What is mold?

It must be noted the microorganisms (e.g., bioaerosols) such as mold, bacteria, yeasts, and algae are found where Moldsufficient moisture, temperature, and food is available – such conditions are common to the outdoor environment and often observed in the indoor environment.  Many such naturally occurring organisms are a benefit to the environment.  Although sustained exposure to elevated bioaerosol concentrations may result in symptoms ranging from physical discomfort and chronic fatigue to hypersensitivity diseases and central nervous system disorders, much depends on the concentration and pathogenic character of the fungi and the genetic or immune system status of the individual. Potential sources include outdoor air, settled spores (pre-seeding), settled spores, carpet, drywall, wall insulation and other porous materials affected by water damage.

Mold spores are present in nearly every home. They enter your home through windows or air conditioners, or are carried indoors on your shoes and clothing. Once inside, spores need only two things to colonize: a source of moisture and something to feed on. Your home has plenty of both. If there is trapped moisture, a leaky pipe, or a flooded basement for example, mold is able to feed on carpets, wood, fabrics, and other common materials. It takes less than 24 hours to establish a new colony.

Health concerns related to mold contamination may include irritation, allergic response, infection, and toxicosis.

Mold Testing

Active fungal growth in indoor environments is potentially hazardous as it may lead to exposure and adverse health effects. The following indicators may confirm and determine the extent of suspect contamination: source sampling of contamination, presence of moldy odors, persistent water incursion, or the accumulation of organic debris. In the absence of the above, air sampling data may be evaluated to characterize potential sources. Because of the ubiquity of fungi, samples collected from suspect areas may be evaluated against samples collected from non-suspect areas and from outdoors. Identification of fungi to genus level is necessary in this evaluation to determine if indoor air is influenced by interior contamination.

Do-it-yourself kits can be unreliable and the methods may be inappropriate, so it is highly recommended that you use a qualified and trained mold inspection company perform the service. A professional water damage inspection may be performed to search for what’s causing mold to grow, where it is, and what to do about it.

When to test for mold:

  • If your residence, commercial property, or building has had a flood, leak, or sewage back-up and third party restoration scope evaluation or clearance documentation is necessary (e.g. related to garment, content, HVAC, and structural contamination)
  • If you are experiencing foul moldy or musty odors
  • If you intend to purchase or lease a commercial property
  • If an individual(s) has been diagnosed with a disease that is or may be associated with a fungal exposure (e.g., hypersensitivity disease and aspergillosis).
  • If there is evidence from a visual inspection or bulk sampling that the ventilation system may be contaminated.  The purpose of such air monitoring is to assess the extent of contamination throughout a building
  • If the presence of mold is suspected (e.g., musty odors) but cannot be identified by a visual inspection or bulk sampling (e.g., mold growth behind walls)
  • To identify specific fungal contaminants as part of a medical evaluation or occupant risk evaluation (e.g. occupants are experiencing symptoms which may be related to fungal exposure)
  • To evaluate the sources of airborne contamination
    • Crawl spaces, for example, may have a number of unrelated fungal sources that are not readily observed

Expert Witness

IAQ Management Services has extensive experience providing our clients with litigation support services.  We specialize in developing defendable, professional opinions based on laboratory testing and proven industry standards.

Alert IconA word of caution: Beware of companies that perform testing and restoration as this suggests a conflict of interest.