IAQ Experts Caution Residents of Puerto Rico about the Limitations of Some DIY Mold Test Kits
Zimmetry Environmental provides consulting services to identify and protect building occupants from mold and other airborne pollutants.
An inspection is a critical part of any mold investigation and often requires specialized instrumentation and knowledge to identify and locate the source of any problems in the building.
Mold growing in homes, schools and businesses can be a problem across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Its presence can cause allergic reactions, hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), infections and trigger asthma in some people.
Some people who may suspect they have a mold problem in their indoor environment may be tempted to purchase a do it yourself (DIY) mold test kit from the local hardware store or over the internet. A number of these kits utilize settling plates to diagnose the presence of mold, but this sampling method has many potential shortcomings.
“The greatest drawback to this type of testing is there is no inspection by a qualified and experienced indoor air quality professional,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “An inspection is a critical part of any mold investigation and often requires specialized instrumentation and knowledge to identify and locate the source of any problems in the building. In fact, the EPA states that sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results.”
Other limitations of these kits may include:
· No Expiration Dates – DIY mold test kits sit on hardware shelves or storage areas for undisclosed amounts of time and some kits may have no readily identifiable expiration date for the agar used in the petri dish.
· No Air Flow Measurements - Most industry standards and guidelines report airborne mold samples as colony-forming units (CFUs) per cubic meter of air, but determining a level of mold per volume of air is impossible without controlled airflow through the use of a mechanical pump.
· Dead Spores - Settling plates are focused only on growing viable mold, but nonviable spores can also impact a person’s health.
· Spore Characteristics – Different types of mold spores have unique weight, density and air flow characteristics and do not necessarily settle at the same rate. For example, heavier spores may settle on the petri dishes at a quicker rate during the specified sampling period and depending on the situation, some types of mold known as water damage indicators might not appear as readily using just this type of sampling method.
· Additional Samples – Because mold is a natural part of the environment, additional samples are typically taken during a mold investigation from the outdoor air and from areas within the property that are not suspected of having a mold problem. This allows for the types and concentrations of mold to be evaluated, but many DIY kits do not offer additional sampling plates to make such comparisons.
· Read the Packaging Carefully – Consumers may think that the DIY kit they just purchased will quantify and qualify the types of mold they have. With many of these kits there is an additional cost to have a sample analyzed by a laboratory.
· Laboratory Inaccuracies – If the consumer chooses to have the sample analyzed by the laboratory mentioned in their kit instructions, how qualified is the laboratory and is it accredited by a recognized accrediting organization.
· Shipping and Handling Issues – If the sample is sent to a laboratory, it can be subject to elements such as extreme temperatures and humidity, improper handling and overall shipping lag time. Such factors can contribute to false positives and false negatives.
Zimmetry has professionals that offer comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) services to not only identify potential issues, but to also provide solutions. These services are available across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Zimmetry has also sponsored an educational video about DIY mold test kits that utilize settling plates that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/H7XTGfYu8f8
To learn more about Zimmetry’s IAQ, environmental and compliance testing and consulting services, please visit www.zimmetry.com, call (787) 995.0005 or email email@example.com .
About Zimmetry Environmental
Since 2002, Zimmetry Environmental has been providing environmental consulting services to building owners and managers, architects, engineers, EHS professionals and Fortune 500 companies. The company is based in Puerto Rico and provides services across the Caribbean and Central America. The professionals at Zimmetry offer environmental compliance, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead-based paint, Phase I ESAs and general environmental consulting services.
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- Cochrane & Associates, LLC
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