Mold is a natural, important part of earths eco system and mold spores (seeds) are everywhere! Inside, outside, homes, offices, commercial buildings…everywhere. Mold spores are microscopic and airborne and like dust, they will settle onto the surfaces in your home/business. When you have mold air or surface testing performed, the question is not “are you going to find mold?”, but rather “is the mold found, what we normally expect to find in the average indoor environment, or is it abnormal?”
Mold needs moisture to grow, so when you have some type of water present from a slow leak, broken water pipe etc, the water comes in contact with those settled spores and mold begins to grow. This does not happen overnight, so getting your building dried out quickly and thoroughly is key to preventing mold growth. This is the reason, when you have a water leak in your home/business, that professional restoration companies bring in so much drying and dehumidifying equipment. Their goal is to dry your building quickly and thoroughly to prevent mold growth and further damage to building materials! You should NEVER try to dry out your own home/business after a water intrusion regardless of the water source or how ‘small’ it may seem, a couple of house fans will not do the job quickly and thoroughly and will leave you susceptible to building materials remaining wet and mold growth!
The two major areas of health risk are
X factor: The X factor is the human body. While mold exposure can cause any number of symptoms, like irritation, allergic response, infection, and toxicosis etc., and of course some people may share the same symptoms, but there is no specific type of mold, or exposure length or level that can be used as a baseline for everyone. Every person’s body responds to mold, like any other substance, uniquely.
Active fungal/mold growth in indoor environments is potentially hazardous as it may lead to exposure and adverse health effects. If you have identified visible mold growth in your home or business, you should remember mold can only affect you or get into your body one of three ways:
Since people do not touch or lick mold they see, their primary concern should be “Has the mold sporulated and gone airborne?” Therefore, airborne mold is your primary exposure point. Mold is a two-headed monster, the mold you can visually see and the mold spores that may be airborne which you cannot see. Air testing must be performed prior to beginning mold remediation so the restoration company can understand how much of the ‘mold problem’ is airborne that also needs to be addressed in addition to removing the visual surface mold. It’s possible that the visual mold has not sporulated and is not airborne, but testing should be performed to either confirm or deny its presence and your exposure level. Additionally, mold does not balance itself out, what you find in one room is not what you will find in all rooms. Airborne mold moves with air movement caused by natural pressurization, heating and air-conditioning, fans, open doors and windows etc.. Therefore, it is critical to test every room in the building.
NO VISIBLE MOLD, BUT SUSPECT ITS PRESENCE:
It is common for us to hear from individuals who suspect the presence of mold, even though there is nothing visible. Sometimes there has been previous water damage, other times they are experiencing a musty smell etc, and need the peace of mind to know if there is a mold problem.
While there is no technology available to identify hidden mold, like in a wall cavity etc, industry best practices do recommend an air test be performed. If abnormal airborne mold levels are found, it is an indication there is a source somewhere.
Think about the difference between a film camera and a digital camera. With a film camera you have to buy the film, take pictures, send the film away for processing, wait to get your pictures back etc. with a digital camera you take a picture have instant results.
Cartridge/Cassette Method: This ‘older’ method was developed in the last century. Like a film camera, it involves buying cassettes, taking samples, sending the samples away for processing and waiting days or up to a week for results. The testing device is stationary, so it takes a very limited statistical sample, and it is generally cost prohibitive to sample more than a couple rooms.
Digital Optics Technology: With our digital optics technology you can affordably test every room, with real-time detection and characterization of airborne biological particles and get an instant report. Additionally, this instrument moves throughout the entire room during testing for a broader and more accurate statistical sampling. With the digital technology, you’ll get the most accurate results available to make sure the air has been tested properly.
*It is a serious conflict of interest for a testing company to do mold removal or for a mold removal company to do its own testing. NEVER hire a restoration company who offers to do the testing for you to “help you out” or to “save you money”
*ALWAYS hire a professional Restoration company to do mold removal or water damage dry out. NEVER try to do it yourself.
*Regardless of what you suspect or smell, the airborne mold levels always vary from room to room. Therefore, if you are not going to test every room do not waste your money testing any room.
*Store bought mold testing kits are a waste of money. They do not tell you if the level of mold present is normal or abnormal. They only tell you mold is present and of course there is going to be mold present, because airborne mold is everywhere and natural.
*Unless you have a specific mold allergy diagnosed by a doctor, knowing the specific type of mold does not have value as all mold is remediated the same way. Knowing whether or not you are being exposed to abnormal levels of airborne mold is far more valuable.