What are molds?
Molds are microscopic fungi that can be found almost anywhere - both indoors and outdoors! Mold growth occurs mainly in warm, damp, and humid conditions. They reproduce by making spores that are released into the air to be transported to other places where they can germinate and grow. When mold is in an active growth phase, it releases gases into the air called Mold Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs or Mold VOCs). Some MVOCs you can smell; however, not all of these gases can be detected by smell.
Where can molds be found indoors?
Molds can grow on wood, insulation, in carpet, and even behind walls where they can continue to grow undetected. When excessive moisture accumulates in the home, mold growth will often occur. This moisture build-up can stem from plumbing leaks, from condensation in air conditioning and heating systems, or from ground water penetration. If damp or wet drywall becomes moist and is not dried out within two days, mold can possibly be growing within the walls, even if it is not visible.
Also, when investigating for hidden mold problems, disturbing potential sites of mold growth could create even more issues! For example, if mold is growing behind wallpaper or drywall: removing the wall covering or drilling into walls to look for visible mold could lead to a massive release of spores. With the high sensitivity of the Home Air Check™ test, mold hidden and growing behind walls, ceilings, and flooring can be easily detected throughout the house without disturbing or spreading any mold growth.
What are the health effects of molds on people?
When mold is present in large quantities, it can become a health hazard, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems in people who have sensitivities.
Molds produce allergens that cause hay fever-type symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and skin rashes. These allergic reactions can happen immediately upon exposure or they can be delayed. More severe reactions may occur in people who have mold allergies, and may include fever and shortness of breath.
In addition, molds can trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma and who are allergic to mold. Some people with chronic lung illnesses can develop infections in their lungs with prolonged exposure to mold in the home.
How does Insight test for mold?
The mold testing method most widely performed today generally only measures mold spores and not the chemicals they release into the air. Since mold can grow behind walls (due to small plumbing leaks or condensation build-up), it can be difficult to tell from a visual inspection if there is a problem. Insight uses Home Air Check monitors for Mold VOCs that present only when mold is actively growing, not for single mold spores. Mold VOCs cannot be detected or measured by traditional mold spore traps.
Insight is now performing more tests for Mold Spores (types and concentrations of):
Spore traps - This is the most common method of trapping spores (hence the name). They work by having a controlled amount of air pass a sticky surface. If there are spores in the air, they will be caught onto the adhesive plate and will be found in the analysis later.
Tape Lifts - This is used if you can actually see the mold. Basically, tape is placed onto the mold and then is taken off and placed onto a microscope slide.
Bulk Sampling - Again, this is if you can see the mold. We take a piece of it and send it in for analysis.
Swab Sample - Take a cotton swab and drag it across the mold/sample area.
Unfortunately, there are no set government or EPA regulations, standards, or threshold limits for airborne concentrations of mold.
Mold VOCs detected above 30 nanograms per liter (ng/L - air is measured in liters) indicate significant active mold growth and most occupants of the home will be affected — particularly those with mold allergies or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD.
Therefore, it is imperative that a homeowner to test for the presence or any visible or hidden mold in their home -- So let us help you!