Do It Yourself Testing

Do you have visible mold growing in your home or business? Would you like to know what kind of mold it is? There is a simple test you can do without expensive kits or testing equipment. Two methods for testing visibly moldy surfaces include tape-lift and culturable swab sampling. Tape sampling can be done with materials you probably already have in your home. Or, you can request a swab sampling kit from Gordon Mycology at no cost.

Tape samples are analyzed directly under the microscope and can provide you with results within 2-3 business days (standard turn-around time) or same day service for an additional cost. The results are provided to you in a table, showing which mold types, or groups of molds in some cases, are present in the sample and in their relative proportions.

If you want to know what kind of mold is growing on a wall, floor, or cardboard box stored in the basement, for example, a tape-lift sample can be collected and sent to our lab. All you need is transparent tape (it must be transparent, not invisible or magic) and a clean ziplock bag. The tape is gently pressed to the moldy surface and then stuck to the inside of the plastic bag. If there are several different colors or types of mold on one surface, they can all be incorporated into the tape sample for a low cost, comprehensive analysis. Each tape sample, however, should be collected from one type of material. For example, if there are two colors of mold on a basement Sheetrock wall, they can both be collected on the same piece of tape; it is a good idea to isolate the different molds onto different sections of the piece of tape for more accurate analysis. If there is black mold on Sheetrock in the basement ceiling and green mold on a cardboard box, these will be considered two different samples and should be collected on separate pieces of tape.

The slight drawback to tape samples is that there are several mold types that cannot be distinguished from one another by microscope analysis alone. These mold types have spores with very similar visual characteristics so they generally cannot be individually identified; the group of molds, however, is provided for you (i.e. Aspergillus/Penicillium group). This is when swab sampling becomes important. WIth our GML swab sampling kit, you simply will swab the moldy materials according to the easy to understand instructions included in the kit, send or drop off the sample to our lab where it will be cultured for 5-7 days. The lab results are provided with specific identification of the mold type(s). This type of sampling can clearly separate the Aspergillus and Penicillium groups. The other advantage to swab sampling is that all mold types in the sample (as long as they are alive) will grow and be identified on the culture plate. The microscope only analysis might miss certain mold spores if they occur in very low numbers or are small enough to be hidden by debris in the sample; tape samples can pick up large wood and cardboard fibers, Sheetrock dust, insulation particles, etc. that can cover tiny mold spores.

These two easy and inexpensive sampling methods can confirm mold sources, which can be a good first step in identifying a problem in your home or business. Please call our office at 978-742-9954 if would like to request a sampling kit. If, however, you require a more comprehensive evaluation of the indoor space , we will discuss in detail your situation and customize an inspection to fit your needs.