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How to Use Do-It-Yourself Toxic Mold Test Kits
VANCOUVER, CANADA. Many homeowners, landlords, renters, property managers, business owners, and employees want to know, and need to know, the precise identities of the various toxic mold species inhabiting their home, rental property, or place of work, according to Phillip Fry, Certified Mold Inspector and author of the mold book Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing, and Remediation.
To identify correctly toxic mold species, take these two steps: (1) use do-it-yourself mold test kits to collect mold samples during a thorough and complete building mold inspection and investigation; and (2) send the collected mold test samples to a mold laboratory for mold analysis and mold species identification.
Testing Visible Mold Growth
If a resident or occupant sees mold growing on a wall, ceiling, floor, heating or cooling duct register, or any other surface, he can scrape mold particles off the mold growth area onto the sticky surface of the opened mold test kit.
During such scraping of the mold growth, the tester needs to wear rubber gloves and a full-face respirator mask with organic vapor filters (such as the 3M brand from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store) to protect against toxic mold exposure.
To do the scraping, use a new or thoroughly disinfected (with ethyl or rubbing alcohol) paint scraper. Disinfect the scraper after each individual sampling to remove any possible mold contaminants, and thus avoid mold cross-contamination in the sampling process from one sample location to another.
Print clearly and neatly on a large pressure sensitive label the property owner's name, the property address, the precise test location at that address, the testing date, and the type of sampling method ("mold test kit settling"), time duration of the test (e.g., thirty to sixty minutes) along with the tester's name and contact information.
The label should also include each individual test number, as listed on the mold chain of custody form, available free from the mold laboratory. Attach the label to the bottom of the mold test kit that contains that respective, numbered mold sample.
Mold Testing of the Indoor Air
Use a separate mold test kit to collect a mold sample from the air of each of these areas---
1. Heating/cooling duct register. Expose the sticky side of an open mold test kit (one for each duct register) to the outward airflow from each separate heating/cooling duct register. Tape the open test kit to the duct grill so that the airflow directly hits the sticky surface.
Run the heating/cooling system on fan ventilation for 10 minutes prior to removing the mold test kit from each tested duct register. Then close, seal, and label each mold test kit.
2. Room Air by the Settling Method. Mold test the air of each room, attic, basement, crawl space, and the garage by first running a cleaned fan to stir up each room or area's air all around for about 15 minutes.
Thoroughly clean the fan blades and fan guard with rubbing alcohol or ethyl alcohol after the fan's use in each separate testing location.
Then shut off the fan, open up a mold test kit, place it open side upwards in the middle of the room [on the floor, or upon a table or chair] for thirty minutes to one hour to allow airborne mold spores to settle down onto the sticky surface of the mold test kit.
Be sure to use the same time for all air test locations for the standardization of the mold test results. Then close, seal, and label the mold test kits.
3. Outdoor Mold Control Test. The mold lab results of the indoor mold tests have the most significance when the results of each indoor location's testing can be compared with the results of the outdoor mold control test.
The control test should be a mold test kit left open on the ground outside the building and at least five feet beyond the drip edge of the room. Use the same time (thirty minutes to one hour) that was utilized in the indoor air tests for the settling method tests. There should be no rain or snow falling.
Self-Interpretation of Mold Test Kit Results
The tester can then either watch the test kits himself for mold growth, with self-interpretation of the mold test kit results, over a seven day time period, or send the mold test kit to the mold lab immediately, or after the self-observation growth period.
Here is how to self-interpret the visible mold growth in the mold test kits after seven days of mold growth---
1. If the tester observes and count a greater number of mold colonies of any particular mold colony type (possessing the same or similar color, shape and/or structural pattern) growing in one indoor mold test kit than in the outdoor control mold test kit, then the tester can reasonably decide that there is a possible indoor-generated mold infestation in the area/location involved in that particular mold test.
2. If the tester observes a particular mold colony type growing in a particular indoor mold test sample that is NOT present in the outdoor control mold test, then the tester can reasonably conclude that there is a possible indoor-generated mold infestation in the area/location in which he conducted that particular mold test.
3. If the tester observes three or more of the same mold colony type growing in one mold test kit, then the tester can reasonably conclude that there is a possible mold infestation in the area/location in which he conducted that particular mold test, regardless of the number of similar mold colonies present in the outdoor control test.
Why is that conclusion possible? Consider this rat analogy: if there are only three rats living inside a particular area of one's home or building, is there no indoor rat problem just because there are more rats living immediately outside of the home or building?
It is the time-cumulative exposure and body intake of even modest numbers of indoor airborne mold spores that makes residents or occupants sick from mold exposure. Because residents or occupants spend many hours per day indoors in a home or workplace, they are continually inhaling or ingesting mold spores.
When the mold spores enter into the residents' eyes, nasal/sinus areas, lungs, stomach (eating and drinking food and beverages upon which airborne mold spores have landed), or open body sores, the mold-spores, once inside the body, can begin dangerous mold growth inside the body because of the abundance of body moisture and food to eat (people's bodies)!
4. If the tester observes three or more of the same mold colony types in several or many mold tests taken from different areas of the home or building, the tester can reasonably conclude that the mold species is possibly widespread in its contamination of the tested home or building.
The most dangerous mold species to residents and occupants are the molds that are omni-present through out the home or building, thus causing widespread, cumulative mold exposure and body intake.
For more information about the use of mold test kits, mold laboratory analysis, and mold species identification, please visit:
Mr. Phillip Fry, a Certified Mold Inspector and a Certified Mold Remediator is also the author the widely read mold advice ebook "Do-It-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing and Remediation" and "Mold Health Guide." He also co-authored "Mold Legal Guide."
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