Interpreting Mold Tests

Interpreting the results of mold sampling is no easy task.  That’s why many mold inspectors merely hand off some unintelligible lab report and run for it.  Why is it that so many people email me through this blog asking for help to interpret mold test results?  The reason is a failure on the part of the mold inspector to properly understand what they are doing.

You, dear homeowner, deserve more from a mold inspection.

In the comments section of this blog post, feel free to post your question related to mold testing.   However, here are the rules:

1. The more information you provide, the better I can answer your question.  Note, all the information you provide will be publicly displayed, along with your name.  However, your email address is not publicly displayed.

2. Historically, it takes me three weeks or more to reply to your question.  I try to respond as quickly as possible, but please understand I have a full plate at work and three kids at home that keep me busy.

3. If you want my immediate help, click on the red “help” button on the right side of my blog for more information.  I will need to charge you for my time because it involves setting aside other billable work.

Over time, I hope to build up a body of knowledge in the comments section of this blog post that can help people confused about their mold test results.

2015 Update!
I have closed comments on this page.  I’ll be glad to answer your questions now on my company’s blog: http://indoorscience.com/blog/interpretation-of-mold-tests/

311 thoughts on “Interpreting Mold Tests

  1. Hi Ian,
    Awesome site, the best resource for this confusing topic. Thanks for doing this. Can you help me decipher this mold test we just completed on a house we are thinking of buying.

    Two tests one indoor-family room one outdoor. Indoor came back with these molds not on outdoor results
    Chaetomium: Raw: 9 Count/m3: 200 %Total: 57.1
    Claudosproium: Raw: 1 Count/m3: 20 %Total: 5.7
    Stachybotrys: Raw:1 Count/m3: 20 % Total: 5.7
    Hyphal Fragment: Raw:1 Count/m3: 20 % Total: 5.7

    My inspector said there is molds of concern but it is at a very low level and could be a remnant from a previous water issue. He did an infrared scan and said no moisture issues are present and said that with no water the levels should improve.
    Can you give me your take? I would really appreciate it.

  2. Hello Ian,

    I am glad I ran into your blog! Few months ago, we found out that our 3 years old daughter is allergic to some things (cats, molds etc). That result prompted us to get our apartment tested. Since I am not sure how to read the results, they got me worried. Would you be that kind to glance at them and let me know if you see any concerns with any of them?

    I tried to copy/paste the results into this page, but each time I did it they got destroyed/misaligned, so I got them posted on my onedrive. Please navigate to this link to open the spreadsheet.

    https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=D661A3209C0A5B0F!6490&authkey=!ABXo2h27-3CBOoQ&ithint=file%2c.xlsx

    I appreciate the help!
    Rozalia

      1. Thank you for you response. I wanted to know if we need to take any action given that our daughter is allergic to mold spores. Also, someone else pointed out that the levels of Chaetomium (1 raw ct 12 spr/m3) are elevated and should be addressed. Should we be concerned about that?

        Thank you
        Rozalia

        1. That’s why I said, “for the most part”. I don’t get too concerned over 1 spore found (raw count) on one sample.

          Best wishes,
          Ian

  3. Hi Ian,

    I’m currently in the process of selling my house and in the disclosure I listed that the partial basement area, which is open to the crawlspace, can get an inch or two of water in it once or twice a year. The buyer didn’t have an issue with this, but the mortgage underwriter came across the disclosure and requested an air quality study for the basement/crawlspace area. The summary of the results is as follows in spores/m^3:

    background particulate: outdoor-220,391 crawlspace-182,160
    Aspergillus/Penicillium: outdoor-305 crawlspace-6,857
    Total spores: outdoor-6,450 crawlspace-9,838
    Humidity was 45% at 77 degrees in the crawlspace versus 41% at 79 degrees outside.

    Would you consider these numbers unusual for a crawlspace? The buyers haven’t asked for any remediation yet but it is expected. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Is the crawlspace floor covered with a membrane, or is it bare dirt? How did the inspector access the crawlspace? He may have inadvertantly stirred up mold spores that were in the soil as he crawled around down there. Asp/Pen are both soil fungi so no surprise there. Unless visible mold growth was discovered, you cant draw any strong conclusions.

      Ian

      1. Thanks, Ian. The crawlspace floor has plastic sheathing covering it, which I put down about a month ago. The sample was taken in the basement area which is open to the crawlspace. The basement has a rough concrete floor that has accumulated plenty of dirt over the years, so some dust could have definitely been stirred up.

  4. Hi Ian,

    First off, great site. Very informative and detailed. I’m learning a lot about mold from your excellent take on the subject. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind taking a quick look at lab results that we received. Basically, my wife and I are in escrow on our dream house. We had a home inspection done, and the inspector was concerned about possible mold growth within the walls, as we live in a mountain region that can get decently moist. We then had a mold inspector come out for a second opinion, and received the 3-page lab results below:

    http://postimg.org/image/4jzvc1d8n/

    http://postimg.org/image/gbsc0kx8n/

    http://postimg.org/image/60bdu6g5j/

    The mold inspector then delivered the verdict that everything was within normal safe levels. However, the home inspector took a look at the report and again voiced concerns that we would have to undertake mold remediation and completely re-do the whole siding of our house. Obviously, we would rather not do this for financial reasons, but as we have a 15 month old and a baby on the way, we don’t want to take any chances either. Could you kindly take a look at this and give us your opinion of the toxicity of our mold problem? It would be much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance,

    BK

    1. For the number of samples collected, it would have been nice to have a second outdoor air sample. I would say your results indicate some potential issues, but it is not overwhelmingly clear. Red flags include the Ulocladium found in the wall. It is a water damage indicator fungi. Also, generally higher counts inside, especially Cladosporium. When results are hard to interpret like these, I fall back on what I found in the assessment… Was there a lot of water staining, etc. Or was the house pristine? Good luck!
      Ian

  5. WE tested our sons room in the basement and received the following results. They say it is elevated and abatement would be necessary but from what I read the level is not int eh high range. Can you provide a second opinion?

    Raw Count / Spores per cu m / % total

    Cladosporium 16 / 110 / 15
    Penicillum/Aspergillus 92 / 610 / 85

    Outdoor control sample:

    Cladosporium 40 / 270 / 59
    Penicillum/Aspergillus 4 / 160/ 35

    My son is a slight asthmatic and has bad allergies so we cannot tell if his constant nose and cough is allergy related or mould.

    1. @Jason,

      I would agree that the numbers are slightly elevated, based on the very limited data collected. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the assertion that the space needs “abatement”. You should have a more detailed analysis done to inspect for hidden mold (I’m assuming you don’t already see it). Look around carefully for any signs of water staining. Sniff at the electrical outlets to detect any mold odors. In the absence of any further evidence of mold growth, I would give the room a good cleaning with high efficiency vacuuming and air filtration.

      Regards,
      Ian Cull

  6. Hi Ian,

    My family and I escaped our mold damaged home (and left all our possessions) back in August 2013 (after 10 years!) , leaving us searching for a healthy rental ever since. The home left me with numerous autoimmune issues and allergies (to at least 3 Aspergillus sp, plus Alternaria, Stemphyllium, and Penicillium).
    We recently ran an ERMI test on a rental and found the following higher counts : Aspergillus niger, 18 Spore equivalents/mg; Aspergillus penicillioides, 410 spore eq/mg; Aureobasidium pullulans, 17 spore eq/mg; Chaetomium globosum, 54 spore eq/mg; Eurotium amstelodami, 30 spore eq/mg.
    Pretty good handful of ubiquitous fungi: Aspergillus ustus, 90 spore eq/mg, Cladosporium cladosporioides, 91 spore eq/mg; Epicoccum nigrum, 540 spore eq/mg.
    These results yielded an ermi of 2.5, which is not too bad for South Florida, but given our history, I remain cautious.
    What is your take on this?
    The townhouse has wall-to-wall carpeting…Might dust mites be to blame for a bit of it?
    We would be grateful for your expertise and input!

    1. Hi,

      I’d be very interested in a response to Kellie’s question and have not been able to find one. Will you please provide more information on ERMI results? I am especially interested in Aspergillus penicillioides and Alternaria alternata as I have used the same lab while running a different panel and A. alternata by itself due to server allergy and have not been able to find information in the form of Sproe equivalents/mg. Thank you!

  7. Hi Ian,

    I’m so glad I found your website. For several weeks I’ve been looking for online guidelines on how to interpret mold test results. Anyway, I hired a mold inspector to test our rental studio unit (700 sq ft) in downtown Los Angeles because our tenant complained of unexplained recurring health issues that might be mold related. Inspector said he did not find visible sign of mold growth, leak, moisture intrusion or water damage, or musty odors. Air samples were taken in the bathroom and outside. Test results are on this link:

    http://1drv.ms/1oSKthd

    I ask inspector to explain the test results and he happened to mention that his lab called him to verify that the samples were not switched or mislabeled because results looks unusual like some molds found indoor were outdoor molds but not found outdoors. He also said that he found leak on the HVAC when there was none when he did the inspection. This made me suspicious so I compared test results with the 2007 post remediation test results (also on the above link). When I put them side by side it looks like one is the opposite of the other in terms of the number of molds found. Also when I compared the outside test results it seems that air quality outside improved since presence of mold went down which is highly improbable because downtown air quality actually worsened. Am I right in the way I read the test results? Do you think it’s been switched?

    Will really appreciate your opinion.

    I signed up on google+ and followed you as per your instruction but I don’t know how to verify if I’ve actually done it correctly.

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Rina

    1. Hi Ian,

      Please let me know if you got the above post or if you need any other information so I can get a reply. I followed you on google+ before I posted and then later I also followed you on twitter. Please let me know if you need me to do anything else.

      Thank you.

    2. @Rina,

      The results do look a little fishy. Usually the outdoor sample is more heterogeneous and indoor sample more homogeneous. Many common outdoor types were higher indoors than outdoors. It may be worthwhile to have a re-test if you are still concerned.

      Regards,
      Ian

  8. Hi Ian,
    I have been Googling frantically since reading the mold inspection report. The one that is a concern is Chaetomium

    Raw Count = 1
    Count/m3 = 40
    % of total = 25%

    The others found are

    Basidiospores which have the same results of 1/40/25%

    Myxomycetes 2/80/50%

    These were all found in the basement of the house we are buying. I am unsure what the normal levels of these molds are in a basement.

