The 5-Minute Mold Test is not a replacement for an IAQ professional inspection but rather assists consumers in determining whether they may have a serious issue that demands additional professional services. Many of our customers contact our staff seeking assistance after using the 5-Minute Mold Test as they have become more committed to professional services once a positive test is obtained. This test cannot replace a comprehensive inspection and certainly cannot offer a response plan to consumers on-site. Some inspectors use the 5-Minute Mold Test as an additional service and to help client’s decide to expand site testing. Rather than competing for IAQ professional services, the 5-Minute Mold Test serves as business driver for inspectors, remediators and contractors in general.
Yes. Our background at Alexeter Technologies since 1999 has been development of biological hazard-specific field tests and methods for non-technical users. Over the years we have optimized our test systems to ensure easy-to-use operation and interpretation. We have fielded our biological defense technologies in over 43 countries world-wide and service hundreds of security, first responder and government agencies in the U.S. Finally, our highly-rated customer service staff serves as the backstop for any issues that arise in the field and can direct clients to appropriate service providers if the need develops.
What are the advantages of the IAQ Pro 5-Minute Home Mold Test over other traditional mold test kits?
Almost all the traditional mold test kits are really nothing more than collection kits for samples that need to be sent into a laboratory for analysis. These types of kits can not distinguish between problem molds and everyday types of mold unless you send it into a lab for an additional fee. For example, a DIY kit that includes a culture or settling plate will show mold growth after several days but such mold growth could be perfectly normal mold types for your geographical area. Further, settling plates typically require two kits be purchased so that you can compare outdoor levels of mold to inside levels. When you add up the costs for additional fees and lab testing, such kits will cost the average user $80 to $100 for each location tested. Clearly, there is no savings in such methods and they can take up two weeks to obtain lab results. At the end of the day, such “low-cost, do-it-yourself” mold test kits are neither low-cost nor do-it-yourself. That’s what makes the IAQ Pro 5-Minute Mold Test different from any other product. Our test does not require any additional fees to determine specific mold types and it’s easy to do yourself, right at home in minutes! Thus the IAQ Pro 5-Minute Mold Test kit is the real bargain when all is considered.
I read that there are thousands of mold types and that testing for only 20 or 30 types is meaningless? What are the facts?
Scientists at the U.S. EPA have studied the types of molds that are most likely to be associated with unhealthy homes due to water damage events. These scientists have published extensively on using select types of molds as indicator species of unhealthy environments*. By measuring the levels of hundreds of different mold species (known as ERMI analysis) , these EPA scientists concluded that by measuring a select subset of 26 unhealthy mold types in a home and comparing them to 10 background molds, it is possible to assign a relative mold burden score to a given home. This method doesn’t ignore the contribution or possible presence of other mold types but acknowledges that most mold types do not grow alone in a conducive environment and that these 26 “Type 1” molds are indicative of a mold burden that might indicate an unhealthy home and require remediation. In brief, by using these indicator molds, it is possible to test for a limited number of mold types and determine one has an unhealthy environment. The IAQ Pro 5-Minute Mold test detects 23 of the 26 “Type 1” Molds identified by the EPA ERMI analysis (a laboratory test costing upwards of $300) and thus represents a cost-effective alternative to the ERMI method.
Many mold inspectors claim home tests are a waste of money because mold is everywhere...will this test give me a positive every time?
No. This is true for Petri dish-type tests that don’t discriminate between background and water-damage type molds but the IAQ Pro 5-Minute Home Mold Test is set to detect a level of mold contamination that indicate an above average level of water damage molds, not just any mold type. This is proven by the fact that our customers report many negative test results with our kits. So we don’t give positive results all the time or even most of the time. It is possible to get a very weak positive result due to high outside levels of Aspergillus in certain regions of the country during certain times of the year when outdoor mold levels are high but such results are rare and do not compare to the strong positive results most people find in homes with serious mold problems. In regards to Stachybotrys mold species, any amount detected would be a cause for concern and having a specific Stachybotrys test is one of the most powerful features of our kit.
I read that Aspergillus mold spores are so small that they act like a gas and never settle and therefore would not be detected by surface swabs...is this true?
Single mold spores of Aspergillus can be as small as a micron (1 millionth of a meter) or two in diameter and would likely remain suspended in air for long periods of time at that size and mass. However, single spores will eventually adhere to other dust particles in the air (and to themselves) and gain sufficient mass to eventually settle on surfaces, This has been proven by exhaustive studies by the U.S. EPA that have developed mold profiles from homes using dust samples specifically to detect Aspergillus DNA. Ironically, critics of home tests often resort to this argument at the same time they say mold is everywhere. It can’t be both! If it never settles on surfaces how can it be everywhere at the same time? The IAQ Pro 5-Minute Home Mold Test uses technology so novel that most inspectors aren’t aware of how it works. Select mold inspectors are already employing this technology across the country in their inspection work and eventually this technology will become more widespread in the field. In time, more IAQ professionals will come to more readily acknowledge the strengths and advantages of this product. Fortunately, it is already available for the consumer!
A single kit will suffice if you wish to sample a single area or room. It is entirely acceptable to sample multiple areas for testing but the result will reflect the “average contamination” for entire area. Thus if one area is particular heavy in mold and the other areas are not, you will not be able to isolate the badly contaminated area with a single kit. If you wish to evaluate particular rooms or areas you may wish to use a single kit for each area. A good rule of thumb is to use a kit for each floor of a household as a starting point. If you are only concerned about a single room or you wish to test a visible suspected “moldy area” a single kit is sufficient.
