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Frequently Asked Questions


  • What are toxic molds?

  • Why sample for mold?

  • How many samples are enough?

  • What kind of samples are taken?

  • What are regulations and protocols for sampling indoor air for mold?

  • What is stachybotrys?

  • Is stachybotrys dangerous?


What are toxic molds?

Toxic molds such as stachybotrys, and aspergillus niger, can cause indoor air quality problems leading to allergies and sickness. Many times these problems are a result of airborne mycotoxins and mold spores. Toxic mold has become a huge problem for homeowners and insurance companies. One of the best ways to find out if your home has toxic mold or black mold is to have it inspected.  SD Mold Inspections was created to help provide toxic mold information, solutions, news, and help.


Why sample for mold?

The goal of biological sampling is to help determine whether the biological particles present in a particular environment are affecting or causing irritation in certain individuals. Sampling is also used to locate the sources of indoor microorganisms and facilitate an effective remediation. While we are typically surrounded by a wide variety of different microorganisms every day, sampling provides us with a method to establish in a scientific way whether the environment in question contains more organisms than would normally be present. There are numerous techniques that may be used to evaluate the level of indoor microorganisms. We believe, however, that scientific comparisons are only possible when measured volumes of air are sampled and when results of surveys are expressed in terms of volumetric measurements.


How many samples are enough?

Usually at least 3 or more samples are collected by the inspector to provide the baseline and accurate information pertaining to indoor levels. SD Mold Inspection does not charge for individual samples collected and analyzed. This is included in our standard inspection fee. Be careful of other inspectors who will quote a very low inspection fee, then will charge you for a large number of samples, raising your cost by several thousand dollars.


What kind of samples are taken?

Some inspectors claim to be able to “visually” inspect for mold without taking any samples for analysis. This isn’t valid because mold can frequently be thriving in places you can’t see: behind the dishwasher, in the attic, in the crawl space under the house, in the wall behind a leaky toilet etc. A professional inspector will always take samples in order to obtain an accurate picture of actual mold levels. The most important sample will be an air sample taken outdoors to establish a baseline or normal level of mold. This baseline sample will be compared to the samples taken indoors. If indoor levels and types of molds are less than outdoor levels, then the indoor levels are generally considered “safe.”


What are regulations and protocols for sampling indoor air for mold?

Currently, there are no widely accepted protocols or regulations regarding biological air sampling. In the absence of standards, we believe that common sense should prevail. We know that some bacteria and fungal spores can cause disease only when they are alive (viable), while others are capable of producing allergies or irritation even when no longer living. Also, while cultures may permit greater accuracy in speciating some fungal organisms present, spores vary widely in their ability to grow and compete on laboratory media. This may result in an inaccurate characterization of the area sampled. Therefore, a complete sampling protocol for the biological flora in any environment uses both a culturable and non-culturable sampling method. There are times when this is not possible due to time and budget constraints. In these cases, we currently believe that a non-culturable spore trap sample provides a more accurate “snapshot” of the air and is usually the best choice when only one sampling method can be used.


What is Stachybotrys?

Stachybotrys Chartarum is a greenish-black fungus that is found throughout the world and is typically wet and slimy to the touch. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 different species that grow in surroundings where the humidity exceeds 50%. Stachybotrys Chartarum thrives on materials high in cellulose and low in nitrogen content. Examples include wet leaves, straw, carpet, wallpaper, thermal insulation, fiberboard, dry wall, gypsum board, paper, dust, and hay. What these examples have in common is their propensity to become chronically moist or water logged due to excessive humidity, water leaks, flooding, etc. It is not found on materials such as plastic, vinyl, or ceramic tiles, nor is it the green mold in bread or between shower tiles. Since homes and buildings are not typically tested for it, it is difficult to say how prevalent this mold is.


Is Stachybotrys dangerous?

Stachybotrys chartarum is dangerous to humans because it can, given the proper environmental conditions, create multiple toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These toxic byproducts exist in the spores of the mold, as well as in the tiny fragments that can become airborne. Luckily, these spores and fragments are often unable to become airborne because they are part of the slimy mold cluster. However, once the mold dries up, there is a much greater possibility that the spores or fragments can become airborne and come into contact with humans. Of particular concern is the threat that humans will inhale and ingest these toxic spores.

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