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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACCEPTABLE MOLD LEVEL
ACCURACY OF VARIOUS MOLD TEST METHODS
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD
AGE of MOLD - Old is the Mold?
AIR TEST FOR MOLD: ACCURACY
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
ALLERGEN TESTS for buildings
BASEMENT MOLD WATER IMPACT
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BOD WASTEWATER TEST
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARBON DIOXIDE - CO2
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CARBON MONOXIDE WARNING
CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
CRAWLSPACE MOLD ADVICE
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST SAMPLING PROCEDURE
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIBERGLASS PARTICLE CONTAMINATION TEST
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
FIND MOLD in buildings, HOW TO
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
HIDDEN MOLD, HOW TO FIND
HUMIDITY CONTROL TO PREVENT MOLD
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY METHODS COMPARED
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW in BUILDINGS ?
MILDEW ERRORS - MOLD PHOTOS
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE
MOLD CLEANERS - WHAT TO USE
MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE- HOW TO GET RID OF MOLD
MOLD CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS
MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
MOLD CONSULTANTS / INSPECTORS
MOLD CULTURE TEST KIT VALIDITY
MOLD DETECTION & INSPECTION GUIDE
MOLD or INDOOR AIR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MOLD LEVEL IN AIR, VALIDITY
MOLD ODORS, MUSTY SMELLS
MOLD PREVENTION GUIDE
MOLD RELATED ILLNESS GUIDE
MOLD SAFETY WARNINGS
MOLD SPRAYS, SEALANTS, PAINTS
TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS
MOLD TEST METHODS, ACCURACY
MOLD TEST vs. PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS
Are Mold Test Kits Useful?
MOLD TEST PROCEDURES
MOLD TEST REASONS
1. Save Money if it's Just Cosmetic Mold
2. Mold Related Illness
3. Mold Cleanup Data baseline
MOLD TESTING METHOD VALIDITY
Shortcomings of air sampling
Mold in Air: Quantitative Analysis
Tape sampling for mold
Determination of mold genera
Determination of mold species
Shortcomings of tape sampling
Shortcomings of surface and carpet vacuuming
Vacuuming building cavities
Vacuuming exposed insulation
Shortcomings of vacuuming insulation
Cultures to "Test for Mold"
Shortcomings of culturing
Shortcomings of swab sampling
PCR methods for Mold Identification
MOLD TESTING SERVICES
MOLD TOXICITY VARIATION
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SICK HOUSE IAQ QUESTIONNAIRE
SLIDE PREPARATION, MICROSCOPE
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAIN & BIODETERIORATION AGENT CATALOG
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAINS on INDOOR SURFACES: PHOTO GUIDE
STAINS & Thermal Tracking
TECHNICAL & LAB PROCEDURES
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation UFFI
URETHANE FOAM Deterioration, Outgassing
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VINYL Siding or PLASTIC Window ODORS
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in buildings
World Trade Center Collapse Dust Photos
Why is mold testing sometimes useful and appropriate? Here we list reasons to test for the presence of mold or to collect samples to identify the kind of mold present in buildings.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
15th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina
Mold testing discussion can be divided into two main topics, the second of which is discussed in this paper.
At DO IT YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP we provide suggestions for a do-it-yourself cleanup of small areas of mold. At MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE we provide guidelines to help decide when it is probably justified to bring in a mold expert to perform mold inspection and testing in a building.
Because mold test validity and mold test accuracy are often confused, readers should also see ACCURACY OF VARIOUS MOLD TEST METHODS. People who need to conduct mold inspection and testing indoors should see MOLD TEST PROCEDURES and TECHNICAL & LAB PROCEDURES.
Our MOLD INFORMATION CENTER includes more broad discussions of the overall approach to building investigation, as do many expert references cited at that web. For a more comprehensive collection information about mold test methods see INDOOR AIR QUALITY METHODS COMPARED. For more on "mold classes" (Cosmetic mold vs. allergenic mold vs. toxic or pathogenic mold) see MOLD CLASSES, HAZARD LEVELS and more references such as a Mold Action Guide are at the end of this document.
Small areas of mold, no complaints or other concerns? Just remove it and fix the cause. We emphasize that for small areas of mold contamination, generally where less than 30 square feet of contiguous mold is present, simple building cleaning and renovation procedures are all that's needed and testing is usually not appropriate. Most building mold contamination falls in this first category.
Even larger areas of mold may be harmless and do not require costly cleaning methods. If mold present in the building is only of "cosmetic" concern, it is unlikely that special cleanup methods such as negative air, establishment of a containment system, and special personal protection for workers is needed. If these special methods can be avoided, the cost to remove mold will be substantially less. Therefore it cases where a large amount of mold is present it may be appropriate to have an expert perform testing and to prepare an appropriate remediation plan to guide the remediation contractor. The same expert may be used to perform clearance testing later to assure that the cleanup was proper and successful. Also see Can mold make you sick?"
