Air and surface sampling has become more important in recent years as the awareness of toxic compounds has grown. The most prevalent toxic compound today is mold, many species of which can produce highly toxic compounds. If you suspect you have molds or other toxins in your Sarasota, Florida area home, call Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc at 941-377-3602 today.

Need For Both Air And Surface Sampling

Studies of homes that have undergone water damage have demonstrated the importance of both air sampling and surface sampling to detect different types of mold that may be present in a home. Wet spore molds are more likely to be found in the air, whereas dry spore molds are more likely to be identified on surfaces that display signs of mold growth.

Even if you haven’t been through a flood, there could still be mold growing in your home. This is because there are other sources of water damage. For example, a leak in the roof can cause water in ceilings and walls. A leaking pipe can cause moist conditions that encourage mold growth.

Your HVAC system is another potential cause of mold problems in your home. The problem could appear near the intake of the system, be hidden in your air ducts or be right in your air conditioner itself.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Surface Sampling

Surface sampling is an inexpensive way to determine and identify molds that are actually growing in the area being tested. A surface sample will show exactly what is present and can reveal indoor reservoirs of spores which are not yet airborne. Unfortunately surface sampling is only available if you can access the area of possible contamination.

Also, identifying that there is mold on the surface of an area does not indicate whether or not there are mold spores in the air. Usually, the number of airborne spores is the key determinant in whether health problems connected to breathing indoor microbials occurs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Air Sampling

Air sampling comes in two types, non-culturable (non-viable) and culturable (viable).

Non-culturable air samples are much like a glue trap. The trap catches spores present in the air whether they are culturable or not. Taking a count of how many spores the trap catches gives a general idea of whether or not there is a mold problem in the home or office.

The advantage of this type of trap is its ability to trap spores that do not culture well or have lost their ability to reproduce. These traps also capture other components in the air that could pose indoor air-quality issues—pollen, fiberglass particles, hyphal fragments, hair, skin cells, etc. Results can be analyzed as soon as the traps are removed from the area.

Because some mold spores aren’t easily identified under a microscope, it is possible to not get an accurate count of the spores present. Viability is not addressed either, though in most cases this isn’t critical.

Culturable air sampling tests for not only the levels of fungal spores in the air, it also allows testers to tell which species of mold are present. For example, penicillium molds are not toxic, while aspergillus molds are.

A culturable air sample is collected by passing air from the home across agar in strip form or in petri dishes. The trapped spores and hyphal fragments are then cultured. The disadvantage connected with this type of air testing is the fact that dead spores don’t get counted. Non-culturable spores which are allergenic are not identified. It also takes five to seven days to incubate the samples, so results are delayed. The cost is also much higher than for non-culturable sampling.

Reasons to Use Both Types of Air Sampling

Because both cultured and non-cultured samples have limitations, it is better to use both methods to test the air of your home. Certain spores, such as Chaetomium and Stachybotrys, show up in cultured traps but don’t show up in on non-cultured traps. By taking samples using both methods, the full spectrum of contamination is more likely to be detected.

Mold and moisture are enemies to both your health and the value of your home. Whether the problem resides in your HVAC system or from some other moisture issue, Baker & Sons Air Conditioning, Inc is experienced in providing air and surface sampling. We’ll help you identify if you have a problem and the most efficient way to deal with it. We have been helping Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte County homes and business handle air quality issues for over 23 years. Call us at 941 377-3602 to resolve your air quality issues today.