If there was one organism that was in dire need of a PR overhaul, it would probably be black mold. Yup, when it comes to mold, you don’t get much worse than this. Yet how much of it is over-sensationalized, and how much should we really take to heart? MoldBlogger investigates!
We keep our blog going for the benefit of our amazing readers and – often – we’ll get comments on a particular subject – sometimes even questions. We’d be doing a disservice if we failed to respond in full and so, this week’s blog is dedicated to one such reader who asked about the best plant-based and holistic sprays to eliminate mold spores to help her daughter who has been diagnosed with biotoxin illness. Being the thorough mold-warriors that we are, here we delve into biotoxin illness in its entirety – warts and all.
There is quite a bit of contradictory advice when it comes to testing for mold in the home; namely, whether it’s a DIY-type job or one that calls for the experts. But as with most things, it’s not a black and white answer, with different circumstances requiring different approaches. Before we explain further, however, let’s outline the factors that may lead you to check your home for mold in the first place:
What is that smell?
There are numerous aromas our olfactory organs are subjected to each day. Whether it be the smell of food cooking or baking, the distinct aroma of herbs or essential oils, or the unpleasant reek of yesterday’s trash, our nose encounters a host of various scents, both appealing and unappealing. While our sense of smell has many purposes, it is often overlooked as an alarm system. In fact, when it comes to personal safety, our nose is an excellent source for warnings against danger—not just burnt toast. Are there smells that can alert us to potential health hazards or signal that the environment we are in is not safe? Certainly. Aside from the distinct smell of smoke or gas, mold’s pungent odor is a helpful indicator that your health, as well as the health of those living with you, is at risk.
Mold related illnesses may be one of the most prominent health issues that doctors are missing today. They can be a true hidden illness that goes undiagnosed for years. What a scary thought!
There are potentially millions of people who are currently suffering from a mystery illness, and their doctors don’t have a clue what is causing their ailments. They are often referred to doctor after doctor, repeatedly being turned away.
Mold toxins are so unique, and their effects are wide and far-reaching. Symptoms of mold related illnesses are complex and they can be mistaken for many other illnesses. All of this makes it difficult for doctors to find the correct diagnosis.
DIY vs Professional
Are you a “DIY-er” at heart? A lot of people love the thrill of taking on home projects from building their own furniture to remodeling a kitchen. DIY can be a great hobby, involve the entire family and save a lot of money. But what about when it comes to major issues like mold remediation?
Mold inside your house is a serious condition. If you’ve seen some or suspect it in your home, you may be wondering what the best method is to remove it. No matter what, mold is definitely different than your typical home maintenance project. When it comes to mold remediation in your home, should you try to DIY or should you call in the professionals?
How to Use a Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit
According to TopTenReviews.com, the Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit is the #1 home mold test kit on the market for 2017, due to its simplicity of use, full-range testing methods, thorough mycology lab analysis (an extra fee), and its American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) certification.
Three Testing Methods
Each test in the Pro-Lab kit requires you to prepare a petri dish by pouring a mold medium, or a growth hormone, into the dish. After the growth hormone hardens, you can use the petri dish in one of three methods to collect a sample.
The Best Mold Test Kits of 2017
Angie Parkinson of Top Ten Reviews recently evaluated the top ten mold test kits on the market and rated them according to cost, testing and analysis capabilities, adequacy of supplies, and the type and availability of customer support. You can read her full report here.
What is damp?
Damp occurs when moisture or water builds up within the structure of a building – often in the floor, walls or the ceiling. It can occur for a huge number of reasons, often related to poor building quality and it has become a serious problem in the UK, reducing the quality of living conditions in many households across the country.
Aside from causing physical damage to the upholstery and aesthetics of a property, damp can also cause structural problems as well as having health implications for those who live with severe cases. That’s why it can be so important to have a damp survey completed on your property if you’re worried about damp.
Mold can affect a property valuation in a variety of ways. You own residential property that you live in or flip, and you must make sure you understand what mold is doing to the property. You must consider all the things that mold does to the house before you take action to fix the problem.
Many people today are making a lot of money buying and selling properties. However, there is also the potential for losses if buyers don’t do their due diligence before purchasing. Even with insurance covering the losses, buyers may find themselves losing a lot of money when they purchase a bad property. Generally, when this happens buyers are unaware of it beforehand. Although there are laws that protect buyers when sellers do not disclose negative facts about the home, the seller can always claim that he was unaware. Therefore, it is important that buyers have a home professionally inspected before making a purchase. Below is a full overview, courtesy of Pink Pest Services of what can happen when mistakenly purchasing a property only to find catastrophic damage.
The first thing you need to do when you’re at home and you notice any mold problems is to check for possible plumbing leaks. Since mold really thrives in a warm, damp environment, you will need to check for any possible problems with your plumbing. The tips ahead will give you an idea what you must do to make that happen:
The thought of mold, wherever you might find it, is icky – it’s slimy, fuzzy and smelly. Yes, it might be a necessary organism, given how it helps to decompose organic waste in our eco-system. Mold is a great friend of nature, but it isn’t that great of a thing to have growing at home. When left undetected, it can cause serious allergic reactions and infections in your family. The effects are far worse if you have infants, young children, elderly family members and individuals with compromised immune systems in your family. Here’s a simple guide that allows you to assess your home and look out for specific kinds of molds in specific areas:
There are many modern types of furniture but my personal favorite remains the wooden one. However, as usual, there is a catch. Wooden furniture is very susceptible to mold and other types of damage, so it’s a bad idea to choose this type of furniture if you live in a home with high humidity levels. Of course, should you make that mistake, it’s still not the end of the world. First of all, you can get a dehumidifier and solve the dampness problem. And second of all, even if your wooden furniture gets mold, it’s not the end of the world because you can still do something about it. Here’s what you can do.
