Air sampling tells you what types of mold are in your air and tells you how much of it is there. An air test consists of two samples; one sample from the indoor air, and one control sample from the outdoor air. The outdoor sample serves as a baseline standard. This will tell you what the levels are and types of mold should be in your home. An “elevated mold condition” exists when lab results show that the indoor air has a higher spore count than the outdoor air.
Surface Samples (Swab or Tape Lift)
Tape lift, bulk and swab sampling, are techniques used for direct examination. A direct exam allows for the immediate determination of the presence of fungal spores as well as what types of fungi are present. Direct examinations should only be used to sample visible mold growth in a contaminated area since most surfaces collect a mixture of fungal spores that are normally present in the environment. Surface sampling will accurately identify all types of mold growing on a single surface, but will not quantify. Furthermore, mold found in surface samples is not necessarily an accurate representation of what is in the air. In fact, it is entirely possible to find specific types of mold growing on surfaces that have not yet become airborne.
Swab the desired area thoroughly, rolling the swab lightly back and forth over sampling areas.
Tape Lift Samples
Place the sticky side of the tape lightly against the mold. Make sure it has made full contact with the mold by running your finger lightly over the tape.
Bulk Mold Samples
Bulk samples are taken by removing an actual piece of drywall, or other object, on which mold is growing. Physically remove and place the material in a sealable plastic bag. The size of piece required is small and should easily fit into a plastic bag.
Why it is useful to identify surface mold types
Mold produces mold spores. When surface mold is disturbed, thousands to millions of tiny spores become airborne, which may ultimately end up in the lungs off anyone nearby. It is beneficial to know whether or not the mold growing on a surface is toxic before attempting to clean it so that ou can take adequate measures to protect yourself and others from potentially harmful effects. Both surface and air sampling techniques are widely recognized as the best processes for achieving accurate evaluations of both indoor air quality (IAQ) and the specificity of surface mold types. However, the use of one without the other may result in an inaccurate characterization of the area samples. For example, Stachybotrys (a known toxic mold) has shown up in surface samples but not air samples in the same property. Often times there can be certain types of mold on a surface that are not airborne…YET. For that reason, it is prudent to sample both air and surface molds (in some cases).