    Thank you

    1. @Pamela,
      Although I don’t like seeing any Chaetomium, I view it within its context. Was there any water staining or mold odors? If not, I don’t think there is enough evidence to warrant killing the deal. Maybe poke around a little deeper.

      Ian

      1. Thanks for the quick response, Ian! There is evidence that they had a problem and remedied it since the walls in the basement are fresh. But, other than the visible wall studs and wall boards do not show any signs of water damage. We are from Texas so we aren’t used to homes with basements and the slightly elevated results had us worried.

        Thanks again!

  9. Hi Ian,

    I am at a total loss as to how to interpret these lab results.

    The fungal totals are 2,560; 6,670; & 1,760 for the three rooms tested, which were the den, utility room, and living room. According the the chart the highest numbers come from Pen/Asp which are 2,240; 6,400; & 1,390 respectively. I don’t see anywhere in the report where these numbers are compared to outdoor levels, or the conditions which they were tested. Additionally there are not visible signs of mold, but there is Efflorescence. Are these levels safe for a residential home?

    Thank you for any and all help

    1. @Laura,

      Assuming those values are spores per cubic meter, they seem high. But depending on your location and the time of year, they may be totally normal. Without an outdoor sample, interpretation is difficult.

      Ian

  10. Hello,

    I rent the basement of a house. After a recent rainstorm, there was some flooding in a carpeted area of the bedroom. After 3 days, the landlord cleaned and started drying up the area. After drying, what was left behind was a smell in the area that was flooded.

    I expressed concern to my landlord that there might be mold that is causing the smell. (I had tried using baking soda, vinegar, febreeze, and lysol to get rid of the smell to no avail.) My landlord agreed to hire a professional to do an “air quality test”.

    After receiving the results, my landlord is unclear on what (if anything) needs to be done and has seemingly left the ball in my court. There is still a smell coming from the area (which my landlord say he cannot smell).

    Here are the test results:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B77B3YvIesfkYWg5VjN2TlVDU00/edit?usp=sharing

    Any recommendations on what to do now?

    1. @Tim,

      Other than a single Chaetomium spore, the indoor results reflect the outdoors. Here’s something weird… the inspector reports the sample volume as 85 liters. Mold spore traps are run at 15 liters per minute. 85 is not divisible by 15. Did he run his pump for 5.6666 minutes? Or did he really sample 75 liters (5 minutes x 15 liters/min).

      Besides cleaning all the surfaces, you may want to try running a dehumidifier in that area. Consumer Reports magazine reviewed dehumidifiers in their latest edition.

      Regards,
      Ian

  11. Hello,
    Recently, my aunt stayed at my house overnight and she claimed that she thinks there may be mold present. She actually had exposure in the past that was so bad it caused numerous health issues, caused her to lose her job, and forced her to throw out everything she owned; she actually won a million dollar lawsuit after battling for a few years with her landlord over it. Anyway, I know that as a result, she is more sensitive to mold and receives much more of a reaction to it than the normal person. However, because we bought our house less than a year ago, I wanted to know the results for myself.

    These are the results from the test we left in our basement: http://204.9.244.2/MoldReports/0614/10/2182-4203-8142-5203-061014-0623.pdf . Our basement is all concrete and rock so it is bound to be damp and wet at times. Please let me know if these results are something we should be concerned about. We also had a test done in the guest room that she was staying in, and those results came back saying that no unusual mold was present (even though there was mold present). These are those results: http://204.9.244.2/MoldReports/0614/10/2182-4203-8142-5203-061014-0624.pdf .

    I appreciate your response. Thank you so much!
    Amy

    1. Hi Ian,
      I am wondering if you need me to provide any other information to answer my question(s)? I followed you on Google before I wrote my initial post and I gave you a review, as well. Please let me know if you need anything else form in order for your reply.

      Thank you so much!
      Amy

    2. @Amy,

      Sorry for the delay in responding… your post slipped through the cracks. Thanks for following my Google+ page.

      The type of test you had done is a little different than what most others post here. You used a DIY settling plate, probably picked up from a hardware store.

      Interpreting results from settling plates is difficult (some say near impossible). The biggest issue is that the volume of air passing over the plate is not measured. It’s like someone saying they ate 10 pounds of food, but not specifying if that was in one meal, one day, or one week.

      Don’t put much stock in these results. Better to trust your eyes and nose! Take a balanced view on your aunt’s supposition of a mold issue… maybe there is one, maybe there is not. These results and her supposition is not evidence enough in my book that there is a problem. Call me an engineer, but I would want more substantiation prior to taking any drastic corrective measures.

      Regards,
      Ian

      1. Hi Ian,
        No problem at all, I appreciate the time taken out to answer my questions. Your explanation makes perfect sense.

        Thank you so much!
        Amy

    1. @Mike,
      These results alone do not “prove” a mold problem. Some groupings slightly exceed the outdoor sample, but not by much. Any visible mold or musty odors?
      Ian

      1. There was black growth on a corner of the basement, which has recently been cleaned with baking soda, which was done weeks before the air sample was taken. No apparent odors. Thank you for the quick replies!

  12. Hi IAN ~ GooglePlus plussed, review posted. 🙂

    I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk about any of the results below. We live in Southeast Portland, Oregon and have a resident with chronic illness problems, diagnosed mainly as fibromyalgia, but seeming to encompass some obvious histamine reactions to dust, mold, and/or pollen. There is occasionally visible mold in the basement of the house, and the neighborhood itself, the outside window sills and gutters, people’s cars, get drenched in springtime pollen that then turns moldy. (You can tell because it gets fuzzy grey-green and smells gross.)

    We used a cloth sent by Mycometrics to sample dust in CLA (common living area) on the main floor of our house–bookshelves and sills in living and dining rooms–and on the same cloth, more samples from the second storey (more sills, bookshelves, and the top of a cabinet that is somewhat near a large shower). The ERMI is 3.19. Your expertise would be most welcome! And if you are totally swamped with other, better paying matters, I totally won’t be offended if you pass this question by. 😉

    Fungal ID \ Sample ID EC1917-Various Areas
    Aspergillus flavus/oryzae <1
    Aspergillus fumigatus 4
    Aspergillus niger 14
    Aspergillus ochraceus <1
    Aspergillus penicillioides 110
    Aspergillus restrictus* 22
    Aspergillus sclerotiorum ND
    Aspergillus sydowii ND
    Aspergillus unguis <1
    Aspergillus versicolor 74
    Aureobasidium pullulans 210
    Chaetomium globosum 1
    Cladosporium sphaerospermum 1
    Eurotium (Asp.) amstelodami* 290
    Paecilomyces variotii 2
    Penicillium brevicompactum 33
    Penicillium corylophilum 22
    Penicillium crustosum* 30
    Penicillium purpurogenum <1
    Penicillium spinulosum* <1
    Penicillium variabile 1
    Scopulariopsis brevicaulis/fusca <1
    Scopulariopsis chartarum 4
    Stachybotrys chartarum 2
    Trichoderma viride* 2
    Wallemia sebi 130
    Sum of the Logs (Group I): 19.73
    Acremonium strictum 8
    Alternaria alternata 6
    Aspergillus ustus ND
    Cladosporium cladosporioides 1 530
    Cladosporium cladosporioides 2 230
    Cladosporium herbarum 630
    Epicoccum nigrum 490
    Mucor amphibiorum* 76
    Penicillium chrysogenum 32
    Rhizopus stolonifer 8

    Sum of the Logs (Group II): 16.54
    ERMI (Group I – Group II): 3.19

    The sample(s) in this report was/were received in acceptable conditions. The results in this report apply only to the sample(s) tested.
    ** Concentration is rounded to two significant digits. Concentration is in Spore E./Sample if sample amount/area is NA. Spore E.: Spore equivalents; A
    spore equivalent may reflect the presence of any other fungal structures (i.e. mycelia) containing the same number of target genes as a spore.
    ND: Not detected within 40 cycles of PCR amplification.
    * Genetically closed-related species may be detected in the indicator assay:
    Eurotium (Asp.) amstelodami covers E. chevalieri, E. herbariorum, E. rubrum and E. repens.
    Penicillium spinulosum covers P. glabrum, P. lividum, P. pupurescens, and P. thomii.
    Trichoderma viride covers T. koningii and T. atroviride.
    Aspergillus restrictus covers A. caesillus and A. conicus.
    Mucor amphibiorum covers M. circinelloides, M. hiemalis, M. indicus, M. mucedo, M. racemosus, M. ramosissimus and Rhizopus zygosporus, R.
    homothalicus, R. microsporus, R. oligosporus, R. oryzae.
    Penicillium crustosum covers P. camembertii, P. commune, P. echinulatum, P. solitum.

    1. @Tiffany,
      Thanks for following me on Google+.
      You had an ERMI test done, which is a little different than the standard test. One advantage of ERMI testing is that you can compare your results to a database of over 1,000 homes from across the US. However, the method of collection you used is different from that used by the large survey of homes. Normally, I would say that your ERMI is higher than average if it is above zero, but you can’t compare your results to that database. So there is a little bit of a red flag, but there is not enough evidence to say one way or the other.
      Ian

      1. Thanks, Ian. I used a Mycometrics protocol, and one of their technicians was able to help me interpret the results today. (They do not perform remediations, give medical advice, or do referrals to air specialists, mold remediators, etc., so I liked the idea of getting somewhat neutral feedback.) The ERMI *total* score is basically “hey, higher than most people like, but not necessarily a huge problem.”

        However, they did specify that several of the counts are genuinely too high, and said I should get to a doctor, get tested, etc. Apparently Aspergillus penicillioides 110, Aspergillus versicolor 74, Eurotium (Asp.) amstelodami* 290, and especially Wallemia sebi 130 are in the danger zone. Stachybotrys chartarum 2 is more than they’d like to see, but not super scary, was my impression.

  13. Hello, Ian.

    We recently had our duplex tested in Indianapolis and, unfortunately, don’t have much information on how to interpret the results. We did get the results, along with a “remediation plan” that is significantly more than we expected. A little background on the property to provide context: This is a duplex that has been vacant for about two months on the one side. When getting it ready to rent, my handyman noticed that the surround in the shower was pulling off the wall and the caulking was shot. Of course, this led to discovering that the entire wall board around the shower/tub had water damage and some mold was found near the shower head. He did some cleanup (not significant effort) and then we decided to run some tests. The bathroom walls are still open and the damaged wood has not yet been removed. The carpets in the bedrooms have been removed (no signs of mold there either).

    The results are below in Count/m3 I’d appreciate it if you could give me a sense for how serious this might be and/or whether it really requires a $3k remediation. Our intent is to remove all the drywall, remove the tub and shower walls, replace rotted wood, thoroughly bleach the area, and then close it up. Thanks for this blog..a great service to we nervous homeowners!
    Alternaria – 13
    Arthrinium
    Ascospores – 520
    Aspergillus/Penicillium-Like – 1,173
    Basidiospores – 120
    Bipolaris/Dreschlera
    Botrytis
    Chaetomium
    Cladosporium – 320
    Curvularia – 13
    Epicoccum
    Fusarium
    Ganoderma
    Memnoniella
    Nigrospora
    Oidium/Peronospora
    Pithomyces – 13
    Rust
    Smut/Myxomyces/Periconia – 13
    Stachybotrys
    Torula
    Ulocladium
    Unidentified Spores
    Total Spores – 2187
    Hyphal Fragments – 160
    Pollen
    Debris Rating – 3
    Detection Limit – 13

    1. @Erik,
      That sounds steep. The goal of remediation is to #1) fix the moisture problem leading to the growth and #2) remove the mold (not just kill it) in such a way as to minimize the dispersal of spores and dust.

      Yes your mold counts are high. I’m not quite sure why you did the tests prior to cleaning up all the mold. You could get a free copy of the EPA publication “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” and attempt the remediation yourself. Or you could get a few more quotes. I’m thinking you could find a company to do it for less than $3,000. Find someone with a ACAC or IICRC mold remediation certification.

  14. We have a rental house and we were given the following results:

    basidiospores raw24 1280spores/cu m
    ganoderma raw count 6 320 s/cu m
    ascospores 3 160
    cladosporium 3 160
    stachybotrys 1 53

    They then want $1800 to clean the house and restest to remove this. Our concern is that it’s not a high amount to be concerned with? Or we should definitely get this done asap?

    Love the blog, it is very helpful!

    1. @Kayla,
      First, they should have also done an outdoor sample. Just looking at the results of this single sample does not get me overly concerned. There is a single spore of Stachybotrys. Otherwise, it is consistent with what I presume was in outdoor air. I would rather you take the $1,800 and spend it on equipment & repairs that keeps your home dry. Examples include dehumidifiers, fixing leaking windows, insulating cold pipes/ducts, etc.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  15. I have results from a previous property I was renting. 240 raw count for aspergillosis,8890/m3 found in partially finished basement/laundry room. What does this mean in terms of health effects?

  16. Good Morning,
    Question on raw count numbers and living around them. We had an air quality test come back with Chaetomium raw count 17, Stachybotryus raw count 2 and Pennicillium raw count 19. My mother in law currently lives in the basement while waiting to see what the next steps are. Is it dangerous for her to be down there? What should steps should the builder do next? (They have removed carpet, pad and 4inches up on drywall in the flooded room) Thank you.

  17. Since moving in our home I have been sick with a host of odd symptoms. After finding some mold on an air vent in our home I decided to call a mold inspector from a company that claimed to do inspections only so we could get a non biased opinion, however, when the inspector came out it turns out that he has his own business on the side of mold remediation so I wanted to make sure remediation was actually necessary prior to going through with it since there was a conflict of interest. The test results were as follows

    Outside:
    Raw Ct Spores m3 %
    Ascospores
    57 399 9
    Basidiospores
    273 1910 41
    Cladosporium
    192 1340 29
    Curvularia
    2 14 <1

    Hall:
    Raw Ct Spores m3 %
    Ascospores
    12 84 12
    Basidiospores
    60 420 61
    Cladosporium
    27 189 27

    Living Room:
    Raw Ct Spores m3 %
    Ascospores
    18 126 10
    Basidiospores
    123 861 66
    Cladosporium
    42 294 23
    Curvularia
    2 14 1

    There was also moderate growth of the cladosporium on our air vents and some light fungal growth of basidiospores on our couch with scattered spores of curvularia on our couch as well. Are these numbers abnormal?

    1. @Jennifer,

      Thanks for following my Google + page! On a quick cursory look, the air samples are not elevated above the outdoors. Was the mold growing on metal air conditioning registers?

      I’m guessing that outdoor humidity is coming in through the home’s exterior via infiltration, and condensing on cold air conditioning registers. The metal register has no nutrients for mold, but the dust that builds up on the surface can be yummy, especially for Cladosporium. Keep those registers clean and there is no food for mold.

      Other than carefully cleaning the registers, I don’t know what type of remediation a company would do, other than remediating your wallet of money!

      Ian

      1. Thanks so much for the quick response! He did not check the air conditioning units, but said that the airducts in the crawlspace were starting to detach and that is why we had mold growing in the vents on our floors. He said the spore counts shouldn’t be above 300 indoors which seemed a bit off. Is mold growing on the couch a concern?

        1. I don’t think Basidiospores were actually growing on the couch. That would be a serious issue that you would likely see with your naked eye. I’m guessing you just had outdoor spores which have settled on the couch. Nothing a good vacuuming couldn’t handle.

          Indoor mold counts above 300 by itself does not “prove” a mold problem, especially when outdoor counts are so high!

          Is mold growing on the registers (where cold air comes out) or in the ductwork? Have you seen this mold growth or are you basing it on some sample?

          Ian

          1. Thanks again Ian! The vents on our floor are where the heat and cold air come out of and I can see the mold growing on them…they are attached to the ductwork. It is an older home. That is what prompted me to call since I have been sick and no one can figure out what is going on with my health. As far as the couch you can see the spots of mold growth and he prompted me to get a sample which showed light growth of basidiospores and scattered spores of curvulara

          2. If I can actually see the spots of mold growth on the couch would that be indicative of a larger problem elsewhere or could it be limited to the couch and we just get rid of it? I just don’t want to spend thousands on a remediation if it isn’t necessary.

            Thanks so much for your help,
            Jenn

  18. Hello, Ian.
    We just had our fourplex tested for mold due to a tenant illness. Here are the results. What do you think?
    Thanks,
    Josh

    Air Sample Cassette Analysis for Mold Spores and Pollen Performed by Optical Microscopy
    Particle Identification

    Mold Spores
    Counts/m3
    Sample Background
    Alternaria sp. 14 77
    Arthrinium sp. none none
    Ascospores 21 168
    Aspergillus/Penicillium-like 980 637
    Basidiospores none 21
    Bipolaris sp. none 7
    Cercospora – like none 49
    Chaetomium sp. none None
    Coprinus none 14
    Cladosporium sp. 161 1393
    Curvularia sp. none none
    Epicoccum none 14
    Ganoderma none none
    Memnoniella none none
    Nigrospora none none
    Pithomyces none none
    Rust none none
    Smuts/Periconia 70 147
    Spegazzinia sp. none none
    Stachybotrys None None
    Torula none none
    Unidentifiable spores none none
    Hyphal Fragments 21 7
    Total Spores 2534
    Other: Myxomycetes sp . none none
    Skin Cells / Algal Fragments Infrequent
    Cellulose & Synthetic Fibers None None
    Insect Fragments None
    Sample Levels of Background Particulates: 1 through 5 Sample Estimated: 1+

    High levels of background particulate can obscure pollen and mold spores leading to underestimation (thus under reporting)
    Too Heavy to Count refers to an overloading of background particulates, prohibiting spore detection As background density increases so does the probability and severity of underestimation
    Kingston Environmental Laboratory participates in AIHA Fungal Direct Exam Proficiency Testing. Lab # 102543
    Approved KEL Signatory Dr. Georgi Popov, QEP, CMC

    1. @Josh,
      The results you pasted look peculiar. The first number provided by the lab is typically the raw count and second number an extrapolated value. If there were 0 raw spores, there should be 0 extrapolated spores. Aspergillus/Penicillium numbers are off too. May just be a cut and paste issue.
      Ian

  19. Hello, Ian – My family just bought a beach house that had visible mold in 2 closet areas. The mold company we hired removed the visible mold (sheetrock, insulation) and remediated it by cleaning and treating the area with biocide, cleaning and treating the HVAC system, and fogging the entire house with biocide. The closets have since been re-insulated, sheetrocked, and painted.

    Upon retesting the house following the completed work, our Pen/Asp numbers have gone way up (the report numbers are below). We have also found a water issue in our first floor laundry room that we need to address, which the mold inspector says is causing these elevated counts. He says this type of mold is allergenic, not toxic, and that since we do not seem to be affected by this type of mold that it is okay for me, my husband and children to occupy the house at these levels if we keep the windows open. For the past few days we have been staying here with the windows open, and my kids are okay so far from what they’ve said, but I have noticed a heaviness in my chest.

    I have been reading more about mold and mold inspection procedures since we got the results of this last report, which is how I found out about you, and I’m alarmed by what I’m learning. I have lost confidence in our inspector and his professional abilities, and I now see that his inspection and remediation methods have not been comprehensive or thorough. To name just a few of the reasons, he did not take an outdoor sample for comparison in either of the last two retests, has not taken samples from any surfaces, and has not used a moisture meter at all. He even said it was okay for us to be in the house during the mold removal process, was that safe?

    We are worried about our kids, is it safe for us to be living here? We’re hoping you have might have some advice for us, any information or direction would be so helpful, Ian. Thank you!

