The goal of sampling is to learn about the levels of mold growth and amplification in buildings. There are also no standard collection methods. Several collection methods are available to inspectors to study mold (and bacteria) in indoor environments. Comparison with reference samples can be a useful approach. Reference samples are usually taken outdoors and sometimes samples can be taken from “non-complaint” areas. In general, indoor fungal concentrations should be similar to or lower than outdoor levels. High levels of mold only found inside buildings often suggest indoor amplification of the fungi. Furthermore, the detection of water-indicating fungi, even at low levels, may require further evaluation. There are several types of testing methods that can detect the presence of mold. They can be used to find mold spores that are suspended in air, in settled dust, or mold growing on surfaces of building materials and furnishings. There are different methods that can identify types of live mold and dead mold in a sampled environment. Mold spores can be allergenic and toxic even when dead. All sampled material obtained in the laboratory is analyzed using modern microscopic methods, standard and innovative mycological techniques, analyzed at 630 – 1,000 times magnification.
Air quelity test- Air samples are possibly the most common type of environmental sample that investigators collect to study bioaerosols (mold, pollen, particulates). The physics of removing particles from the air and the general principles of good sample collection apply to all airborne materials, whether biological or other origin. Therefore, many of the basic principles investigators use to identify and quantify other airborne particulate matter can be adapted to bioaerosol sampling. Common to all aerosol samplers is consideration of collection efficiency.
Bulk This is a destructive test of materials (e.g., settled dust, sections of wallboard, pieces of duct lining, carpet segments, return-air filters, etc.) to determine if they contain or show mold growth. Bulk sampling collects a portion of material small enough to be transported conveniently and handled easily in the laboratory while still representing the material being sampled. A representative sample is taken from the bulk sample and can be cultured for species identification or analyzed using direct microscopy for genus identification. The laboratory is usually able to determine if the there is current of former mold growth or if only normally settled spores were sampled.
Swab A sterile cotton or synthetic fiber-tipped swab is used to test an area of suspected mold growth. Samples obtained using this method can be cultured for species identification or analyzed using direct microscopy for genus identification. The laboratory is usually able to determine if there is current of former mold growth or if only normally settled spores were sampled. Identified spores are generally reported as “present/absent”.
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