FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION​S

 

My neighbor says mold is everywhere and that testing will prove nothing.


Sigh… If we had a nickel for every well-meaning neighbor/family member/friend/co-worker who sadly provided false and inaccurate information….

However, the first part is partly correct, there are mold spores evident in most areas.

The important part of the testing is not determining if there are mold spores present, but to discover:

  • what types of mold spores are present (toxic, allergenic, etc.)
  • how many spores are present (as certain levels trigger health issues, even nonallergenic spores)
  • how many different species are present (certain cross-species are not healthy for indoor environments)
  • compare naturally occurring mold spores from the outside with a proven control sample (doors and windows can allow some spores to briefly naturally occur inside)

Often, we have seen clients initially follow their well-meaning, but wrong, advice before they contacted us. Once we did the proper inspection and test, we always discovered mold and health issues that could have been resolved a long time ago.

It is your health and your family health, we are here to help and to serve you.




What is the difference between an adjuster my insurance company is sending over and a public adjuster?


The adjuster sent by the insurance company is hired by them and is obligated to them as their employer. A public adjuster works for you and me (the public) and typically a small percentage fee of any awarded claim. They understand your concerns, your policy, and any limitations and will strive to get the best result possible for you.




Can my mold remediation or restoration company do the mold inspection test?


No. There are 2 types of mold licenses in Florida.

There is a license for a mold assessor who does the testing and writes the protocol and final testing. There is another license as a mold remediation company and it is not legal for a company to both test and to do remediation.




Or, can my mold remediation or restoration company do the post-clearance test?


Florida law prohibits the same company who did the mold remediation or restoration to also conduct a post clearance test. This is wisely done to protect the consumer, all of us, from conflict of interest. Often, final payment from the client or insurance company is held until this done and it is critical for the client that the area is actually clean and sanitized (not just visually clean).

The final post-clearance test and report must show the area worked on is clear and this has to be done by a natural third party such as StoneCrest Team. Our only interest is in ensuring your health and safety.




Do you also clean up and remediate?


Never. We have no conflicts of interest, we won’t try to sell you anything, and we don’t perform remediation. It is always recommended to hire a mold testing company that has no financial interest in mold cleanup, remediation, and chemical products or the rebuild.

Any recommendations we make will always have your best interests in mind.




What about home inspectors, AC companies, or duct cleaning companies who offer tests?


Certain companies have been granted some exceptions, BUT without mold assessor training or any specialized education or training, allowing them to take a minimal sample of one small area. The total time at your property is token and days later they may email you the laboratory results with no interpretation and no recommendations for corrective measures.

Imagine your medical doctor simply providing you a copy of laboratory blood analysis with no guidance or interpretation? Or worse, an incomplete report as sampling was not done correctly or in areas where it was necessary.

StoneCrest Team is Central Florida area’s top mold testing and mold inspection company for a reason.




Is it really necessary to take samples and send them to a laboratory?


Yes. The important question is not if you have mold, but rather, what types of mold species and at what concentrations.

Without samples, it is impossible to tell. We have seen way too many companies recommend thousands and thousands of dollars of unnecessary remediation work when it was not necessary. Because you can’t see mold spores, many unscrupulous mold testers fabricate a problem to profit from the remediation work. Often companies offer “free” inspections but perform no testing. They simply look at the property and state they can “smell” the mold or claim those “stains” are mold. At the end, you do not know if you have mold or toxic mold, and they just hand you an over-inflated proposal for their company to do the work.




What is MSqPCR?


Mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction. This is a sampling methodology used to identify the species of molds that may be present within your home. It’s basically the DNA formatting of mold.




Why not use a home mold test kit?


It might be tempting to use DIY Mold Tests—Petri dishes set out over a period of time to determine mold presence, but to diagnose your household mold, these over-the-counter methods can be deceiving and inaccurate.

The results lack enough credibility that lawyers, doctors, insurance companies, and remediation companies do not accept the results.

Consumer Reports, in fact, rated four brands of DIY mold tests “Not Recommended,” citing: “In some samples, the vials with media leaked over entire kit. In one, an unopened kit was moldy. No expiration dates on the kit; old media could affect the accuracy and reliability of the results. Label claims that kit can identify toxic mold, but the report the lab sends can’t tell you this. One unused plate came back positive for mold growth, indicating contamination at some point; not very reassuring for post-remediation use.”

All homes will contain some level of spore activity when air samples are collected because mold is a common part of the environment. DIY kits, then, are essentially useless for diagnosing the complexity of your airborne mold contamination and should be handled by professionals.

The EPA agrees and states: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by…professional organizations.”


While DIY tests can be used for entertainment value, much like a Chia Pet, true mold concerns should be handled by companies that understand the diagnostic process necessary to qualify and quantify potentially hazardous mold growth.




