Meaning are they always accurate and support the conditions found such as elevated moisture in the area. That is a good question that deserves attention. To put it simply the answer is ‘not always’. An air sample is like a ‘snap shot’ of what is happening right that minute in the air for how many mold spores may be present.
In some cases the air sample provides overwhelming evidence that mold growth is present. In other cases, it is the opposite when elevated moisture is clearly present. This happens for a variety of reasons such as how well sealed is the area that has moisture. For example, elevated moisture in walls grow mold and dangerous bacteria and as this grow, they will ‘leak’ into the living area through gaps under the drywall, under the base board, and any other gaps present. It can also relate to the length of time the moisture has been present which in most cases is unknow.
One reason I bring this topic up is that there are companies that will confirm moisture is present in walls or under a floor then do air sample testing to see if there is an elevated mold spore count. If the mold spore count comes back relatively low or within industry guidelines, they may state no remediation needs to be done. However, this is contrary to the science they were trained in.
Science established decades ago that mold starts to grow in 1 to 2 days after getting a water source and bacteria start growing in 3 to 5 days after getting a water source. And dangerous bacteria produce Endotoxins which are hazardous to people and potentially fatal. These are not tested for by most companies yet will be present when elevated moisture has been present for a period of time.
So, it is important to understand that if elevated moisture is present for an unknown period of time it has to be treated as having mold and bacteria growth and needs to be remediated by a certified company. Elevated moisture in a home is also a violation of the CA Health and Safety Code 17920.3 which can make a home uninhabitable.
Steve Mullins (i.e. mold detector)
CMC, Certified Microbial Consultant
Moisture and Mold Detection, Inc.