What is considered a “Safe Level” of mold in a home?
Because everyone reacts differently to mold, the only answer we can give is “it all depends on the occupant’s sensitivity or allergy to mold.” Often time people react to even small amounts of mold and others could be living in a home with black mold throughout their basement and not have any immediate reactions to it. One thing for sure is that children can be more susceptible to the effects of mold exposure.
What are the different types of mold testing?
There are several methods of mold testing, but the two most common are viable (live spores) and non-viable testing. (dormant spores)
This is the most common type of test. It is fairly in-expensive and the results can be obtained quickly. This type of test is often done during a real estate transaction when mold is a concern. The test checks for visible presence of mold-like spores but does not indicate whether the spores are alive, dead or dormant. The samples are evaluated under a microscope at an accredited laboratory.
There are two types of Non-viable sampling methods:
- Air sampling- which is performed by using an air pump which pulls air across the surface of a sticky glass slide. The spores present will stick to the surface and the lab will read the slide and determine what types of spores are identified in the sample.
- Surface sampling– which is performed by applying a piece of clear sticky tape to the surface to be tested, then lifting the tape off and applying it to a glass slide. This type is often referred to as a “Tape Lift” sample. Another type of non-viable sampling is known as “Swab sampling” in where a simple cotton swab is wiped over the surface to be tested and inserted into a test tube and sent to the lab.
Viable (Live Spores) Testing
This test is less common but is still useful in certain situations. This test can show what types of active mold spores are present and what types of mold will grow in a controlled environment. The lab provides the perfect conditions for the mold to grow in a petri dish. While knowing what active spores are present can be helpful, your home may not provide the perfect conditions to grow and you would not be able to identify all spore types using this method, like you can with the non-viable methods.
Often times people will buy a home test kit “Petri Dish” from the local hardware store, place it in their home and they are provided a result saying they have elevated mold spores. The problem with using viable sampling alone, is you don’t know where these spores may have originated (the source) of the mold growth. As your homes HVAC system can send air throughout your home.
Hiring a mold professional is the best way to ensure the results of your testing are accurate and that the information you are provided allows you to make an informed decision on how best to remediate the issue.