Of course where you sample depends on your specific concern. If you are concerned about your general air quality in a specific room, it is best to sample dust in the space. Mold spores can float in the air for substantial periods of time but they can eventually attached to larger particles in the air and settle onto flat surfaces. These dust samples would be analogous to an air sample taken by a mold professional except dust samples represent air sampled over a much longer period (essentially the time period back until the surface was last cleaned). Typically this settled dust would be taken from a flat surface such as bookshelf, window sill, top of a door frame, baseboard, etc.) in the room of concern. Alternatively, if your primary concern is a specific area showing suspected mold growth; you should sample the area directly or along the edge of the suspected area (a wet wall or ceiling for example). If you are concerned about both your air quality and specific suspect “moldy” areas you might consider purchasing multiple kits.
IAQ Pro® Home Mold Tests are highly sensitive to specific mold types that are suspected to cause health issues. A POSITIVE mold detection result indicates that the area that was sampled and tested likely contains detectable levels of these molds. It does not indicate that you necessarily have a serious mold issue but rather that you should consider consulting with a professional indoor air inspector or remediation service professional. In some areas of the country, it is not unusual to have low levels of Aspergillus species from the outside environment that may produce a very weak positive result in the IAQ Pro test. The actions you may wish to take will depend on many factors including the extent of the mold infestation, your personal sensitivity to molds, the structural repairs necessary, the type of specific mold involved, the overall air quality in your living spaces and the costs involved. For serious mold issues, it is recommended that you consider contacting an accredited or licensed mold or IAQ professional. In the case of small areas of mold infestation, it may be possible to address the issue on your own. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends:
[…If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water.]
For more information on dealing with mold issues, see EPA’s publication, A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home (2010)
Depending on the extent of your mold problem, some customers choose to bypass a professional mold inspection and either clean the mold themselves (See above) or contact a remediator directly to remove any the mold . In cases where the mold contamination is small, an inspection may not be necessary. Most reputable remediation professionals will recommend an independent inspection however to ensure that their remediation services services are performed up to standards. However, in cases where the extent of the problem is unknown, the moldy areas you see may not be the only source for mold growth in your home. An inspection by an experienced mold inspector can identify areas of mold that are not readily visible. Professional inspectors have access to sophisticated equipment, (for example, thermal imaging devices) that can identify likely trouble spots that might not be visible to the naked eye. In addition, inspectors have vast experience in identifying the most likely areas of mold infestation that might not be obvious to the average home owner. If you do not locate and make repairs on all the problem areas, you have not “fixed the problem” and your air quality issue will likely continue. Finally, inspectors can make recommendations on your best course to take and should provide a written action protocol as part of their service.
Not necessarily. Remember that there is mold everywhere around you. The question is at what level and whether certain individuals may be sensitive to the types that are present. Although IAQ Pro® Mold Tests are highly sensitive screening devices for specific mold types, a NEGATIVE result indicates only that the area sampled does not contain mold levels above a certain detectable level. It also does not conclusively indicate that there may not be a mold issue elsewhere in your home or office. A NEGATIVE result on a settled dust sample does give a general indication that it is unlikely you have a high mold spore level in the air spaces within the areas tested but absolute confirmation of the indoor air quality throughout your home or office space requires an examination by a qualified professional IAQ inspector.
Following mold detection, if you need further help, there are thousands of professionally-accredited, qualified IAQ inspectors located throughout the country and one can easily be located either by referral from friends or a simple Internet search. In the near future we will provide a searchable database of certified and accredited IAQ professionals in your area. Until we have the search tool fully operational, you can fill out our referral request form so that we can refer you directly to a qualified professional in your home area once we have your information.
The Alexeter IAQ-Pro™ Asp/Pen test strip has been shown to detect the species most associated with water-damage and health issues including:
- Aspergillius species: candidus, flavipes, flavus, fumigatus, nidulans, niger, ochraceus, penicilloides, restrictus, sclerotiorum, sydowii, terreus, unguis, versicolor
- Chaetomium species: globosum
- Neosartorya species: fisheri
- Paecilomyces species: marquandii, variotii, viridis
- Penicillium species: aurantiogriseum, brevicompactum, chyrosogenum, citrinum, corylophilum, expansum, glabrum, roqueforti, spinulosum
The Stachybotrys test will detect the following species:
- Stachybotrys species: chartarum, echinata
The Alexeter IAQ-Pro™ tests are specific for problem molds and has been shown NOT to detect the following commonly found background species:
- Alternaria alternatea, Epicoccum nigrum, C. cladosporioides I, II, Scopularis brevicaulis, C. herbarum, Mucor A, C. sphaerospemum, Mucor plumbeus
Although the IAQ Pro 5-Minute Home Mold Test has been validated as highly accurate and specific to the most worrisome mold types, field test methods are always subject to the test operator variation and possible user error. Using an alternative method to confirm field test results adds a layer of confidence, especially in cases where serious health issues may be of concern. Also, laboratory conformation is an option offered to those customers who wish to confirm their test results using an alternative mold detection methodology, a routine procedure in analytical science. Finally, a laboratory confirmation report may be necessary for customers who are seeking action from a landlord, office manager or other responsible official.
Can I use this test to show that my home has been successfully cleaned by a professional remediation company?
Because professional remediators should remove all dust and clean all mold areas from your home, it is unlikely that this test would indicate residual mold problems unless additional dust is allowed to accumulate for some time after a professional cleaning. As such, we do not recommend this test immediately following remediation of a home or office or as an indication of successful remediation.
The tests are able to detect as little as 500 mold spores within 15 minutes after sample has been added to the strip. At high levels of spores, the test can show a positive result within 2 minutes of sample being added.