Mold Indoor Air Quality Assessment
Moisture is the catalyst for mold growth to develop. Known or suspected water damage, visible discoloration (on contents or structure), and/or odors may all be indicative of an environment where mold may be present.
There are many different kinds of molds; only a limited few are considered toxic. Mold spores themselves are not toxic, but certain molds have the ability to produce mycotoxins during specific periods of their life cycle. While not all molds produce mycotoxins, all molds do have the potential to cause health effects. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on (1) the types of mold present,(2) the duration of an individual’s exposure, (3) the ages of the individuals, and (4) their existing immune system sensitivities or allergies. Though each individual responds differently to mold, it should always be removed. Moisture that causes mold growth to develop will damage the building materials and potentially impact its structural integrity.
When To Test
If there has been a history of water damage, an odor has developed, or symptoms have been exhibited by an occupant of the space, testing for mold may be beneficial. If your primary care physician, allergist, or medical team determine that you are sensitive to specific molds, then it may be worthwhile to test your home, office, or vehicle for the presence of these molds.
Every project is unique. We begin each project by listening to our client’s concerns and discussing possible options and strategize the most cost-effective way to determine the extent of the potential contamination. Discovering and repairing the source(s) of moisture (water leaks / elevated humidity / etc.) is critical to the long-term success of remediating the contamination.
How We Test
Our primary method for testing for mold is through non-viable mold air sampling and tape lift or swab surface sampling. These results will establish what is in the breathing space (air sampling) or what is actively growing upon a surface (tape lift/swab) is the basic difference between the two. The specific sampling strategy is most easily determined once an onsite evaluation can be made, but estimates of type and amount of samples may be discussed prior to our inspection.
All sampling collected is submitted to a licensed environmental laboratory for analysis. We primarily use Environmental Microbiology Labs (EMLab) located in South San Francisco for our mold samples. Other laboratories are used for other contaminants if applicable.
Industry standard practice dictates that indoor mold air samples must be compared to an outside baseline for interpretation as there is no set threshold for “elevated” and “normal” mold spore counts. If interior levels are less than or equal to the outside baseline air sample, this is considered to be within a normal range. If interior levels are significantly elevated compared to the outside baseline, this is indicative that mold growth is occurring on the interior and remediation action would be recommended. If the presence of mold growth is found in a tape lift/or swab, the concentration of growth is rated by the lab and the interpretation would be for remediation to occur if growth is heavy enough.
Mold Remediation Action
If laboratory results yield elevated levels of mold(s) present, then what is referred to as a “mold remediation protocol” would be developed. This “protocol” is a set of instructions for a certified mold remediation contractor to address the source(s) of moisture as well as the work needed to decontaminate the structure and/or contents. Determining all of the sources of moisture is a crucial element of each mold investigation. Unless all of the sources of moisture are found and repaired, mold growth will return. Sources of moisture can vary from rain leaks, plumbing leaks, and/or high humidity to name a few. Our mold remediation protocols are written in accordance with the mold removal industry standard (IICRC S520) including specific information to address your specific project.
After remediation has been performed by a certified contractor, American Air Testing can provide post remediation validation testing. This testing’s purpose is to confirm that all contamination was cleaned up correctly. This testing is conducted while containment is still standing and before any reconstruction begins.
Confidentiality is always maintained with our client(s). American Air Testing does not release any information about any project with any other party than our client unless given written consent from our client or their agents.
All costs for our services are discussed and outlined clearly in our proposal before the project and again onsite before any sampling is collected.
Mold Post Remediation Validation Testing
The mold remediation process involves determining and repairing all moisture sources and the removal and/or professional cleaning of all contaminated building materials and/or contents.
As a courtesy, we have compiled a list of mold remediation contractors who we often work with as a starting point for our clients. American Air Testing has no financial connection to any of these contractors.
The repair of moisture sources and detailed removal/cleaning instructions are detailed within our mold remediation protocol. All remediation work is to be performed by a certified mold remediation contractor using all appropriate industry standard engineering controls and personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of their workers and any occupants who may remain on the premises of a job site while mold remediation work is ongoing.
Usually, mold remediation shall begin with a “dirty pack-out” or removal of potentially contaminated contents within the site to be professionally cleaned at an off-site facility or for further detailed sampling if needed. Once the gross removal of contents has been performed, then a containment would be erected to section off the workspace needed for the remediation to begin. Containment is typically constructed of polyethylene sheeting from floor to ceiling securing the edges with professional grade tape. Negative pressure is maintained through the use of HEPA air purification machines that both clean the air while the work is being performed and ensure that no contamination is able to leave the containment area.
Post mold remediation validation air sampling is performed while containment is still standing and while HEPA air purification machines have been turned off for a minimum of 24 hours. At this stage, no reconstruction should take place so that we can get the most accurate readings while the building materials are still opened and accessible to measure the air quality.