    1st Floor Sample
    Pen/Asp group Raw count: 70 Spores/cu. m: 2,800
    Basidiospores Raw count: 7 Spores/cu. m: 280
    Cladosporium Raw count: 5 Spores/cu. m: 200
    Ascospores Raw count: 1 Spores/cu. m: 40
    Mitospores Raw count: 1 Spores/cu. m: 40

    2nd Floor Sample
    Pen/Asp group Raw count: 36 Spores/cu. m: 1,440
    Basidiospores Raw count: 1 Spores/cu. m: 40
    Cladosporium Raw count: 1 Spores/cu. m: 40
    Ascospores Raw count: 1 Spores/cu. m: 40

    1. @Leslie,
      Your levels of Pen/Asp are elevated. That could be because the contractor did not use proper engineering controls such as plastic sheets and negative pressure when doing remediation. If your mold inspector is also your mold remediator, you are more likely to have problems. Several states have laws that prohibit mold remediation contractors from doing mold inspections. I don’t know the scale of the remediation project, but generally you want the space unoccupied for all but small projects, if feasible. It also sounds like your “guy” should have been spending more time finding and fixing the moisture problem than applying antimicrobial chemicals.
      Regards,
      Ian

      1. Thanks, Ian! What are your thoughts on the safety of staying in the house with these pen/asp levels? With the windows open or closed with the AC on? Again, thank you!

        1. @Leslie,
          I can tell you if the levels are “normal”. I can’t tell you if the levels are “safe” or “healthy” because that means something different for everyone. Someone may breathe in a small concentration and still have ill effects, whereas others breath in a high concentration without any observable effect. Your levels exceed what I would deem to be normal, although there was no outdoor air sample.

          I’m not sure what type of filtration system you have on the HVAC system. A good air conditioner will dehumidify the home. If the mold problem was caused by high humidity, you will probably be better served by having it run to keep the home dehumidified. But if the HVAC system is contaminated, it may make matters worse. Hard to answer these questions without being there to see it.

          Ian

  20. We had a mold test done in a house we are looking to purchase (we close in 6 days). We got the mold results back and are quite concerned, but we don’t know exactly how concerned we should be.

    I am waiting for the company that did the mold testing to call back, but in the mean time, I would like to get another opinion. Unfortunately, the mold is not easily visible because the basement has wood panels in front of the cinder blocks. We believe the mold is in between the cinder blocks & wood paneling and the only way to visibly see the mold is to remove the wood panels (which we plan to do, regardless of the mold results).

    Are these results “alarming”? How “bad” are the mold from the results? We are mainly concerned about the Aspergillus/Penicillium levels in the basement since they are so elevated. Is this something we could potentially fix in the winter time if the sellers decide to not proceed with mold remediation? Obviously it needs it be taken care of sooner than later, but is it an “urgent matter”?

    Results (just a few)
    Aspergillus/Penicillium — outdoor (raw count: 30, count/m3: 1200) basement (raw count: 303, count/m3: 12400)

    Pithomyces — outdoor (raw count: 2, count/m3: 80) basement (raw count: 4, count/m3: 200)

    Nigrospora — outdoor (raw count: 0, count/m3: 0) basement (raw count: 3, count/m3: 100)

    Pestalotia — outdoor (raw count: 0, count/m3: 0) basement (raw count: 1, count/m3: 10)

    Hyphal Fragment — outdoor (raw count: 8, count/m3: 300) basement (raw count: 10, count/m3: 410)

    Insect Fragment — outdoor (raw count: 0, count/m3: 0) basement (raw count: 1, count/m3: 40)

    1. @Karrie,

      These counts are definitely elevated. However, by 1) removing the wood paneling, 2) removing all the mold and 3) addressing the moisture issues leading to the growth, you should be ok. The most important is #3. You may need to have a drainage system installed in the basement to address #3.

      Once you take possession, I would seal up the door down to the basement and have the work done soon.

      Ian

  21. Hello, my name is Thea and I am looking at purchasing an old brick home with field stone foundation. The foundation has been sprayed with spray foam and there is a problem with water/moisture in wet seasons such as spring as well as in the occurrence of heavy rainfall. The current homeowner is a mould specialist and has given me the most recent mould analysis. I realize that the data is somewhat outdated but I feel that it may be current enough for relevance. The Penicillium/ Asphergillus count in the basement is 13,000 spores per m3 with a raw count of 330 and the outdoor control count was 120 spores per m3 with a raw count of 3. On your blog that classifies the Penicillium/ Asphergillus levels in the basement at a chronic indoor amplification. I am just unsure as to what this classification implies? If you would be able to help me understand as soon as possible it would be appreciated beyond measure! To add any other information that may help you better understand the state of the basement, Cladosporium in the basement had a raw count of 7 and a count of 280 spores per m3. Thank you- Thea K

    1. In addition to my first post I would like to let you know that if we purchase the home my fiancé is going to be removing the spray foam around the foundation in the basement, cleaning it, putting up a vapor barrier and digging a drainage system leading to the sub pump. We will need to do this ourselves as our financial situation would not allow us to have the work done. All in all we plan to do the work ourselves. When looking at the home we were able to remove a small piece of the foam to find dark dry matter underneath. I do know that on these old homes it is common for the mortar holding the stones together can turn a black-ish colour so we cannot be sure whether this is mould or just the ancient mortar. The house itself is in great condition, the corners of the house are perfectly straight and the brink is in fantastic condition with no cracks. We are thinking that if there was a very serious problem this would take effect on the foundation which would in turn have its physical indications on the structure of the house. My concern here is the health and safety of my fiancé, I know that you cannot say if something is healthy or not but any guidance or advice would be so greatly appreciated. I do not see on the report a section for Stachybotrys (black mould) but I did some research and it seems that penicillium/aspergillus and Stachybotrys seem to have similar breeding grounds so I am extremely weary of this. unfortunately time is not on my side at the deal closes this Friday Aug 29. Any advice would greatly appreciated!

      Thank you, Thea K

  22. I am grateful for what you do. I just inherited a house which had a roof job of $18,000 that caused massive condensation for 15 years; I mean like raining in the house, hundreds of long streams of water down the sides of the ceilings, and the company abandoned us. I did the responsible thing and had a mold test done, it was like Chinese trying to figure it out, I tried to do it myself, as I do not like to bother people, but I am lost. I want to be as safe as I can be as I am also bed ridden for last two decades and my home is all I have and my life as limited as it is, I do not want to be swimming in mold. You are right they do the test and run. Do I have to rip up the place?
    Two places tested.

    Studio. Overall mold source assessment of 201. Overall Exposure level, spores/m3 1,330/ raw count 27/ Outside -spores m3=893/ raw count 19
    Penicillium/asp Mold score 201 Indicator exposure level, location spores/m3 750/ raw ct 14//Outside 160/raw ct 3
    Cladosporium spores mold score 110/location spores/m3 160/ raw ct 3/Outside spores/m3 13 /raw ct 0
    Basidiospores mold score 104 indicator exposure level spores/m3 270/ raw ct 5/ Outside spores/m3 530 / raw st 1

    Bathroom
    Overall mold source ass. mold score 139 overall exposure level, spores/m3 1,426 raw ct 35/ Outside spores/m3 893/raw ct 19
    Peni/asp mold source 139 spores/m3 320 /raw 6//Outside spores/m3 160/ raw ct 3
    Cladosporium Mold score 124/ indicator exposure level, spores/m3 370/ raw ct 7. Outside 13. Raw ct 0
    Basidiospores mold score 120. Indicator exposure level, spores /m3430. Raw ct 2/ Outside spores/m3 530/ raw ct 1

    Once again thank you brother from another mother.
    Maranatha and Goddess Bless you and yours

  23. Hi. This isn’t really an interpretation question but we are in the process of getting rid of mold in a home we just bought. This has put us about $10,000 in debt but we can’t afford an entire new house and we can’t live in mold with two small children. Anyways my question is after all of this the house still smells like mold. Is this normal? Can there be strong odor without mold? I can smell it from the driveway coming out of the crawlspace vents. I smell it as soon as I walk in the door very strong as well. The company told me since the air test came back passing there is nothing further they can do. Here are the before and after results http://m.imgur.com/HwuLEdm followed you on Google plus. 🙂

    1. @Danielle,

      Thanks for following me on Google Plus. Is the source of the odor the crawlspace, or might the odor be coming from the livable parts of the house? Does the crawlspace have a dirt floor? Does the crawlspace have vents that let outside air in? Is there a dehumidifier down there? What was the water problem leading to the mold growth? Has that been solved?

      If you have a dirt crawlspace, you may want to seal it all up with a vapor barrier and run a dehumidifier down there during humid summer months.

      The more details you can provide, the more I can help.

      Ian

      1. Wow thanks so much for quick reply!
        Vapor barrier was just put down last week when they remediated. Mold was from water trapped between an old foil looking insulation covering the bottom of the floor. Signs of previous plumbing problems under kitchen and bath but the plumbing is fixed now no leaks. The crawl is vented. No dehumidifier. One problem is our thermostat reads at 60% humidity most of the time. They convinced us we needed a new AC and a new coil so we did that and repaired vents but no luck. Humidity out of the vents is reading 100% at times. Hvac people are telling us this is normal from moisture on coils. We did have a UV light put on coils. I feel like we bought everything they told us to buy and since no more money can be spent No one will help. :/

        1. Relative humidity right off the coil approaches 100%, so what they told you was correct. If you have a properly sized HVAC unit and your still at 60%, there is a problem. Maybe you have a lot of infiltration through leaky windows. Maybe you need to seal up your home’s enclosure.

      2. The odor is definitely still coming from the crawlspace but may also be somewhere in the house. The odor coming out of the vents is the strongest. Can you have odor with no mold? The remediation was only a week ago. Could the smell just be lingering?

        1. Lots of possible things going wrong…
          1. Return ducts passing through crawlspace are leaky, drawing crawlspace air into the home
          2. High humidity from outside coming in through crawlspace vents and condensing on cold surfaces

          Depending on a bunch of other factors, you may want to seal up the crawlspace and run a dehumidifier down there.

          It would be rare for there to be no mold growth, but an ongoing musty odor. That’s about as much information I can provide you without being on-site or looking through building plans/pictures (which is beyond what I can offer in the way of free advice on this blog).