Can Central AC systems and AC ducts become contaminated with mold?


Yes, HVAC systems and ducts often become contaminated with mold. Duct systems may be constructed from bare sheet metal, sheet metal with exterior fibrous glass insulation, internal sheet fibrous glass liner, or they may be made entirely of fibrous glass. Bare sheet metal and sheet metal with external fibrous glass insulation can often be cleaned, while ductwork made of sheet metal with an internal fibrous glass liner or made entirely of fibrous glass is more challenging. Rest assured, StoneCrest has the experience and equipment to accurately provide you with assessments of your AC system and ducts.





General Questions

 

What are Coliform Bacteria?


They are not disease-producing organisms themselves, but they are used as an indicator of disease-producing organisms. When coliform bacteria are present, there is an increased probability that the source water may have been contaminated by surface water or fecal material and may also contain disease-producing organisms. Chlorination is the best method for eliminating bacteria from the water, but if possible, the source of contamination should be located and treated so the problem does not recur.




What about sodium content?


For healthy people, the sodium content of water is relatively unimportant because the intake of sodium from other drinks and foods is so much greater. People following a low sodium diet because of hypertension, kidney, or cardiovascular disease should be concerned with an elevated level of sodium. The usual low sodium diet allows 20 mg/L in the drinking water. Elevated sodium levels are likely to be seen with the use of a water softener. Other possible causes are run-off from road salting or sewage contamination.




What about levels of Nitrate Nitrogen?


An elevated Nitrate Nitrogen level may indicate that agricultural fertilizer or waste disposal is polluting the water. The AL of 10 mg/L has been established to prevent a disease called methemoglobinemia “blue baby disease” in infants. Reverse osmosis and ion exchange resins can remove nitrates.




What’s up with the odor?


Odor in water can be caused by foreign matter such as organic compounds, inorganic salts or dissolved gases. These materials may come from domestic, agricultural or natural sources. The action level (AL) has been set according to aesthetic values but acceptable waters should be free of any objectionable odor.




And manganese?


Manganese at levels greater than .05 mg/L may produce brownish black stains in laundry and on fixtures and impart an objectionable odor and taste. It is usually found along with iron in soil with a high mineral content. Oxidation followed by a greensand filter is a common method of manganese removal.




Does water color make a difference?


Water color may be caused by dissolved organic material from decaying vegetation and/or certain inorganic material such as iron or manganese. While color is generally not a problem from a health standpoint, its presence is aesthetically unpleasing and suggests that the water may need appropriate treatment.




What about chloride concentrations?


The AL for chloride was established primarily as an aesthetic standard. The concentration at which the average person can detect a salty taste in water is 250 mg/L. A high chloride level can lead to the corrosiveness of water on pipes and heating equipment and is usually associated with a high sodium level. Sewage contamination, run-off from road salting or an improperly maintained water softener may cause elevated chloride.




And turbidity?


Turbidity is the presence of suspended material such as clay, silt, plankton, finely divided organic material and other inorganic materials. Turbidity over five units is detectable in a glass of water and are usually objectionable for aesthetic reasons. The most common method of lowering turbidity is with a filter system.




And sulfate?


Sulfate in drinking water has no beneficial effects. The desirable limit is 250 mg/L. At higher concentrations, sulfate may have a laxative effect and cause taste deterioration.




pH measure?


pH is a measure of the acid or alkaline content of water. Water with a low pH (acidic) is corrosive to plumbing and may cause leaching of toxic metals such as lead or copper. Soda ash can be added to the feed water to effectively raise the pH.




Iron levels?


Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can discolor fixtures and laundry and may impart a metallic taste to the water. Iron is frequently present in water because of the large amounts present in the soil. Corrosive water will also pick up iron from pipes. Common methods for removing iron from the water are aeration or chlorination of the water followed by filtration.




Copper?


Copper in small amounts is not considered detrimental to health but will impart an undesirable taste to drinking water. The recommended limit is set at 1.3 mg/L. High levels are usually due to low pH and low hardness in the water.

Calcium and magnesium salts are the major cause of hardness in water supplies. Although not detrimental to health, hard water retards the cleaning action of soaps and detergents. When hard water is heated, it will deposit a hard scale on heating coils and cooking utensils with a consequent waste of fuel. A water softening system is the most common method of lowering the hardness in water. The following is a scale on which to compare your water hardness: (0-75) low/soft; (76-150) moderate; (151-250) hard; (over 250) very hard.

(The above water test info provided by AquaTek Labs)





 

Mold & Health Questions

Black Mold & Toxic Mold

How fast can mold grow?


Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that mold growth will begin 24-48 hours after an area has had enough moisture and will colonize in 1 to 12 days.