Harmless Cosmetic "Black Mold": A very common example is the Ceratocystis/Ophistoma group which appear as "black mold" on framing lumber and which are more commonly known as "blue stain" or sapstain molds. This mold is found on lumber as it arrives from the lumber yard - a condition that is readily apparent to a building expert and which can be confirmed by sample identification.
Allergenic mold: Other dark molds, including the most common genera Cladosporium sp. are often allergenic: a potential respiratory irritant or a problem for people with allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities.
Toxic/Pathogenic mold: a third broad group are molds which we call "toxic" and includes species which are toxic, pathogens, or infectious agents which in some cases may be capable of infecting humans or of producing disease in humans. Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, are two examples.
We find in many cases that large areas of "black mold," about which owners/occupants may be unduly frightened, are Ceratocystis/Ophistoma, a common mold that is found on framing lumber from time of construction, and which is known to be only of cosmetic concern, and which is not an indicator of mold-conducive conditions in the building - it came in on the lumber and is inactive and cosmetic.
Without knowing what this is, people may make large and inappropriate expenditure on "professional remediation" - in one case in CT a client was about to launch a $600,000. complete re-framing of the first floor of a building, a totally inappropriate step which was completely unnecessary with a little knowledge of mycology and building science.
Ambiguous airborne mold counts: A second example of this sort is the need to distinguish between two "mold counts" that appear to be the same but actually mean very different things. An outdoor 500 Pen/Asp spores/M3 of air and an apparently low indoor 400 Pen/Asp spores/M3 may take on a new meaning if the outdoor spores are a different genera/species than the indoor ones.
Proving that mold in a building caused a health concern is so arduous and costly as to be inappropriate in most cases. If a lot of allergenic or toxic mold is present, it needs to be removed. But information about what was found in a building may be useful: a number of our clients have health complaints for which IAQ problems are a potential cause or contributor - information which they want to convey to their physician.
For example, a delay in diagnosing fungal infections in two of our clients led each to have permanent loss of eyesight. We acknowledge that these cases are not common, but they occur enough for caution to be in order. We don't submit that we should be practicing medicine nor diagnosing ailments, rather that information about a sick person's environment might be useful to their physician.
Dr. Harriet Burge (ret) at the Harvard School of Public Health has taught me that the cost of proving that a specific illness is caused by a specific mold or allergen in a particular environment is so arduous as to be impractical. However we agree, as we expect you do too, that if a large area of allergenic or more toxic mold is present in an environment it should be removed.
Can Mold Make You Sick?
We live in a sea of mold, and other stuff in the air we breathe, on cushions we sit on, clothes we wear, pools we swim-in, and so on. Most mold is not hurting anyone, and some of it makes us well when we're sick(Penicillium notatum, for example). Fear of mold (mycophobia) is unjustified and in our opinion, more a result of media hype, enviroscare, and gouging consumers.
A healthy person walking through a room of moldy air is not likely to die. On the other hand, there is a wealth of less rigorous empirical data matching occupant complaints with indoor mold and allergens. Finally, for certain people, mold can be a serious problem if it's at high levels indoors. It's probably an overstatement by those authorities who assert that "... there are no proven links between mold and illness." we refer readers to some of our lab's references for descriptions of illness-related molds, some of which are found in buildings:
Why Identify mold - Reason 3: establish a data baseline and later, evaluate the success of a professional mold remediation project
See MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE for a discussion of when it is or is not appropriate, justified, and ethical to hire a mold consultant to inspect, diagnose, and advise about mold contamination in a building.
Where large areas of mold remediation are needed, using professional cleaning services, we find that in many cases the "professional" does not properly maintain containment, and actually increases the level of allergens in the building. In buildings where occupants are at particular risk (elderly, immune-impaired, infant, asthmatic) we have had cases where an occupant entered an area contaminated with high levels of allergenic mold and suffer severe asthma attacks. In Ellenville, NY at a private residence we learned of a fatality involving just such an incident.
For large remediation projects we find it very useful to have a base-line of data on what areas need to be cleaned and which are acceptably clean before the remediation project. Then a quick test after the remediation can confirm not only that it was successful, but that the remediator did not inadvertently fail to contain.
If the containment was unsuccessful and other building areas have become contaminated enough to want to have additional cleaning (typically HEPA vacuuming or wiping), having the baseline showing that the contamination followed the remediation rather than preceded it protects the property owner or occupant from additional unnecessary expense.
The usefulness of samples depends on the knowledge and thoroughness of the person collecting the sample as part of a building investigation. Arbitrary or random samples are unlikely to be a reliable characterization of a building. Choice of method as well as how the method is applied (for example, just where to stick the tape to collect a surface sample) makes a large difference in the quality and representativeness of the sample.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers on how to decide if mold testing is needed at a building .
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.