Mold is ubiquitous in nature. Filamentous fungi often produce indoor mold in various environments. Excessive moisture, a carbon source, a moderate temperature (25ºC), and dampness, besides other factors, are supportive elements for the growth of indoor mold. The nature and characteristics of indoor mold is more variable. Sometimes one can see mold growth in indoor environments with the naked eye. However, it is hard to assess health and hygiene effects just by looking at it. Therefore, it is essential to study the indoor mold in order to understand its impacts.
There are a number of techniques available nowadays to isolate and identify the mold from indoor environments. No one technique fits in every scenario, but rather, it should be case specific. Although mold can be examined and evaluated in various ways, an integrated approach to detect mold in indoor environments is described below:
Indoor Mold Sampling
To study the airborne fungi from indoor environments
I Air samples, air samples are collected. Some popular mechanisms are described below for collecting mold/fungal samples from the ambient air.
a. Drum Trap (DT)
Airborne fungal elements are collected on an adhesive tape mounted on a rotating disc powered by an electric motor in an air sealed drum with an orifice. The rotation of the disc is fixed with that of the exposure time. Hirst spore trap, Tilak air samplers, etc. are some common commercially available samplers in this category.
b. Electrostatic Trap (ET)
Fungal/mold samples are collected by drawing air with a constant flow rate and exposure time over media under the influence of an electrostatically charged environment. Charged particles are collected on their positively charged electrode. An Electrostatic Sampling Device (ESD), SASS® 3100, Portable Biohazard Sampler, etc. are good commercially available samplers under this technique.
c. Filterer Trap (FT)
Air samples are drawn on a filter mounted within a closed, airtight chamber by pulling the air through it with a constant airflow rate and exposure time. Micro-orifice uniform deposit impactor (MOUDI), filter made out of cellulose ester, polyvinyl chloride, and polycarbonate are widely used for mold/fungi sampling.
d. Impinger Trap (IP)
In this method, the sample is collected by dissipating the air into an air tight flask containing the media with a constant airflow rate and exposure time. Some common IP samplers include, but are not limited to, Greenberg-Smith impinger, AGI-30, etc.
e. Pore Trap (PT)
Air samples for mold/fungal evaluation are collected on media in an air-tight cylinder by collecting air through a perforated metal plate with a constant airflow rate and exposure time. Anderson’s, Burked, Bio-culture, and Button Aerosol Samplers are routinely used based on this technique.
f. Rotorod Trap (RT)
The airborne fungal particulates are collected on a strip of sticky tape or surface mounted on a mechanical arm/surface attached to a spindle powered by an electric motor that can rotate with a specific number of rotations per minute for a determined exposure time. Rotorod sampler by Sampling Technology, Inc. is one of the most widely used samplers of this category.
g. Spore Trap (ST)
Commonly in this method, a gel-coated glass slip is employed inside an air sampling device and air is pulled out with a constant air flow for a predetermined exposure time depending on the project goals. Flow rate is verified in the field utilizing an in-line flow meter. Air is passed over the coated slide causing airborne fungal particles to adhere to the gel. Some commercially available devices of this category are Air-O-Cell, Micro 5, Allergenco-D, M2, Burkard volumetric samplers, etc.
h. Thermal Trap (TP)
The air samples are collected on a glass slip by placing it around a hot body into ambient air.
II Surface samples
Environmental surfaces are collected to evaluate the mold/fungal infestation in and around indoor environments. Some practical methods for collecting a surface sample are given below.
a. Bulk Sample (BSAM)
Bulk samples are made by collecting, scraping, or cutting a representative of the material/dust suspected for mold/fungi by using aseptic techniques. These samples are transferred to the laboratory in a sterile container for further analysis.
b. Surface Imprint Sample (SISM)
Environmental samples are collected with the help of sticky tape. The sticky side of the tape is placed over the test area and an imprint is taken in order to collect a surface sample for a mold/fungal evaluation. Bio-Scan400is the most accurate (cts/m2) and one of the more commonly used products for collecting surface samples for mold/fungi.
