Basic Information

Mold: In a nut shell…

Mold is from the fungi family and there are thousands out there in the natural environment.  It is not possible to look at mold or smell mold and be able to tell what kind of mold it is.  People become alarmed at the “black mold”, well most molds are black, dark brown, charcoal, dark green and you can’t tell by the human eye which it really is.  It has to be sent to the laboratory for them to determine under a microscope.  But most all molds and fungi must have a moisture source.  There are 3 categories:

Low Moisture Mold – Molds that only need just a little bit of moisture to manifest.  It is usually very common molds and can grow with just high humidity levels in the air.

Medium Moisture Mold – Molds that takes a considerable amount of water for a good period of time such as a chimney leak, the moisture will surface and you find it relatively quickly in most cases.

High Moisture Mold – These molds need a lot of water for a long period of time.  The “Black Mold” that has toxins is Stachybotrys Mold it is a High Moisture Mold and is referred as “black slimy” where there is so much moisture available.

Usually there is never just one type mold found, once the moisture source is available all kinds of spores can attach and grow.  Just know that any of the mold spores, at elevated levels, for a long period of time could cause health issues, especially for immune compromised, children and the elderly.  It mostly depends on the occupants immune system, (which is usually not known and can change) is it strong enough to fight off mold, (just like colds and viruses) and for how long?  It is also a factor whether you ingest it, inhale it or get it into an open wound.

Testing: Just in general.

When to test?  The EPA Mold Guideline booklet states “In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary.  (Pg 13)  AMS includes testing up front upon request and/or if there are health issues and concerns; this is the time to test because once it’s gone you will not know what you had been subjected to.  On inside remediation projects AMS also includes final testing, this gives a third party result.  We want the lab to confirm there are no elevated levels, since you can’t see air born contaminants; this is the only way to confirm acceptable completion levels. 

There are several testing methods.  AMS utilizes the air compaction testing.  This is the most conclusive way to determine air born levels.  Since you can’t see mold spores and they waft around in the air, taking one air sample at the return air grille is ideal.  That is where all the air in the home returns is to that one point and most accurate.  AMS recommends testing at each return in the home to determine that all areas are acceptable when more than one HVAC unit.  Then you have to do an outside air test, 10ft outside the entry door.  This test set standards; this tells the lab what comes in and out as you, kids, pets etc.  Now they can compare what normally comes in and out, to the levels found at the return.  If the return test results are higher for the most part red flags the lab that it is probably manifesting inside.  It didn’t come from outside its too high.

Other methods such as bulk samples and tape test will tell you what is on the bulk sample and tape only; not the whole picture of what is occurring in the air you are breathing.  Petri dishes and plates are settlement collectors, if any of the spores do not settle on the dishes then again you do not have the whole picture. Same with the swab testing, you may swab a 12 inch by 12 inch area and all you know is what is going on in the one square foot area.


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