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MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ANIMAL ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION S
ATTORNEYS and EXPERT WITNESSES
BIBLIOGAPHY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION
CAT DANDER in BUILDINGS
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
CPSC Indoor Air Pollution Book Online Copy
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODS in BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION MOLD TEST
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES, TABLE OF
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURES
OZONE MOLD / ODOR TREATMENT WARNINGS
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SICK HOUSE IAQ QUESTIONNAIRE
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
Here is a mold frequency table guide to the most common building molds found in mold test samples collected in buildings, based on surface tape samples submitted to an expert mycologist in New York State, with additional explanation and interpretation by Daniel Friedman, an expert mold/IAQ/building diagnostic field investigator also versed in aerobiology and mold lab microscopy and mold identification procedures.
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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. See MOLD GROWTH on SURFACES for an index of what mold genera/species are frequently found on various building surfaces and materials during expert building mold inspections.
Readers should be sure to see the notes following the table since the data in this table is skewed by variations in the ability of the original sample collectors to find and recognize important mold contamination in buildings. Careful visual inspection combined with physical sampling of visible mold or other key building surfaces remain the key ingredients in a reliable indoor mold investigation.
Easy-to-see molds are over-reported and hard-to-see molds are under-reported in 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. Therefore our mold frequency table shown just below reflects what people, including largely amateurs, see and sample in buildings, and it under-reports hard-to-see light colored molds such as many of the Penicillium or Aspergillus species.
Notes to Table
1. J. Haines, New York State Museum, multi-year survey of surface samples collected on adhesive tape and submitted to NY DOS by home owners or by health department officials. Personal communication to DJ Friedman. Arranged by percent of total samples analyzed. The contents of this web page are the opinion of the author and are subject to update pending further technical and professional review.
2. Warning: because most of the samples submitted to Dr. Haines were collected by people who were not expert at recognizing or even finding the most-problematic molds in buildings, there may be an over-reporting of the dark, easy-to-see molds such as the top three in this list, and an under-reporting of the often light, hard-to-see problematic molds such as Aspergillus. sp. and Penicillium sp.. In my own field work responding to client-detected mold concerns, in most cases where the occupant or owner has seen a "scary black mold" or a "toxic black mold" a more careful study of the building discloses that it is the previously un-detected Aspergillus. sp. and Penicillium sp. which were the mobile, airborne, and dominant problematic molds to which the occupants were actually exposed.
In addition, we have been using special methods to test fiberglass building insulation for Penicillium/Aspergillus sp. in areas where the insulation has been wet or where insulation has been exposed to active mold growth such as over a wet crawl space or a moldy basement. I have often found large reservoirs of these problem molds in building insulation, observing that the reservoir is releasing high levels of airborne mold spores. This mold contamination is discoverable by contextual inspection and special test methods, but it is not at all visible to the naked eye.
An exception to the speculation that these small, hard-to-see molds are the more serious problem in buildings is during amateur cleanup and demolition work without adequate containment measures. Demolition can cause molds which are not normally airborne, such as Stachybotrys chartarum to become widely dispersed in a building.
3. Some of the molds listed in this table, even though found indoors, are unlikely to be indicative of a growing mold reservoir of that genera/species. For example, I often find Cladosporium herbarum and certain Basidiomycetes such as Ganoderma sp./G. applanatum/G. tsuge in indoor air samples but I have not found these genera/species growing on building materials. Rather they enter in outdoor air.
In conclusion, this interesting table needs additional research with data provided by expert building investigators rather than self-collected data by individuals who spot first and sample first dark molds on building surfaces. Readers should see How to Look For Mold.
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