How to Look for Mold, Where to Test for Mold Contamination in Buildings
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about where mold contamination occurs in buildings, how to find building mold contamination reservoirs & when & how to test for mold.
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How to find mold contamination in buildings: This is a 'how to' photo and text primer on finding and testing for mold in buildings using simple clear adhesive tape on suspect or visibly moldy surfaces.
Choosing the Right Spot for Mold Testing Makes an Enormous Difference in Mold Test Results - here we start with a discussion of surface sampling of visible mold, settled dust, or any other dust, debris, or surface to be tested for particle identificvation.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
How to Choose the Right Mold Test Sample Location:
Choosing the Right Spot for Mold Testing Makes an Enormous Difference in Mold Test Results - here we discuss Where to Collect Tape Samples of Surfaces
This document describes how to find mold and test for mold in buildings, including how and where to collect mold samples using adhesive tape - an easy,
inexpensive, low-tech but very effective mold testing method.
This procedure helps identify the presence of or locate the probable sources of mold reservoirs in buildings, and helps decide which of these need more
invasive, exhaustive inspection and testing.
Separately at AIR TEST FOR MOLD: ACCURACY we describe similarly critical decisions about where & how air tests for dust, mold, other particles may be conducted.
People collect surface samples of visible mold or of settled dust to be screened for mold testing using clear adhesive tape to identify a visible mold on a surface,
to screen settled dust for mold/allergens, or to test the cleanliness of a surface after mold cleanup.
Regardless of the reason, the adhesive tape mold test method can be very effective, in fact more reliable than spot checks
of airborne particles (which vary widely minute by minute) and far more reliable than culture samples (which only grow
a small percentage of all possible molds).
But everything depends on the selection
of the sample location - "where you stick the tape."
This document explains where and where not to "stick the tape"
when sampling for mold.
Random mold samples, tape sampling of arbitrary surfaces, or sampling the obvious "black mold" when
investigating a building are practices which increase the risk of a serious error - missing what's important
and finding what's not very important. The result of these errors is the waste of time and money as well as
the possible failure to find and address the real problem, leaving a health or cost risk in a Building to be handled
again, and again, until it's addressed properly.
Mold is everywhere. You can't eliminate it. If you could we'd all be in trouble as nothing would ever decay and
we'd all be so buried in junk and debris that nothing could grow on the earth. But we don't much like to see mold
indoors and certainly not on our walls, ceilings, or furniture.
There we remove it or clean it off. This paper describes the detection of mold in buildings by visual inspection of
mold-suspect surfaces. A thorough building investigation for problematic mold
needs to address hidden mold reservoirs, for which our approach is to complete a detailed inspection and
building (leak) history as well as to record occupant observations and complaints.
Knowing what molds are likely to be present indoors on building surfaces or in building materials, what they look like,
and what they like to eat, in other words, knowing some mycology, can make a significant difference in what a building inspection for
mold actually turns up.
See MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES for an index of what mold genera/species are frequently found on various building surfaces and materials.
Most common mold testing errors: the difference between what molds are found in buildings and what molds commonly grow on various building surfaces is that most mold tests and mold reports involve samples collected by people who are not expert at recognizing and sampling mold in buildings.
So easy-to-see molds are over-reported and hard-to-see molds are under-reported in many consumer-generated mold tests and samples. This reporting error also confounds attempts to correlate mold related illness and sick building complaints with specific genera or species of indoor mold.
Simple "mold screening methods" which omit the inspection, and "test only" sampling methods, such as air and culture methods
can produce very unreliable results when used quantitatively - as we discuss at IAQ Methods and at other articles at this website.
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
"IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA
http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
Rodent control issues, including dander, fecal, and urine contamination of Buildings and Building insulation are discussed at our
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.
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
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