A number of factors further contribute to the spread of mold and affect how quickly it spreads. Humidity is the biggest contributor to the spread of mold, and a humidity level greater than 55 percent will cause mold to spread much more quickly. Central AC systems which pull mold spores into ducts and blow them out through vents will also help mold spread more quickly and to a greater area. Unfortunately, most times, mold is already a problem before it is discovered. Due to the fact that the spores are hard to destroy, mold will sometimes return even after the mold source or leak is gone.




Are there different types of mold? Like the good, the bad and the ugly?


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Molds
Allergenic molds rarely produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system’s responses to allergenic molds tend to typically produce scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations, and rashes.

Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems.

Toxigenic Molds
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in all segments of the population. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer.




Can mold travel to different areas?


Unfortunate, yes. Mold spores, no matter the type, are tiny and they can find their way across your home via air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation units. You can even carry them on your body without ever knowing. Since the spores travel through the air, they can easily spread and even more easily be inhaled by the home’s occupants. While the source of the mold spores came either from a water leak or ac in another room we have discovered actual mold growing inside closets in different bedrooms. Spores can attach and grow on different mediums, leather shoes, jackets and belts are often areas where we discover severe mold growth.

Unfortunately, mold can be found almost anywhere. However, when mold is present in the indoor environment, there is usually moisture present. Mold especially likes to grow where temperatures are 68°F, dim lighting, and very little air circulation. Mold spores are known to travel throughout the air, attach itself to any damp surface, and then begin breaking down the material as it grows. Therefore, it is vitally important for homeowners to contact a mold remediation company when they have experienced a flood or fire in their home.




It is an old water leak, should I be worried about any old mold? Can mold die?


Yes and no. With water or humidity, molds grow. Without moisture, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies over time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary. While the water leak may be old, any presence of spores and other conditions warrant a current mold inspection and test.




If I cannot smell mold that means there is no mold, right?


Again, not quite. Not all mold spores have a distinct odor, and equally, not everyone has the same sense of smell. We have encountered many situations where we inspected beautiful, clean homes, brand new and old, with no visible signs and no odors, however, the testing revealed hidden mold that was affecting the homeowners.




Can I just use bleach to kill or remove mold?


No, that can have the opposite effect.

While bleach may kill mold on some surfaces, it does not kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall, cloth, etc. Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent) cannot get into the porous surfaces where most mold hyphae (the root structures) grow and attach themselves. Bleach has an ion structure that prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces, thus the root structures inside the porous surfaces are not killed. While the bleach may remove the mold from the top of the surface, the roots are still inside the pores.

Furthermore, bleach could increase mold problems. The water in the bleach soaks into the porous surface and the chemical stays on top. This gives the roots more moisture to grow. Dense mold will grow onto the surface within a few days of bleach treatment and the wet surface becomes a magnet for mold spores that were not killed by surface treatment.




How does mold get into my home or business?


Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. Mold spores may enter your home through open doorways and windows, and through many environmental control systems. Spores in the outside air also enter homes by attaching to clothing and pets. When mold spores drop on surfaces where moisture is present, they will grow.




Where does mold grow?


Mold commonly grows where leakage and/or seepage is an issue – particularly in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or anywhere flooding has occurred. To make matters worse, many building materials actually provide “nutrients” which encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other common materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth.




How many mold species are there?


Molds are fungi and no one knows exactly how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Their tiny particles are present everywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Mold is often found in buildings and homes where conditions are warm and humid or where there has been some sort of water intrusion.





 

How fast can mold grow?


Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that mold growth will begin 24-48 hours after an area has had enough moisture and will colonize in 1 to 12 days.

A number of factors further contribute to the spread of mold and affect how quickly it spreads. Humidity is the biggest contributor to the spread of mold, and a humidity level greater than 55 percent will cause mold to spread much more quickly. Central AC systems which pull mold spores into ducts and blow them out through vents will also help mold spread more quickly and to a greater area. Unfortunately, most times, mold is already a problem before it is discovered. Due to the fact that the spores are hard to destroy, mold will sometimes return even after the mold source or leak is gone.




Are there different types of mold? Like the good, the bad and the ugly?


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Molds
Allergenic molds rarely produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system’s responses to allergenic molds tend to typically produce scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations, and rashes.

Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems.

Toxigenic Molds
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in all segments of the population. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer.




Can mold travel to different areas?


Unfortunate, yes. Mold spores, no matter the type, are tiny and they can find their way across your home via air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation units. You can even carry them on your body without ever knowing. Since the spores travel through the air, they can easily spread and even more easily be inhaled by the home’s occupants. While the source of the mold spores came either from a water leak or ac in another room we have discovered actual mold growing inside closets in different bedrooms. Spores can attach and grow on different mediums, leather shoes, jackets and belts are often areas where we discover severe mold growth.

