What is the Purpose of Lab Testing for Mold?
When it comes to indoor mold testing, the lab results from testing are designed to either prove or disprove a hypothesis about mold conditions at a facility or residence. The hypothesis to be tested will be developed by specifying certain lab test objectives for conducting mold sampling. There are three typical objectives for mold testing, which will help in determining which type of mold samples should be collected for the mold inspection. The mold test results will give the occupants and our mold inspection professional an idea of whether or not mold has colonized the building or residence, whether there is or is not a typical amount of indoor mold spores and whether or not the remediation or mold removal process had the intended effect.
Elements of a Mold Test Report
There are a few basic elements of any mold test report, and our mold test professional should be able to provide the occupants with this data during the mold inspection process.
Clearly defined sampling objectives are instrumental in the creation of a sampling strategy or scope of the sample. This strategy will frame the sort of data that must be collected during the inspection. It will determine if viable or non-viable samples will be taken, as well as the lowest number of samples that will be gathered. Additionally, the strategy will identify when the samples will be collected and how the resulting data should be interpreted. The mold test report that is the result of the sampling and data collection should contain the following elements:
• An identification of what mold test was carried out.
• The location(s) of the mold test, such as specific rooms, indoors, outdoors or both interior and exterior locations.
• The objective for the mold test, i.e., the reason(s) why the test needed to be conducted.
• Conditions discovered at the site, such as noted water damage, outside reference samples collected for comparison purposes, and records of visually confirmed mold growth.
• Clearly articulated presentation of the results of the inspection and a professional interpretation of the mold test results.
Mold Sampling Types
The most common sources of indoor airborne mold spores are doors and windows that carry in spores from outdoors, spores brought in by people, pets and objects and indoor mold that grows and creates spores due to excessive moisture levels indoors. Air samples are a very common method of collecting data on mold spores and mold growth within a building, regardless of its source. These samples are collected by impacting air on either a mold growth medium, known as a culture air sample or on a non-growth medium, which is called a non-culture air sample. Culture air samples will allow the occupants and the testing professional to know what specific mold species are airborne within the building, while the non-culture air samples will determine the relative mold contamination level of a room or a building’s air in a specific region.
Surface samples include collection methods such as tape-lift and swab sampling. Mold type and colonization amounts can be determined by collecting samples from items within the building.
Clearly defined sampling objectives are instrumental in the creation of a sampling strategy or scope of the sample.
Meanings of Mold Lab Tests
1. Evaluating Mold Colonization Indoors
There are several means by which we can reach a determination of mold colonization at a building or residence. The tape-lift method using scotch tape is one such method. This method is ineffective on certain parts of a building, such as wet surfaces, and dry swabs are used instead for mold sample collection purposes. Some definite signs of mold colonization would be the identification of both mold spores and mycelia, a fungus with multicellular filaments that are called hyphae.
2. Determining “Normal and Typical” Mold Amounts/Types
To determine if the areas indoors have the “normal and typical” amounts and types of mold spores in the air, we would normally perform the air sample method. This “normal and typical” characterization is based on the usual values for the amounts and types of mold spores that are recorded in indoor environments that have no reported history of ventilation issues or water damage. This could mean that a residence or facility has normal and typical mold spore types and amounts in levels that are lower than what has been recorded in the nearby outdoors environment.
Mold spores such as Aspergillus or Penicillium may still be recorded indoors at relative amounts that are higher than outdoor measurements even if the buildings under evaluation have no water damage history. However, mold spores of Stachybotrys, Chaetomium, Ulocladium are signs of excessive moisture within the indoor environment and should normally not be present during typical recordings for mold spores. At high levels, these mold types can be very hazardous to the health of the building’s occupants.
Sources of mold caused by issues within the residence or building are determined after we discover that the mold spore relative levels indoors are greater than those recorded outside. Rather than mold spores outside being the sole cause of the indoor mold spore levels, an interior cause will also be discovered. This interior cause will be an agent that produces measurable amounts of moisture within the building, such as leaky or damaged plumbing, a leak within the building’s foundation, leaks within the roofing or any other moisture sources that persist for lengthy periods of time.
3. Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Mold Removal
Remediation when it comes to mold means the removal of the mold to put a halt to the environmental damage caused by the mold. To evaluate how successful the mold removal process was, one of our professionals should visually inspect indoor surfaces for mold at our mold labs. Inspection of these surfaces should indicate that there’s no evidence of mold growth whatsoever, and this applies to both past and present mold. For some locations and situations, a mold remediation process can still be considered successful even if there are indications of very low levels of mold spores still present in the air. Air testing is a complementary assessment that can help our inspectors ensure that the building’s occupants haven’t already been exposed to dangerous levels of mold spores in the air, and they can determine if the remediation method inadvertently caused mold spores to spread throughout the building.
Occupants should relay visual assessments and the relevant building history to our professional testers during the evaluation period. These forms of data combined with the mold data collected by our testers will offer the best information for diagnosing and correcting any indoor mold issues.
Don’t Put off Having a Mold Inspection
If you are concerned about mold inside your home or business, don’t ignore the problem. Have a professional mold inspection in Orlando and have peace of mind knowing that your issue is being handled the right away. Contact us today at (407) 615-0825 or use our online system to schedule an appointment.