VACUUM TEST INSULATION CONTAMINANTS - CONTENTS: How to test building insulation for mold contamination - Guide to use of vacuum cassettes for mold screening. Find mold hidden in building insulation that looks clean. Photographs of mold contaminated fiberglass insulation
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Vacuum tests on building insulation to screen for mold or other particles:
Using Vacuum Cassettes or Spore Traps to Collect Mold or Particle Dust Samples from Building Insulation, this article explains the advantages and shortcomings of using vacuum cassettes or spore traps to collect mold test samples (or other dust or particle samples) from building insulation where mold, insect, or other contamination is suspected.
Our photo (page top) shows what looked like clean fiberglass insulation located over a basement that had been subject to chronic flooding and ultimately, mold contamination that was visible on other basement surfaces. Vacuum tests confirmed that the insulation contained high levels of Penicillium/Aspergillus mold spores and was acting as a mold reservoir in the building.
Usefulness of Vacuuming exposed Building Insulation for Mold Contamination
15th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina
Environmental Information Association Technical Conference
Myrtle Beach, SC
Daniel Friedman 23 September 2005, Updated 4/14/2009
At many investigations we have found a large hidden mold reservoir in
building insulation, particularly fiberglass insulation in attics under roof
leaks over drywall, and in crawl spaces which have been damp or wet. We have also
found very moldy fiberglass in basement ceilings after moldy surfaces and
debris have been removed (such insulation should have been removed during the
[Click to enlarge any image]
Our photo (left) shows insulation that did not display visible mold but that our vacuum test found to be very mold-contaminated (see our lab photo below). (The dark stains on this fiberglass insulation were not mold but house dust deposited from air movement.
See THERMAL TRACKING & THERMAL BRIDGING for details.
Our method is to agitate the target insulation (simply poke it
with your flashlight or a ruler), followed by holding our vacuum cassette an
inch or two away from the insulation surface. This reliably picks up particles
from the insulation without overloading the sample with fiberglass. (A baseline
comparison sample collected in nearby building air before any such agitating
sampling is also needed.) This method has been remarkably successful in finding
and allowing the removal of several "mystery" problems in buildings where
severe mold-related complaints were heard.
Any of several types of vacuum cassettes are used to collect dust from a
surface. We use Air-o-Cel ™ cassettes and MCE filter cassettes. We am
experimenting with vacuum cassettes loaded with high-adhesive tape.
contents of the mold test vacuum cassette may be examined by light microscope or may be used for
preparation of cultures. One special (and costly) cassette method collects dual
samples permitting both direct examination and culturing.
Our lab photo (left) shows insulation that did not display visible mold to the naked eye when examined in place in the building (photo above) but that our vacuum test found to be very mold-contaminated.
This method may be
used for both qualitative and quantitative analysis, depending on collection
method details. It is best suited for sampling dust from surfaces and from soft
goods such as carpeting or upholstered furniture.
It's strength is its use in
examining multiple hard surfaces with relatively low levels of debris (avoiding
sample overload) or individual soft surfaces where tape may not collect
particles imbedded in the surface, and in collecting dust from multiple
locations in a single cassette as a building dust scan for mold.
Shortcomings of vacuuming insulation for mold
We love this method, but one must take care not to overload the sample.
insulation is not exposed for testing one needs to make a sufficiently large
opening to agitate and then vacuum the insulation - we use a 4" square opening
and take care to avoid vacuuming up simply a collection of drywall dust.
In this article series discuss the validity of nearly all of the popular mold testing methods currently in use, pointing out the strengths and weakness of each approach to mold sampling in the indoor environment, beginning with air sampling for airborne mold levels indoors.
Our MOLD INFORMATION CENTER includes more broad discussions of the overall approach to building investigation, as do many expert references cited at that web.
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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
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.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates 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.
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.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones