As mold can be a serious issue, it is important to approach the situation with caution and a level head. The first thing to do when you suspect that you are dealing with a mold issue is to assess the area or building.
The first thing you will have to do is to unobtrusively examine the area for mold. This means simply assessing whether you can actually see mold or not, without removing fixtures or furniture. This will determine what level of remediation is necessary in order to get rid of the mold. If you can see the mold and it is currently growing, obtaining a sample of the mold is likely unnecessary.
Sometimes, intrusive observation is needed to assess the level of mold. This can include moving furniture, taking up carpets, removing wallpaper, or checking in airducts or ventilation areas. Using your eyes and also your nose to follow unpleasant odors is the best way to find mold. The most common areas to find mold in are areas that are prone to moisture or that have suspected moisture problems.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) does not recommend sampling unless someone has symptoms of mold related health problems. Sampling should only be attempted by a trained professional who understands mold sampling protocols, interpretation of findings, and has specific experience in the sampling of mold. Sampling should only by done for a specific reason, such as identifying a species of mold or determining the airborne spore concentration. A course of action should always be determined before any sampling is done.
In the U.S., sampling should follow the guidelines of the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), of the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), of the EPA, and of the AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association.
There are three main types of sampling which include:
Air – This is the most common form of sampling to assess mold levels. The air from indoors and outdoors are sampled and their level of mold spores are compared. Air sampling can often identify hidden mold.
Surface – This is a sampling method which measures the number of mold spores deposited on surfaces, collected on tape, or found in dust.
Bulk – This requires the removal of material from the mold contaminated area in order to identify and quantify the mold that can be found there.
Multiple methods of sampling are recommended by the AIHA, as each method has its limitations. For example, tape samples will not be able to tell you the concentration level of spores in the air.
Mold can pose serious health risks for anyone living or working in the affected area. This is why it is important to inspect mold as soon as any suspicion arises. Ideally this should be carried out by a trained and experience professional. For an queries or questions you can look up the EPA who provide information on the inspection guidelines for mold and also for the remediation of mold.
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