c. Swab Sample (SSAM)
Swab samples are made by swabbing a selected area by using sterile techniques. The collected specimens are transported to the laboratory for further enumeration. A number of companies make cotton or polyester swabs which are available in the market for environmental surface sampling for collecting mold/fungi samples.
d. Vacuum Sample (VSAM)
Dust samples are collected from environmental surfaces suspected for indoor mold with a dust collecting cassette and/or a vacuum sample device under aseptic conditions. The collected samples are transported to the laboratory in a sterile container for further evaluation. Dust sock®, Dust collector, etc. are available in the market for collecting environmental surface samples for mold/fungi.
e. Wipe Sample (WSAM)
Environmental surface samples are collected by means of wiping the selected area suspected for mold/fungi with a sterile gauze pad by following sterile techniques. A leak proof container should be used for transporting these aseptically collected specimens to the laboratory for mold/fungi evaluation. Sterile gauze can be procured in test kits, drug stores, and various other sources to collect environmental samples for testing mold/fungi.
No one sampling method can be used as an absolute standard for collecting environmental samples for the detection and identification of indoor mold. The best way to select a sampling method is to explore the performance of the sampling mechanism and its suitability for the intended project.
Mold Examination and Identification
Isolation of indoor mold collected from environmental samples is challengeable. Depending on the project needs, the trapped particles are isolated by using a suitable buffer such as phosphate buffer saline (PBS), distilled water, etc. Sometimes the collected specimens are directly examined. Some common methodologies are described below for the isolation and identification of mold/fungi from samples collected from the environment.
a. Non-culture method
Microscopic techniques are used to examine and identify the mold/fungal elements from the collected sample. This is a rather inexpensive method with a quick turnaround time. However, many times identification of the indoor mold is limited to a particular taxon.
b. Culture method
In this method, the isolated indoor mold or fungal inoculums on microbiological media are incubated at a required temperature and time for growing the culture. After obtaining the developed culture, microscopic or biochemical techniques are employed for the identification of mold/fungi. While this may be a time taking process, the identification of fungi is often possible both on the genus as well as the species level. Some fungal organisms are media specific; therefore, the selection of microbiological culture media may influence the outcome.
c. Molecular method
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or other molecular diagnostics methods are used for the identification of mold/fungi from environmental samples. The advantage to this method is a higher accuracy in the identification with a faster turn around time. However, experimental set up is expensive and requires specific training.
d. Biochemical method
In this method, the isolated mold/fungal elements are subject to react with certain biochemicals and after a reaction is observed, a pattern is obtained. In other words, a “Metabolic Fingerprint” is obtained in order to identify the targeted indoor mold.
Mold found in a room where surgical equipment is sterilized has forced health officials to stop a Los Angeles hospital from performing any elective surgeries.
For about two weeks, the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center — one of the country’s largest public hospitals — won’t be able to perform medical procedures, including surgeries, according to an internal email obtained by The Los Angeles Times.
“The Central Sterile processing room, which disinfects all [operating room] and procedural supplies for clinical areas, is suffering from severe water damage and mold contamination and must be closed immediately,” read Chief Medical Officer Brad Spellberg’s Wednesday message to the medical center’s attending physicians and residents.
Elective surgeries were also canceled Wednesday.
The hospital “discovered low levels of mold in the air, and mold in the ceiling, in a processing area of the hospital, caused by a water leak,” read an unsigned statement sent to the outlet Thursday by the Department of Health Services’ Office of Communications.
The department noted there is “no evidence that mold has affected any surgical instruments…. No patients have been infected or harmed.”
According to the statement, the mold was discovered no earlier than Tuesday, though neither the type of mold nor who discovered it were made clear.
The Times notes that the hospital — which has 600 beds — is part of a system known as L.A. County Department of Health Services, which “serves as the safety net for millions of the county’s poorest and most vulnerable residents.”
