Guidelines for Mold Testing and Assessments
Common biological dust components such as mold and pollen are as of this date not regulated by any State or Federal agency, and as such have no mandated permissible exposure limits (PEL) or threshold limit values by which to unilaterally determine the habitability of any indoor environment. Further, all individuals react differently to exposure to indoor molds, which makes establishing such limits applicable to all individuals virtually impossible. When assessing the indoor air quality of an environment, one must take into consideration the occupants or proposed occupants and their individual sensitivity with respect to indoor environmental contaminants. However, in the absence of State and Federal exposure limits for mold in indoor environments, several current industry guidelines exist that we believe accurately address the air quality of an indoor environment.
During all mold assessments, Partner follows the guidelines and recommendations provided by the California Department of Health Services (DHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the New York Guidelines for Assessment of Fungi in Indoor Environments.
What is Mold?
Molds are microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold will grow and multiply under the right conditions, needing only sufficient moisture (e.g.in the form of very high humidity, condensation, or water from a leaking pipe, etc.) and organic material specifically cellulose (e.g., ceiling tile, drywall, paper, or natural fiber carpet padding). Mold growths often appear as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on building materials or furnishings and are varied colors of white, gray, brow, black, yellow, and green. In large quantities, molds can cause allergic symptoms when inhaled or through the toxins the molds emit.
The most common indoor molds include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus.
How Mold Can Affect Building Occupants
People react differently to exposure to indoor molds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common health effects and symptoms include:
- Allergic reactions
- Other respiratory complaints
- Nasal stuffness
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
Tips for Building Owners and Managers
Although it is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores indoors, mold growth can be controlled by regulating moisture indoors. The key to mold management is to remove the source of moisture.
- Reduce indoor air humidity by venting bathrooms and dryers; using dehumidifiers; increasing ventilators; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.
- Clean and dry any damp or wet buliding materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours
- Prevent condensation by providing insulation on cold surfaces such as windows, piping, floors, exterior walls, or roof
- Add mold inhibitors to paints before application
- Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water.
- Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Depending on the absorbent nature of the material, you may need to replace the material altogether.
- Contact Partner or another trained/qualified inspector to first determine if mold is present by sampling the material and then removing or encapsulating it