Testing for mold is an important step in keeping a home clean and safe, promoting good air quality, and preventing mold from destroying your domain. Learn more about what mold is, what mold looks like, how it grows, and how to eradicate it. Allow the experts at Safe Shelter Environmental to help you with your mold inspection and mold testing needs to keep your home free of mold problems.
Mold is Everywhere.
Mold is everywhere. Mold is a type of fungus that grows from tiny spores that float in the air. It travels in microscopic spores and lands on surfaces, on a person’s clothing, their car, and their packages. Therefore, we will not be able to completely eradicate mold from a home, but we can take the right precautions and test for mold spores in the air and on surfaces.
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. However, surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have experience in designing mold-sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results.
Signs of mold – Is Mold or is it Mildew?
Mold and mildew are both fungi that need water, oxygen, and food to survive, they both have a musty odor, but they differ in how they appear on surfaces. Mold tends to have a higher profile and can even appear fuzzy, while mildew is always flat. Mold exhibits darker colors such as deep green and black (like black mold); mildew may begin as white, then turn brown or gray. Also, mildew turns into a white, powdery substance, but mold never does.
Where Do We Find Mold?
If you notice a stale odor in your home, that is one indication that you may have mold or mildew. You may find visible mold around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. A professional technician will be able to find mold in other places in the indoor environment such as ceiling tiles, wood products, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. Mold can also grow in the HVAC system, around an air-conditioning unit, and on pipes and drains. A professional mold inspector will also want to check your basement for mold growth.
Is Mold Dangerous to Our Health?
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health issues and allergies. Black mold has the reputation as the worst mold to have in the home, but that is not true. There is a very narrow set of toxic molds that produce secondary metabolites, which produce toxins. These are known as mycotoxins and they can cause an allergic reaction.
Studies show that more than 50% of homes and more than 85% of commercial buildings in the U.S. have water damage and some type of mold.
This is an issue to be concerned about because it is likely that every water-damaged building or home also has the presence of mycotoxins and that can cause problems with the indoor air quality and the cleanliness of the surfaces we touch daily. Allergic reactions and health issues can occur when you are exposed to mold and the symptoms are worse in people who are sensitive to molds, allergic to mold, or asthmatic. There can be a wide variety of allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose, wheezing, red or itchy eyes, or red, itchy skin. Other people experience more serious reactions to mold spores.
Professional Mold Testing
In most cases, it is advisable to allow a trained technician to perform an inspection on the house and give their professional recommendation. There are two methods commonly used to test for mold. They are Spore Traps and Swab Samples.
Spore Trapping can test for mold spores in the indoor air. Spore traps work by having a known volume of air impact a sticky surface as it passes through the spore trap sampling device. Most of the particles in the air also impact this sticky surface and are captured on it. Mold spores comprise a subset of these ‘particles in the air’ and are captured on the gummy surface inside the spore trap. Then the spore trap is sent to the mold testing laboratory for lab analysis.
Swab samples will test for mold on surfaces. A special cotton swab is rubbed across a measured surface area and then sent to the mold testing laboratory for lab analysis.
There are other types of surface sample tests, such as bulk samples, which require a piece of infected material to be sent to a laboratory. Or there are tape samples, where a piece of tape is pressed against a suspect surface and then sent for lab analysis.