Under many common conditions mold can be serious, and given time could possibly lead to severe health complications. In this five part series I hope to tackle and explain some of the biggest misconceptions about mold.
Misconception 2 of 5 – If you have a mold problem bleach will get rid of it, always and forever.
I hear this one a lot. If a mold problem develops, many will grab some bleach, pour it on, and think they’ve kissed their mold problems good bye. If this is the typical scenario, their battle with mold has only just begun.
The first step after discovering mold is to determine whether it is dangerous, and if so, the level of danger. There are over 400,000 different kinds of mold known to man, yet of those, only about a dozen could cause any serious harm to your wellbeing.Read More
When Should You Test For Mold?
It is time to test for mold if you are having persistant health problems without a known cause or smelling unknown things. Chances are, molds are already dominating your living space.
How do you test for mold in your home?
Because mold cannot live without moisture, sources of moisture should be one of the focal points of your investigation. Have a thorough visual inspection of your structure. This includes the attic, crawl spaces and basement.
Examine the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
Check out the moisture content of floors, walls and ceilings. Look beneath surfaces and all water-damaged areas. This can be made easier by using a non-invasive moisture meter.
Test the humidity in the indoor air, using a calibrated meter.
A mold inspector does this kind of mold testing. The training they have will ensure that, throughout this portion of the inspection, there is consistency in collection protocols. In the process, minimizing the possibility of sample contamination.
The specialized equipment used for mold testing allows them to collect specimens from:
Primarily, these samples test and determine airborne mold spore counts. Proximate outdoor air is also tested. In special cases where the species of mold needs to be identified, a collection plate with a growth medium is placed in a viable impactor, or microbial particle sampler, in which one hour of spore settling time is replicated in five minutes.
Wall interior air
Moisture meter readings of an elevated moisture content of the wall material make it a candidate for this type of testing. The paper covering, drywall, is vulnerable to consumption from mold growth. Air sampling pumps set at 15 liters per minute, draw air from the wall cavity for two minutes and for a total of 30 liters.
Carpet samples are collected with a system developed as a sampling and analysis technology for the enumeration and identification of both total and viable fungal spores in dust. The system involves sweeping carpeting with a vacuum. The collected dust can be analyzed for total and viable fungal spores, as well as allergens.
Small pieces of contaminated material
Sometimes it is necessary to remove and test a small portion of the material affected. These are collected without marring appearances, whenever possible.
Water from drain pans or cooling towers
This will be an indicator if there is mold contamination in the immediate water source or if it is from the main source.
What Do I Do with My Collected Mold Samples?
After the collection procedure is accomplished, the right samples should be microscopically examined by a certified laboratory, allowing testing of the kind of mold sampled.
This is necessary because unmagnified appearances may not be reliable indicators. Certain colors may suggest the presence of a toxic mold. For example, the purple and green sheen sometimes associated with Stachybotrys. Note that many varieties may not always exhibit the same colors.
Black mold, white mold, green mold and any other kinds all require scrutiny along with scientific methodology to ascertain if the sampled mold is a genus known to produce mycotoxins.
If you are budget wise and conscious of the money spent on mold testing, don’t be alarmed. You only pay an analysis fee for the samples sent to the laboratory. There is no charge for those not sent.
Those that are not sent would be placed in a special culturing area. Their mold growth progress will be noted visually and documented to serve as reference for any future mold problems.
For the mold samples to be tested in the laboratory, a “chain of custody” form should be completed by the mold inspector. The specimen media will then be carefully be packaged and sent.
Three days after the laboratory receives the samples, the microscopy technician will send a written report about the findings and results of the testing done. This report will be immediately forwarded to you.
Having finished the testing, you will then know for sure if you have mold growing in your home. You can then take the necessary steps needed in removing them.
Further Recommended Reading
Development of Mold Symptoms
Holly Kestinis was worried about her 8 yr old son because of his recently developed head aches. After a series of consecutive complaints about his head hurting, Holly found that she too was beginning to have severe pain head aches which she had never had before.
Ask a Mold Specialist
Realizing she had to do something about the newly devoloped , Holly called the local mold inspector to have her house examined.
Within the next couple of days Tim Glisson arrived to do a routine check. After a couple of red flags were sent up, he decided to run a few tests to see if the mold found was extremely harmful.
Testing for Mold
Tim collected a few samples and then was asked to compare the Do-it-yourself tests to a professional mold inspection. Tim agreed and followed the directions. Setting out the plate in the mold affected area to wait, Tim finished his tests within a few hours and took them back to the lab. Meanwhile, the do-it-yourself test would take a full 48 hours to finish.
Compare Test Results
Two weeks later Tim was back with his results and the do-it-yourself results to compare. The do-it-yourself detected two mold breeds while the professional lab detected three.
Do-It-Yourself Mold Tests or Professional Tests?
So while the kit detected only two breeds of mold and Tim’s tests found three, both agreed that Holly’s mold was not toxic… yet. To deal with the issue at hand, Tim gave Holly the instructions to have her ducts cleaned, and replace the drywall ceiling in the bathroom. He also advised her to add a ventilation vent in the bathroom.
In this case, Professionally done mold inspections work the best by being faster, and more efficient, detecting all breeds of mold, not just two, though they both agreed none of the mold was toxic.
Further Recommended Reading
Source : Tampa Bay’s 10 News