  24. Hi Ian,

    Small leak in primary condensation exit line for HVAC in attic left our newborns baby room with a small leak in the wall which we discovered after a couple days. One week later we had a mold inspection crew come out and test. This URL shows the results. The also gave us an estimate for $1450 for remediation and the construction team gave us an estimate for $1500 to repair walls, carpet, et cetera. Not sure if they lab results warrant me spending $200 or not (my insurance out of pocket premium). I also am just looking for your interpretation of the results as an unbiased 3rd party. Thanks for any help in advance.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-T8cnUgR4M5TXV6TlI5dzhlMmM/edit?usp=sharing

  25. Hi Ian,

    We just had a mold inspection/testing done on the house we are thinking of purchasing. Could you help me understand if I should be worried.

    For Chaetomium specifically

    Indoors
    Raw Count Count/M3 % of Total
    1 13 4.9%

    Outside there was a count of 0

    Thanks again for your help.

    1. @Nick,
      The results show that a single spore of Chaetomium was found. It’s hard to make any decisions on a single spore. If there were no other signs of problems, then I wouldn’t worry. If there were other red flags, this would be one too.

      Ian

    1. Brent,

      I only had an opportunity to take a quick glance at the results. It looks like there is elevated Aspergillus/Penicillium mold in the basement sample. What does this mean? Maybe there is mold growing the basement, maybe it’s just dusty down there, or maybe it means nothing at all. Without knowing any more details (and not being able to inspect the property myself), that’s about as much as I could say.

      Regards,
      Ian

  26. Hi Ian,
    Oh so glad I came across your website! I just received lab results and it looks scary! It’s a house we just purchased that have been neglected for a number of years and had been vacant as well. I wasn’t surprised to see presence of mold but not sure if the numbers are high or not. I would greatly appreciate some interpretation from you. Should we invest into $2000 treatment or would cleaning/dusting and investing in a humidifier do the trick?

    Location: Living Room (LR)

    Exposure: 15.00 l/min. for 5.00 min.

    Reporting Limit: 53 Spores/cu. m

    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)

    – Fungi –

    Cladosporium 25/ 1,330 /37.84%

    Basidiospores 18/ 960 /27.31%

    Rust 8/ 427/ 12.15%

    Mitospores 4/ 213/ 6.06%

    Pen/Asp group 4/ 213/ 6.06%

    Alternaria 1/ 53/ 1.51%

    Chaetomium 1/ 53/ 1.51%

    Epicoccum nigrum 1/ 53/ 1.51%

    Pithomyces 1/ 53/ 1.51%

    – Other –

    Pollen 3/ 160/ 4.55%

    TOTALS: 66/ 3,520/ 100.00%

    Background Item Level

    Dust / Debris High

    Hyphal Fragments Very Low

    Opaque Particles Low

    Location: Bathroom (Bath)

    Exposure: 15.00 l/min. for 5.00 min.

    Reporting Limit: 53 Spores/cu. m

    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)

    – Fungi –

    Cladosporium 7/ 373/ 28.00%

    Pen/Asp group 6/ 320/ 24.02%

    Basidiospores 4/ 213/ 15.99%

    Ascospores 2/ 107/ 8.03%

    Rust 2/ 107/ 8.03%

    Chaetomium 1/ 53/ 3.98%

    Epicoccum nigrum 1/ 53/ 3.98%

    Ganoderma 1/ 53/ 3.98%

    Mitospores 1/ 53/ 3.98%

    TOTALS: 25/ 1,330/ 100.00%

    Background Item Level

    Dust / Debris High

    Hyphal Fragments Very Low

    Opaque Particles Low

    Location: Basement (Base)

    Exposure: 15.00 l/min. for 5.00 min.

    Reporting Limit: 53 Spores/cu. m

    NOTE: Estimated raw count on

    Pen/Asp group.

    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)

    – Fungi –

    Pen/Asp group 3,864/ 206,000/ 98.62%

    Ascospores 25/ 1,330/ 0.64%

    Scopulariopsis 7/ 373/ 0.18%

    Cladosporium 6/ 320/ 0.15%

    Basidiospores 5/ 267/ 0.13%

    Chaetomium 2/ 107/ 0.05%

    Ganoderma 2/ 107/ 0.05%

    Stachybotrys 2/ 107/ 0.05%

    Epicoccum nigrum 1/ 53/ 0.03%

    Mitospores 1/ 53/ 0.03%

    Pithomyces 1/ 53/ 0.03%

    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomycetes 1/ 53/ 0.03%

    – Other –

    Pollen 1/ 53/ 0.03%

    TOTALS: 3,918/ 209,000/ 100.00%

    Background Item Level

    Dust / Debris Medium

    Hyphal Fragments Very Low

    Opaque Particles Low

    Location: Outside (Out)

    Exposure: 15.00 l/min. for 5.00 min.

    Reporting Limit: 53 Spores/cu. m

    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)

    – Fungi –

    Basidiospores 191/ 10,200/ 77.99%

    Cladosporium 18/ 960/ 7.34%

    Ascospores 17/ 907/ 6.93%

    Ganoderma 7/ 373/ 2.85%

    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomycetes 4/ 213/ 1.63%

    Mitospores 2/ 107/ 0.82%

    Pen/Asp group 2/ 107/ 0.82%

    Alternaria 1/ 53/ 0.41%

    Epicoccum nigrum 1 53 0.41%

    Helicomyces group 1/ 53/ 0.41%

    Polythrincium 1/ 53/ 0.41%

    TOTALS: 245/ 13,100/ 100.00%

    Background Item Level

    Dust / Debris Low

    Hyphal Fragments Very Low

    Opaque Particles Low

    Thank you!!

    1. @Kat,

      Thanks for writing a review on my Google + page. I’ve been really busy so my apologies for the delay in responding. You have very high counts of Aspergillus/Penicillium in your basement. That’s pretty clear.

      What’s not so clear is the procedures to get the numbers back down. Dehumidification (or solving underlying moisture problem) and thorough cleaning with a high efficiency vacuum and HEPA air cleaner would certainly reduce the levels… possibly bringing you back down to more normal levels. Then again, it may need the more professional grade equipment a company would bring.

      I get worried about finished basements. If there is seepage of moisture happening behind the drywall, no amount of cleaning in the room will solve that problem. Are your basement walls dry after a heavy rainfall?

      Ian

      1. Hi Ian,
        Thank you so much for such a quick response!
        We just moved into the house but I haven’t noticed any moisture or seepage on the basement walls and the inspector did not find any either.
        There is a crawl space on one side of the basement that has an opening to the rest of the basement. In addition to that, the previous owner was a hoarder so there were many rotten/moldy boxes that we had to clear out of the basement that left some mold marks on the floor and it looks like the mold has also spread to the pink insulation of the basement walls.
        I think it is the crawl space that is the reason for such high counts?
        We are sealing the crawl space, dehumidifying and vacuuming with HEPA the rest of the basement, and changing the pink insulation. Hopefully that will help.

  27. Last year We had toxic mold in the building they check outside but not im my room. I have been sick with headaches ,dizzynes, and red eyes. After they removed i felt a little better but still not 100%. Its been 6 months and things seems worst maybe becuase the heat is turn on or air turned on and its like i want to faint and throwup. I hired a CPS mold service to inspect which only took them about 30 min to do air test becuase you can’t see anything. My windows where open but when we did the test we closed the windows and the air was not on. The inpsector did the test by large vent but that vent is not active at all I have only 4 returns in the cellings small ones the large one was removed years ago. He did the test where the vent was and it was dirty he stated and he said it looks like it was never clean at all. When Im near the small vents and the air is on i just want to pass out. I got the results today my score Passed at 188 Inconclusive. I really dont see how i can pass this test.

    Moldscore – 188
    Exspoure level- location spores/m3 -933 Outside spore /m3 2,080
    Penicillium/Aspergillus types** – 188
    Location spores/m3 610 Raw ct- 46 Outside 53 1

    Cladosporium species spores- 100

    Basidiospores-100
    Marker” spore types*** -100
    The 46 raw count Penicillium/Aspergillus type spores were present as a single clump.
    outside- None

    Other “normal trapping” spores 110 Location Raw 2
    Outside 430 raw 8
    sample volume lifters Location 45 Outside 75

  28. Hi Ian- Happily following on google +. I am desperately hoping you can help interpret our report. We are very confused. In May we had one of our toilets leak – contaminated leak. We did a home mold test, which didnt tell us much then had someone come out. My concern is that the company they referred us to is connected to them (same last name). They have told us we need to remove asap. The water didnt leak long and we only saw mold on the back of the baseboard in a small area which we removed. House is built in 1954, no A/C, no insulation, crawl space dirt, no cover right below bath window. Doesnt look like inspector took an outside sample but he did take one right outside the bathroom door. Hopefully that helps. They have told us both baths need to be done as they are back to back.

    Spore Trap ASSESSMENTReport ™ Air-O-Cell(™) Analysis of Fungal Spores & Particulates (Methods EMSL 05-TP-003, ASTM D7391)
    Particle Identification Raw Count (Count/m³) % of Total Interpretation Guideline 331417262-000101
    Client Sample ID: Inside Wall Behind Toilet Location
    Sample Volume (L)75
    Sample TypeInside
    No background submitted.
    Comments
    Alternaria 1 40 0.3
    Ascospores – – –
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 149 6290 39.8
    Basidiospores 5 200 1.3
    Bipolaris++ – – –
    Chaetomium 159 6710 42.4
    Cladosporium 14 590 3.7
    Curvularia – – –
    Epicoccum 1 40 0.3
    Fusarium – – –
    Ganoderma – – –
    Myxomycetes++ 11 460 2.9
    Pithomyces – – –
    Rust – – –
    Scopulariopsis – – –
    Stachybotrys 33 1400 8.9
    Torula – – –
    Ulocladium – – –
    Unidentifiable Spores 1 40 0.3
    Zygomycetes – – –
    Nigrospora 1 40 0.3
    Total Fungi 375 15810 100
    Hyphal Fragment 33 1400 8.9
    Insect Fragment 2 80 0.5
    Pollen 3 100 0.6
    1 to 4 (low to high)
    1 to 4 (low to high)
    1 to 4 (low to high); 5 (overloaded)

    page 2
    Spore Trap ASSESSMENTReport ™ Air-O-Cell(™) Analysis of Fungal Spores & Particulates (Methods EMSL 05-TP-003, ASTM D7391)
    Particle Identification Raw Count (Count/m³) % of Total Interpretation Guideline
    331417262-0002 02
    Client Sample ID
    Hallway Outside of Bathroom Location
    Sample Volume (L)75
    Sample TypeInside
    No background submitted.
    Comments
    Alternaria – – –
    Ascospores 1* 10* 4.5
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 2 80 36.4
    Basidiospores – – –
    Bipolaris++ – – –
    Chaetomium 2 80 36.4
    Cladosporium – – –
    Curvularia – – –
    Epicoccum 1* 10* 4.5
    Fusarium – – –
    Ganoderma – – –
    Myxomycetes++ 1 40 18.2
    Pithomyces – – –
    Rust – – –
    Scopulariopsis – – –
    Stachybotrys – – –
    Torula – – –
    Ulocladium – – –
    Unidentifiable Spores – – –
    Zygomycetes – – –
    Nigrospora – – –
    Total Fungi 7 220 100
    Hyphal Fragment – – –
    Insect Fragment – – –
    Pollen – – –
    1 to 4 (low to high)
    1 to 4 (low to high)
    1 to 4 (low to high); 5 (overloaded)
    Analytical Sensitivity 600x:
    Analytical Sensitivity 300x *:
    42
    13*
    Skin Fragments:
    Fibrous Particulate:
    Background:
    counts/cubic

