Mold Testing Companies and Home Mold Testing Kits Part I



Mold testing companies rely on air samples more than on petri dishes.

Of course if you feel that you have a mold problem, you may believe that you can save money by not hiring a mold testing company. Instead you may think you can purchase a home mold testing kit from your local building supply store. It seems that every Home Depot from Miami Fl to Miami Michigan offers these kits. Regardless as to if you are in West Palm Beach FL or Palm Springs CA you can likely find these kits. The home mold testing kit will typically consist of a standard, plastic Petri dish containing a mold growth media, most likely MEA (Malt Extract Agar.) Simply open the kit and let mold spores fall in it from the room air above it. Within a few days, mold colonies will start to grow. Typically, you will see black, white, gray, brown, and green mold colonies. Colonies with both green and white are also very common. Most colonies will be fuzzy, and the mold types in the mold testing kit will usually be mostly Penicillium/Aspergillus-type molds, Cladosporium, Mucor, and a few others. It’s very cheap, easy, fast, and quite interesting to see what is floating around in your air. You might want to try it if you are curious and want basic information about some of the spores in your air.



However the information that can be drawn from the results of most mold testing kits is very limited and if you truly suspect a problem then you should hire a mold testing company  for the following reasons:

1) Because the kits do not draw in a given amount of air for a given amount of time, there is no way of knowing for sure if the number of spores that settle in the plate and grow into mold are just the normal expected levels of spores found in every house. Most clean houses without a serious mold problem should be expected to contain very roughly 100 to 500 mold spores per cubic meter of air. Anything over 500 to 1,000 or higher is typically considered suspect by many mold inspectors. However, these numbers are just very general and not set in stone. In fact the best and most popular method used by certified mold testing companies when interpreting mold spore levels is to compare indoor spore levels per cubic meter of air to outdoor spore levels per cubic meter of air.

2) When using petri dishes because you cannot know the spore levels indoors per given unit of air you cannot figure out if indoor spore levels were higher than or lower than outdoor levels. If indoor levels of specific types of spores are higher than outdoor levels of the same spores then we conclude that the levels are high indoors because they came from mold growing indoors.

But because with petri dishes we cannot count spores per given unit of air, we cannot draw conclusions as to if the spores came from indoor growth or if they floated in from outdoors.

Stated another way, if you have a bunch of spores indoors, and only a few outdoors then the mold probably grew indoors. If you have a bunch outdoors, and a few of these same spores indoors, then we conclude that the indoor spores probably floated in when you opened the door. With petri dishes you will not know if the spares came from outside or from inside because you cannot count and compare, and this information makes all the difference.

3) Another drawback of mold testing kits when compared to home mold testing specialists is the fact that most are not designed to sample and grow Stachybotrys, AKA toxic black mold.  This mold grows very slowly, so by the time it is starting to germinate in the petri dish, the dish has likely already been disposed of by the lab analysts and is now in the city dump.

4) Since the mold sampling was not conducted by any quilified home mold testing companies, you will most likely have no idea about possible hidden mold. Though mold inspections cannot guarantee that all hidden mold will be found, a trained and experienced consultant with years of experience will likely be much more likely to find concealed problems than the typical homeowner.

5) Also because a professional home mold testing companies were not consulted, you may not know why the mold grew, how to properly remove the mold, or how to correct the problem that resulted in mold growth.

If you feel that you have a serious mold problem in your home or place of employment, you may want to purchase a test kit from your local South Florida building supply store go right ahead, do not let me stop you. However this is only a starting point, you will benefit much more by obtaining the services of an experienced, trained, and properly certified mold testing company, certified indoor environmentalist, or certified industrial hygienist who is familiar with:

1) Building construction and building forensics since your mold problem is not in a Petri dish or lab it is in a building and is the result of building failure, mold testing should be done by someone who has knowledge of buildings, vapor barriers, roofing, etc.

2) Psychometrics pertains to humidity, temperature, dew point and air, and a deep understanding of the interrelation of such factors is important.

3) Biological sciences. Your south Florida home mold testing professional should understand at least some basic biological and ecological science principles pertaining to microbiology or mycology (the study of mold).

systems. Your south Florida mold testing expert must be familiar with HVAC systems because probably 50% of mold problems are related to HVAC system malfunctions, leaks, or contamination.

5) Sampling reports. Your mold inspector should be properly trained and experienced in investigating and sampling mold, and they should know how to interpret the lab results.

6) Inspection reports. Your mold testing companies professional should give you a comprehensive inspection report which documents visual findings, environmental monitoring results, and interpretation of lab results, inspector’s conclusions, and recommendations on how to control the mold problem. If you obtain a report from the lab alone, you will need an inspector to get the interpretation of the results. Look to A Accredited for a qualified inspector who has a college degree in education for teaching biology and general science, has health inspection experience, has extensive home and building inspection experience, has earned not one but three mold inspection certifications and also who is a certified indoor environmentalist certified by The Indoor Air Quality Association. Click on the following link to learn about our credentials.

For part II click here.

At A Accredited Mold inspection Service, Inc. We offer moisture and leak testing, humidity, and IAQ or indoor air quality testing services as well as mold inspections and allergen testing. Our home mold testing areas of coverage include Miami, Jupiter, Kendall, Weston, Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Ft Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Our mold specialists inspects in Miami Dade County, Broward, and Palm Beach County.

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