Air Quality Testing for Mold? Advantages, Disadvantages, and What to Expect

There are several ways to test for mold. Beyond surface sampling, we often use air quality testing — a.k.a. air samples — as well. Mold sampling various areas and sources can help locate the root of the problem or spores of most concern. Here are the two main types of air sample methods and what you can expect to see.

As with surface samples, air samples might be ordered when a certain type of mold or spore is suspected. The life cycle of mold may reach different stages at different times throughout its environment. Therefore we like to be as thorough as possible.

attic mold prevent protect home air quality testingAir quality testing is important in making sure you’re breathing clean air.

Not all mold is visible! While it may decorate your shower curtain or tiles and you might be able to clean it away, it’s often what you can’t see that’s the most harmful. Air samples can help us detect areas of growth that we might not otherwise know the focus our mold remediation services on. We will take either culturable or non-culturable samples — or, ideally, both.

Non-culturable air sampling, also known as “the spore trap”

…Also known as Allergenco and Zefon Air-O-Cell, among other brands. This method captures and measures the amount of fungal spores in the air. These samples can point out a wide spectrum of spores, as well as detect common allergens like pollen and dust. We can assess these samples right away, which is a big advantage when we’re on a tight timeline. Unfortunately, this method of air quality testing cannot read the entire spectrum of spore types and cannot assess for viability. Luckily, then, these are not usually a major concern in the typical home. This sampling process is basically performed by collecting air with a pump, for 1-10 minutes, dependent on the environment.

fungal sinusitis, mold inspection, mold illnessCulturable air sampling

Brand names include Andersen and Biocassette. This more specific procedure allows for differentiation of aspergillus and penicillium, common allergens. The culturable testing also allows us to count active and viable spores and fungi. This is particularly valuable in homes of the immunocompromised. We take health and safety very seriously. We collect air in the same way as the spore trap, but take 5-7 days to let the samples “incubate” and be analyzed. Unfortunately, this method is also not perfect.

We still cannot see all spores present, so we recommend the full range of testing (beyond air quality) when the situation is critical.

Many spores that cannot be detected with air quality testing can be picked up with surface sampling and other methods, but the reverse is also true — air quality tests pick up what the others can’t!

While kits for these procedures are readily available online, we cannot recommend picking one up and sampling your home yourself. Always call in a professional when mold is suspected and mold remediation is likely necessary. Contact us today.

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