Unfortunately, mold can be found almost anywhere. However, when mold is present in the indoor environment, there is usually moisture present. Mold especially likes to grow where temperatures are 68°F, dim lighting, and very little air circulation. Mold spores are known to travel throughout the air, attach itself to any damp surface, and then begin breaking down the material as it grows. Therefore, it is vitally important for homeowners to contact a mold remediation company when they have experienced a flood or fire in their home.




It is an old water leak, should I be worried about any old mold? Can mold die?


Yes and no. With water or humidity, molds grow. Without moisture, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies over time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary. While the water leak may be old, any presence of spores and other conditions warrant a current mold inspection and test.




If I cannot smell mold that means there is no mold, right?


Again, not quite. Not all mold spores have a distinct odor, and equally, not everyone has the same sense of smell. We have encountered many situations where we inspected beautiful, clean homes, brand new and old, with no visible signs and no odors, however, the testing revealed hidden mold that was affecting the homeowners.




Can I just use bleach to kill or remove mold?


No, that can have the opposite effect.

While bleach may kill mold on some surfaces, it does not kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall, cloth, etc. Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent) cannot get into the porous surfaces where most mold hyphae (the root structures) grow and attach themselves. Bleach has an ion structure that prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces, thus the root structures inside the porous surfaces are not killed. While the bleach may remove the mold from the top of the surface, the roots are still inside the pores.

Furthermore, bleach could increase mold problems. The water in the bleach soaks into the porous surface and the chemical stays on top. This gives the roots more moisture to grow. Dense mold will grow onto the surface within a few days of bleach treatment and the wet surface becomes a magnet for mold spores that were not killed by surface treatment.




How does mold get into my home or business?


Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. Mold spores may enter your home through open doorways and windows, and through many environmental control systems. Spores in the outside air also enter homes by attaching to clothing and pets. When mold spores drop on surfaces where moisture is present, they will grow.




Where does mold grow?


Mold commonly grows where leakage and/or seepage is an issue – particularly in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or anywhere flooding has occurred. To make matters worse, many building materials actually provide “nutrients” which encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other common materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth.




How many mold species are there?


Molds are fungi and no one knows exactly how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Their tiny particles are present everywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Mold is often found in buildings and homes where conditions are warm and humid or where there has been some sort of water intrusion.





 

Mold Questions

Mold Inspection Questions

My neighbor says mold is everywhere and that testing will prove nothing.


Sigh… If we had a nickel for every well-meaning neighbor/family member/friend/co-worker who sadly provided false and inaccurate information….

However, the first part is partly correct, there are mold spores evident in most areas.

The important part of the testing is not determining if there are mold spores present, but to discover:

  • what types of mold spores are present (toxic, allergenic, etc.)
  • how many spores are present (as certain levels trigger health issues, even nonallergenic spores)
  • how many different species are present (certain cross-species are not healthy for indoor environments)
  • compare naturally occurring mold spores from the outside with a proven control sample (doors and windows can allow some spores to briefly naturally occur inside)

Often, we have seen clients initially follow their well-meaning, but wrong, advice before they contacted us. Once we did the proper inspection and test, we always discovered mold and health issues that could have been resolved a long time ago.

It is your health and your family health, we are here to help and to serve you.




What is the difference between an adjuster my insurance company is sending over and a public adjuster?


The adjuster sent by the insurance company is hired by them and is obligated to them as their employer. A public adjuster works for you and me (the public) and typically a small percentage fee of any awarded claim. They understand your concerns, your policy, and any limitations and will strive to get the best result possible for you.




Can my mold remediation or restoration company do the mold inspection test?


No. There are 2 types of mold licenses in Florida.

There is a license for a mold assessor who does the testing and writes the protocol and final testing. There is another license as a mold remediation company and it is not legal for a company to both test and to do remediation.




Or, can my mold remediation or restoration company do the post-clearance test?


Florida law prohibits the same company who did the mold remediation or restoration to also conduct a post clearance test. This is wisely done to protect the consumer, all of us, from conflict of interest. Often, final payment from the client or insurance company is held until this done and it is critical for the client that the area is actually clean and sanitized (not just visually clean).

The final post-clearance test and report must show the area worked on is clear and this has to be done by a natural third party such as StoneCrest Team. Our only interest is in ensuring your health and safety.




Do you also clean up and remediate?


Never. We have no conflicts of interest, we won’t try to sell you anything, and we don’t perform remediation. It is always recommended to hire a mold testing company that has no financial interest in mold cleanup, remediation, and chemical products or the rebuild.

Any recommendations we make will always have your best interests in mind.




What about home inspectors, AC companies, or duct cleaning companies who offer tests?


