Clearing The Air of Invisible Mold: Air Quality and Lift Tape Testing
We’ve all seen it. Moldy corners in bathrooms or basements. Bits of mold here and there that are quickly scrubbed away. But did you know that mold produces spores small enough to float through the air? What happens next depends on where these traveling spores land.
Mold is an essential part of the earth’s ecology and is vital for the natural balance of elements. However, mold can become toxic if densely accumulated.
Mold can grow anywhere there is moisture. Typically, dark areas with little ventilation stay damp longer than others. So, we tend to think of bathroom or basement corners when envisioning where mold might grow within our homes. But how about a slow water leak in between drywall or under a carpet pad? Or poor ventilation in an attic, leaving a moist environment for mold to happily, and secretly, reproduce?
The Dangers of an Invisible Mold
Undetected mold can affect a number of things. Besides creating airborne spores, mold breaks down organic material, creating byproducts such as bacteria, chemicals, biotoxin gasses, and microscopic particles coming from the material on which the mold is growing.
These invisible culprits travel and make their way to our living space, where they mix with the air we breathe. People’s bodies can have any number of reactions to these foreign visitors, from mild runny noses to asthma symptoms, heightened anxiety, sleeplessness, exhaustion, and skin rashes. Household animals can also be affected.
How to Detect Invisible Mold
One of the fastest ways to detect hidden mold is with your nose. A musty, dank smell is common when damp spaces become overrun with mold. Often, older homes have odd smells that are chalked up to the age of the house when, in fact, there is invisible mold present. Additionally, we can become accustomed to these smells when exposed to them daily.
The single best way to detect invisible mold is with an air quality test. It involves capturing the air of your home within a container treated with a filter. This filter catches mold spores and is examined under a microscope by an independent, certified laboratory. This examination is what determines which families of mold exist – and at which levels.
A lift-tape test is also beneficial for detecting invisible mold that has settled onto surfaces. Placing a piece of the specialized tape onto the surface and lifting it will trap mold within its sticky surface. The tape is examined under the same microscope system as the mold air test.
Home maintenance is the first step to reducing the risk of excess mold in the home. Fixing leaky pipes or faucets and ensuring that air venting appropriately directs outside are two basic but important steps to take.
Keeping your home’s humidity at approximately 40% and regular use of air purifiers are also key methods of ensuring that the air you breathe is the purest it can be.