Air Sampling & Testing Explained

June 8, 2016 Tanner Barker

Do you feel bad when you are in your home or office, but when you leave that environment the symptoms disappear? Gesundheit Air Quality Services can provide you with an indoor air quality audit to profile the contaminants that exist and then 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 used test is the Spore trap. A sampling device pumps a certain amount of air through a collection cartridge. Then, the slide inside the collection cartridge is analyzed by an accredited laboratory.  The sample will provide the type of species and a count of the different mold spores.  This is done with at least two samples, one Taken indoors  and one outdoors, the comparison between the two samples will help to prove or disprove 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 for cases in which the drywall should no be cut open or the selling party of a house does not allow to cut drywall open.

Spores from the air will not always provide an answer as to how viable they are, meaning whether or not the spores are alive and able to reproduce. Viable sampling is done using a Petri dish. The Petri dish will be 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 dish test, which involves the DIY Mold testing kit.  In this method, the petri dish will be exposed to the environment and then sent to a laboratory for results. We recommend that you Save your money. The results from this type of testing are at best random and do not always provide the information related to your actual environment. Fungal spores and yeast are a natural part of our environment. Real testing should be based on a valid hypothesis and the outcome evaluated while also knowing the false positives and false negatives.

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.