<< Home Improvement Articles
How to Use Do-It-Yourself Toxic Mold Test Kits
By Phillip Fry
VANCOUVER, CANADA. Many homeowners, landlords, renters, property managers,
business owners, and employees want to know, and need to know, the precise
identities of the various toxic mold species inhabiting their home, rental
property, or place of work, according to Phillip Fry, Certified Mold Inspector
and author of the mold book Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection,
Testing, and Remediation.
To identify correctly toxic mold species, take these two steps: (1) use
do-it-yourself mold test kits to collect mold samples during a thorough and
complete building mold inspection and investigation; and (2) send the collected
mold test samples to a mold laboratory for mold analysis and mold species
Testing Visible Mold Growth
If a resident or occupant sees mold growing on a wall, ceiling, floor, heating
or cooling duct register, or any other surface, he can scrape mold particles
off the mold growth area onto the sticky surface of the opened mold test
During such scraping of the mold growth, the tester needs to wear rubber
gloves and a full-face respirator mask with organic vapor filters (such as
the 3M brand from a large hardware, home improvement, or safety store) to
protect against toxic mold exposure.
To do the scraping, use a new or thoroughly disinfected (with ethyl or rubbing
alcohol) paint scraper. Disinfect the scraper after each individual sampling
to remove any possible mold contaminants, and thus avoid mold cross
-contamination in the sampling process from one sample location to another.
Print clearly and neatly on a large pressure sensitive label the property
owners name, the property address, the precise test location at that
address, the testing date, and the type of sampling method (mold test
kit settling), time duration of the test (e.g., thirty to sixty minutes)
along with the testers name and contact information.
The label should also include each individual test number, as listed on the
mold chain of custody form, available free from the mold laboratory. Attach
the label to the bottom of the mold test kit that contains that respective,
numbered mold sample.
Mold Testing of the Indoor Air
Use a separate mold test kit to collect a mold sample from the air of each
of these areas---
1. Heating/cooling duct register. Expose the sticky side of an open mold
test kit (one for each duct register) to the outward airflow from each separate
heating/cooling duct register. Tape the open test kit to the duct grill so
that the airflow directly hits the sticky surface.
Run the heating/cooling system on fan ventilation for 10 minutes prior to
removing the mold test kit from each tested duct register. Then close, seal,
and label each mold test kit.
2. Room Air by the Settling Method. Mold test the air of each room, attic,
basement, crawl space, and the garage by first running a cleaned fan to stir
up each room or areas air all around for about 15 minutes.
Thoroughly clean the fan blades and fan guard with rubbing alcohol or ethyl
alcohol after the fans use in each separate testing location.
Then shut off the fan, open up a mold test kit, place it open side upwards
in the middle of the room [on the floor, or upon a table or chair] for thirty
minutes to one hour to allow airborne mold spores to settle down onto the
sticky surface of the mold test kit.
Be sure to use the same time for all air test locations for the standardization
of the mold test results. Then close, seal, and label the mold test kits.
3. Outdoor Mold Control Test. The mold lab results of the indoor mold tests
have the most significance when the results of each indoor locations
testing can be compared with the results of the outdoor mold control test.
The control test should be a mold test kit left open on the ground outside
the building and at least five feet beyond the drip edge of the room. Use
the same time (thirty minutes to one hour) that was utilized in the indoor
air tests for the settling method tests. There should be no rain or snow
Self-Interpretation of Mold Test Kit Results
The tester can then either watch the test kits himself for mold growth, with
self-interpretation of the mold test kit results, over a seven day time period,
or send the mold test kit to the mold lab immediately, or after the
self-observation growth period.
Here is how to self-interpret the visible mold growth in the mold test kits
after seven days of mold growth---
1. If the tester observes and count a greater number of mold colonies of
any particular mold colony type (possessing the same or similar color, shape
and/or structural pattern) growing in one indoor mold test kit than in the
outdoor control mold test kit, then the tester can reasonably decide that
there is a possible indoor-generated mold infestation in the area/location
involved in that particular mold test.
2. If the tester observes a particular mold colony type growing in a particular
indoor mold test sample that is NOT present in the outdoor control mold test,
then the tester can reasonably conclude that there is a possible indoor-generated
mold infestation in the area/location in which he conducted that particular
3. If the tester observes three or more of the same mold colony type growing
in one mold test kit, then the tester can reasonably conclude that there
is a possible mold infestation in the area/location in which he conducted
that particular mold test, regardless of the number of similar mold colonies
present in the outdoor control test.
Why is that conclusion possible? Consider this rat analogy: if there are
only three rats living inside a particular area of ones home or building,
is there no indoor rat problem just because there are more rats living
immediately outside of the home or building?
It is the time-cumulative exposure and body intake of even modest numbers
of indoor airborne mold spores that makes residents or occupants sick from
mold exposure. Because residents or occupants spend many hours per day indoors
in a home or workplace, they are continually inhaling or ingesting mold spores.
When the mold spores enter into the residents eyes, nasal/sinus areas,
lungs, stomach (eating and drinking food and beverages upon which airborne
mold spores have landed), or open body sores, the mold-spores, once inside
the body, can begin dangerous mold growth inside the body because of the
abundance of body moisture and food to eat (peoples bodies)!
4. If the tester observes three or more of the same mold colony types in
several or many mold tests taken from different areas of the home or building,
the tester can reasonably conclude that the mold species is possibly widespread
in its contamination of the tested home or building.
The most dangerous mold species to residents and occupants are the molds
that are omni-present through out the home or building, thus causing widespread,
cumulative mold exposure and body intake.
For more information about the use of mold test kits, mold laboratory analysis,
and mold species identification, please visit:
Mr. Phillip Fry, a Certified Mold Inspector and a Certified Mold Remediator
is also the author the widely read mold advice ebook "Do-It- Yourself Mold
Prevention, Inspection, Testing and Remediation" and "Mold Health Guide."
He also co-authored "Mold Legal Guide."