Is air testing for mold deemed unreliable by cdc?

We do not recommend taking routine air samples for mold in building air quality assessments. This is because mold concentrations in the air cannot be interpreted in relation to health risks. In many cases, mold spore sampling is performed at a very short time. However, the results may not represent actual exposures.

The CDC does not recommend testing for mold. The health effects of mold can be different for everyone, so you can't rely on sampling and cultivation to know if you or a member of your family could get sick. No matter what type of mold is present, you must remove it. In addition, taking good samples of mold can be expensive, and there are no established rules about what is and what is not an acceptable amount of different types of mold in a home.

The best thing you can do is to safely remove mold and work to prevent its growth in the future. In most cases, the inspector will take what is called an “outdoor reference air sample”. The laboratory will compare this sample with the sample taken indoors in one or more areas (usually on each floor). This comparison aims to show which mold species are native to the area where the house or dwelling is located.

For example, suppose that indoor air is comparable in levels and species to those in the outdoor sample with no obvious elevations. In that case, it is generally concluded that there is no serious mold problem that presents a problem in terms of air quality. In the case of this person, the inspection and testing of the mold were also performed by a professional. The inspection only consisted of collecting air samples trapped in spores that were sent to a laboratory for analysis.

No “problematic” levels of mold or spore counts were identified in any of the samples collected. Spore trap air sampling was also the test method used in our house and did not indicate our major mold problem. It is a test method that typically compares indoor air samples with outdoor air samples. The types of molds and the number of spores are analyzed by microscopy to determine whether or not there is a mold problem in indoor air.

I believe that determinations made in indoor environments that are based solely on outdoor mold comparisons are faulty logic. You can read my post HERE about why. Doing this, in addition to air testing, will help you better determine the source of any problematic mold. Therefore, the drier the interior is when you test, the more mold particles and spores you can capture for analysis.

The ERMI is an objective and standardized DNA-based test method that will identify and quantify molds. These spores are not normally found in indoor air, even if there is a large deposit of mold, unless the reservoir is being disturbed. In any area of the home where mold is suspected or confirmed to be present, air samples can be taken to help verify and gather more information. Immunosuppressed people and people with chronic lung diseases can get lung infections from mold.

I don't know what the industry standards are in terms of the skills or learning needed to become a certified mold inspector, but from my own experience and from listening to countless people like you, it seems that these basic principles aren't being taught. A good example of what I mean here is that during seasonal pollen and mold blooms outside, you can expect to see higher levels indoors. Because of their geographical location and the immobile conditions inside their house, I can only assume that the humidity was high enough during the two air tests to detect mold and prevented both inspectors from obtaining good samples. When inspecting a home for mold problems, it's helpful to think of air sampling as just another tool.

Not only was the chimney effect at play here, but every time the basement door was opened, the kitchen was flooded with mold spores. I was referring to situations in which a renovation was done and the demonstration discovered water damage and mold growth. The objective is to validate the presence of mold, identify the types of mold present and determine the spore count.

Cassie Ulery
Cassie Ulery

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