WHAT IS A MOLD INSPECTION ?
A mold inspection is a visual inspection of a
property (inside and out) for mold and conditions that cause mold. A
mold inspection includes moisture readings of construction
materials, including exterior walls, interior walls, floors,
cabinets, shower enclosures and concrete slabs. AMI uses
state-of-the-art, industry specific electronic equipment to detect
excessive moisture in construction materials, which is the primary
cause indoor mold problems.
IS THE PURPOSE OF A MOLD
The purpose of a mold inspection is to locate mold infestations,
determine the cause and provide useful information to help
facilitate an effective remediation (removal) plan.
ELSE WILL A MOLD INSPECTION DO?
A Mold Inspection can reveal hidden mold conditions.
Sometimes mold is obvious and other times it's not. The absence
of visible mold is not necessarily confirmation that there is no
a mold problem. A mold inspection can assist in identifying
hidden mold problems that may go unnoticed by an untrained eye.
[For an example of how a mold
inspection can reveal hidden mold click here.]
A Mold Inspection can catch
small mold problems before they become big mold problems.
There are usually many warning signs of a mold problem
"in-the-making". If you know about them soon enough you can
often prevent a minor problem from becoming a major problem.
[For more information on
catching mold problems early click here.]
A Mold Inspection can assist in finding
out what caused your mold problem.
Equally as important as identifying mold problems is discovering
how they started. Unless you correct the cause, remediation
efforts are futile because the mold will come back within six
months to a year.
WHAT IS MOLD TESTING?
Mold testing is the actual collecting of samples for laboratory
analysis. There two types of samples; surface samples and air
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MOLD TESTING?
purpose of testing is to identify what types of molds are present on
surfaces and in the air. Identification and quantification is useful
data in determining proper remediation procedures as well as the
seriousness of potential health risks.
WHAT IS A SURFACE SAMPLE?
Just like it sounds, a surface sample is a sample taken directly
from a surface (approximately one square inch). Surface samples can
be taken by tape lift imprints, cotton swabs receptacles, or bulk
sampling (an actual piece of a surface). The preferred method of
analysis at most laboratories today is direct microscopic
examination (direct microscopy). Direct microscopy is generally more
proficient than culturing mold samples for three reasons:
mold samples is the process of growing mold in a Petri dish using a
wide variety of different liquid agar solutions as the growth
medium. The problem is that there are over 40 different agar
solutions for culturing mold samples but not all molds grow equally
in every agar. In other words, one type of mold may flourish in the
same agar solution that another mold cannot grow in at all.
Therefore, in order to give all of the molds present in your home an
equal opportunity to be accurately represented, you would have take
several culture samples from each room, making the cost of sampling
prohibitive in many cases.
- Many molds
do not compete well with others in the culturing process and are
often choked out by stronger, more aggressive molds. A particular
agar solution will accelerate the growth of some mold types and at
the same time slow the growth of molds. The result is an inaccurate
representation of all molds present. Once again, several culture
samples from each room would be necessary to achieve a fair and
can take 7 to 10 days for results. So forget about quick turn-around
WHAT IS AN AIR SAMPLE?
An air sample is a representation of mold spores in the air based on
the actual number of spores captured in a canister known as a spore
trap. Biological air sampling is the best way to accurately
determine if an elevated mold spore condition exists because it
reveals not only what types of mold are in the air but how much of
each type as well.
An air test requires a minimum of two samples.
The reason is because, at the time of this writing, there are no
official State or Federal standards for how much mold is "normal".
In the absence of standards, laboratories require an ambient sample
of outdoor air to be submitted with your indoor air sample. The
outdoor sample establishes a comparison baseline for your indoor air
sample. A single outdoor mold sample is sufficient for multiple
Ideally, indoor spore counts should be the same or less that outdoor
spore counts. When indoor spore counts exceed outdoor spore counts,
or when certain types of mold are found indoors but not outdoors,
something indoors is the cause. The grater the difference, the
higher the potential health risk.
[To see AMI service areas click here.]
WHAT IS A CLEARANCE
A Clearance Test is performed after the remediation work is done.
The purpose is to ensure that the remediation was successful. In
other words, the mold problem that existed before the work began is
no longer a mold problem. The cost and procedure for clearance
testing varies from one inspection company to another. Below you
will find details about AMI's clearance testing. But first:
THERE ARE SOME VERY IMPORTANT DETAILS ABOUT CLEARANCE TESTING
you should know, regardless of who you choose to perform the
Never let your remediation contractor
provide his own clearance test.
Many contractors will offer "free clearance testing",
which is is similar to a student "grading their own homework".
In a perfect world you can trust everyone, but it's not a
perfect world. The only way to know with reasonable certainty
that you mold problem has been resolved is to have an
un-interested third party provide the clearance testing.
Additionally, you should withhold a percentage of the
contractor's fees until you have seen the results from a
Never allow your contractor to perform
a procedure called "encapsulation".
Some contractors include a process they call "encapsulation" in
their remediation work. The idea is to "encapsulate" whatever
mold they might have missed, which begs the question.
"MISSED? Aren't I paying you to REMOVE the mold?"
