Test for Mold Identification Part II
In part one we discusses why testing is often not needed. Below we discuss some benefits of testing.
ESTABLISH THE EXTENT AND LEVEL OF CONTAMINATION
A test for mold spores is helpful to determine the amount of spores in your air. It can also be utilized to tell us how far the spores have spread in a given buildings air. An inspector can have a very basic and general idea as to how contaminated a buildings via a visual investigation. By considering the amount of flooding and water damage present, the intensity of mold odor, and the amount of visible mold growth we can usually get a good idea of what needs to be done to remove the mold. To get a more detailed idea of how many spores there are in the air we can test the air for mold spores.
Another example of when it is helpful to test for mold is in cases related it fungal infections. If a homeowner has aspergillosus fungal infection caused by Aspergillus flavus for example, then it is beneficial to take viable samples to determine if levels of Aspergillus flavus in the home are elevated. If the client has a deadly Mucor infection in the sinuses then we can test for mucor in the home. In the last 10 years of testing for mold I have conducted inspections for clients with infections caused by fungus somewhere around four time. In cases where building occupants are suffering from fungal infections we utilize an Anderson impactor to sample so that infectious mold can be identified to the species level.
In the vast majority of the cases client health issues are induces by exposure to allergens and irritants caused by exposure to mold and it’s spores. These types of reactions are not related to the type of mold, but are related to the amount of mold in the building, and are related to the sensitivity level of the clients residing in the contaminated building. By testing for mold levels we can establish if spore levels are elevated, thus we can show if a sensitive individual was exposed to elevated levels of spores that may explain health issues.
Another benefit of testing mold is it to give us clues as to what caused the mold. Some molds like Chaetomium, Fusarium, Stachybotrys, Memnoniella, Aspergillus niger, are found after flooding occurs. I have use the identification of these fungi to show in court on more than one cases that the mold was caused by severe widespread flooding that the property owner tried to hide. Other application of testing is to get a basic idea of if you have old growth or new growth. The presence of a large growth of Stachybotrys can be utilized to establish evidence that the mold is older growth and not very new. This growth often do not becomes established quickly after flooding, and grows relatively slowly once it is established. I have used this information on a couple of expert witness investigations to help effectively establish that the growth was several months or years old, v.s. days or weeks old.
From reading this you may get the idea that samples are all important, but the truth is more than 90% of an inspectors truly helpful information comes not from the samples, but from the inspection part of the investigation. An inspectors time and resources are far better spent on inspecting your property than testing your air and swabbing your walls. The important answers come from doing a detailed hours long investigation of the property in question, and using the inspectors eyes, nose, tools, and problem solving skills, and NOT SAMPES to uncover the location of fungal growth, and the building defects that caused it.
The big questions have always been and will always be:
1) What are the causes and origins of moisture, condensation, or humidity that resulted in fungal proliferation ?
2) How extensive is the problem ?
3) How to remediate the fungal problem so it does not come back ?
For your benefit we always test, sample, identify, and describe the types of molds growth while simultaneously doing the real job of trying to figure out why you have mold and how to best get rid of it and how to change your indoor environmental conditions so it is not favorable to future growth.
In conclusion our professional tests for mold in order to be sensitive to our paying customers questions as to what type of mold they have. Sometimes we test to gain important helpful information. Our real goal is to get you to understand why it is growing in your home, and how to attack the root cause, and how it can be eradicated without contaminated the rest of the home in the process. This has been or philosophy from 2003 to 2013 and still is our philosophy.
About the Author:
Daryl Watters is a state licensed mold assessor and a certified indoor air quality consultant. For information on mold sampling, toxic mold effects, and mold inspection in the West Palm Beach area please visit his website at: www.floridamoldtesting.net