    1 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000

    page 3 chart
    Inside Wall Behind Toilet 01
    Hallway Outside of Bathroom 02
    Alternaria 40
    Ascospores 10
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 6,290
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 80
    Basidiospores 200
    Chaetomium 6,710
    Chaetomium 80
    Cladosporium 590
    Epicoccum 40
    Epicoccum 10
    Myxomycetes++ 460
    Myxomycetes++ 40
    Nigrospora 40
    Stachybotrys 1,400
    Unidentifiable Spores 40
    Alternaria Ascospores Aspergillus/Penicillium Basidiospores
    Chaetomium Cladosporium Epicoccum Myxomycetes++
    Nigrospora Stachybotrys Unidentifiable Spores
    Spore Counts per m3
    Spore

    page 4 chart
    1 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000
    Alternaria 40
    Ascospores 10
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 6290/80
    Basidiospores 200
    Chaetomium 6710/80
    Cladosporium 590
    Epicoccum 40/10
    Myxomycetes++ 460/40
    Nigrospora 40
    Stachybotrys 1400
    Unidentifiable Spores 40

    01 Inside Wall Behind Toilet/02 Hallway Outside of Bathroom
    Spore Counts per m3

    Any help is appreciated.

    1. @Jen,

      Thanks for following me on Google +. You have really high numbers. Chaetomium and Stachybotrys are water damage indicators and you have them in high concentrations. You’ll want to fix the moisture problem then remove the mold in a manner that follows industry guidelines. Guidelines include the EPA’s “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” (fundamentals apply to homes to) and the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene “Remediation of Fungi…” There is also the IICRC S520 Standard, but that is not a free download. Don’t let a contractor do much more or less than what is in these guidelines.

      Good luck!

      Ian

  29. Hello Ian:

    I was deathly ill with fungal pneumonia over the winter here in Philadelphia. We are in the process of moving back to California and while moving everything out of the guest bedroom closet in the basement, we found a huge growth of black mold on the wall. Based on my diagnosis, we decided to have it tested. Following are the results:

    INITIAL INSPECTION

    ** Outside **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Alternaria 2 26 3
    Ascospores 12 156 16
    Basidiospores 21 273 28
    Cladosporium 33 429 44
    Epicoccum 1 13 1
    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomy 1 13 1
    Pithomyces 5 65 7
    TOTAL 75 975

    ** Kitchen Sink **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 6 78 9
    Basidiospores 39 507 60
    Cladosporium 15 195 23
    Rusts 4 52 6
    Pithomyces 1 13 2
    TOTAL 65 845

    ** Bedroom **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 1142 14800 42
    Basidiospores 6 78 <1
    Cladosporium 3 39 <1
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 102 1330 4
    Stachybotrys 1473 19100 54
    TOTAL 2726 35300

    After getting the test, we found out that the landlord knew the wall had sustained water damage prior to leasing us the property and had never inspected it or had it repaired. In addition, there is a below-grade, enclosed, unsealed sump pump in the basement bedroom closet that is uninsulated and open to the area behind the closet wall. During the winter months, regardless of remediation or water damage, the condensation formed by cold ground air meeting warm climate-controlled air will continue to be generated behind and inside the closet until the sump pump enclosure is reconstructed. Our landlord had the wall hand washed with bleach and painted with Killz. Due to my illness, we are abandoning the property as unfit. We decided to have a clearance mold report done as he is attempting to list it as fit for rental as is. Following are the results:

    CLEARANCE REPORT

    ** Outside **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 8 104 16
    Basidiospores 23 299 45
    Cladosporium 17 221 33
    Epicoccum 1 13 1
    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomy 3 39 6
    TOTAL 51 663

    ** Kitchen Sink **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 3 39 5
    Basidiospores 6 78 11
    Cladosporium 32 416 58
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 13 169 24
    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomy 1 13 2
    TOTAL 55 715

    ** Kitchen Cabinet **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 3 39 5
    Basidiospores 6 78 11
    Cladosporium 3 39 14
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 17 221 81
    Stachybotrys 1 13 5
    TOTAL 21 273

    ** Laundry/Basement **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Alternaria 1 13 1
    Basidiospores 10 130 11
    Cladosporium 31 403 33
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 51 663 55
    TOTAL 93 1210

    ** Bedroom **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Ascospores 3 39 4
    Cladosporium 31 403 41
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 41 533 55
    TOTAL 75 975

    ** Bedroom Closet **
    TYPE RAW SP/M3 %
    Cladosporium 20 260 12
    Penicillium/Aspergillius 126 1640 76
    Stachybotrys 20 260 12
    TOTAL 166 2160

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Unrelated to interpretation while giant red flag to me……

      Your story sounds awful and I would hate for a repeat or worse for future tenants…..I

      Here’s a bit of info from my story: I developed serious mold allergies living in a water damaged rental (basement flooding, pipes burst between floors flooding from upstairs to kitchen) and the way I found out about my mold health issues was a wise doctor running tests and getting an email from him saying “is it possible there is mold in your house?” (Answer: absolutely). I was unaware at the time of the hazards other than black mold.

      The landlord did no remediation (the solution for flooding was big fans) and I spoke with a lawyer family member who sent me laws for in the state of Maryland saying there is legal standing for renting tenants harmed by a residence with known mold. I liked my landlord and decided to move out rather than sue. I do not know laws for PA while it sounds like landlord negligence was a big part of your illness and continuing to rent the property without fixing a known health hazard is not only careless, but likely grounds for legal action. Imagine a person with a compromised immune system (elderly person, child, person like me missing part of their immune system) moving in after you unaware like I was of the potential dangers. At the very least it might be worth mentioning this to the landlord as many are unaware of mold dangers in hopes to prevent illness in future tenants. I made my landlord aware of my health issues due to mold and after I moved out he did construction on the house (to what extent I do not know). Other moldy rentals I tested in MD had owners who didn’t seem to care when I told them of potential lawsuits for renting, presumably banking on future tenants being unaware of mold health hazards.

      I ended up moving states and mold testing informing property management of high-mold/black mold results and am yet to look up state laws. Few properties I’ve looked at have mold addendums in the lease making it the tenant’s responsibility to inform owners of mold while they do not include what owners are responsible for if mold should be found.

      I don’t know if you can change anything about the landlord who rented you a known water-damaged property while mentioning potential lawsuits and state laws could save someone in the future. I’m not a litigious person while preventable severe health problems is something I have found myself caring (and spending) quite a bit about.

      Im glad you are moving out and sorry for your suffering.

  30. Ian:

    Great, informative site. We just had 2 rooms in our home tested for mold, results are attached here – https://www.dropbox.com/l/e9LB9X23Ib53gvLn1SAEMu

    The history is that we have lived in our home for 11 years, and since that time it has always made my wife sick. She has asthma and allergies and knows when something is bothering her. Whenever we leave the home for more than a day she feels better/healthier. When we return, sometimes as soon as we walk in her through starts burning and she feels sick. As part of the air samples that were taken above we had a visual inspection done as well, our inspector spent a good hour going throughout the house with me following closely behind, he found nothing at all suspect, not even in the crawlspace.

    Given the results of the air test, aside from the 1 spore of Stach that was found, we are stumped. So now my focus is on that 1 spore of Stach because it occurred in my son’s bedroom. That is on the side of the house that we had all the old siding ripped off, insulation replaced, and several rotting boards around his window replaced when we were having the whole home resided with vinyl. Since then, there is still a strong musty/moldy spell especially around his window at times. I replaced all the interior molding around the window and pulled out some additional moldy insulation. There were some boards that remained in there that were mildly black, and I assume that is what is causing the odor today. My question is could that be the cause of the Stach spore as well? Could such a low stach Count be responsible for making my wife sick all these years?

    Just trying to solve this mystery once and for all. Any advice you can provide would be appreciated.

    1. @Ryan,

      I don’t like to draw any strong conclusions on the presence of a single Stachybotrys spore in a single sample. Any rotten wood and old insulation impacted by water should be taken out. If I had to speculate, yes, the single spore probably came from the rotting nearby window. I won’t even try to speculate if these mold issues are the cause of your wife’s symptoms…. that is a diagnosis only a doctor can make.

      I always like to bring it back to the fundamentals: 1) fix any moisture problems 2) physically remove the mold 3) keep things dry 4) provide adequate ventilation 5) Use a good vacuum cleaner and air cleaner/HVAC filter. Of course much more could be done, but those 5 things go a long way.

      Ian

  31. hi there — we had some mold issues in a few rooms in our house. we did air testing ahead of time and found some aspergellis/pen which seems to have been reduced decently with remediation. the spores/cu.m are around 500 now. i’m more concerned with chaetomium numbers — which were around 7 raw spores/373 cu. m — and seem to have gone up a little bit — 9 raw spores to 480/cu. m. is this because there are some dead spores that are airborne because of the remediation — or was this a bad job? thanks

      1. thanks… he plans to scrub the air in the whole house. but i worry the a/c system has been moving this around for a while. is that a problem if there isn’t actual mold forming in there?