Certain companies have been granted some exceptions, BUT without mold assessor training or any specialized education or training, allowing them to take a minimal sample of one small area. The total time at your property is token and days later they may email you the laboratory results with no interpretation and no recommendations for corrective measures.

Imagine your medical doctor simply providing you a copy of laboratory blood analysis with no guidance or interpretation? Or worse, an incomplete report as sampling was not done correctly or in areas where it was necessary.

StoneCrest Team is Central Florida area’s top mold testing and mold inspection company for a reason.




Is it really necessary to take samples and send them to a laboratory?


Yes. The important question is not if you have mold, but rather, what types of mold species and at what concentrations.

Without samples, it is impossible to tell. We have seen way too many companies recommend thousands and thousands of dollars of unnecessary remediation work when it was not necessary. Because you can’t see mold spores, many unscrupulous mold testers fabricate a problem to profit from the remediation work. Often companies offer “free” inspections but perform no testing. They simply look at the property and state they can “smell” the mold or claim those “stains” are mold. At the end, you do not know if you have mold or toxic mold, and they just hand you an over-inflated proposal for their company to do the work.




What is MSqPCR?


Mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction. This is a sampling methodology used to identify the species of molds that may be present within your home. It’s basically the DNA formatting of mold.




Why not use a home mold test kit?


It might be tempting to use DIY Mold Tests—Petri dishes set out over a period of time to determine mold presence, but to diagnose your household mold, these over-the-counter methods can be deceiving and inaccurate.

The results lack enough credibility that lawyers, doctors, insurance companies, and remediation companies do not accept the results.

Consumer Reports, in fact, rated four brands of DIY mold tests “Not Recommended,” citing: “In some samples, the vials with media leaked over entire kit. In one, an unopened kit was moldy. No expiration dates on the kit; old media could affect the accuracy and reliability of the results. Label claims that kit can identify toxic mold, but the report the lab sends can’t tell you this. One unused plate came back positive for mold growth, indicating contamination at some point; not very reassuring for post-remediation use.”

All homes will contain some level of spore activity when air samples are collected because mold is a common part of the environment. DIY kits, then, are essentially useless for diagnosing the complexity of your airborne mold contamination and should be handled by professionals.

The EPA agrees and states: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by…professional organizations.”


While DIY tests can be used for entertainment value, much like a Chia Pet, true mold concerns should be handled by companies that understand the diagnostic process necessary to qualify and quantify potentially hazardous mold growth.




Can Central AC systems and AC ducts become contaminated with mold?


Yes, HVAC systems and ducts often become contaminated with mold. Duct systems may be constructed from bare sheet metal, sheet metal with exterior fibrous glass insulation, internal sheet fibrous glass liner, or they may be made entirely of fibrous glass. Bare sheet metal and sheet metal with external fibrous glass insulation can often be cleaned, while ductwork made of sheet metal with an internal fibrous glass liner or made entirely of fibrous glass is more challenging. Rest assured, StoneCrest has the experience and equipment to accurately provide you with assessments of your AC system and ducts.





 

How fast can mold grow?


Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that mold growth will begin 24-48 hours after an area has had enough moisture and will colonize in 1 to 12 days.

A number of factors further contribute to the spread of mold and affect how quickly it spreads. Humidity is the biggest contributor to the spread of mold, and a humidity level greater than 55 percent will cause mold to spread much more quickly. Central AC systems which pull mold spores into ducts and blow them out through vents will also help mold spread more quickly and to a greater area. Unfortunately, most times, mold is already a problem before it is discovered. Due to the fact that the spores are hard to destroy, mold will sometimes return even after the mold source or leak is gone.




Are there different types of mold? Like the good, the bad and the ugly?


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Molds
Allergenic molds rarely produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system’s responses to allergenic molds tend to typically produce scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations, and rashes.

Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems.

Toxigenic Molds
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in all segments of the population. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer.




Can mold travel to different areas?


Unfortunate, yes. Mold spores, no matter the type, are tiny and they can find their way across your home via air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation units. You can even carry them on your body without ever knowing. Since the spores travel through the air, they can easily spread and even more easily be inhaled by the home’s occupants. While the source of the mold spores came either from a water leak or ac in another room we have discovered actual mold growing inside closets in different bedrooms. Spores can attach and grow on different mediums, leather shoes, jackets and belts are often areas where we discover severe mold growth.

Unfortunately, mold can be found almost anywhere. However, when mold is present in the indoor environment, there is usually moisture present. Mold especially likes to grow where temperatures are 68°F, dim lighting, and very little air circulation. Mold spores are known to travel throughout the air, attach itself to any damp surface, and then begin breaking down the material as it grows. Therefore, it is vitally important for homeowners to contact a mold remediation company when they have experienced a flood or fire in their home.




