Several references state “if you see mold, you do not need to test for mold”.
They recommend you save money for the removal of the mold (remediation) rather than test beforehand.
This is reasonable if the water damage is limited and resulting mold growth is all visible (e.g., a stained ceiling tile).
However, this advice does not really apply when:
- there has been extensive water damage;
- there are potential sources of hidden mold growth (in/under carpeting, behind walls, under cabinets/vanities);
- there are occupancy related health complaints;
- there is a need for documentation of exposure (e.g., for litigation);
- when evaluating the risk of occupying a space.
All indoor mold growth is considered inappropriate and should be eliminated (ACGIH); however, there are certain molds that require increased caution and more urgent decisions be made (AIHA). These are the molds capable of producing mycotoxins–or mold toxins— and include those identified as Stachybotrys, Trichoderma, Chaetomium, Fusarium and Memnoniella. Additionally, various species in the genera Aspergillus/ Penicillium are also capable of producing mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can cause adverse health effects to people whether or not they are mold allergic. Those especially vulnerable to health effects from exposure include people with pre-existing respiratory conditions (e.g., COPD, asthma, allergies,), infants, young children, the elderly, and the immune suppressed.
In conclusion, there are many good reasons to have a mold evaluation conducted with the collection of air and surface samples to evaluate the indoor air quality conditions, including:
- TO EVALUATE THE QUALITY OF THE AIR.
- TO DETECT HIDDEN MOLD DAMAGE.
- TO LEARN IF THERE ARE POTENTIALLY TOXIC MOLDS PRESENT.
- TO GET A BASELINE OF THE MOLD LEVEL, WHICH IS HELPFUL IN DETERMINING THE EXTENT OF CLEANING NEEDED TO RESTORE CONDITIONS TO NORMAL.
- TO LEARN IF MOLD SPORE CONTAMINANTS HAVE BEEN DISPERSED TO NEARBY AREAS, REQUIRING THOSE AREAS TO ALSO BE CLEANED.
- TO LEARN IF THE VENTILATION SYSTEM HAS BEEN CONTAMINATED WITH SPORES ALLOWING THEM TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO OTHER LOCATIONS VIA THE DUCT WORK. [THE VENTILATION SYSTEM THEN NEEDS TO BE PROPERLY CLEANED.]
- TO BE ABLE TO WRITE A PROTOCOL ON HOW AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE REMEDIATED.
- BEFORE PURCHASING A HOUSE TO DETERMINE IF THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT MOLD ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED.
- AFTER REMEDIATION, TO DETERMINE IF THESE PROCEDURES WERE SUCCESSFUL IN RESTORING CONDITIONS TO NORMAL.
PLEASE NOTE: MOLD TESTING SHOULD ALWAYS BE DONE BY A COMPANY THAT IS NOT INVOLVED IN REMEDIATION TO PREVENT A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
Companies that do: a) the initial mold evaluation, b) the remediation, and then c) evaluate the success of their work obviously can have a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.