        1. @Jennifer, There is a difference of opinion regarding HVAC systems being contaminated in mold damaged areas. One side argues that spores have deposited into the ductwork and must be cleaned. The other side argues that so long as there are no moisture issues in the duct, the spores will not germinate and grow into colonies (and therefore the ductwork does not need to be cleaned). There are no industry standards that specify a level of settled mold spores in ductwork that warrants duct cleaning. What all this means is that you’ll need to use professional judgment because there is no standard practice.

          Ian

          1. hi there. so we scrubbed the air in the house — and did a followup. pen/asp levels down below 500. still seeing 2 raw spores of chaetomium in a couple of rooms. is that a concern or could it just be post-remediation stuff? is it essential to get them to zero — because i’m just not sure how without ripping out every single wall in the house. thanks.

            1. @Jennifer,
              There is no consensus as to the significance of 2 Chaetomium spores. Both sides could be argued with equal vigor. Are you experiencing any symptoms?

  32. no symptoms for anyone. never had any issues before we even knew we had mold. so we’re going to get some air cleaners — have a UV thing installed in the blower of our air handler and keep an eye on things.

  33. Hi Ian,

    We did a very extensive spore trap analysis and i am concerned with the results. I listed them below, please let me know your thoughts at your earliest convenience:

    Basment:
    Chaetomium – raw 1, per m3 13

    Basmement area 2:
    Cladosporium- raw 6, per m3 320

    Room 3:
    Cladosporium – raw 6, per m3 320

    Basement:
    Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 876, per m3 47,000

    Basement area 2: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 856, per m3

    Master Bathroom: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 27, per m3 1,400

    Master Bedroom: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 37, per m3 2,000

    Daughter room: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 35, per m3 1,900

    TV Room: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 36, per m3 1,900

    TV Room: Stachybotrys – raw 1, per m3 13

    Foyer: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 53, per m3 2,800

    Living Room: Penicillium/Aspergillus types – raw 71, per m3 3,800

  34. Hi Ian,
    I have lived in my house for about 7 years. I have a remodeled basement. I have had instances where the basement has flooded with a minor amount of water but there has always been a remediation company involved because I was worried about water damage and mold. For the last two years off/on I have been waking up in the morning congested, burning nose and eyes and with hard black globes of unidentified junk in my nose. I have to blow it out or use a “q-tip” or it bothers me all day. On occasion I have had friends stay over and I have noticed a similar problem after they stay more than a few days. After reading a few things online, talking with friends/family and professional I thought it might be mold. I believed it was in my airducts, windows or getting from outside somehow. Based on the below results I did a general inspection of my house (focusing on my basement) and didn’t find anything alarming. I do sweat a little when I sleep and like to stay warm. The night after inspecting my basement I woke up with the same symptoms (burning eyes, black globs, congestion, etc..). I fell asleep in my clothes and forgot to take a shower after being in the basement. Is is possible I am “carrying” chaetomium on me (hair, clothes, etc..) and when I sleep and sweat it reproduces and creates toxins that give me those symptoms? Should I be worried about “transferring” chaetomium spores to friends and family when I visit? Are my symptoms and indication of accurate air sample tests? Should I be worried about Living Room and Bedroom? Thanks in advance!

    Bedroom
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx1vMqZs1U2LVDhlUzBJMkhyUkE/view?usp=sharing

    Living Room
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx1vMqZs1U2LQzJRSWJiV0FEVnM/view?usp=sharing

    Basement
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx1vMqZs1U2LdWFYMGVWSEI3OUE/view?usp=sharing

  35. Hi Ian,
    Thank you for your help in advance this is so helpful! We recently bought a duplex which has been maintained really well by the previous owners. We rented it to a small family who complained about a musty smell coming from the master bedroom and bathroom (that is relatively new additions to the home- about two years). The tenant hired a inspector who did a spore test and came with some results. There is nothing visible and I cant smell an odor. The inspector said he saw a hairline crack where there should be sealed cauking between the tiles in the shower where you can sit. We are having a hard time understanding the results and don’t know what to do next. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxyW2HGDZPqIdzdISmJxeTdXQ3c/view?usp=sharing. Thank you for your help!

    1. @Angela,

      Is there a crawlspace below that area or an attic above? Did the inspector do a visual inspection of those areas? The combination of the odors reported by your tenants and Stachybotrys reported by the inspector makes me suspicious that there is a problem that has yet to be uncovered.

      Admittedly, some mold problems can be very difficult to uncover.

      Regards,
      Ian

      1. We have an attic that is sealed above this unit. And this is the upper unit of the duplex. He did a visual inspection and saw nothing. Thanks again for your help.

  36. My daughter was experiencing some allergy symptoms–the usual like sneezing, itching watering eyes, congestion–and also some eczema, which had been getting worse over the course of a few months. Her 18-month-old daughter started developing eczema, also. I started wondering if it could be related to some water in their house from a summer storm the month before the symptoms started. My sister has mold illness (the gene) and she is very persistent with anything possibly related to mold, so we did a HERTSMI2 test on my daughter’s house. The results came back very high. The insurance said they would cover it because it was a result of the storm damage. But they ran an air-quality test for remediation purposes and those results came back very low. How could they differ so greatly? Much of what I have read or heard from others dealing with mold issues has said that the air tests aren’t always reliable or accurate. But that is what insurance may base their coverage on and what the remediation team will base their work on. It is an old house and the air quality was worse in a corner of the basement, but there was water in the attic and damage in the ceiling of the upstairs bedrooms. And from what I understand, when there is water damage, there is most likely a mold issue. My daughter’s family has moved in with me until their house can be cleaned. She has started to feel better and her eczema is clearing some. Also, when the remediation guy was at their house to estimate the job, his wife was helping him. Apparently she is mold sensitive and was “sick” later that day. When my daughter stopped by their house to pick up a few things last week, her symptoms got worse for the next few days. There is a mold issue going on, but the air-quality tests results don’t support the symptomatic evidence. We don’t know where to go from here. Help?

  37. We went through a mold remediation and this is the post remediation results, are these safe for us to move in?

    Total Spore Count per Cubic Meter: 4,669
    Hyphal Fragment: None Detected
    Skin Fragment: 0-25
    Particulate: carbon, soil
    Fiber: cellulose
    Background: 107,947
    Humidity: 39 %
    Temperature: 55 ° F
    Liters of air sampled: 75

    Lab report showed
    Basidiospores – outside:110/4800/91.4, inside: 62/2705/57.9
    Asp/pen – outside: 7/305/5.8, inside: 44/1920/41.1

    I will try to post the pre numbers. The post are drastically better (the original spore count was around 80,000), but now we are just needing to know if these currently levels are safe. Also, the report stated that we needed a better hvac filter than the reusable/washable one my husband had recently put in, could that account for some of the higher than desired levels? There is no more visible mold or smell, new roof, water barrier places in crawls pace and complete remediation done of whole house. Thanks in advance…this blog is great!!

    1. These were the pre numbers

      Total Spore Count per Cubic Meter: 96,088
      Hyphal Fragment: 218
      Skin Fragment: 0-25
      Particulate: gypsum board, carbon
      Fiber: cellulose, insulation
      Background: too numerous to count
      Humidity: 45%
      Temperature: 52•F
      Liters of air sampled: 75

      Pre remediation Lab report showed
      Basidiospores – outside:117/8023/92, inside: 23/1004/1.0
      Asp/pen – outside: 2/87/1, inside: 198/95,040/98.9
      Chaetomium – outside: n/a, inside: 1/44/0/-

    2. @Barrett,

      You’ve had a tremendous reduction of Asp/Pen, which is great. However, at 1,920 spores/m3, I would say your levels are higher than a normal home. For a rough idea with Asp/Pen (these are VERY loose guidelines not published anywhere):
      -100 s/m3 normal background [green]
      -1,000 slightly elevated [yellow]
      -10,000 definitely elevated… problem expected [orange]
      -100,000 extremely elevated [red]

      What action you take should be based on your individual sensitivity. Some of my clients probably couldn’t handle the 1,920 sp/m3 that you have… others would be fine. You’ve gone from a red to a yellow… your choice if you want to go through the expense to get it to a green. All that may be needed is improved air filtration and thorough high efficiency vacuuming.

      1. Ian, thanks for the reply. Considering that we have a two year old and one on the way, it’s important to get the levels as low as possible. Thankfully, the remediation company gas agreed to keep working until they get the levels down to at least below 1000 at no added cost. They just did another round of intervention and we are waiting for air quality test results….fingers crossed!!

  38. We recently had the air tested in our bedroom due to my wife’s asthma. We are concerned about the ‘other basidiospores’ and ‘penicillium/ aspergillum’ count. How did those number get so high and how can I lower them. Is this normal?
    We have been living in our house since 2001 and we recently bought a new bed a year ago. I do work outside from time to time if that was needed information.
    Thank you in advance for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond.

    1. @Maurice,

      Thanks for the Google+ add. Basidiospores are produced from fungi that almost exclusively grow outdoors. Unless you have something very unusual going on in your house (e.g. mushrooms growing), these spores probably came from the outdoors. If I had to make a wild guess, I would say that you keep a window open regularly in the bedroom and you don’t have great air filtration in the home (and you possibly have just an average vacuum cleaner). Nothing in your results strikes me as being a clear red flag. If anything, you may want to consider a HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom, as some studies note an improvement in symptoms. Reference Consumer Reports for highly rated models.

      Ian

  39. Thank you for you relies, I’m sorry if there was any confusion. I recently did a very deep cleaning of my room. I even bought new pillows. The vacuum we use if average and we no longer have our air-filter up and running, but I see that has to change. Last night my wife showed no signs of having irritation or outbreak, so this is good. Our window faces our backyard and we open it from time to time. I’ll be looking for a HEPA air cleaner soon.
    Thank you very much. Have a great holiday.

