold in buildings by visual inspection of mold-suspect surfaces. A thorough building investigation for problematic mold needs to address hidden mold reservoirs, for which our approach is to complete a detailed inspection and building (leak) history as well as to record occupant observations and complaints.
Knowing what molds are likely to be present indoors on building surfaces or in building materials, what they look like, and what they like to eat, in other words, knowing some mycology, can make a significant difference in what a building inspection for mold actually turns up.
See MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES for an index of what mold genera/species are frequently found on various building surfaces and materials.
Most common mold testing errors: the difference between what molds are found in buildings and what molds commonly grow on various building surfaces is that most mold tests and mold reports involve samples collected by people who are not expert at recognizing and sampling mold in buildings. So easy-to-see molds are over-reported and hard-to-see molds are under-reported in many consumer-generated mold tests and samples. This reporting error also confounds attempts to correlate mold related illness and sick building complaints with specific genera or species of indoor mold.
Simple "mold screening methods" which omit the inspection, and "test only" sampling methods, such as air and culture methods can produce very unreliable results when used quantitatively - as we discuss at IAQ Methods and at other articles at this website.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about accurate mold test procedures
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Technical Reviewers & References
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OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.