What is mold, and when should you conduct air sampling for it?
What is mold air sampling? Let’s start with the definition of mold:
Mold is the general term used to describe and group together various types of fungal organisms. It is part of the natural environment, and can be found both indoors, and outdoors. Mold produces spores, which spread by floating through the air, and landing on surfaces.
While they are a critical part of the natural ecosystem, mold can pose a dangerous problem to human health when it is found indoors. The symptoms and severity one would experience if exposed to mold vary and depend on many factors, such as the type of mold present, amount of mold present, individual’s health conditions, and other general indoor air quality parameters. Let’s talk about what constitutes as a reason for conducting mold air sampling.
Generally, the symptoms are allergy-like, such as:
The easiest way to identify mold is through visual examination. Often, mold loves to grow in the most inconvenient of places, specifically where it is dark and damp. Areas like these include (but are not limited to): basements, crawlspaces, attics, around leaky pipes, and behind walls and floorboards. Even the most thorough of visual assessments could miss areas like these.
Pay Attention to Symptom Timing
While mold growth might be fairly easy to visually identify, sometimes relying on our eyes alone might not be enough to definitively answer whether or not there is a mold issue in an area. That being said, another sign that could indicate a hidden mold problem, is experiencing the above symptoms in a specific area, and the symptoms disappearing when you leave that area.
An example of this would be you working in an office room all morning – feeling horrible, and then feeling instant relief when you leave that room and go for some fresh air.
Time to Conduct Mold Air Sampling?
If no mold can be visually identified, but you are still experiencing allergy-like symptoms, it might be time to conduct mold air sampling. There are two types of mold air sampling (viable and non-viable), but that is a whole other topic on its own; which you can learn more about in our “Mold Sampling: Viable vs. Non-Viable” blog post.
The basics of air sampling both involve drawing in a specific amount of air from an area, which will be analyzed in a laboratory to determine the presence of mold, either by growing captured mold, or counting the spores. Either way, air sampling for mold is the best way to definitively answer whether or not an area is being affected by mold.