  40. Hi Ian, Your blog has been extremely helpful & you are doing a wonderful service for everyone. I am considering buying a home where there was visible mold in the basement which was tested. I requested an air test as well. I was originally extremely concerned with the results but after reading your blog, although still concerned am feeling a little less alarmed. In the end I know remediation is probably necessary and if I purchase the home I am planning to remove all carpet and wood paneled walls and am installing a dehumidifier but wanted to run the numbers by you. Any feedback is appreciated.

    indoor air intake
    ID/Raw/Conc
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 35/2489
    Basidiospores 6/427
    Chaetomium 3/213
    Cladosporium 6/427
    Stachybotrys 1/771
    Hyphal Fragments 12/853
    Total /4551
    Debris Field Rating heavy 50-90%

    control
    Ascospores 1/71
    Basidiospores 1/71
    Cladosporium 1/71
    total 213
    Debris Field rating light <20%

    Basement wall sample
    ID
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 3X (major 20-50 count)
    Cladosporium 4X (abundant greater than 50 count)
    hyphal fragments 4X (abundant greater than 50 count)

  41. Ian,

    At the end of November 2014, we started noticing a moldy smell from one side of our house’s lower level. I started by investigating the crawlspace on that side of the house, and discovered two stains on the radon remediation system’s plastic sheeting from old leaks that had since dried up. I had a mold remediation contractor take a look at the situation. He sprayed an anti-mold liquid on the water stains, and suggested I install some moisture alarms and wait to see if the smell improves. If the smell did not go away, he suggested I call an industrial hygienist to bring in air sampling equipment to try to get a better idea of the source of the problem.

    Since November, the smell has not improved. I’ve used an inspection camera and poked into existing wall penetrations (shower fixtures, low voltage electrical junction boxes, ceiling fire extinguisher openings) and found nothing. At this point, is it worth trying to narrow down the source with over the counter mold test kits for each of the different rooms and crawlspace areas where I notice the smell? Or is it time to throw in the towel and call a professional? What will a professional be able to do in terms of limiting the search space that I have not already done?

    Our house is a ranch with a walk-out lower level built over a crawlspace. The crawlspace has a radon remediation system in place, so it is sealed with plastic and has a ventilation system underneath to remove dampness coming up from the dirt below. There is a bathroom on the upper floor, over the area with the mold smell, and there is evidence that at one point there was a leak in the bathroom (a light globe filled with disgusting-smelling crud). There is no water staining on any of the sheetrok anywhere. We live in Colorado, so there’s a very low level of ambient humidity. We run humidifiers in the winter to keep the humidity around 35% depending on outside temperature. The only time we have had condensation on any of the windows is when I have moved into the basement bedroom on the ‘problem’ side of the basement and slept there with a warm mist humidifier to clear up an upper respiratory infection. The last time I did that was sometime in fall of 2014, and only the windows in that room were affected.

    1. Paul,
      Thanks for the Google plus follow and review.

      If you sniff at the electrical outlets on the suspect wall, is the must odor stronger? Do you smell the odor more or less in the crawl space compared to the lower level?

      I wouldn’t waste your money on home yet kits. If you absolutely can’t find the odor yourself, you may want to hire a professional that has a “mold dog” that is trained to sniff out mold. I have never used one on a project, but I have seen them demonstrated and they can be useful on a job like this.

      Ian

  42. I did the 5 minute test from Healthful Home. It said we were positive for ASP PEN only. What should we do? Any advice? Should we get a more pro specialist to come in? We are missionaries and have very low income but we have a 3 yo boy.

  43. Ian,
    Not really a quick question but still a question. My wife, 6 year old and I moved into an apartment about 6 months ago. Shortly after, it flooded about 6′ into our master bedroom, along with our the neighbors that share the same wall. After speaking with our neighbors, we were told that the reason the original tenants moved out was due to the constant flooding, any heavy rain and it flooded inside due to drainage. The apartment complex repaired the brickwork on the outside of the house and we have had no flooding since. A couple of days after finding out about the constant flooding problem, I contacted the apartment complex and fought with them to have a mold test done. I won, they came out and did an air test in our master bedroom only. I didn’t really follow up with them for some reason because they did not come in screaming “you have to move NOW!”
    For the past few months mine and our neighbors daughters have been sick- snotty, horrible cough, some fevers on occasion all turning into bronchitis. My neighbor finally got the bright idea to pull off the cover to her air vents and noticed what looked to be mold. We went to the apartment and promptly asked to see the air test results. They said NO, I fought for a week and finally got them.
    From what i have been told, the main molds to look out for were the Aspergillus/Penicillium and the Statchybotrys. Is this correct? They did not do an outdoor control test for a baseline reading. The sheet says that the method was SOP057.
    Here were the results
    total ct-coutn/m3-% of total
    Fungal spores: 986 6573 100%
    fragments 21 140
    alternaria 1 7 0
    Arthrinium
    ascospores 120 800 12
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 260 1733 26
    aureobasidium
    basidiospores 141 940 14
    bipolaris/dreschlera 3 20 0
    botrytis
    cercospora 5 33 1
    chaetomium 314 2093 32
    cladosporium sp. 113 793 12
    culvularia 13 78 1
    dactylaria
    epicoccum 1 7 0
    fusarium
    nigrospora 2 13 0
    oldium/Peronospora
    rusts
    Smuts/Myxomycetes 7 47 1
    Stachybotrys 0 0 0

    Could you let me know if there is anything that you see that worries you. Thank you very much, the help is greatly appreciated.

    1. @Earl,
      You have a high concentration of Chaetomium in the one sample you posted. I didn’t see any Stachybotrys listed. These levels are problematic and indicate that the air quality has been impacted by the chronic flooding. The building should take corrective action.

  44. sorry about the formatting, i had it set up nice and pretty and it changed to formatting when i submitted it

  45. I’ve been sick since moving in apt. I’m in and I had landlord have it mold tested. He said wasn’t enough to make me sick but I’m sick only when there if I’m out for few days I don’t feel sick can you tell me about these results please
    Outdoor total 661 Debris rating 20-50%
    Attic 3348 50-90%
    Bedroom 2239 20-50%

  46. Hi Ian,

    Following your Google+ site and I had a question. I just got these air test results back and was wondering if I have a problem which requires professional abatement services. Background: In December 2014 I had ground water from too much rain in the backyard get into the family room (see test results). I pulled up the carpet, replaced the pad and also also had a professional firm put in dryers and dehumidifier for the room. Everything seemed to be fine at that point. We unfortunately got more water in the same room this last Sunday but it was not that much. I pulled up the carpet again and cut out the wet pad. Everything dried out the next day but I was just nervous about mold from the last incident and now this one. I had a mold test company come out yesterday and here are the results. Are these bad enough readings that I need professional cleanup work? Thanks in advance.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58B4J_WVxNVamVYTjZkQjFvM3c/view?usp=sharing

    1. Ryan,

      Thanks for the Google+ follow and review. Your Aspergillus and Penicillium counts in the two indoor samples are at 20,000 spores/m3. That is much higher than what would be found in a normal building, and more than an order of magnitude higher than the outdoor concentration. Did the mold “tester” do a thorough visual inspection? I hope he did and I hope he was able to point out any areas of visible mold growth.

      Be very careful in situations where you don’t see visible mold growth. How does the mold contractor remediate mold he doesn’t see? HEPA vacuuming the whole house and HEPA air scrubbing may be helpful, but the key to remediation is finding the source of the mold and remediating it.

      Good luck,
      Ian

  47. Additional comment. In the test results, the master bedroom was also air test and it is on other side of the house on the second floor. No water got near that area of the house but test results are similar.

  48. We had a mold test in our apartment and it shows signs of chaetomium that are concerning to me. There was no test done beforehand, but they found water damage behind a tile wall in the master bath, removed all damage and ran a fan for 3 days to dry it. Before they can close the wall up they did an air test. This test had a raw count of chaetomium of
    3 in the master bath
    11 in the master bedroom
    1 in the living room.

    Is this a concerning level of exposure? as I have been reading not so awesome things about this fungi. If it is a concerning level of exposure what should someone look out for.
    Thank you very much for this page. There is a lot of good information on it.

  49. Hi,

    We have water damage on the ceiling and walls from roof leaks. The condo association wanted to paint over the damage. I decided to get an air quality test done before agreeing to this in case there were additional damages in my home caused by the leak. The condo I reside in is approx. 850sq ft.. I am concerned because the test results were determined to be negative. The raw count for other Basidiospore was 1 and the spores per M are 40. The control from outdoors was a raw count of 2 and 80 spores per m. The 2nd mold found was Penicillium/Aspergillus raw count results determined are 3 and there are 120 spores per m. My concern is the that there was not a raw control or spore per m amount listed this area was left blank. They concluded that the percentage for “other Basidiospore” mold was 25% and the remaining 75% is the percentage of “Penicillium/Aspergillus” mold found indoors. How can the latter mold be determined if there was no control listed? It is extremely hard to breathe in my home and my son has had a cough since December. Doctors have given him antibiotics, albuterol, and lastly a steroid. He still has a cough, and now I am developing one.

    Do you have any thoughts on the results? What is the next step I should take to find out the truth?

    Thank you,

    1. @Sophia,
      Thanks for the Google+ add. On what I can gather from your translation of the results, there weren’t any red flags. I would focus your efforts on assuring that the roof leaks have been completely solved. The mold may have been a result of condensation issues, rather than a roof leak, and the problem comes back. I’m not suggesting this is the case with you, but always check the areas that were problematic in the past.

      Ian

  50. Hi Ian,

    My son is chronically sick. He is only 21 months old and has just recently been diagnosed with asthma. He has truly been sick since he was 2 months old, with RSV, bronchitis and pneumonia and I think we have seen just about every specialist known to man. My mind always kept going back to mold so had someone come out to the home and conduct air tests on the main level, the basement and his room.

    here are the results. Can you please please please tell me how to understand them??? I would so appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I just want to rule out that my son’s conditions aren’t from mold.

    outside (mind you its winter here in Indiana)
    Aspergillus|Penicillium
    counted 3
    cts/m3 20
    % of total 100.00%

    Main living floor
    Counted 5
    cts/m3 33
    % of total 83.33%

    Son’s Room
    counted 7
    cts/m3 33
    % of total 77.78%

    basement
    11 counted
    cts/m3 73
    % of total 68.75%

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