It is an old water leak, should I be worried about any old mold? Can mold die?


Yes and no. With water or humidity, molds grow. Without moisture, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies over time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary. While the water leak may be old, any presence of spores and other conditions warrant a current mold inspection and test.




If I cannot smell mold that means there is no mold, right?


Again, not quite. Not all mold spores have a distinct odor, and equally, not everyone has the same sense of smell. We have encountered many situations where we inspected beautiful, clean homes, brand new and old, with no visible signs and no odors, however, the testing revealed hidden mold that was affecting the homeowners.




Can I just use bleach to kill or remove mold?


No, that can have the opposite effect.

While bleach may kill mold on some surfaces, it does not kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall, cloth, etc. Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent) cannot get into the porous surfaces where most mold hyphae (the root structures) grow and attach themselves. Bleach has an ion structure that prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces, thus the root structures inside the porous surfaces are not killed. While the bleach may remove the mold from the top of the surface, the roots are still inside the pores.

Furthermore, bleach could increase mold problems. The water in the bleach soaks into the porous surface and the chemical stays on top. This gives the roots more moisture to grow. Dense mold will grow onto the surface within a few days of bleach treatment and the wet surface becomes a magnet for mold spores that were not killed by surface treatment.




How does mold get into my home or business?


Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. Mold spores may enter your home through open doorways and windows, and through many environmental control systems. Spores in the outside air also enter homes by attaching to clothing and pets. When mold spores drop on surfaces where moisture is present, they will grow.




Where does mold grow?


Mold commonly grows where leakage and/or seepage is an issue – particularly in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or anywhere flooding has occurred. To make matters worse, many building materials actually provide “nutrients” which encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other common materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth.




How many mold species are there?


Molds are fungi and no one knows exactly how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Their tiny particles are present everywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Mold is often found in buildings and homes where conditions are warm and humid or where there has been some sort of water intrusion.





ERMI Inspection Questions

 

How fast can mold grow?


Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that mold growth will begin 24-48 hours after an area has had enough moisture and will colonize in 1 to 12 days.

A number of factors further contribute to the spread of mold and affect how quickly it spreads. Humidity is the biggest contributor to the spread of mold, and a humidity level greater than 55 percent will cause mold to spread much more quickly. Central AC systems which pull mold spores into ducts and blow them out through vents will also help mold spread more quickly and to a greater area. Unfortunately, most times, mold is already a problem before it is discovered. Due to the fact that the spores are hard to destroy, mold will sometimes return even after the mold source or leak is gone.




Are there different types of mold? Like the good, the bad and the ugly?


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Molds
Allergenic molds rarely produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system’s responses to allergenic molds tend to typically produce scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations, and rashes.

Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems.

Toxigenic Molds
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in all segments of the population. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer.




Can mold travel to different areas?


Unfortunate, yes. Mold spores, no matter the type, are tiny and they can find their way across your home via air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation units. You can even carry them on your body without ever knowing. Since the spores travel through the air, they can easily spread and even more easily be inhaled by the home’s occupants. While the source of the mold spores came either from a water leak or ac in another room we have discovered actual mold growing inside closets in different bedrooms. Spores can attach and grow on different mediums, leather shoes, jackets and belts are often areas where we discover severe mold growth.

Unfortunately, mold can be found almost anywhere. However, when mold is present in the indoor environment, there is usually moisture present. Mold especially likes to grow where temperatures are 68°F, dim lighting, and very little air circulation. Mold spores are known to travel throughout the air, attach itself to any damp surface, and then begin breaking down the material as it grows. Therefore, it is vitally important for homeowners to contact a mold remediation company when they have experienced a flood or fire in their home.




It is an old water leak, should I be worried about any old mold? Can mold die?


Yes and no. With water or humidity, molds grow. Without moisture, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies over time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary. While the water leak may be old, any presence of spores and other conditions warrant a current mold inspection and test.




If I cannot smell mold that means there is no mold, right?


Again, not quite. Not all mold spores have a distinct odor, and equally, not everyone has the same sense of smell. We have encountered many situations where we inspected beautiful, clean homes, brand new and old, with no visible signs and no odors, however, the testing revealed hidden mold that was affecting the homeowners.




Can I just use bleach to kill or remove mold?


No, that can have the opposite effect.

While bleach may kill mold on some surfaces, it does not kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall, cloth, etc. Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent) cannot get into the porous surfaces where most mold hyphae (the root structures) grow and attach themselves. Bleach has an ion structure that prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces, thus the root structures inside the porous surfaces are not killed. While the bleach may remove the mold from the top of the surface, the roots are still inside the pores.

