Showing posts with label Mold and Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mold and Health. Show all posts

Air Sampling for Mold

by Nick Gromicko and Ethan Ward...

Taking air samples during a mold inspection is important for several reasons.  Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, and the types of mold present can often be determinair sampleed through laboratory analysis of the air samples.  Having samples analyzed can also help provide evidence of the scope and severity of a mold problem, as well as aid in assessing human exposure to mold spores.  After remediation, new samples are typically taken to help ensure that all mold has been successfully removed.

Air samples can be used to gather data about mold spores present in the interior of a house.  These samples are taken by using a pump that forces air through a collection device which catches mold spores.  The sample is then sent off to a laboratory to be analyzed.  InterNACHI inspectors who perform mold inspections often utilize air sampling to collect data, which has become commonplace.
Air-Sampling Devices
There are several types of devices used to collect air samples that can be analyzed for mold.  Some common examples include:
  • impaction samplers that use a calibrated air pump to impact spores onto a prepared microscope slide;
  • cassette samplers, which may be of the disposable or one-time-use type, and also employ forced air to impact spores onto a collection media; and
  • airborne-particle collectors that trap spores directly on a culture dish.  These may be utilized to identify the species of mold that has been found.
When and When Not to Sample
Samples are generally best taken if visual, non-invasive examination reveals apparent mold growth or conditions that could lead to growth, such as moisture intrusion or water damage.  Musty odors can also be a sign of mold growth.  If no sign of mold or potential for mold is apparent, one or two indoor air samples can still be taken, at the discretion of the inspector and client, in the most lived-in room of the house and at the HVAC unit.
Outdoor air samples are also typically taken as a control for comparison to indoor samples.  Two samples -- one from the windward side and one from the leeward side of the house -- will help provide a more complete picture of what is in the air that may be entering the house through windows and doors at times when they are open.  It is best to take the outdoor samples as close together in time as possible to the indoor samples that they will be compared with.
InterNACHI inspectors should avoid taking samples if a resident of the house is under a physician’s care for mold exposure, if there is litigation in progress related to mold on the premises, or if the inspector’s health or safety could be compromised in obtaining the sample.  Residential home inspectors also should not take samples in a commercial or public building.
Where to Sample and Ideal Conditions
In any areas of a house suspected or confirmed to have mold growth, air samples can be taken to help verify and gather more information.  Moisture intrusion, water damage, musty odors, apparent mold growth, or conditions conducive to mold growth are all common reasons to gather an air sample.  Samples should be taken near the center of the room, with the collection device positioned 3 to 6 feet off the ground.
Ten minutes is an adequate amount of time for the air pump to run while taking samples, but this can be reduced to around five minutes if there is a concern that air movement from a lot of indoor activity could alter the results.  The sampling time can be reduced further if there is an active source of dust, such as from ongoing construction.
Sampling should take place in livable spaces within the house under closed conditions in order to help stabilize the air and allow for reproducibility of the sampling and measurement.  While the sample is being collected, windows and exterior doors should be kept shut other than for normal entry and exit from the home.  It is best to have air exchangers (other than a furnace) or fans that exchange indoor-outdoor air switched off during sampling.
Weather conditions can be an important factor in gathering accurate data. Severe thunderstorms or unusually high winds can affect the sampling and analysis results.  High winds or rapid changes in barometric pressure increase the difference in air pressure between the interior and exterior, which can increase the variability of airborne mold-spore concentration.  Large differences in air pressure between the interior and exterior can cause more airborne spores to be sucked inside, skewing the results of the sample.
Difficulties and Practicality of Air Sampling
It is helpful to think of air sampling as just one tool in the tool belt when inspecting a house for mold problems.  An air sample alone is not enough to confirm or refute the existence of a problem, and such testing needs to be accompanied by visual inspection and other methods of data collection, such as a surface sample.  Indoor airborne spore levels can vary according to several factors, and this can lead to skewed results if care is not taken to set up the sampling correctly.  Also, since only spores are collected with an air sample and may actually be damaged during collection, identification of the mold type can be more difficult than with a sample collected with tape or a cultured sample.
Air samples are good for use as a background screen to ensure that there isn’t a large source of mold not yet found somewhere in a home.  This is because they can detect long chains of spores that are still intact.  These chains normally break apart quickly as they travel through the air, so a sample that reveals intact chains can indicate that there is mold nearby, possibly undiscovered during other tests and visual examination.
In summary, when taken under controlled conditions and properly analyzed, air samples for mold are helpful in comparing relative particle levels between a problem and a control area.  They can also be crucial for comparing particle levels and air quality in an area before and after mold remediation.

