When testing we not only collect mold spore, send them to an accredited lab for both viable and non-viable analysis, we provide an extensive mold survey, determining the cause of the mold growth and recommend way to help prevent their return growth. We send the spores collected in a very scientific protocol to enable the accurate counting of spores and DNA genome analysis. (One of the only way to identify mold subspecies or very small species especially molds like penicillium or aspergillus molds).
Certified Home Inspectors one of the nation’s qualified certified mold testers, assessors, protocol writers, and DNA analysis companies, when you choose Dave Haught ACI, EP (environmental professional) and Certified Home Inspectors you are retaining highly trained specialist in the field, able to interpret the results and provide professional mold consultations to you and your family.
Mold assessment and mold remediation are techniques used in occupational health: mold assessment is the process of identifying the location and extent of the mold hazard in a structure, and mold remediation is the process of removal and/or cleanup of mold from an indoor environment Clearance testing is testing to insure the removal and cleanup removed the mold spores.
Molds are common in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when spores are present in large quantities, they are a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic, carcinogenic, pathological and toxic reactions.
Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, commonly call the “Black Mold”. But, you need to understand not all black colored molds are stachybotrys. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Some nerve gases are made from mycotoxin producing molds. Prolonged exposure daily residential or workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Many times my clients have believed the symptoms they are experiencing is due to a common cold, pollen, sore throat infections, stress, or a reaction to cleaning products or “something at work” when we discover the source is mold growing in their home resulting from a water event. Many of these symptoms are:
Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
Eye irritation, such as itchy, red, watery eyes
Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
Skin irritation, such as a rash
Health effects linking to Asthma
Infants may develop respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Infants will begin to show respiratory problems if they have a persistent cough and/or wheeze. The number of days that a child will suffer from respiratory symptoms during their first year of life increases by an average of 20% every time the level of Penicillium increases.
Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person, some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause a number of health issues such as; throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses, which will result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold. There has been sufficient evidence that damp indoor environments are correlated with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as; coughing, and wheezing in people with asthma,
Causes & Environment Needed to Grow Mold
Molds are found everywhere inside and outside, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds reproduce by spores, which can be carried by air currents. When these spores land on a moist surface that is suitable for life, they begin to grow. Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals.
Because common building materials are capable of sustaining mold growth, and mold spores are ubiquitous, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture indoors. Mold growth may also be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials such as concrete. Flooding, leaky roofs, building maintenance problems, or indoor plumbing problems can lead to mold growth inside .
For significant mold growth to occur, there must be a source of water (which could be invisible humidity), a source of food, and a substrate capable of sustaining growth. Common building materials, such as plywood, drywall, furring strips, carpets, and carpet padding are food for molds. In carpet, invisible dust and cellulose are the food sources. After a single incident of water damage occurs in a building, molds grow inside walls and then become dormant until a subsequent incident of high humidity; this illustrates how mold can appear to be a sudden problem, long after a previous flood or water incident that did not produce such a problem. The right conditions reactivate mold. Studies also show that mycotoxin levels are perceptibly higher in buildings that have once had a water incident.
Spores need three things to grow into mold:
Nutrients: Cellulose is a common food for spores in an indoor environment.
Moisture: Moisture is required to begin the decaying process caused by the mold.
Time: Mold growth begins between 24 hours and 10 days from the provision of the growing conditions. There is no known way to date mold.
Mold colonies can grow inside building structures. The main problem with the presence of mold in buildings is the inhalation of mycotoxins. Molds may produce an identifiable smell. Growth is fostered by moisture. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher in the building even after it has dried out
Food sources for molds in buildings include cellulose-based materials, such as wood, cardboard, and the paper facing on both sides of drywall, and all other kinds of organic matter, such as soap, fabrics, and dust containing skin cells. If a house has mold, the moisture may be from the basement or crawl space, a leaking roof, or a leak in plumbing pipes behind the walls. People residing in a house also contribute moisture through normal breathing and perspiration. Insufficient ventilation can further enable moisture build-up. Visible mold colonies may form where ventilation is poorest, and on perimeter walls, because they are coolest, thus closest to the dew point.
If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, then it is probably either too air-tight, or too drafty. Mold problems occur in airtight homes more frequently in the warmer months (when humidity reaches high levels inside the house, and moisture is trapped), and occur in drafty homes more frequently in the colder months (when warm air escapes from the living area into unconditioned space, and condenses). If a house is artificially humidified during the winter, this can create conditions favorable to mold. Moving air may prevent mold from growing since it has the same desiccating effect as lowering humidity. Molds grow best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, though some growth may occur anywhere between 32 and 95 degrees.
Removing one of the three requirements for mold reduces or eliminates the new growth of mold. These three requirements are 1) Moisture, 2) Food source for the mold spores (dust, dander, etc.), and 3) Warmth (mold generally does not grow in cold environments).
The first step in an assessment is to determine if mold is present. This is done by visually examining the premises. If mold is growing and visible this helps determine the level of remediation that is necessary. If mold is actively growing and is visibly confirmed, sampling for specific species of mold is necessary.
These methods, considered non-intrusive, only detect visible and odor-causing molds. Sometimes more intrusive methods are needed to assess the level of mold contamination. This would include moving furniture, lifting and/or removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking in ventilation duct work, opening and exposing wall cavities, etc.
Careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor (humidity) or where moisture problems are suspected. The investigation goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively.
When sampling is necessary it should be performed by a trained professional who has specific experience in designing mold-sampling protocols, sampling methods, and the interpretation of findings. Sampling should only be conducted to answer a pertinent question: examples “what is the spore concentration in the air”, or “is a particular species of fungi present in the building.” The additional question should be asked before sampling “what action can or should a person take upon obtaining data.”
The sampling and analysis should follow the recommendations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Environmental Solutions Association (ESA) Most importantly, when a sample is taken the proper chain of custody should be adhered to. The AIHA offers lists of accredited laboratories that submit to required quarterly proficiency testing.
Three types of sampling include but are not limited to::
Air sampling: the most common form of sampling to assess the level of mold. Sampling of the inside and outdoor air is conducted and the results to the level of mold spores inside the premises and outside are compared. Often, air sampling will provide positive identification of the existence of non-visible mold.
Surface samples: sampling the amount of mold spores deposited on indoor surfaces (tape, and dust samples)
Bulk samples: the removal of materials from the contaminated area to identify and determine the concentration of mold in the sample.
When sampling is conducted, all three types are recommended by the AIHA, as each sample method alone has specific limitations. For example, air samples may not provide proof a hidden heavy sticky mold like Stachybotrys and if stachybotrys is found in an air sample (usually taken 36 inches off the floor) the level would be very high. Nor would a tape sample provide the level of contamination in the air.
Thorough surface and air sampling following mold remediation is usually the best way to ascertain efficiency of remediation, when conducted by a qualified independent third party.
The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is stopping the source of moisture. Next is to remove the mold growth, then encapsulating the area with a mold growth preventive to help prevent return infestation.
All remediation work should follow an independently written remediation plan following EPA and local regulations.