Mold 101

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Mold infe...
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Mold infestations in bedroom of home in Carrollton neighborhood. House did not flood and had minor exterior damage, but small leaks during the storm plus being vacant for weeks resulted in homeowners returning to this scene. Photo by Infrogmation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you suspect that your home or place of business has mold it is extremely important that you have adequate testing done by a qualified licensed hygienist or an  Indoor Air Quality Professional If you or someone in your family is sick please STOP now and read this article then come back to this page.

For home or office testing you can DIY using an ERMI home testing kit as recommended by Dr. THRASHER.
“Dr. Thrasher has specialized in Toxicology since 1966 and Immunotoxicology since 1986. He has been a consultant to toxicology laboratories and three human diagnostic laboratories. He has been an expert witness in government, defense and plaintiff cases.” Source

Knowledgeable hygienists use various methods of testing which include but are not limited to dust and air samples, drywall samples etc.  They also take samples from carpeting and may drill small holes to remove samples from inside of your walls. Please note that regardless of what any tester tell you, it is unsafe to have more than 2% of any mold in your home or office. Mycotoxins and endotoxins should not be present in ANY amount. If you are dealing with Mold in your place of work please read my article entitled: How to Handle Mold/Mycotoxin Exposure at Home or at Work – Where To Get Help

Although hiring the services of an IAQ Professional is costly, it is a good route to take if you want to be certain of the presence of toxic mold in your home and or if you and your family are sick with unexplained symptoms.  If you would like to do the testing yourself I recommend you start with the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) testing kit. You can purchase these types of testing kits at a moderate cost from EMSL Analytical.

As a last resort, if you are concerned about the presence of mold in your home and there are no large visible stains of mold or mildew and you would like a general idea on what type of mold is present, there is a  less expensive option.  I must clarify however that this type of testing should only be used as a preliminary option and never if you or your family are sick.  This test kit will not tell you the overall mold presence in your home or levels of specific secondary metabolites.  It will let you know the type of mold present and possible health concerns, nothing more. So if you are sick, move out, hire a professional and wait for results.

When small amounts of dust and black dots were visibly present in my office ac vents and ceiling, I used a few of these kits (Pro Lab Mold Do It Yourself Kit) myself prior to spending more money on ERMI testing kits and hiring a professional.
In my case the building where I worked also hired an IAQ company to check a few spaces and their findings matched the results I found using the ERMI, Pro lab testing kit and the results found by the hygenist I hired.

The downside to the Pro lab kit is that it only tells you the genus present not the species and it does not cover levels.  In laymen terms the genus is like saying you have a kitchen full of fruits and vegetables.   The species is the actual type of fruit or vegetable you have. Each genus of mold can have several hundred species so it’s very important to find out what species you have present in your home and in what quantities in addition to mycotoxin and endotoxin counts.

If you are considering using this kit I only recommend using method number one inside the instructions.  This method gives more accurate results and is done by taking a sample with a cotton swab of the visual dust or mildew growth and then placing it gently on the petri dish.  You also have to send in the swab along with the petri dish.  The lab will email you results withing 1 to 2 weeks.
For detailed instructions on how to use this kit click here.

Here is what a report from Pro-Lab looks like.  Personal information has been removed for privacy.

moldIf you do the Pro-Lab test and you get a report back that confirms the presence of mold in the area tested, you should follow through with the ERMI and or professional testing.

If you do not do any type of testing but you are suffering from a wide range of medical conditions without rhyme or reason then I also recommend that you have your home tested.  Unfortunately the presence of toxigenic mold can cause headaches, migraines, vomiting, nose bleeds, irregular heartbeats, muscle pain, memory loss, brain fog, extreme fatigue, respiratory complications, tumorous growths and many other issues.  A child who lives in a home with toxic mold may have reddish dark circles under their eyes, constant colds, sniffles, neurological problems, ear infections and weakened immune system.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to test if you suspect a mold problem.  Don’t look at the cost because your health far outweighs any expense you may incur.

If you loose your health then all the money in the world wont mean a thing.

Remember that molds producing mycotoxins can cause serious harm to adults and children alike. If you work or live in a home with mycotoxins please leave and seek medical treatment immediately.

“Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals. Because of their pharmacological activity, some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have found use as antibiotics, growth promotants, and other kinds of drugs; still others have been implicated as chemical warfare agents.
Mycotoxins are not only hard to define, they are also challenging to classify. Due to their diverse chemical structures and biosynthetic origins, their myriad biological effects, and their production by a wide number of different fungal species, classification schemes tend to reflect the training of the person doing the categorizing. Clinicians often arrange them by the organ they affect. Thus, mycotoxins can be classified as hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins, immunotoxins, and so forth.” Source 

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