For people with asthma or some type of mold allergies, air quality testing is a serious matter. The truth is the presence of mold is not good for anyone; however, those who have respiratory issues are highly vulnerable to mold spores. Some individuals are interested in air quality testing for the sake of having peace of mind, while there are some who have symptoms that are considered severe. What each person that is seeking air quality testing should know is that there are some companies who have the capacity to provide a high level of air quality testing, while some other companies are not as reputable. Additionally, there are some limitations that should be considered during any air quality testing job.
Some experts described mold testing as an art and a science. The first thing that must be understood is that mold is not a federally regulated contaminant. This means that there is a significant amount of uncertainties as who will conduct the test, as well as what they will be testing for. There are no specific guidelines. This means that one test may render negative results while a different test on the same home may produce a positive result. For any customer, this should be a reason for concern; however, it does not mean that all hope is lost. It simply means that the homeowner should make sure to send the testing company through an appropriate vetting process.
Understanding When Air Quality Testing is Necessary
According to the vast majority of experts in the field, including the EPA, testing should be conducted under highly specified conditions. Generally speaking, a mold and moisture inspection by a qualified specialist will be considerably more efficacious in determining if an actual mold problem exists; however, there are certain situations in which additional air quality testing will be necessary.
There are three primary types of sample test that can be run to determine whether there is a mold issue in a home.
- Air sampling — is the most common form of sampling that is performed to evaluate mold levels in a home. There is a sampling of both, indoor and outdoor air. Once the test has been completed, the level of mold spores inside the home will be compared with the level outside. This is one way that a positive identification of the presence of mold in the home can be determined.
- Surface samples — is another manner of testing for mold. In this instance, a sample is of mold spores that have been deposited on indoor surfaces is gathered.
- Bulk Samples — constitutes the removal of certain pieces of the structure to be taken to be tested.
The most common and effective of the three is air testing. There are several types of air testing that can be done.
Spore Trap Nonviable
This method is still considered somewhat controversial; however, it is the most commonly used method. A calibrated pump is used to draw a specified amount of air over a greased slide. This is an impaction method of collecting mold spores.
Another method that is used is the Pitri Dish viable sampling. This is the second most common style of air sampling for mold, and it is also an impaction style. With this method, a Pitri dish that contains a growing media is positioned underneath pin-holed cap and air is drawn over the Pitri dish.
The last type of air sampling is known as a microbial volatile organic sampling. When mold is wet and has a food source, it grows. Whenever mold is eating, it produces a byproduct — MVOCs. It this case, air samples are collected in a summa canister or Sorbent tube.
The most important thing to understand is that the accuracy of any air quality test will greatly depend upon the level of expertise of the company that is performing the test.