Mold Testing

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The dirty on mold . . .

No one likes mold, except scientists making antibiotics. Not all mold is dangerous and you cannot identify the type of a mold just by looking at the color. Most people see mold that looks black and assume they have “black mold” – you can’t identify Stachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum) just by looking at the color. There is no single type of mold called “black mold” — many molds are black. The most common black mold is Cladosporium, which has no known toxic side effects.

Knowing what type of mold you have is important because it identifies possible health hazards and determines the route of remediation. The most important aspect of identifying mold is to find the moisture source and stop it from reoccurring. It does little good to find it, test it and eliminate it just to have it come back again. Mold needs 3 things to grow: 1) moisture/humidity, 2) an organic food source (skin cells, wood, dust etc) and 3) oxygen. When you take those components away then you prevent future mold growth.

Mold is common – it really is. There are mold spores in the air you are breathing. Often times mold can be growing unbeknownst to a homeowner. It can be growing in attic insulation from a slowly leaking roof. It can be growing inside a wall from a previous ice dam. The only way to know if mold is dangerous is to test it and the best way to find mold is to test for moisture. Moisture can be hidden and you cannot always tell by touch if a construction material is considered “at-risk” or “saturated”.

Lots of people assume bleach can kill all mold – it may kill certain kinds of mold on non-porous surfaces, however, it is not clear that bleach can kill all kinds of mold nor kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood. While you may be able to clean up certain kinds of mold in small quantities, most people are not equipped to do proper mold remediation. Simply wiping down the evidence is not good enough. To properly cleanup a mold problem you must identify the cause, eliminate the cause for the future, isolate the area to keep the mold from spreading, and clean and or remove the affected surfaces. Unless you know how to setup a containment unit, have a couple of commercial sized HEPA air filtration units, protective gear, HEPA vacuums, specialized cleaning agents, and can do a wet extraction to keep mold spores from spreading, you should probably hire an expert. Testing for moisture and typing the mold species and quantity is the first step in identifying the extend of the problem on your hands. READ MORE