|Testing A Moldy Building
This page contains educational material about testing for mold in water damaged buildings. This information is for educational purposes only. Nothing in this text is intended to serve as medical advice. All medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority. I am doing my best to get this data up quickly and correctly. If you find errors in this data, please let me know.
Mold can be in your home, place of work or school. It can be in other buildings you frequent such as the homes of family or friends, the post office or your dentists etc. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified more than 25% of the United States buildings as being water-damaged.
Air Tests: These can be used but they are of limited value. They give you a picture of what is in the air only at that moment in time. You do not get the complete picture. You can get an air sample test returned with negative results when an ERMI test shows severe contamination.
Mold Plates: Taking swabs of mold or a damaged area will help you identify the mold you can actually see. However mold plates do not give you the complete picture and miss any areas that you do not swab due to lack of noticing them.
The Gold Standard for Mold Testing: The gold standard for identifying mold in buildings is a quanitative polymerase chain reaction test called ERMI. ERMI stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index and is availalbe from Mycometrics. ERMI is an objective, standardized DNA-based method that will identify and quantify molds. It represents ongoing health risks for the occupants of the building. The ERMI test finds not just the mold spores, but fragments of them that are missed by other tests. This is important as the tiniest fragment will cause ill health in susceptible people.With the ERMI test you also know exactly what molds you are dealing with and the percentage of those molds that were found. Additionally, the known pathogenic molds are seperated out. The same company that provides the ERMI test also provides a tests called HERTSMI-2 This is a less extensive test but it can be helpful when you have remediated a damaged area and want to see if it is safe after remediation. It is not as extensive a test but it also costs less.
How the Occupant Collects Mold: Dust is collected with a collection device on a vacuum cleaner or a special sanitary cloth. This is sent to a lab called Mycometrics where they use the PCR test to analyze the sample.
For details on the ERMI test, go to the companys website that performs the test. Their name is Mycometrics.
How to Find Mold: Once you identify the building has a mold issue, it is necessary to find the damaged area so it can be remediated. You can hire someone to visually check your building and take moisture samples with a meter. Sometimes it is hard for an inspector tofind the water damaged area. If it is old and the building has dried, there can be offending mycotoxins but no moisture remaining in the wall, floor or ceiling. Finding stains is helpful but they are not always visible. The inspector must look under the house and in the attic. They must examine everywhere.
This link will provide some various building inspectors and other services for finding mold.
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