Mold Count Analysis
Although naturally occurring in the environment, the presence of mold in your environment can represent a health hazard to you and your family. Mold, due to their incredible ability to grow unnoticed, is capable of reproducing and increasing their concentration to toxic levels before being detecting indoors. Therefore, in order to ensure the safety of your environment, tests for mold count are extremely important as they are able to pinpoint problematic areas of your environment and determine the correct course of action to solve your mold infestation issue.
What is a Mold Count Analysis?
A mold is a natural form of fungus that is formed from multicellular filaments. These filaments can reach several centimeters before reaching the sexual maturity stage, in which the molds release spores in the air as part of their reproductive cycle. These spores, on the other hand, can be as small as a couple of nanometers and in most cases are invisible to the human eye. Unfortunately, despite their small size, these spores are capable of triggering several allergic reactions in the human body such as irritation of eyes, throat, nose, and skin.
Due to their small size and large numbers, counting units of mold is quite challenging and a standard procedure and nomenclature have been created to ease this estimation process. Mold counts are considered in colony-forming units (CFU/m3), which basically considers the estimation of units capable of forming a colony (fully grown) present in each cubic meter.
For a rough explanation, consider the CFU as the spore count that is capable of reproducing and increasing the mold concentration exponentially, present in every cubic meter of your sample area. With this information in mind, an estimation of spore/m3 has been presented by the Air Analysis Inc. seen in the table.
|Very Low Levels
|Clean building with HVAC
|Normal enclosed building
|Clean building without HVAC
|Possible mold amplification
|Cleaning might be needed
|Remediation might be needed
|Need for professional cleanup
|Need for professional remediation
|Significant mold amplification
|Inadequate flood cleanup
How can mold count analysis be carried out?
Mold count can be carried out considering two main aspects of their occurrence: number and species. As noted, mold count will indicate the risk level of your building considering levels of mold concentration present. Meanwhile, mold speciation, will consider the health effects caused by different forms of mold and indicate threshold levels for each species found. Here, it is important to understand that mold present different degrees of toxins in their organisms and therefore, promote different side effects on the human body.
Sampling of the indoor environment should be carried out thoroughly as mold can be present in different types of surfaces and migrate between different rooms through air vents and attached to clothes and objects. Mold count should, therefore, be carried out considering:
- Air samples
- Bulk samples
- Surface swabs
- Tape-lift samples
- Dust samples
- Sewage and sludge
Overall, these samples are transferred to agar plates and exposed to different temperatures and light incidence to allow for optimized growth. After a determined period of time, the samples are removed from storage and a process of numerical estimation is carried out by mechanical counting or by software counting.
Why is mold count analysis important?
Since mold is undetectable to the human eye and most people only present mild symptoms to mold exposure, it is quite common to have mold infestations propagate to toxic and high-risk levels rapidly without being detected. Moreover, long-term exposure to mold, even in low concentrations might cause other health issues associated with long-term stressing of respiratory and cardiac systems. Other symptoms of long-term exposure to mold include headaches, dizziness, memory loss and neurological problems.
Moreover, mold count can help determine if there is a potential risk of mold infestation associated with some specific area of the residence. This concentration variation throughout buildings is commonly an indication of wet and dampened areas, which occur in the presence of leaks that can also compromise the security and infrastructure of the building. When leakage and Dampened areas are left unresolved they can potentially affect the infrastructure of the building, increasing the presence of cracks leading to the risk of collapsing.
What are the health issues caused by large mold count?
High mold count can cause a variety of allergic reactions, asthma attacks, bronchitis, sinuses, and digestive tract infections also promoting lung and skin infections. Moreover, individuals that are considered to be immunocompromised (e.g. AIDS-positive) can eventually die from mold high-level mold exposure.
Most molds excrete mycotoxins which are toxic compounds and when in high levels can lead to neurological problems and even death. As these excretions are not continuous, exposure to mycotoxins in levels that can lead to serious health issues only occur when mold count is considerably high.
How can IAQ help?
IAQ specializes in mold identification and quantification in all sorts of environment, acting in the field of prevention and flood recovery for the last 10 years. As mold normally appear after flood incidents, IAQ has focused its attention to properly clean and recover your flooded area ensuring that mold propagation will not occur.
However, in cases where the mold infestation has already been detected, IAQ counts with a highly qualified team capable of assessing the area, sampling your residence and office building, analyzing the transmission route inside the building providing a report of the overall conditions found. Here, IAQ is able to determine your problem areas pin-pointing the infestation course and guiding you on the best viable solution for your issue. Mold count analysis is properly carried out by a trained staff that specializes in proper sampling techniques and CFU/m3 estimation. Moreover, IAQ is only the company in Singapore capable of providing a speciation analysis that will effectively determine the species of mold present in your indoor air. This information is highly relevant when deciding the course of action towards mold infestation due to the varied toxins that can be emitted by different species.
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