According to Spellberg’s note, the hospital, which has only been in its current building since 2008, can continue disinfecting some surgical equipment for trauma cases, though every other procedure — save for dentistry — will be canceled if it sterilizes equipment somewhere else.
At the end of the day, after work or school, we always look forward to coming home again. Our minds and hearts are attached to our homes because of the sense of belonging, comfort, and safety that it provides. Feeling safe is the state of not being exposed to danger or risk, and that is how our homes should feel, right? So, let me ask you, are you sure you are safe within your home?
You may feel that there’s nothing lurking within the corners of the rooms of your home. However, if you are setting aside the fact that there could be molds in your house, then you are getting further away from the sense of safety that your home should provide. Molds are not something you should overlook.
Molds usually appear on damp building materials and may look like stains. They can come in various colors and sizes. You may have seen some sort of spot growing in the interior of your house, and that is not something that should be ignored.
Molds can create a lot of nuisance and danger for you and your loved ones. It can give your family nasal and sinus congestion, coughs, headaches, asthma, skin irritations, and much more.
If your home is attacked by molds, you have to do something about it. Here are some signs that your house may have been infected by molds:
Allergic reactions. If you notice that your allergies tend to react and even get worse while you’re at home, chances are there are molds growing in your house. Some allergic reactions to mold could be sore eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
Mold odors. A musty or moldy smell can be a great indicator that there are molds in your home. If you can smell mold, then you probably have mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home before it gets worse.
Visible signs of molds. When you see greenish black spots of molds, then it’s obvious. Take action immediately.
Water issues. If you have experienced water leakages, condensation, or past floods in your house, mold growth is likely to have occurred. If there are water stains or discoloration of the walls due to a moisture problem, there is most likely mold growing behind the material.
Your home is where your family should feel safe. If you’ve noticed the above-mentioned signs of mold growth in your house, please do not ignore it. Ignoring it might cause you bigger problems in the future.
If you want to be sure of your homes safety, contact Fun Guy Inspection and Consulting Inc. They will provide a thorough inspection of your home and you can have peace of mind.
Anyone east of the Rockies will tell you this has been a wet year. It wasn’t just that Hurricanes Florence and Michael soaked parts of the South. It wasn’t just that this year’s drenching storms were numerous and tracked unusually far north (one, Alberto, made a historic appearance all the way up in Michigan).
It was also that the rest of the Eastern Seaboard just simply got wetter. In Wilmington, N.C., 60 inches of rain broke an annual record set in 1966. Around Scranton, Pa., rainfall broke a 1945 record. Wisconsin, Colorado and Maryland all saw 1-in-1,000-year rainfall events. And dozens of locations, like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Charleston, W.Va., had their second- or third-wettest summers on record.
In some houses, mold spores are nothing more than a nuisance—staining furniture or making the basement smell funny. But in other homes they can put people in the hospital or even kill them. Many molds are associated with allergy or asthma attacks; some have been linked to serious complications in immune-compromised populations, and cancer. It is hard to say just yet how much the latest wet year has affected people’s respiratory systems, but it is certainly already hitting their pocketbooks.
“This year there’s just a lot of mold tests being done,” says Michael Berg, the laboratory director for EMLab P&K, one of the biggest U.S. mold-testing companies. He says staffing has become a challenge after two hurricanes and relentless storms along the Eastern Seaboard: “We are struggling, as far as having enough hands on deck in a year like this.”
As climate change and CO2 emissions continue to shape life on Earth, we may be seeing a lot more flooding—with higher sea levels and more powerful storms. In some ways this year might be a glimpse into a wet and moldy future. But what will that mean in practical terms?
Modelling the effects of climate change and rising CO2 levels is notoriously difficult, and even more so when it comes to the diverse world of fungi. It is a little like asking, “How will climate change affect animals?”—some may benefit while others suffer. In some cases the heat will make for fertile breeding grounds for fungi. In others the additional CO2 might irritate them, thereby prompting them to release more spores. “It’s a stress response. The fungus wants to survive, and the way it tries to survive is to produce more offspring—and that means more spores,” says Naresh Magan, a mycologist at England’s Cranfield University. Aspergillus fumigatus, a member of what is perhaps the most common genus of mold to irritate humans, seems to release far more spores when scientists raise it in warmer, CO2-rich enclosures. Other researchers have suggested that increased CO2 might create more leaf litter—where a lot of mold grows when it is not in your house—adding much-needed nitrogen for fungi.
