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Types of Mold Testing Done in the Atlanta Area

There are many types of mold testing that can be performed in a home—but how do you know which one to use? Do they all produce the same results? Fitting the test to your needs is important for producing the information that you require—and the complexity of the choices that are available in mold testing may even surprise you.

Settle Plates

Most people are familiar with the type of mold testing kits that you can purchase in a local home improvement store. These are referred to as “settle plates” and are Petri dishes filled with a growing medium. They are placed in strategic locations for a specific length of time—usually an hour. They are then are shipped off to a lab where the spores are identified. Although this is an easy, quick and relatively inexpensive method, microbiologists generally consider it to be archaic for several reasons. For example, only the spores that fall directly onto the plate will be identified. Many spores in the “breathing zone” are microscopic and tend to stay airborne—these will not be collected. Also, it is estimated that only about 5% of the spores that are trapped are viable and will grow out on the plates, while the remaining spores, if not toxic, can certainly be allergenic.

Air Sampling

Air sampling is another type of mold testing that can be done, but requires a professional environmental inspector. Air sampling can be both non-viable and viable; in other words, sometimes the spores are collected and sometimes they are grown out in a lab. In both cases, a precise amount of air is drawn into the collectors for a specific amount of time, providing a uniform sample. Non-viable sampling will provide the fungal genus only; viable sampling will provide speciation, which can be very helpful if health issues are believed to be associated with mold.

DNA Testing and the ERMI Score

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) developed an index for indoor mold analysis called ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index). This index is based on a test using state-of-the-art DNA testing (MSQPCR- Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction) to identify mold species that are linked to water intrusion and various respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic sinusitis, and infant wheezing. The results obtained from this type of mold testing will give each home a meaningful ERMI score, which can be compared to the 1,100 homes that were studied by the EPA. Dust samples are taken from carpets or flooring, and are sent to a licensed lab for analysis. The resulting report reveals the mold species present as well as the ERMI score. Homes and businesses receiving a high ERMI score are more likely to have unwanted indoor mold growth than those that receive a low score.

Other Types of Mold Testing

Mold samples are not always taken from the air. Often, mold testing is done directly on to substrate or food source, such as drywall or wood building materials. Tape lift, swab sampling and bulk sampling (removing a portion of the contaminated material) are all examples of mold testing that can help determine the types of mold present in a building.

If you think you may need mold testing in Atlanta, Marietta, Roswell, Johns Creek, Lilburn, Decatur, or any town in the Metro Atlanta area, give our team a call at 678-HEALTHY to schedule a convenient time for us to visit.

Original author: Steve Andrews

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