The best way to keep mold at bay is to control moisture. But even the most diligent homeowner or facility manager can’t plan for every situation. If a moisture issue does lead to mold growth and the need for remediation, testing can help ensure that the affected areas have been properly remediated. Restoration & Remediation spoke with Vinh Pham, vice president of operations at Envirocheck, Inc. to get an idea of what goes into the testing and sampling process.
Remediation: What determines the need for mold testing?
Pham: There are many reasons and scenarios that drive the need for conducting
mold investigation and sampling. Most mold inspections are initiated by the
occurrence of a recent water loss that results in water damage to the building
materials of an indoor environment. The objective during these types of
investigations is to determine and document the extent of mold related damage
and to prepare a scope of work for remediation.
mold inspections and testing is driven by liability, or the need to protect
one’s liability, such as during the sale or transfer of property or when a
landlord has a tenant that is alleging the presence of mold. Other
circumstances that initiate the need for mold testing is health related where
occupants of a building may report symptoms that are generally associated with
R&R: What are some of the
most common testing procedures?
The most common mold testing procedures consists of collecting ambient air
samples and surface samples. Air samples are typically collected from areas of
concern within indoor environments and from the outdoors to establish a control
baseline. The data from both sets are compared to each other, which include the
total concentration as well as an analysis of the biodiversity of the various
levels that are remarkably higher and/or significantly different in fungal
biodiversity can suggest the abnormal presence of mold. Surface samples are
also commonly taken when there is visual evidence of suspect fungal growth to
confirm the presence and type of fungal presence. This information can be
useful because certain specific molds can offer varying significances, such as
the presence of Stachybotrys typically suggests the presence of prolonged
moisture exposure to the substrate that was tested.
data gathered from air and surface samples is only a slice of the overall
assessment pie. There is no replacement for an experienced physical inspection,
including but not limited to gathering sound background information, performing
a through visual inspection and conducting a detailed moisture survey.
R&R: Assuming mold is
detected, what's the next step?
When a mold problem is identified, it’s time for the decision making process.
It is important that a concise remediation plan or scope of work has been
prepared to mitigate the mold problem, but most importantly to establish a
clear path towards resolution.
achieve the best outcome, a certified and experienced mold remediation
professional should be retained to carry out the remediation plan. Following
the completion of the mold remediation and before new building materials are
installed, it is always wise to hire a third party mold consultant and testing
company to conduct a post remediation verification inspection. This not only
provides closure, but it documents the success of eradicating the identified
mold problem which potentially minimizes the amount of liability the building
owner bears during any future disclosures.
R&R: What health effects
are associated with mold exposure?
The subject of associated health effects of mold exposure can be one of the
most debated areas in the mold industry. This is because each human individual
has a different response to different mold types and/or concentrations. This is
a primary reason why governmental bodies have not been able to publish or
establish exposure guidelines or standards.
that being said, there have been numerous scientific studies that have been
published by well-recognized organizations that document the occurrence of
adverse health effects when exposed to damp indoor environments and significant
levels of mold. Some of the most common symptoms associated with mold exposure are
headaches, fatigue, and allergy-like general upper respiratory problems such as
itchy throat, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.
R&R: Can the age of mold
There are no practical or standardized tests or laboratory methods that can be
performed to definitively ascertain the age of any particular molds. However,
it is not uncommon for an experienced mold consultant to provide a sound
professional opinion that is based upon a thorough investigation consisting of
field sampling and identification of the type of mold and evaluating the
surrounding damage to the associated building materials.
Pham is vice president of operations for Envirocheck, Inc. The company has been
providing laboratory testing and consulting services for asbestos, lead, mold
and other environmental hazards since 1998. For more information, go to
www.envirocheckinc.com or call (800) 665-7586.
Mold Testing and Sampling: The R&R Q&A
August 18, 2011