Mold, is a fact of life. Penicillium is a mold. It can often see it growing on oranges and if the mold name sounds familiar it’s because it’s a very important ingredient in manufacturing the antibiotic Penicillin. This type of mold is good and it helps to heal people. Other molds are not so good and can even make people sick. Stachybotrys, or “black mold” is a very bad mold and considered to be toxic.
When found in a person’s home, “stachy” as it’s often referred to in the industry, can often times present like severe allergies. But when it’s found in hospitals the stachy can cause patients to get worse and some molds can cause blindness. Mold is everywhere and it’s too small to see with the naked eye, but most people don’t want it in their homes.
What are the deciding factors to determine if it is necessary to call an industrial hygienist to come and perform tests? One environmental health and safety firm had a client that called and swore that there was mold in the home. The client knew this for several reasons: they were always sick or feeling bad when they were in their home, they were having bad sinus issues, and they had purchased an at home mold kit and stuff grew on the agar plate. While two out of the three reasons are often times signs of mold, it does not definitively prove that there is mold in the home. There could be other allergens in the home causing the client to feel poorly.
The firm sent an industrial hygienist out to his home and they performed a very thorough mold investigation. This consists of taking air samples in various rooms of the home. Walking throughout the house and looking for signs of water damage and old leaks. If the industrial hygienist sees suspicious looking areas on the walls, floors, or ceilings they will take a surface sample. Carpet can also be checked for mold and if necessary a hole can be cut in the bottom of the all where the baseboards are the dry wall can be checked, this is called a core sample.
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Once all these samples are taken they are shipped to a third party lab and analyzed. The industrial hygienist will not take the at home mold kit agar plate to be analyzed. The agar plate is not conclusive evidence that there is or isn’t mold in the home. Often times they are not accurate.
The only way to truly know if there is or isn’t mold in your home is to have an industrial hygienist come and perform and Indoor Air Quality test. If you feel like your home or workplace is making you sick.