Imagine you are sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to hear the results of a test. The doctor comes in and starts explaining things as if you went to med school and understand what they are saying. Or a mechanic starts using jargon about your alternator and you don’t have a clue what he’s talking about. Isn’t that frustrating? Well air quality lab reports can be the same way if no one explains them to you.
When someone takes air quality samples in your home, most likely you want the knowledge of what you are breathing in the air. In our cases, our clients are wanting to know if they have mold in their home and if it’s dangerous to breathe. There are a few things we look for when the report comes back from the lab. This may be useful if you have someone does mold sampling in Springfield Missouri for your home, but they don’t analyze them for you.
The first thing we look for when the lab sends us a report is if there are any toxic molds present. Most labs will mark the mold spore count as elevated even if the count is technically not elevated, when any toxic molds are present. This is their way of telling you that something needs to be addressed, even if the counts are not very high.
The two main toxic molds that show up on lab reports from time to time are Stachybotrys (what most call, “black mold”) and Chaetomium. When these molds show up on a report, you should have a professional mold inspector or mold remediation contractor take a look at your home. Even if those counts are low, there is something going on that needs addressed because you don’t want toxic molds in your house.
Stachybotrys is a heavy mold and may not show up in high amounts on your air samples. So, if you see any at all on your report, then you can assume there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
After we’ve checked if there are any toxic molds present, we check to see if your counts are elevated or not. An outside sample is taken to see what kinds of molds are present around your home. Then inside samples are taken to compare to the outside.
If you have 100 mold spores of Cladosporium on the outside sample and 20 mold spores of Cladosporium on the inside sample, then you most likely have no problems. Your inside sample is lower than your outside, so in most cases that is perfectly normal. Every time we open the door, or a window, some mold from outside will make its way into your home. That is just nature, there’s nothing we can do about that.
But if your Cladosporium count is 100 on the outside and 500 on the inside, then there may be an issue inside that needs to be dealt with. Locating the moisture source and any colonies of mold growth will be the first step in mitigating the problem.
Another example of how your samples can come back elevated is if your outside sample shows no Penicillium, but your inside sample does show some. That means something is happening inside your home that caused that Penicillium growth, it didn’t just fly in from outside.
We also check to see what kind of mold species are present. Different mold species are usually caused by different problems. When we see a high Penicillium/Aspergillus count on a lab report, most of the time this has been caused by high humidity inside the home. Usually, caused by a home being vacant for a period of time without the HVAC running to control the humidity levels.
When we see Cladosporium levels high inside a home, we know that there’s a moisture issue somewhere because Cladosporium is most commonly identified as an outdoor mold. So, if the count is high inside the home, something is going on there.
The last thing we check for is to see if the dust count or if another particle count is high, medium, or low. If the dust count in the home is very high, it can block some of the spore count reading. This means that the mold spore count could actually have been higher, but the high dust count potentially got in the way. Usually, the lab will point out if any spore counts may have been thrown off by an unusually high dust count.
So, to summarize our main points:
- Check to see if any toxic molds are present in your report.
- Check to see if your counts are elevated inside compared to the outside.
- Check to see what kinds of mold are present.
- Check to see if the dust count is high and skewed the results at all.
- Call Dog Gone Mold to help you out.
Just remember that air samples are an inexact science and can be greatly misinterpreted if you are not a professional mold inspector in Springfield Missouri. These examples are not set in stone, just a few highlights. Mold is tricky and if you don’t know how to analyze a lab report, you should contact a professional to help guide you through.