Air sampling & testing explained

June 8, 2016 Manfred Steibli

You feel bad when you are in the environment, but when you leave your home or office the symptoms disappear? Gesundheit Air Quality Services can provide you with an indoor air quality audit, profile the contaminants that exist, and develop a program to eliminate or bring them to an acceptable level.

In many cases with an unknown source of contaminants or allergens the first step might be to clean your air ducts. If the problem persists, we can perform investigative Air Quality Services.

Air Quality testing can be done in many different ways. For Mold Inspections the most commonly one used is the so called Spore trap. A sampling devices pumps a certain amount of air through a collection cartridge. The slide inside is analyzed by an accredited laboratory and will show the species and count of different mold spores. If this is done with at least two samples, one indoors taken and one outdoors the comparison between the two will help to proof or disproof the existence of indoor fungal growth.

At Gesundheit we recommend in most cases to have air sampled for different reasons:.

1. In some cases, an air test might reveal a high indoor spore count even though there is no visible evidence of mold. In this case, the inspection alone would not detect a mold problem even though one exists.
Conversely, a visual inspection may turn up evidence of surface mold even though an air test might show spore counts well within a normal range. In this case, the air test alone would not reveal a mold problem even though one exists.

2. If an mold problem exists the testing would define what species of fungi are present. This information might be helpful regarding your medical advice and also regarding the mold remediation. The so called clearance testing should show that these species are not longer present and the levels are now similar or lower than outdoor levels.

3. The spore trap sampling can also be used to analyze for other particles in the air like dust, glass fiber and pollen.

We also perform Wallcheck, a method in which we take an air sample from inside the wall through a small hole. This is a good alternative in cases in which the drywall should no be cut open or the selling party of a house does not allow to cut drywall open.

Having collected spores from the air does not give an answer to the question how viable they are, meaning are these spores alive and able to reproduce. Viable sampling is done using the collection method onto a Petri dish. The Petri dish will incubated under certain temperatures for a couple of days and analyzed regarding species and amount of colonies found.

This brings us to another kind of petri dishes, involving the so called DIY Mold testing kit. The dish will be exposed to the environment and then send to a laboratory. Save your money. The results are at best random and by chance and are not telling anything related to your environment. Fungal spores and yeast are a natural part of our environment. Real testing should be based a a valid hypothesis and the outcome evaluated knowing the false positives and false negative.

Besides air sampling for mold Gesundheit Air Quality Services provides testing for Radon, Allergens, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), CO2 (Carbon dioxide) and more.

Please call anytime with your questions on Air Quality testing.