What Specific Home Mold Test Should I Have?

There are several different home mold test types that can be performed, depending on the conditions in the environment and the…

What Specific Home Mold Test Should I Have?

There are several different home mold test types that can be performed, depending on the conditions in the environment and the specific information needed.

1) Petri Dish: A Petri or settling dish is an archaic approach to determine levels of air borne fungus. Mold is everywhere outside and since outside air mixes with inside air, fungus is always present at some levels inside. A Petri or settling dish always collects mold spores. But since it does not meter and/or time the amount of air that passes over it, there is no scientific basis to determine if elevated fungal conditions exist inside buildings. Additionally, unlike large fungal spores, smaller spores stay air borne indefinitely and may not settle in a dish prior to laboratory test. It is also important to know the concentration and what type of non-viable spores are present. Settling dishes do not provide that information because only viable spores will grow in the Petri dish.

2) Tape Lifts: When you simply want to identify the types of fungi with a home mold test, surface samples taken with tape lifts or swabs are sufficient. They will identify different types of mold and can often indicate if there is active mold or mildew growth inside a building. Tape lifts are preferred over swabs when quantifiable tests are needed.

3) Bulk samples: This home mold test involves small pieces of material thought be contaminated by fungus growth. They provide the same information as tape lifts or swabs but often require removing a piece of building material. It is especially effective in testing for elevated conditions in carpet. Since black mold (Stachybotrys) spores are very large and do not stay air borne very long it is sometimes missed by air sampling. Bulk sampling is effective in determining its presence.

4) Spore Traps: Fungal air samples are taken with spore traps. Samples are taken with a metered air pump so they may be compared to other control samples to be used as a comparison, such as a sample taken outside or in another room of the building. This home mold test can tell us the concentration and type of fungal spores we are breathing and often indicate if there is active mold growth inside a building.

5) Wall Cavity Testing: Fungal air samples can also be taken with spore traps in wall cavities. This requires a small hole approximately one-half inch in diameter and is performed by inserting a vacuum tube into the wall.

6) Viable samples
: Used to identify pathogens, viable sampling is done to capture live spores – usually metered air sampling with a culture that is incubated for several days. After a few days, this home mold test can help determine whether or not the mold is pathogenic – a disease causing or infectious fungus.

7) Control Samples
: With the exception of a couple of states, no government standards or guidelines have been established to determine elevated or unusual levels of mold in buildings. That determination is made by the environmentalist or IDH (industrial hygienist) performing the investigation. Control samples are fungal air samples taken outside or in different areas of the building to assist in determining if unusual or elevated levels of fungi exist in a particular area of the building. There are some exceptions to this rule, i.e., there is zero tolerance for Stachybotrys.


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