Furthermore, bleach could increase mold problems. The water in the bleach soaks into the porous surface and the chemical stays on top. This gives the roots more moisture to grow. Dense mold will grow onto the surface within a few days of bleach treatment and the wet surface becomes a magnet for mold spores that were not killed by surface treatment.




How does mold get into my home or business?


Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. Mold spores may enter your home through open doorways and windows, and through many environmental control systems. Spores in the outside air also enter homes by attaching to clothing and pets. When mold spores drop on surfaces where moisture is present, they will grow.




Where does mold grow?


Mold commonly grows where leakage and/or seepage is an issue – particularly in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or anywhere flooding has occurred. To make matters worse, many building materials actually provide “nutrients” which encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other common materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth.




How many mold species are there?


Molds are fungi and no one knows exactly how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Their tiny particles are present everywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Mold is often found in buildings and homes where conditions are warm and humid or where there has been some sort of water intrusion.





Allergen Inspection Questions

 

Water Test Questions

What are Coliform Bacteria?


They are not disease-producing organisms themselves, but they are used as an indicator of disease-producing organisms. When coliform bacteria are present, there is an increased probability that the source water may have been contaminated by surface water or fecal material and may also contain disease-producing organisms. Chlorination is the best method for eliminating bacteria from the water, but if possible, the source of contamination should be located and treated so the problem does not recur.




What about sodium content?


For healthy people, the sodium content of water is relatively unimportant because the intake of sodium from other drinks and foods is so much greater. People following a low sodium diet because of hypertension, kidney, or cardiovascular disease should be concerned with an elevated level of sodium. The usual low sodium diet allows 20 mg/L in the drinking water. Elevated sodium levels are likely to be seen with the use of a water softener. Other possible causes are run-off from road salting or sewage contamination.




What about levels of Nitrate Nitrogen?


An elevated Nitrate Nitrogen level may indicate that agricultural fertilizer or waste disposal is polluting the water. The AL of 10 mg/L has been established to prevent a disease called methemoglobinemia “blue baby disease” in infants. Reverse osmosis and ion exchange resins can remove nitrates.




What’s up with the odor?


Odor in water can be caused by foreign matter such as organic compounds, inorganic salts or dissolved gases. These materials may come from domestic, agricultural or natural sources. The action level (AL) has been set according to aesthetic values but acceptable waters should be free of any objectionable odor.




And manganese?


Manganese at levels greater than .05 mg/L may produce brownish black stains in laundry and on fixtures and impart an objectionable odor and taste. It is usually found along with iron in soil with a high mineral content. Oxidation followed by a greensand filter is a common method of manganese removal.




Does water color make a difference?


Water color may be caused by dissolved organic material from decaying vegetation and/or certain inorganic material such as iron or manganese. While color is generally not a problem from a health standpoint, its presence is aesthetically unpleasing and suggests that the water may need appropriate treatment.




What about chloride concentrations?


The AL for chloride was established primarily as an aesthetic standard. The concentration at which the average person can detect a salty taste in water is 250 mg/L. A high chloride level can lead to the corrosiveness of water on pipes and heating equipment and is usually associated with a high sodium level. Sewage contamination, run-off from road salting or an improperly maintained water softener may cause elevated chloride.




And turbidity?


Turbidity is the presence of suspended material such as clay, silt, plankton, finely divided organic material and other inorganic materials. Turbidity over five units is detectable in a glass of water and are usually objectionable for aesthetic reasons. The most common method of lowering turbidity is with a filter system.




And sulfate?


Sulfate in drinking water has no beneficial effects. The desirable limit is 250 mg/L. At higher concentrations, sulfate may have a laxative effect and cause taste deterioration.




pH measure?


pH is a measure of the acid or alkaline content of water. Water with a low pH (acidic) is corrosive to plumbing and may cause leaching of toxic metals such as lead or copper. Soda ash can be added to the feed water to effectively raise the pH.




Iron levels?


Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can discolor fixtures and laundry and may impart a metallic taste to the water. Iron is frequently present in water because of the large amounts present in the soil. Corrosive water will also pick up iron from pipes. Common methods for removing iron from the water are aeration or chlorination of the water followed by filtration.




Copper?


Copper in small amounts is not considered detrimental to health but will impart an undesirable taste to drinking water. The recommended limit is set at 1.3 mg/L. High levels are usually due to low pH and low hardness in the water.

Calcium and magnesium salts are the major cause of hardness in water supplies. Although not detrimental to health, hard water retards the cleaning action of soaps and detergents. When hard water is heated, it will deposit a hard scale on heating coils and cooking utensils with a consequent waste of fuel. A water softening system is the most common method of lowering the hardness in water. The following is a scale on which to compare your water hardness: (0-75) low/soft; (76-150) moderate; (151-250) hard; (over 250) very hard.

