Indoor mold sampling is the process of collecting samples in a building for the purpose of analyzing the collected samples for the presence of mold contamination. Although there are no established guidelines or standard for acceptable mold contamination levels, the higher the level of contamination the higher the risk of mold exposure to the occupants of the building.
Is Mold Sampling Necessary
It is often argued that if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. However, to sample or not to sample should be based on the problem being investigated and the objective of the investigation. If for example, the purpose of the investigation was to determine whether the building had mold growth, then in the presence of visible mold growth, sampling would be unnecessary. If on the other hand the investigator also wanted to document the types of molds present, then sampling of the visible mold growth would be necessary.
Surface mold sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results.
Is mold sampling the same as mold testing?
While people tend to use the terms “mold testing” and “mold sampling” interchangeably, these terms refer to two different processes. Strictly speaking, mold testing happens in the lab. Mold testing and mold analysis refer to the same thing. As mentioned earlier, mold sampling is the process of collecting/taking samples for mold analysis or testing in the laboratory. Mold sampling is part of mold investigation. Quite often people also erroneously use the term mold testing to refer to mold investigation.
Types of samples collected during indoor mold sampling
Mold sampling may involve collecting of air samples or surface samples or both. It is important to understand what samples are most appropriate for a given investigation. If investigating whether people have been exposed to mold, then air sampling would be the most appropriate because indoor mold exposure primarily occurs through inhalation.
After collecting the samples and sending them to a lab for analysis, the lab provides results without interpretation. It is therefore important to learn how to interpret mold test results. Air samples are particularly difficult to interpret because there are no standards established for acceptable levels of airborne fungal spores. Usually outdoor air samples are used as the control/benchmark samples.