INSPECTIONS AND INDOOR AIR QUALITY TESTING
WE ARE NOT A REMEDIATION COMPANY– ALWAYS HIRE A THIRD PARTY FOR ALL POST AND PRE -TESTING– TO AVOID ANY CONFLICT OF INTEREST
David Quinn and Kelly Quinn are certified by ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification, Council Certified Residential Mold Inspector) Mold Inspectors, Certified Mold Assessment and Inspector and IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association) member of good standing. We offer a full visual and Quantitative lab test reports in addition to our home inspection report at an additional cost. (Quantitative breaks out, which types of mold spores, not just quantity of spores. As Certified Mold Investigators we perform indoor air quality testing, if needed, in the hopes that you can receive results in an easy to understand report.
ALWAYS HIRE A THIRD PARTY ACAC CERTIFIED MOLD INSPECTOR FOR ALL POST REMEDIATION TESTING TO AVOID CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Fungal growth is a part of the natural environment. Outdoors, fungal growth plays a part in nature by breaking down dead organic materials such as the dead trees and fallen leaves, but indoor mold growth should be avoided. Fungal growth reproduces by means of tiny spores; these spores are invisible to the naked eye and flow to the outdoor and indoor air. Fungal growth may begin growing indoors and mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of fungal growth, and none of them will grow without water or moisture on cellulose debris. We not only test for fungal growth we also determine the cause.
When you purchase a home, you need answers to your indoor air quality questions before you buy. Then you should choose a professional with the training and the knowledge to help you address your concerns without costing you a small fortune. A professional that will conduct an inspection of your investment in accordance with accepted industry standards
This is why to choose an IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association) member and “ACAC” Accredited Certified Mold Inspector:
Pre-testing procedures: to be Used Before a Mold Cleanup/Remediation Project
There are no single accepted “pass-fail” criteria pre-testing inspections. I examine areas for fungal growth or other allergens and look in other building areas for evidence of spread of fungal growth and contaminated debris. Our Evaluation combines a visual inspection of the extent of infected materials/areas with a microscopic examination of surface, dust, air and/or vacuum samples collected at the property. We will collect mold inspection test samples of physical surfaces which appear to be moldy or dirty. We will also collect samples from surfaces areas which appear to be clean (non-suspect) on settled surface sample from a representative cleaned surface in each major area. We may also collect other screening samples by using air or vacuum sampling methods. But beware; air sampling alone is not a reliable means of screening a building for problems. A general inspection protocol includes, but is not limited to, locating the mold and moisture, assessing the mold and moisture to determine the source, performing measurements (temperature, humidity, etc.), and conducting mold sampling, if appropriate. After the inspection is completed, a comprehensive report is prepared. The report includes an explanation of the extent and location of any fungal growth or moisture, location of any active leaks, interpretation of the sampling data and recommendations for the remediation of the fungal growth problem.
WHAT IS MOLD?
Mold is a generic name for over 100,000 different kinds of fungus. Essentially, molds are living organisms that make up a large portion of the fungi kingdom. Once thought to be part of the plant kingdom, molds make spores instead of seeds which float in the air like pollen. Spores are regenerative cells surrounded by a very tough coating that can survive detergents, chemicals, bleach and extreme temperatures.
Mold spores are microscopic in size, typically requiring 600X magnification to identify. It is has been said that 250,000 mold spores can fit on the head of a pin. A visible patch of mold the size of a quarter can represent billions of spores.
Molds reproduce by releasing spores. When mold spores colonize (settle) on a surface they can grow and spread rapidly, giving off a variety of odors and exhibiting hundreds of different colors and textures.
IS MOLD EVERYWHERE?
Mold is part of the natural environment and is virtually everywhere, all the time, indoors and out. It would be a grievous mistake, however, to assume that just because mold is everywhere, it’s not a problem.
Outdoors, mold plays an important role in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. Indoors, mold can be a significant problem, destroying property and posing a number of serious health risks.
WHEN & HOW DOES MOLD BECOME A PROBLEM?
Since mold spores are everywhere all the time, we are always exposed to mold. At any given time, outdoor air will have as many as 100 different types of mold spores floating about, along with a number of other airborne pollutants. Because mold spores are ever-present in the air, they drift freely in and out of buildings through doors, windows, attic vents, HVAC systems, etc. On any given day, airborne mold spore levels indoors should always be about the same as outdoors, unless mold is originating indoors.
Increased spore amounts:
When airborne mold spores find something damp to stick to, they colonize (grow) and release new spores. Mold growing outdoors is seldom ever a health risk. But when mold grows indoors, spore levels can reach concentrations significantly higher than outdoors and cause a number of adverse reactions in people and animals, including rashes and itching skin, eye – nose and throat irritations, chronic headaches, respiratory infections, nausea, and trigger asthma attacks.
Increased spore types:
In addition to increasing the amount of spores indoors, mold growing indoors on wet construction materials tend to produce different types of spores that are not found outdoors.
