There are 2 types of mold samples that one can collect for mold testing. These are air samples and surface samples. For surface samples, one can use clear scotch tape. For instructions on how you can collect mold samples using scotch tape click How To Sample For Mould Using Clear Scotch Tape. Air samples are also easy to collect. However, you would need a sampling pump that draws air into special cartridges. These cartridges are then sent to the lab for air testing. Remember!. It’s the types of mold and the amounts that you inhale that matters. Consider testing air in your home. For instructions on how to test air click How To Sample Air For Total Fungal Spore Counts.
But why take mold samples? Mold samples are taken with the intent to identify the type of mold growing in the indoor environment. This enables the analyst to define the species of mold, its concentration and its potential toxicity where possible. Most of the time, determining the genus of a mold species is enough and far cheaper to test for. Special testing is required if a specific species needs to be determined, and is better done by a mycologists because they’re the experts. In the lab, the analysts are able to tell exactly what type of mold you have growing in your home. This is the only way to find out if you’ve been exposed to hazardous mold.
For the mold samples to be tested in the laboratory, a “chain of custody” form should be completed by the person who collected the samples. The samples are then be carefully be packaged and sent to the testing laboratory.
How many mold samples should one collect? When it comes to air samples, some professionals take one inside air sample and maybe one outside air sample. Based on just those 2 samples they may tell you everything is horrible or everything is fine. The truth is without a detailed visual inspection 2 samples are not enough data to help make an accurate decision if there is a mold problem or not! The number of mold samples to take depends on the size of your property and if you want the whole property tested or if you have certain areas you are concerned about. If all you need to know is whether the quality of air in your home is compromised by mold spores, you could take the air samples yourself. But if you want to know whether there is hidden mold and the cause, it is better to hire a professional.
There are a number of ways mold samples are tested and analyzed at the mold testing laboratory depending on the type of samples and the kind of data or details the client wants. For bulk, swab, or tape samples the common method is direct microscopic examination. Depending on the type of air samples, they could either be analyzed by direct microscopy or by culturing. Microscopy is the preferred method of analysis because it is the least expensive and offers speedy analysis, typically within two days. Culturing mold samples in petri dishes can take weeks and increase laboratory costs.
The least costly way to collect mold samples is the do-it-yourself approach. You can rent mold sampling equipment which you can use to collect mold samples yourself. This is a less expensive option than hiring someone else to test your home. You send the samples you have collected to an accredited mold testing laboratory which will get back to you with the results.
Mold samples results can be misleading and can only be accurately interpreted in conjunction with a well thought out sampling plan and visual inspection. The visual inspection requires an understanding of building construction, water sources, and how to identify hidden problems, as well as the health effects and unique growth requirements for various mold species. Therefore, for a serious mold and moisture problem hiring a professional is recommended.
A professional should assess the size of mold problem and note the type of mold-damaged materials. They should also take air and surface mold samples for analysis.