And the spores they produce might be more harmful. In addition to the number of spores a mold puts out, evidence suggests higher CO2 might change the spores themselves. Some mold spores are more than eight times more allergenic today than in pre-industrial times (though it is not clear this trend will be maintained as CO2 levels continue to rise).
Scientists are not completely certain as to how this works. Unlike plants—which breathe in CO2 and can benefit from its increase—fungi take in oxygen, so changes in the chemistry of their spores may be due to some kind of secondary effect. Experts have suggested that more CO2 can lead to more acidic soil or indirectly change fungi respiration. Or there might be some unknown mechanism that causes different responses in different molds. Whatever that mechanism might be, higher CO2 somehow triggers the more allergenic proteins in many molds—which may be why so many more people are allergic to mold today than in generations past.
But not all fungi react the same way to environmental changes. Experiments suggest Alternaria—a genus of mold that causes respiratory problems and is often found in spoiled crops and houses—may actually decrease the allergens in its spores in a warmer, higher-CO2 world. In many cases, it is not clear what chemicals cause adverse health effects from mold spores, let alone how they will respond to a changing climate and atmosphere.
Magan has exposed many types of mold to different levels of CO2, heat and moisture. He says molds such as Stachybotrys—a dangerous group often referred to as “black mold”—might become less allergenic as CO2 increases. But when Aspergillus species are put in a higher CO2 environment, they increase production of aflatoxin B1, a potent cancer-causing chemical that the mold can deposit on some types of produce and livestock feed.
Some of these effects will change, Magan says, as molds adapt and mutate. This might mean the molds will adjust to the stress of climate change—but it could also mean they will adjust to how we treat them. The human body is an excellent place for molds to grow, but most people’s bodies are able to fight them off (though we might start coughing or get runny noses in the process). But in people with compromised immune systems—after stem cell therapy or an organ transplant, for example—Aspergillus can be lethal. Studies have documented an increasing ability among such molds to resist medical treatments including triazole, the most potent anti-fungal in such cases, even in patients who have never taken the drug.
Another problem with mold today is that many energy-efficient homes are designed to capture and conserve heat—which means they can also trap moisture and prevent ventilation, Magan adds. Heat and moisture create a perfect environment for mold. In a bitter irony, architects battling the very things that encourage molds globally may be making them more comfortable in your basement.
But people living in modern, energy-efficient homes are not the ones likely to suffer most from the long-term effects of mold. As is often the case with climate change and rising CO2 levels, the repercussions will likely be worst among the poor, especially in underdeveloped economies where many people cannot purge moisture and mold from their houses.
“With asthma and chronic pulmonary disease, it’s a vicious cycle. [Patients] go and get medication and they feel a little bit better, but they come back into the same home environment,” says Maureen Lichtveld, a global health professor at Tulane University who works with marginalized communities in the Caribbean region as well as the U.S. Southeast.
Lichtveld studies many forms of disease that follow disaster and climate change, but she finds mold especially frustrating because it is highly preventable and relatively easy to control in the home. And if it is not removed, mold can exacerbate chronic asthma and other diseases and stunt a child’s learning and growth. In Puerto Rico asthma was already 23 percent higher than on the mainland—with twice as many asthma-related deaths—before Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island in 2017. Many reports suggest it has spiked since then, though objective numbers are not yet available.
In places such as South Florida, where seasonal flooding is common, the mold remediation business has become especially competitive, according to Berg. In other places hit by hurricanes or heavy rains, residents might be facing mold problems for the first time. But whether from flooding, increased spore output or changes in how it functions, mold is likely to become a bigger part of our lives.
