Everything you need to know about Mold Testing
Always test your environment to make sure you are dealing with "TOXIC MOLD", never assume it is safe
"Not all molds are toxic and not all molds that may be toxic are toxic to ALL people"
It is important to know what you are dealing with before trying to touch it, clean it or make difficult decisions on whether to remediate your home or throw out possession and leave the environment. Toxic mold "may or may NOT" be the problem, so we always recommend testing before doing anything.
WARNING: "NEVER TRY TO CLEAN or WIPE MOLD"
(Toxic molds put off a neurotoxin when they are touched or disturbed. These neurotoxins are called mycotoxin that
if inhaled, swallowed or land on your skin can lead
to serious health consequences of permanent neurological damage, cell and DNA death, hemoraging, strokes, permanent heart damage, autoimmune disease, cancers and death)
ALWAYS TEST MOLD BEFORE DISTURBING IT
First, let's discuss "WHAT NOT TO DO" before explaining the best way to test your home for mold
DO NOT BUY OR USE DIY MOLD TEST KITS FROM
HARDWARE STORES OR BIG BOX STORES
Problems associated with DIY mold test kits:
1) No Expiration Dates – DIY mold test kits sit on hardware shelves or storage areas for undisclosed amounts of time, subjecting the agar (gooey stuff) to contaminants. Because there is no readily identifiable expiration date for these kits, despite the requirement that they be sterile, consumers cannot determine how much potential handling or exposure these kits have had.
2) Proven Lab Inaccuracies – There have been numerous cases where I’ve been told of “high mold” counts with a DIY kit when the actual levels are low and vice versa with “low mold” counts with DIY kit when the actual levels very high.
3) Uncontrolled environment during Shipping and Handling – DIY kits require being sent through the mail system for “lab analysis.” Such processing is unregulated, leaving the package susceptible to elements such as extreme temperatures and humidity, improper handling, and overall shipping lag time. Such factors can contribute to false positives and false negatives.
4) No Air Flow to Measure Mold In Cubic Units– Most standards and guidelines refer to mold spores per cubic meter or coliform forming unit, but obtaining a level of mold per volume of air is impossible without a controlled airflow through the use of a mechanical pump.
5) No Control Sample – A control sample is necessary to validate the elevation of spores and provide a meaningful reference point, but many DIY kits do not offer a dish to take such a comparison sample from another room or outside.
6) Misleading Marketing – Consumers often think that the DIY kit they purchase will quantify and qualify they types of mold they have, but this is not the case. For an additional costs, the petri dishes must be sent out to the lab for analysis (see point 1, 2, 3 for why this is meaningless).
7) No Accredited Laboratory Certification, Endorsement or Chain of Custody – The labs associated with DIY kits are rarely certified (those listed with AIHA-LAP LLC Accredited Labs) and are not endorsed by any accredited agency. Often there is no chain of custody (COC) to properly document the transfer of the kit or to note acceptance of the kit by the lab and critical data such as the date, time of analysis, lab location etc…are often omitted.
8) Kits Do Not Account For Dead Spores: Settling plates and other DIY kits are focused on growing mold, but dead spores can also impact your health. Water damage-makers such as Stachybotys, Chaetomium and Ulocladium may not show up on the DIY kit.
9) No Inspection – DIY kits do no provide an overall understanding of your mold contamination. A critical part of a comprehensive mold investigation is the inspection process, which requires specialized instrumentation such as digital moisture meters, hygrometers, infrared cameras and other tools along with an expert visual observation.
10) Spore Characteristics Make Some More Likely to “Stick” – Mold spores have unique weight, density and air flow characteristics and do not settle at the same rate. Heavier spores, for example, settle on the petri dishes at a quicker rate and take up more of the sample plate. Sticky molds, especially water damage indicators and Black Mold, might not appear as readily on the DIY kits, but this absence could indicate greater growth elsewhere.
All homes will contain some level of spore activity when air samples are collected because mold is a common part of the environment. DIY kits, then, are essentially useless for diagnosing the complexity of your airborne mold contamination and should be handled by professionals. The EPA agrees: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by…professional organizations.”
While DIY tests can be used for entertainment value, like a childhood science project for Mother's Day. True toxic mold concerns should be handled by companies that understand the diagnostic process necessary to qualify and quantify potentially hazardous mold growth. Never use a mold kit to protect you or your family's health. ards.
4-STEP Process to Test Your Home For Mold
How much does mold testing "BY AN EXPERT" cost?
Thorough Inspection: Will be between $150-$300 depending on the size of the home or if there are hard to reach attic or crawl space areas.
Air Testing: Will be between $200-$300 (for one outside/control sample and one inside room sample). Most additional room samples cost between $75 - $150 each additional room.
Swab/Tape samples - Each small area physical samples will be $75 - $150 per sample (This is for visible mold colonies you are concerned about)
ERMI Test - ERMI tests (Done yourself) cost about $275, however most people do not collect the samples correctly. If you want your expert technician to do it for you it will cost an additional $100-$150.
For an expert and thorough testing and inspection of a home figure about $1200-$1400 Total. This will tell you "everything" you need to know about the possible mold in your home.
Is mold making you sick? Follow our Step by Step
Do you think you might have mold in your home, place of business or school? Are you or someone you love suffering from an unknown illness that doctors can't diagnose? Is mold making you sick? Go to our Step by Step and start Surviving Toxic Mold.