New Day Homes specializes Mold Inspections in the Magnolia Texas area area. Air samples rates start at $125 per sample.

What Is a Mold Inspection and What Does Mold Testing Do?

Stories about black mold, toxic mold, mold lawsuits, and mold sickness are plastered across the headlines these days. As a result many property owners and renters are making the decision to get their buildings inspected for mold.
Perhaps you are one of the growing numbers of people wondering if a mold inspection is right for your property.  Is it worth it? What does the process entail? How do you search for the right mold inspection and testing company? This article will help to clarify some of the questions people have about what a mold inspection is and what mold testing can tell you about the health and safety of your property.
Let’s start at the top. Why should you get a mold inspection? People get mold inspections for many different reasons. Homeowners oftentimes get an inspection as part of the home buying or selling process, in order to make sure the house is free from mold before they move in or move out. Many people get mold testing done if they can see that there are areas of mold growth in their home. These people are interested in determining the exact nature of the mold—whether it’s harmful to human health, and whether or not they need professional help to remedy the situation.
Some people need an inspection with testing in order to get a proper estimate for remediation. The mold problem is probably extensive, and they want to take the first step towards restoration. Besides just being a visual blight on a property, mold can deteriorate walls and decompose wooden beams, weakening a home’s structural integrity.
Other people request an inspection because they merely suspect that there may be mold growing in their home. They could smell a musty odor or feel a dampness or mugginess inside their home. Mold might not be clearly visible. It could be growing inside walls, behind the dishwasher, or in a crawl space. A mold inspection with testing will determine if there is in fact mold present in the building.
Along the same lines, many people request a mold test or a mold inspection because although they don’t see any mold they feel some of the common health symptoms associated with mold exposure. Mold can cause a wide range of health effects in humans, depending on the specific person and the concentration of mold in the air. Most of the symptoms are associated with allergies and asthma. Some people feel as though they have the flu, complete with headaches, drowsiness, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and eye irritation. The elderly, small children, and people with immune deficiencies or respiratory problems have the worst reactions to mold. “Black mold” (Stachybotrys) has even been linked to pulmonary hemorrhage, or bleeding of the lungs.
Now that we know why people get mold inspections done, let’s discuss what actually happens during the inspection. The most comprehensive mold inspections will involve four main processes:
  1. Complete visual analysis of the premises: Mold inspectors are trained to locate the most common areas of mold growth, as well as some of the less obvious places where mold can develop in a building. Visual inspection alone cannot determine the presence of mold or the potential for mold within a structure, so more advanced techniques are also necessary.
  2. Moisture testing with a digital moisture meter: Hand-held moisture meters can pick up the level of moisture present in wood, sheetrock, and other materials. If your building has high levels of moisture, it’s likely that rot, mold, and mildew will affect the structure’s stability.
  3. Leak detection: Because mold growth in homes and apartments is almost always the result of unwanted water intrusion, inspectors should look for leaks in the roof, ceiling, and water pipes. Even small cracks in the exterior of a home can cause major damage if left unchecked.
  4. Air and surface samples, with testing and analysis from a laboratory: A good mold inspection will take air samples from various places inside the building as well as a “base” sample from outside. The outdoor air sample will give the laboratory a standard air quality reading against which they will compare indoor samples. Results from a laboratory analysis of the samples will usually tell what kinds of molds are present in a building (including the presence of “toxic mold,” like Stachybotrys).
Some mold inspection companies will provide these services separately, and others include them in a complete package. Be wary of companies that offer free or extremely cheap inspections, as they likely charge more for estimates and results from a laboratory or offer different aspects of the inspection a la carte.
Additionally, many people request an inspection of their building with infrared thermal imaging equipment. This kind of service can detect minute changes in temperature on walls inside a home, which may determine where moisture levels are high and subsequently where mold is likely to grow.
Besides the use of high-tech equipment, a mold inspection needs to be conducted by a competent service professional. Mold inspectors should be certified through the Indoor Environmental Association (IEA) or other industry organizations which regulate standard practices and provide oversight for inspection procedures. Initial training courses and continued education will provide inspectors with the necessary information to conduct the most extensive of inspections. Many inspectors have educational backgrounds and experience in the biological sciences and building construction trades.
Although mold inspections and mold testing can be requested for a variety of reasons, all inspections should be performed by qualified professionals. Exhaustive inspections will include four main aspects: visual investigation, moisture readings, leak discovery, and air/surface sample testing. Homeowners, renters, property managers, and landlords should take the necessary steps to safeguard their properties from mold infestations.

New Day Homes specializes in Mold Inspections in the Magnolia Texas area  area.