Tips* for avoiding the effects of airborne mold spores:
Toxic mold exposure is on the rise, and most people aren’t even aware they’re at risk, according to experts.
“There are millions of people suffering from mold toxicity that don’t know it because it’s going majorly undiagnosed,” said Dr. Neil
Nathan, a Board Certified Family Physician and author of the book “Toxic” (Victory Belt Publishing).
Mold, which releases mycotoxins in the air due to water damage, is often invisible with the naked eye, but dangerous to those with toxin sensitivities. Nathan said not everyone who is exposed to mold gets sick.
“We do believe that it’s somewhat genetic so certain people are more genetically predisposed to it than others,” Nathan said. “So you can have several people living in a moldy environment and only one of them will get sick.”
Doctors estimate 25 percent of the population (or 1 in 4 people) have the gene that makes them more susceptible to mold sensitivities. Some of the symptoms for mold toxicity include fatigue, headaches, nausea, anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, muscle aches, brain fog, weight gain, adrenal fatigue and sensitivities to light and sound. Nathan, who has a website for mold toxicity resources (www.neilnathanmd.com) said it’s never too late to get treatment, but curing it can only happen by clearing all toxic mold from your home, office, car and eventually the body.
“My symptoms got so bad that it affected everything,” said Chicago radio personality Kathy Hart, who discovered she’s one of the “susceptible 25 percent” after being misdiagnosed by several doctors and specialists.
Physical therapist Michelle Dwyer, who initially treated Hart for vestibular symptoms such as vertigo and dizziness, said many of her patients with chronic issues discover mold to be part of the reason they aren’t fully recovering.“One neurologist told me I was just ‘stressed’ and that I needed to see a psychiatrist, and I walked out of his office in tears,” said Hart, who was suffering from headaches, dizziness, adrenal fatigue, panic attacks and noise and light sensitivities. “I’d been to two different neurologists, an eye doctor, and they all said it was just stress. It was finally my physical therapist that suggested I look into mold.”
“We only have a few physicians in our area who know about mold and the reason they do is because they’ve been through it themselves,” said Dwyer, who was treated for mold toxicity after discovering her home had water damage. “If more medical professionals got educated about mold toxicity and its effects on the human body, there would be fewer cases of misdiagnosis. They came out with studies in 2017 that showed mold can be a direct link to Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia, and once these patients get treatment for mold, their symptoms improved. Cognitive impairment is a big factor with mold. So is muscle and joint pain and lethargy, which can be misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue, the list goes on.”
Nathan agreed and said many doctors need to consider a person’s environment when assessing their symptoms.
“These illnesses are increasing and if we do not grasp this, take it seriously and monitor our exposure, all of us are going to be sick,” Nathan said.
Here are tips to treat and diagnose mold toxicity/sensitivities.
Dwyer and Nathan recommend www.survivingmold.com or www.ISEAI.org as resources for testing and diagnosing mold toxicity.
“The single most useful way to find out is to do a urine mycotoxin test,” Nathan said. “This is simply collecting the urine, mailing it to the company and then they measure. If you get a positive test in the urine, this means there is an excess amount of toxin in you and you need to get to work on treating it.”
“After you test yourself, you need to have your home checked and there are tests you can do at home where you’re just taking a wipe and wiping the surfaces,” Dwyer said.
Do your research
“Consumers need to be careful because there are some companies who will always find mold and insist that they can remove it for six figures,” Nathan said. “Be discerning and only use people who come highly recommended by trusted sources.”
Don’t rule anything out
Nathan and Dwyer said mold can live anywhere, old or new construction. All it takes is 48 hours for it to develop.
“I lived in a condo that had been rehabbed and it looked fine but I found out the roof had leaked for years before I moved in there so I was slowly getting exposed,” Dwyer said. “And college dorm rooms now are under scrutiny. So many places go unchecked, it’s up to you to be your own advocate.”
“I know someone who had dogs who peed on the carpet so much that the wood underneath started growing mold and they were affected,” Hart said. “There are so many different sources.”
