Which is better?
Measuring Mold Contamination
The natural reaction to suspicions of mold pollution and poor Orlando air quality in our homes and offices is to determine what the level of contamination actually is. We can do this by physically measuring levels of mold contamination. This is usually accomplished through indoor air quality testing or surface sample testing. Both have their uses for determining Orlando air quality, but what are the differences between them, and which procedure is ultimately better and provides more reliable and useful results?
Understanding Mold as a Pollutant
Measuring such levels of pollutants is most effective if a specific mold contaminant is already suspected in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency considers mold to be a biological pollutant, in the same category as bacteria, dust mites, pollen, and dander.
The EPA concludes that some of these biological pollutants such as mold do cause allergic reactions in people. Among these are allergic rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and even some forms of asthma. These toxins and viruses easily spread as airborne agents and can sometimes lead to disease in individuals. Symptoms of problems in health caused by these contaminants can include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, trouble breathing, coughing, and dizziness.
Should You Test for Mold?
Mold is a serious issue in many, many American homes. It can grow easily both outside and inside. It is quite capable of floating into your house through open windows, doorways, and even air vents. You also carry mold inside inadvertently on your shoes or attached to your clothes.
Even healthy individuals can suffer negative side effects from breathing in these toxic molds. These include wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms of upper respiratory symptoms. Those sensitive to mold can suffer worse problems still.
Moving from Suspicions of Mold to Testing for Mold
It makes sense to first investigate any suspicions we have of mold in our houses. Suspicions can arise from just a few moments spent sniffing for musty-smelling air. You can easily visually inspect any places that are likely for mold to appear. Mold can also grow in hidden areas so it is always recommended to have a professional mold inspection done if you suspect an issue.
This brings us to the two types of testing for mold. Mold spores will often exist in large quantities, which can complicate air quality testing. Surface testing will generate faster results. In either case, the source of the mold will have to be cleaned up wherever it is noticeable. Besides this, such conditions that caused the mold to take hold in the first place must be addressed, such as too much humidity in the home.
What is Air Quality Sampling?
Air quality sampling is the first of the two methods for testing for mold in your home. An inspector will collect a sample of air out of the room that you believe is contaminated by mold. Samples of air are also taken from other areas inside the property as well as an additional sample of the air outside. The indoor samples will help determine if mold spores have been released into the air and what areas they have traveled to while the outside sample will be used as a comparison for what your mold spore count should naturally be. This comparison is important because mold will naturally be in the air whether you have an issue in your property or not.
The collected samples will then be analyzed in a lab. Results will provide conclusive information on a number of particles in the room, such as mold spores, VOCs, asbestos, pollen, and any other allergens that are airborne.
Generally, the standard air samples will be comprised of 75 liters of compressed air. This allows for the results to be highly accurate as to the air health and quality of your home’s indoor environment. Typically, such air quality sampling tests will disclose significant mold presence, ventilation issues, and moisture problems in rooms where you may be surprised by the results.
Air quality sampling tests will disclose significant mold presence, ventilation issues, and moisture problems in rooms where you may be surprised by the results.
What is Surface Sampling?
Mold tests that involve surface sampling are usually quick processes. Many store-bought tests start with the tester gathering a sample of the suspected material. This they will insert into a liquid agent and then wait on a change in color.
The results are usually clear-cut for a casual observer to understand. Should the liquid change to green, this means that the surface-tested material is entirely mold-free. In cases where the liquid changes color to purple, this signifies that there is indeed a mold issue in play on the tested surface.
These instant surface tests do provide crystal clear results as to the fears of mold in general. What they do not do is reveal the type of mold that you suffer from or the quantity of it that may be present in the surface and room. They similarly do not tell you anything about the purity or contamination level of the air you are breathing. This is why most professional mold testers will use more involved tests and methods to determine the type and quantity of mold that is present.
The obvious advantage of a more involved surface test for mold will center on its ability to clearly identify the type of mold that is infecting the sampled surface versus only knowing that mold is present. These superior surface tests will involve a microscopic examination of the sample to directly label the mold growth by name. This does more than only affirm whether mold is present and count the number of spores on the surface. That is why culturing a surface sample is considered to be the superior method for analyzing surfaces for mold.
Which Type of Testing is Superior?
The main disadvantage to surface sampling versus air quality sampling for mold is that the surface presence of such mold material does not guarantee that it is airborne (or will become airborne) in the room. However, an air quality test will not reveal any other reservoirs of mold spores that are not airborne in the room or space as of yet.
The answer to which type of testing is better comes down to what answers you are seeking on the suspected contaminant of your Orlando air quality. If the resources are available to freely choose, many Orlando mold inspectors will actually recommend that both tests are conducted to ensure all details of your mold issue are uncovered and a properly written protocol can be created for remediation. Choosing one test over the other can limit your ability to see the larger picture of what is actually going on in your property and will severely limit the remediation professionals tasked with removing the mold.