INSULATION MOLD CONTAMINATION TEST - CONTENTS: How to inspect & test various types of building insulation for toxic or allergenic mold contamination, How to find insect allergens or other respiratory irritants in building insulation
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Mold-contaminated building insulation detection & testing guide:
This document gives advice on how to find, test, and cure moldy building insulation. We discuss the causes of mold contamination in insulation, the difficulty in seeing insulation mold by the naked eye, mold test methods for insulation, and how to clean up or cure moldy insulation problems.
How to Inspect &Test for Mold contamination in building insulation
Even when there is no visible mold on building surfaces or on visible areas of building insulation, don't ignore
fiberglass insulation as a possible mold reservoir.
A basement which was previously moldy or wet, or a basement which stored a collection of moldy boxes [photo]
or cartons of moldy papers and files [photo] may have been
may have left behind a large mold reservoir in the basement fiberglass insulation and in settled dust.
In the first photo shown here the basement insulation looked clean to the naked eye, but a history of basement
flooding led us to test the insulation.
We often find very high levels of Aspergillus mold spore contamination in this
fiberglass insulation (such as in this photo) even though to the naked eye, the insulation looked quite clean.
If there is visible mold on other basement surfaces, don't forget to also check the condition of basement insulation that
your insurance company, mold consultant, or mold remediator may want to leave in place because it "looks clean".
In the photograph shown
here, not only was there extensive Stachybotrys chartarum contamination visible as "black mold" on the
basement drywall, a special vacuum test of the fiberglass insulation in this basement ceiling disclosed high levels of Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus sp., & Penicillium sp.
It would have been smart and simple to discard all of the fiberglass insulation in this basement ceiling, given its exposure to high levels of problem building mold from other sources.
These three photos of fiberglass insulation, drywall, and a wall cavity which was cut open
show the value of exploring building cavities where there may have been leaks from above, regardless
of whether we're exploring in above-grade level living space or below-grade level basements.
A roof leak had wet
these wall cavities, leading us to test the insulation for mold and to inspect further for moldy drywall. The photos
also illustrate that luckily not every building leak into every building cavity is going to cause visible mold
growth on the hidden surfaces of drywall.
This article is part of our series: MOLD in BUILDINGS which 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.
Continue reading at TEST CHOICES for MOLD in FIBERGLASS - Cause & Detection of Mold Contamination in Fiberglass Insulation in Buildings, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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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
Recognizing Allergens: What various indoor allergens look like - identification photos to help identify pollen, dust mites, animal dander, toxic or allergenic mold - Common Mold and other Allergens, Irritants, Remedies & Advice
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.
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.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Allergen Tests in Buildings advice about how to test, what to look for, in evaluating the level of dog, cat, or other animal allergens in a building
"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
Animal Allergens: Dog, Cat, and Other Animal Dander - Cleanup & Prevention Information for Asthmatics and regarding Indoor Air Quality.
Cat Dander: how to inspect and test a building for past or current presence of cats, cat hair, cat dander, and cat allergens
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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.
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