(The above water test info provided by AquaTek Labs)





 

How fast can mold grow?


Amazingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that mold growth will begin 24-48 hours after an area has had enough moisture and will colonize in 1 to 12 days.

A number of factors further contribute to the spread of mold and affect how quickly it spreads. Humidity is the biggest contributor to the spread of mold, and a humidity level greater than 55 percent will cause mold to spread much more quickly. Central AC systems which pull mold spores into ducts and blow them out through vents will also help mold spread more quickly and to a greater area. Unfortunately, most times, mold is already a problem before it is discovered. Due to the fact that the spores are hard to destroy, mold will sometimes return even after the mold source or leak is gone.




Are there different types of mold? Like the good, the bad and the ugly?


Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses:

Allergenic Molds
Allergenic molds rarely produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system’s responses to allergenic molds tend to typically produce scratchy throats, eye and nose irritations, and rashes.

Pathogenic Molds
Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems.

Toxigenic Molds
Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in all segments of the population. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer.




Can mold travel to different areas?


Unfortunate, yes. Mold spores, no matter the type, are tiny and they can find their way across your home via air conditioners, heating systems, and ventilation units. You can even carry them on your body without ever knowing. Since the spores travel through the air, they can easily spread and even more easily be inhaled by the home’s occupants. While the source of the mold spores came either from a water leak or ac in another room we have discovered actual mold growing inside closets in different bedrooms. Spores can attach and grow on different mediums, leather shoes, jackets and belts are often areas where we discover severe mold growth.

Unfortunately, mold can be found almost anywhere. However, when mold is present in the indoor environment, there is usually moisture present. Mold especially likes to grow where temperatures are 68°F, dim lighting, and very little air circulation. Mold spores are known to travel throughout the air, attach itself to any damp surface, and then begin breaking down the material as it grows. Therefore, it is vitally important for homeowners to contact a mold remediation company when they have experienced a flood or fire in their home.




It is an old water leak, should I be worried about any old mold? Can mold die?


Yes and no. With water or humidity, molds grow. Without moisture, molds die but the spores do not. If water returns, the spores regenerate growing colonies of mold. Some water leaks in a home are seasonal (rain leaks, air conditioning leaks), and others are irregular (pipes, shower, etc.). Consequently, humidity in a home varies over time and between locations, so the types and concentration of mold and mold spores that can be found from one test to the next can vary. While the water leak may be old, any presence of spores and other conditions warrant a current mold inspection and test.




If I cannot smell mold that means there is no mold, right?


Again, not quite. Not all mold spores have a distinct odor, and equally, not everyone has the same sense of smell. We have encountered many situations where we inspected beautiful, clean homes, brand new and old, with no visible signs and no odors, however, the testing revealed hidden mold that was affecting the homeowners.




Can I just use bleach to kill or remove mold?


No, that can have the opposite effect.

While bleach may kill mold on some surfaces, it does not kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood, drywall, cloth, etc. Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent) cannot get into the porous surfaces where most mold hyphae (the root structures) grow and attach themselves. Bleach has an ion structure that prevents it from penetrating porous surfaces, thus the root structures inside the porous surfaces are not killed. While the bleach may remove the mold from the top of the surface, the roots are still inside the pores.

Furthermore, bleach could increase mold problems. The water in the bleach soaks into the porous surface and the chemical stays on top. This gives the roots more moisture to grow. Dense mold will grow onto the surface within a few days of bleach treatment and the wet surface becomes a magnet for mold spores that were not killed by surface treatment.




How does mold get into my home or business?


Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions. Mold spores may enter your home through open doorways and windows, and through many environmental control systems. Spores in the outside air also enter homes by attaching to clothing and pets. When mold spores drop on surfaces where moisture is present, they will grow.




Where does mold grow?


Mold commonly grows where leakage and/or seepage is an issue – particularly in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or anywhere flooding has occurred. To make matters worse, many building materials actually provide “nutrients” which encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other common materials such as dust, paint, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth.




How many mold species are there?


Molds are fungi and no one knows exactly how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from 10,000 to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Their tiny particles are present everywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Mold is often found in buildings and homes where conditions are warm and humid or where there has been some sort of water intrusion.





 

Infrared Thermography Questions

MOLD GLOSSARY

Molds species are simple, microscopic organisms that can grow virtually anywhere, both inside buildings and outdoors. Mold colonies can grow inside damp or wet building structures and are a common component of household and workplace dust.

 

Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person and the amount and type of mold present, some toxic and some allergenic.

Regardless of the type of mold, it should be treated as potentially a health hazard and should be removed from homes and workplaces.

 

As there are thousands of species this cannot be a conclusive list, however, we are listing the most common spores found indoors in the Central Florida area.

 

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