The reality of encapsulating mold is this; the contractor makes
his best effort at removing as much mold as he can, then he
paints over the materials to cover up any mold that might still
The EPA Guidelines for
mold remediation makes no mention of "encapsulating" mold, it
simply says, REMOVE IT. Common sense tells us that if the mold
has been removed, there is nothing left to encapsulate. The
bottom line is, make sure you ask your contractor to explain his
remediation procedure and if the word "encapsulate" comes up,
you may want to consider a different contractor, or at least ask
them not to encapsulate anything prior to seeing the results
from your clearance test. Then if they want to do it, let them.
Always include at least one air sample
from outside the containment area.
your contractor set up a containment area (a plastic enclosure
around the work area) it is in your best interest to make sure
there was no breach in the enclosure that would allow mold
spores to leak through and contaminate other areas of your
property. This is a problem that happens very frequently. During
the remediation process, contractors typically run "negative air
machines" or "air scrubbers" which are vented through a door or
window to outside. Sometimes the contractors forget to tell you
to keep other doors and windows closed during this process to
avoid the mold spores from coming right back into your property.
Sometimes they do not adequately seal the plastic enclosure and
mold spores are blown into other areas of your property. Several
months later you start having mold problems where you never had
mold problems before. The bottom line is, you need to hold your
contractor responsible by telling him that you intend to include
an air sample outside the containment area in the clearance
test. As a precautionary measure, he may choose to place
additional air scrubbers outside the containment area.
Inform your neighbors.
In many areas of Southern California, houses are only
8' to 10' apart. If your contractor is venting air scrubbers
outdoors, it is possible that your mold spores are simply moving
next door. If you live in close proximity to neighbors, or in a
condo or apartment complex, or an office building, storefront or
other dwelling where other may inherit your mold problem, you
should let them know when the remediation is scheduled so they
can protect themselves by keeping their doors and windows
closed. As a double precautionary measure, ask your remediation
contractor to install Heppa filters, not only on the intake side
of the air scrubbers, but on the exhaust side as well.
WHAT ARE AMI's POST-REMEDIATION TESTING PROCEDURES?:
A visual inspection of the materials that were involved in the
Moisture readings of the materials that were involved in the
Appropriate air sampling to assess spore concentrations for
QUESTIONS ABOUT AMI INSPECTIONS & TESTING:
I have to have both the inspection and the testing or can I do one
without the other?
A: Mold inspections and mold testing services can be purchased
separately, however, one typically raises questions that can only be
answered by the other. For example; if an air test indicates an
elevated mold condition exists, something in the inspection will
explain why. On the other hand, if mold is discovered in the
inspection, sampling will determining the type(s) and severity.
Q: How long does it take?
A: Scheduling an appointment usually requires a day or two notice.
The length of the investigation varies upon the size of the
property. Lab results usually take 2 to 3 business days (24 hour
service is available).
Q: Does AMI bill Escrow?
A: No. Services must be paid for at the time of the appointment or
pre-paid with a credit card on our web site.
Q: Are AMI Mold Inspectors Certified?
A: Yes. AMI Inspectors hold
PRO-LAB, one of the top
AIHA accredited environmental microbiology laboratories in the
United States. AMI is a member of
Pro-Lab's Professional Partners Program for continued education
and current updates on industry affairs.
Q: Does AMI Perform Mold Remediation Work?
A: No. AMI Inspectors are Certified Mold Remediators, however, we do
not engage in any remediation work. The only reason we require our
inspectors to be certified in remediation is because AMI is
frequently called on to perform post-remediation clearance testing.
Remediation certification provides the knowledge to identify when
remediation work is done correctly and incorrectly.
Q: Are AMI Mold Inspectors Industrial
A: No. Industrial Hygienists are often over-qualified for
residential mold inspections, and often times cost prohibitive.
Q: What Is An Industrial Hygienist?
A: Industrial hygiene is the science of keeping people safe at work
and in their communities. Industrial hygienists (IHs) are
professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of workers.
Originally industrial hygienists worked primarily in factories and
other industrial settings but as our society has changed, so has the
definition of industrial hygiene. Today, IHs can be found in almost
every type of work setting. Industrial hygienists also use the term
OEHS or occupational and environmental health and safety to refer to
the work that they do.
Q: What Does an Industrial Hygienist Do?
A: IHs still work to prevent illness or injury from hazards in
industrial settings. They may also be found working to prevent
ergonomic injuries in the office; measuring noise levels at an
airport; supervising the safe removal of lead, mold or asbestos; and
in thousands of other settings. Industrial hygienists may sample
air, soil or water to determine if there are harmful substances
present. They may fit test a respirator to ensure that a worker is
breathing cleaner air.
Q: What Is the Benefit of OEHS?
A: Workplace safety and health programs make a difference in
preventing occupational fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Since
the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, workplace
injuries and illnesses declined significantly. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics reports that in 2001 there were 5,900 workplace related
fatalities and 5.2 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported.
That is a rate of 5.7 injuries per 100 workers, less than half of
the 1973 number of 11 injuries or illnesses for each 100 workers.
Industrial hygiene saves lives, improves quality of life, and
increases productivity. Safe, healthy workers are more efficient.
Injuries can mean many days or weeks out of work, or even permanent
disability, causing serious economic hardship to a worker and his or