I've been a microbiologist since 1979 and my company, Kathryn L. Pascale, Inc., has performed over 20,000 mold inspections,so I’ve seen plenty of furor over fungi! Since there are currently no Federal or State agencies regulating mold inspections and remediation in Florida, anyone, regardless of qualifications,can be a mold inspector or remediator.
Since mold spores are everywhere, it is perfectly normal to have some mold spores in every building.Mold spores are not the problem; mold growth is the problem. However, the two most common sampling techniques used by most mold inspectors usually wind up identifying a problem where none exists. One of these is swab sampling, where a cotton swab is rubbed across a surface, inserted into a vial of growth media, and sent to the lab. Any viable spore will grow in the media even if it wasn’t growing in the home. The most popular sampling technique is air sampling, which has its place in a comprehensive inspection, but not as a stand alone method, which unfortunately is too often the case. The problem with air samples is that the lab report will tag a sample as a problem if the number of spores in an indoor sample is greater than the number in the outdoor sample. Unfortunately, the number of spores outdoors will fluctuate tremendously depending on the season, the weather and even the time of day. For example; an indoor sample taken on Monday has a spore count of 500 and the outdoor sample has a spore count of 1000. Great, no problem indicated on the lab report. Take the same two samples on Tuesday after it’s rained. The indoor sample is still 500, but now the outdoor sample is only 200. The lab report from Tuesday’s sampling tags this as a problem.
A good mold inspection uses a combination of methods to accurately determine if there is mold growing in the home and will include ALL of the following:
• Tape slide samples from any visible mold or water stained areas. When examined under a microscope the presence of hyphae will tell the microbiologist if the mold is actually growing in the home.
• Moisture readings should be taken around all doors, windows, plumbing and any other areas of possible moisture intrusion.
• If high moisture areas are found then interstitial samples should be taken from inside those wall cavities.
• All A/C units should be sampled
• Finally, air samples should be taken from all rooms and outdoors as a background sample
The report is just as important as the inspection.A good report should include not only the laboratory results, but professional conclusions based on those results.And finally, no mold inspection report is complete without specific recommendations as to what to do about any problems that were identified.
KATHRYN L. PASCALE, INC.
(954) 524-3910, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathryn L. Pascale has a Bachelors Degree in Microbiology from the University of South Florida and a Masters Degree from Nova Southeastern University. She is also a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), a Registered Environmental Property Assessor (REPA), a Certified Florida Environmental Assessor (CFEA), a member of the Florida Environmental Assessors Association (FEAA) and a member of the Mycological Society of America (MSA).