MOLD TESTING & SAMPLING MISTAKES - CONTENTS: Sampling mistakes to avoid when testing mold by collecting surface samples of mold, dust, or other particles indoors. Choosing the wrong mold to sample, missing the important mold. Testing stuff that is not mold. Testing just the "black mold". Testing in the wrong building areas. Looking for Mold in All the Wrong Places. Looking for Mold in All the Wrong Ways.
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Mold test mistakes: this document describes how to avoid common mistakes people make when trying to find mold and test for mold in buildings, such
as testing only the "black mold" on surfaces or relying only on air tests to screen buildings for problem mold.
Mold and Indoor Air Quality Test Mistakes: Common Mold Surface Sampling and Other Mold Testing Errors
Looking for Mold in All the Wrong Places
These mistakes amount to collecting mold test samples in the wrong place, or failing to collect mold test samples in other important places.
Looking just for "black mold": Sampling the "scary toxic black mold" on drywall low on the wall while failing to observe the light-colored but more
airborne and thus harmful molds such as Aspergillus sp. or Penicillium sp. growing higher and less visibly on the surface.
See What mold looks like in a home
Bad choice of test surface: Sampling inorganic surfaces like concrete when nearby organic surfaces like drywall paper or wood paneling are present.
Testing Harmless Particles: Sampling things that are obviously not mold and not harmful particles. See Stuff that is Not Mold
Looking for Mold in All the Wrong Ways
Wrong mold test methods: Relying on screening "mold tests" such as "air tests", mold swabs, or mold cultures, to alone indicate the presence or
absence of a mold problem in a building. None of these is reliable when used in place
of or without a careful and expert visual inspection and each of which has severe methodological errors and variability in results.
Inspecting Easy Areas: Looking only in the easy to inspect areas - such as the living space or attic, and ignoring the crawl space.
Overemphasis of Attics Overemphasizing attic mold - where conditions such as condensation often produce less-problematic Cladosporium sp. molds
which do not as easily move down into the living area. But do not ignore attics completely and especially do not ignore attic knee wall areas
outside bedrooms such as in a cape cod style home.
Under-Inspecting Crawl Spaces: Failing to inspect crawl spaces - where conditions are often conducive to problem mold growth, especially
when people are concerned about or may have found problem mold in other building areas
Ignoring Wall & Ceiling Cavities: Ignoring building cavities - which can, depending on wall or ceiling penetrations and the nature of air movement in a particular
building, contain significant reservoirs of problem mold. Some experts opine that mold in cavities never affects building occupants. Our own field investigation has traced high levels of indoor airborne Aspergillus sp. to non-visible reservoirs in fiberglass
insulation, so I would not ignore this possibility.
Omitting Insulation Ignoring non-visible but significant mold contamination in building insulation. Tape sampling is not useful for
porous materials like insulation. We have devised special methods for screening such substances.
There are lots of other errors and inaccuracies that can confound "testing" buildings for mold, such as relying on air sampling
or cultures alone, i.e. "testing" rather than performing a thorough visual inspection (by an expert who knows where to look), and obtaining
a building leak history.
Classes of Testing or Statistical Errors Applied to Mold or Other Environmental Tests, Inspections, Reports
At ENVIRONMENTAL TEST ERROR TYPES we explain in more detail the classes of testing or statistical errors and how in a practical sense they appy to mold or other environmental inspection, testing, lab and reporting procedures. Type 1 and Type 2 errors are defined along with practical examples taken from building inspection and testing for mold contamination.
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is a mold/indoor air quality investigator and home inspector as well as a professional
writer in Poughkeepsie, New York. He is
a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Society of Home Inspectors.
He presently chairs ASHI's national Standards of Practice Committee and has led ASHI's Education and
Technical Committees as well as serving on ASHI's Exam, and Ethics/Professional Practices
Committees. His poetry has appeared in Emphasis, a national publication of MENSA, and his
non-fiction articles and essays have appeared in The Journal of Light Construction, the Old House
Journal, The ASHI Technical Journal, Progressive Builder and New Shelter. His news reporting and
photography have appeared in the Journal of Light Construction, and
in various newspapers including the New York Times, Richmond Times Dispatch, Richmond News Leader,
and the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Associations: Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious rot and hidden structural damage
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold
cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.
Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.