For example, it is rare to find Stachybotrys outdoors. However, Stachybotrys is commonly found growing indoors on drywall and carpet after a flood or other water intrusion has occurred. Stachybotrys is often referred to as “black mold” and can be toxigenic. Exposure to high concentrations of toxigenic mold spores inside a building can present a wide range of very serious health risks to the occupants.
While you cannot control Mother Nature, you can certainly limit the potential for indoor mold growth by limiting moisture sources and responding rapidly to every water intrusion issue. The biggest mistake people make is ignoring minor issues until they become major problems. Early detection and assessment can minimize the risk of exposure to toxic molds and save thousands of dollars in repair costs.
ARE ALL MOLDS BAD?
To answer that question you must first understand that mold has two faces;
There’s the face you can visually see (mold growing on a surface), which can cause property damage.
Then there’s the face you don’t see (mold floating in the air), which can cause people damage.
In both cases, the level of damage is directly related to the level of infestation.
Surface mold has the potential to cause significant property damage.
Molds spores secrete digestive enzymes that decompose the surfaces they live on. For that reason, all mold is bad. The longer mold is allowed to infest any surface, the more damage it can cause. That is why hidden mold is such a tremendous threat. It’s potential to cause damage is devastating because a great deal of time can pass before it is detected.
The visual appearance of mold on construction materials and personal contents indoors is an obvious indication of a mold problem. The pungent mildew or musty odor of mold indoors is another obvious indicator, even when mold is not visibly present. If you suspect you have a mold problem in your home or office, immediate steps should be taken to identify and correct the cause. The longer mold is allowed to grow, the more damage it will cause to your property and the more it will cost to remediate. Prompt action can mean the difference between a few hundred dollars in repairs or several thousands of dollars.
Considering the potential mold has to damage and depreciated the value of property, all molds have the potential to be bad.
Airborne mold has the potential to cause adverse health reactions. Since airborne mold spores are everywhere all the time, indoors and out, we are always exposed to mold at some level. In an open outdoor environment we are seldom exposed to any significant levels of spores because the air is continually moving. But indoors, where ventilation is restricted and air is often recycled through heaters and air conditioners, the exact same molds that don’t bother anyone outdoors can cause severe reactions indoors, especially when levels are exceedingly higher than outside.
When mold is growing indoors, the amount of mold in the air can be significantly higher than outdoors. Exposure to high concentrations of molds in enclosed spaces such as residential homes, commercial buildings, schools, automobiles, airplanes, etc., can trigger asthma attacks, cause respiratory infections, bronchial polyps, and a number of other reactions.
Exposure to extremely high concentrations of airborne mold over extended periods of time can over-come the lungs capacity to filter out spores. Once mold enters the bloodstream the severity of symptoms and reactions increase exponentially.
Considering the potential health risks of airborne mold spores indoors, all molds have the potential to be bad.
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD?
Absolutely! Eventually, mold destroys whatever it grows on. It can ruin furnishings, destroy cabinets and cause serious damage to the structural elements in your property. It can trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma and give asthma to people who don’t have it. Asthma kills 5,000 people every year in the U.S. alone and most of them are children. Of course you should be concerned about mold.
The best time to respond to mold is before it gets to do it’s worst damage. Eliminating leaks and moisture can slow the spread of mold, but a professional inspection by a qualified specialist and testing in accordance with industry standard protocols is the only way to properly identify the problem and create an appropriate action plan.
Whether you had your property inspected for mold before you recently moved in, or had a mold inspection a year ago, you should be aware that mold can begin growing anytime, anywhere, no matter how clean you keep your home.
If you haven’t had a mold inspection within the past 18 months, now might be the perfect time have a professional mold inspection – even if there are no visible signs of mold infestations. A professional certified mold inspector can help you identify potential mold problems and save thousands of dollars repairs costs that occur when indoor mold is ignored or goes undetected.
Some people think mold only grows in dirty, unkempt buildings. Not so. Though poor household hygiene certainly contributes to mold problems, mold can flourish in sparkling clean environments as well.
Some people mistakenly think that properties near the beach naturally have mold and that properties in dry desert climates don’t. Not so. The vast majority of indoor mold problems have nothing to do with climate conditions. There are just as many mold problems in the desert as there are at the beach, and just as many mold-free properties at the beach as there are in the desert.
Understanding the significance of RH in an occupied space & the related concept of substrate is critical to controlling microbial growth indoors. Relative humidity is a ratio (expressed as a percentage) of the amount of moisture in the air to the maximum amount the air could hold. Warmer air has a greater capacity to hold water in its vapor form than cooler air. Although the relative humidity of the rooms’ air plays a role in the water content of materials in the room, it is the available moisture in a substrate, not the relative humidity of the room air, that determines if microorganisms can grow and the types of organisms that colonize material. By keeping relative humidity values between 30% to 50%, it is logical to assume that corresponding values in materials would be limited. However, this assumption may not hold because microorganisms grow on surfaces and in materials, not in air. Therefore, it is the RH in the air adjacent to a surface, not ambient RH that must be controlled to prevent microbial growth. Maintaining room RH below 50% may keep materials fairly dry, but does not eliminate the possibility of microbial growth because local cold spots and water intrusion may allow the RH of air adjacent to a surface to exceed 70%. Note refer to section #5 relative humidity.