Dwyer said to get an air purifier in your home and bedrooms with a “good HEPA filter.”
“I also teach my patients to do lymphatic massage on themselves to help with the drainage,” Dwyer said. “And intense sweating from an infrared sauna or Epsom salt bath are great ways to clear toxins out.”
Get inspired to do something about it
“I felt like I was going crazy because no doctor could tell me what was wrong,” Hart said. “Sadly, it’s common for many people to feel that way because much of the medical community isn’t familiar with these mold illnesses. I hope that by sharing my story, it will bring much needed awareness to the condition and help those who are suffering finally get properly diagnosed.”
Blасk mold iѕ аlѕо оftеn rеfеrrеd tо аѕ tоxiс black mold оr ѕtасhуbоtrуѕ. It has the potential to cause numеrоuѕ hеаlth problems, and it iѕ fоr thiѕ rеаѕоn that it iѕ imроrtаnt thаt blасk mold iѕ dealt with еffесtivеlу. Thiѕ iѕ thе mоld that hаѕ been liked to ѕuddеn infant ѕуndrоmе, аnd it can also lead to tоxiс ѕуmрtоmѕ ѕuсh аѕ hеаdасhеѕ, fatigue, nausea, аnd brеаthing problems. Likе аll mоldѕ it can triggеr asthma аnd аllеrgiеѕ. It can be diffеrеntiаtеd frоm other fоrmѕ of mоld because оf its ѕlimу grееniѕh-blасk color.
In mаnу instances thе bеѕt advice fоr dеаling with mold will bе tо gеt thе professional in; a rulе оf thumb is thаt if thе mоld is соvеring an area grеаtеr than tеn ѕԛuаrе fееt thеn you аrе going tо nееd ѕоmе еxреrt help. Whеn gоing anywhere nеаr black mоld it iѕ imроrtаnt that уоu wear proper safety еԛuiрmеnt; wеаr a rеѕрirаtоrу mask аnd еуе рrоtесtiоn in case уоu release аnу ѕроrеѕ intо the аir. The рrосеѕѕ оf eradicating black mold саn be broken dоwn intо four parts; соntаin, еrаdiсаtе, remove, аnd рrоtесt. We will nеxt look аt hоw thiѕ process асtuаllу works when dealing with blасk mоld.
Thе firѕt thing you will wаnt to dо iѕ to contain the аrеа of thе mоld ѕо that it dоеѕn’t ѕрrеаd elsewhere. Thiѕ mеаnѕ thаt уоu ѕhоuld rеmоvе any furniture frоm thе room thаt уоu аrе ѕurе hаѕn’t bееn аffесtеd аnd kеер people оut of thе room. It iѕ аlѕо worth dоing аll уоu can tо dry your hоmе оut аѕ thiѕ саn rеmоvе the conditions that mоldѕ of all tуреѕ thrivе in. If thе area of mold is ѕmаll and on non-porous surfaces thеn уоu can ѕоаk it with a ѕоlutiоn mаdе uр of hаlf blеасh аnd hаlf wаtеr оr half vinеgаr аnd hаlf water; lеаvе thiѕ to soak fоr fiftееn minutes аnd this will еrаdiсаtе/kill thе mоld. You саn thеn rinse the аrеа tо remove thе dеаd mоld.
Blасk mоld iѕ dangerous ѕо the bеѕt wау оf dеаling with it iѕ to prevent it оссurring in thе firѕt рlасе. Yоu саn dо thiѕ bу removing the conditions thаt mоld likes tо grоw in. Proper maintenance, Clean up spills or leaks immediately, keep your home ventilated, and рrеvеnt mоiѕturе frоm ассumulаting in areas. Call Fun Guy Inspections for more information about mold inspections.
Mold inspections for black mold are like any other inspection. Mold Inspectors will search for water damaged materials and determine if the materials are wet. Further sampling is required, in each instance, to determine if the dark colored mold is indeed black mold or stachybotrys.