All buildings, either residential or commercial have mold spores present.
Mother Nature sees to that. Mold enters buildings in a number of ways – each time a door or window is opened, carried in on shoes, clothing and deliveries. When we understand that all buildings contain some level of mold that is the first step in understanding how mold can affect us.
Once you understand that all buildings contain mold, the next question is: how do I know if I have a “mold problem” ? Many people mistakenly believe that if they do not “see” mold growth, they do not have a problem, this belief can have tragic consequences. Individual mold spores are far too small to be seen by the naked eye. So, if you can’t see mold spores how do you know if you have a problem? One of the most useful tools that we use in our building assessments is “air sampling”. Air sampling involves the collection of air in to a cassette and submitting the cassette to a laboratory for analysis. The cassette is viewed by a laboratory technician or microbiologist under a high-powered microscope. The technicians job is to identify sets of predetermined mold species, and the amount of mold spores present with in the cassette.
The question isn’t whether or not you have mold, but do you have “elevated” amounts of mold in your environment?
When performing air/mold sampling, an outside control sample is taken for control purposes and is used perform a comparison to the indoor air quality. Presently, there are no widely recognized/published threshold values (numerical sport counts) to determine what constitutes a “safe” environment. Due to the complexity of building environments, and large variations of seasonal changes in the amount of mold present, and the geographical weather variations throughout United States, it is highly unlikely that threshold values will be published in the near future, therefore we compare the outside air with the indoor air to help us better understand the indoor air quality and whether or not it presents a threat to the building occupants.
Another very important question is what “type” of mold is present in your environment?
Some types of mold are known to be highly “toxigenic” and exposure to even very limited amounts of these types of molds can produce very undesirable health effects or even death. There’s another category of mold known as “allergenic“ mold. Again, many people have a misconception about the dangerousness of a “allergenic” mold. One of the most common “allergenic” molds Is known as “aspergillus”. According to Wikipedia over 600,000 deaths every year are attributed to Aspergillus. Many experts believe this number to be far below the real number of people affected by aspergillus, because of the complex nature of making this determination (a diligent and sophisticated autopsy is required).
In conclusion, visual assessments alone are very limited in the useful information they can provide us. Worse yet, visual assessments when not supported by other types of information such as air sampling can lead people to draw the wrong conclusions about the quality of their indoor air they are breathing.
Tom Talen founder of Violet Frog.com