For comfort, most buildings are maintained at temperature of 65° to 75°F. This temperature range is also hospitable to many environmental microorganisms, some of which can even survive at temperatures below50°F and others above 50°F. However, temperature and water availability are related, and water availability is critical. Temperature can often be controlled in water systems, that is, it may be possible to maintain water at temperatures above or below those that encourage microbial growth. Moisture is essential to all life, and the chemical reactions that lead to biological growth depend on an adequate water supply.
1.0 Data Interpretation According to ACGIH, “Data from individual sampling episodes is often interpreted with respect to baseline data from other environments or the same environment under anticipated low exposure conditions.” In the absence of established acceptable exposure limits, it is often necessary to use a comparison standard when interpreting data. In this instance, it will be necessary to sample the suspect area as well as a non-suspect area. According to ACGIH, “…active fungal growth in indoor environments is inappropriate and may lead to exposure and adverse health effects.”
- Total Fungal Spores
According to ACGIH, “…. differences that can detected with manageable sample sizes are likely to be in 10- fold multiplicative steps (e.g., 100 versus 1000…)”. Following this logic, if total fungal spores are ten (10) times greater in the sample from a suspect area than in the negative control sample collected from a non-suspect area, then that sample area may be a fungal amplification site.
- Mycelial Fragments
Mycelium is a fungal mass that constitutes the vegetative or living body of a fungus. Following the same logic above, if total mycelial fragments are ten (10) times greater in the suspect sample than in the negative control, then the sample area is considered to be a fungal amplification site. The presence of mycelial fragments provides evidence of microbial growth.
Molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. Exposure pathways for mycotoxins can include inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available, and in some cases research is ongoing. Some molds can produce several toxins, and some molds produce mycotoxins only under certain environmental conditions. The presence of mold in a building does not necessarily mean that mycotoxins are present or that they are present in large quantities.
- Water Indicator Molds
Certain authorities identify certain molds whose presence indicates excessive moisture. The presence of a few spores of indicator mold should be interpreted with caution. Additionally, it should be recognized that these named molds are not necessarily the only ones of potential significance
Facts about Mold, New York City Department of Health.
iii. Mold Resources, United States Environmental Protection Agency.
- Mold in My Home, What do I do? California Department of Health
Why use a ACCREDITED certified (ACAC) mold Inspector:
- Certified Mold Inspectors are trained using rigorous inspection standards.
- Certified Mold Inspectors follow a systematic checklist for collecting microbial samples.
- Certified Mold Inspectors are trained to perform comparison sampling when no threshold limit values are available.
- Certified Mold Inspectors offer a cost-effective mold screen and have the ability to refer a specialist if sampling reveals the need for additional investigation.
- Certified Mold Inspectors have hands-on experience with the latest equipment and technology available.
- Certified Mold Inspectors are required to attend training and are tested against IESO and New Yard department of health standards.
- Certified Mold Inspectors are trained to use only IESO 17025 accredited laboratories for sample analyses
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector.
GUIDE TO USING BLEACH – Bleach as a “Mold Medicine” to try to kill mold or prevent mold in buildings
Bleach, diluted bleach, or bleach sprays used in cleaning may be appealing but they are unnecessary, potentially dangerous and the use of bleach tends to lead to improper and inadequate cleaning – if you substitute “spraying bleach” for actually cleaning or removing the mold your cleanup will not be successful. But before cleaning mold off of a wall surface we’d want to know about the wall cavity – if there have been leaks into the wall cavity itself, cleaning the surface alone is probably futile. The object of mold removal is to clean the surface, to remove loose moldy material, not to try to sterilize the surface. The object of mold remediation is to clean, or remove, the majority of the mold particles (spores, conidiophores, hyphae, mycelia) from the target surface. Certain mold-contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned (drywall, carpeting, curtains) should be discarded. Clothing and bedding linens or towels can be washed or dry-cleaned. The operative word to fix in mind is to “clean” or “remove” the problem mold. “Killing” the mold is not the object – first of all because our lab work shows that you’re unlikely to kill all of the mold on a surface using bleach, unless you use it at a concentration and duration which is so strong that you’re likely to completely destroy the “bleached” material, and second of all because even if you could “kill” every mold spore, you are at risk of leaving toxic or allergenic particles in place – they may be dead but still toxic.
“Mold removal” by surface scrubbing only works if you’re cleaning a relatively hard, non-porous surface such as finished wood, painted metal, or plastic. Soft materials like Sheetrock™ or drywall which have become moldy generally should be removed, the exposed surfaces cleaned, and then new drywall can be installed (after you’ve also corrected the reason for the mold growth in the first place). Just spraying or painting-over mold with anything if spraying of fungicides or sealants is to be used in place of actual cleaning or removal of mold is an improper and inadequate practice which risks leaving a reservoir of toxic or allergenic particles in the building.
Serving: Northwest Montana, Flathead Valley, Lincoln County, Lake County. Kalispell, Whitefish, Polson, Lakeside, Columbia Falls, Bigfork, West Glacier, Libby, Eureka, Montana
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