Do you ever walk into a room in your home or office building and notice a faint odor? Or have you or someone you love had the unfortunate experience of a chronic condition that isn’t easily explained after consulting with various doctors? Well, mold toxicity could be a major factor in your clinical picture. So how do you know if you have mold toxicity? Testing with GPL’s MycoTOX Profile along with the Organic Acids Test, via a urine sample, will help you understand your body’s mycotoxin load. The MycoTOX Profile looks at 11 mycotoxins from 40 different mold species. These toxins have been shown to be immune dysregulating, neurotoxic, reproductive toxic, amongst other effects. The OAT can help you understand if there is intestinal overgrowth (colonization) of Aspergillus mold that requires antifungal treatment. The highly qualified consultants at GPL can help you and your clients understand the values reported and the extent of their toxic load. But after testing your body for mold and mycotoxins, there still lies the question of whereIt came from. Mold inspection of your home or office may seems like an insurmountable feat since most of us don’t even know where to start. Since there is currently no gold standard for mold testing, the following is information outlining the basics of some common mold testing companies:
HOME MOLD TESTING – DO-IT-YOURSELF KITS
The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) is a common choice for mold testing. This method of testing was developed by the US EPA Office of Research and Development but is currently not endorsed by the EPA for mold testing. It is available from many mold testing companies – just do a web search for “ERMI test”. The ERMI was developed during a 2006 HUD American Healthy Home Survey based off 1,096 homes to research the moldiness of American homes. The ERMI uses a mold specific quantitative PCR to test a single sample of dust. From there, the sample’s potential mold is analyzed and the results are compared to water-damaged related molds (group 1) and other common indoor molds (group 2). Using an algorithm, the ERMI score is then calculated. The range for the score is -10 to 20, -10 being the lowest moldiness level and 20 being the highest. Your home’s score is measured comparatively to the water damaged homes studied and a score is populated to rate the moldiness of your environment, compared to the reference or non-moldy homes tested from the research data. The score identifies your home’s relative moldiness. Only one sample is needed and can be completed by the average person. Carpet dust is used and is seen as beneficial to use, as it seems to hold on to mold spores and it may give a better representation of long-term mold exposure as opposed to air testing. The ERMI is a good test for understanding how moldy your environment is compared to other homes in the U.S. Sampling for the ERMI is outlined on the Eurofins EMLab P&K Laboratories’ web site. To conduct the test, you purchase a filter for your vacuum cleaner. This allows for the dust with the mold spores to be collected during the timed vacuum cleaning session. After collection, labeling the sample and overnight shipping are required for analysis. Once analyzed, you receive a detection and quantitation of mold from group 1, water damage associated molds from water-damaged homes used in development of the ERMI, and group 2, molds from reference homes or homes without water damage, from your sample. With this you get a relative score that is the difference of group 2 from group 1, which is your ERMI score. Price wise, this testing can cost around $300 plus the cost of the sample filter needed for collection which is about $7. This is a viable option for anyone looking to understand where their environment lies in comparison to other moldy homes.
Another company that has been used for mold testing is ImmunoLytics. Their testing method involves the use of plates with a specialized agar utilized to allow the mold spores to grow. Their analyst will look at your test plates under the microscope to identify the types of molds growing. The analysis reports on the quantity and type of mold found and assigns a health index score in accordance to what was found. ImmunoLytics also allows you to collect several types of samples. You can test the air in a room, the air in your car, your pets, and visible mold you will swab directly. Their website outlines the different collection techniques in a stepwise manner for ease of sample collection. In general, you will need to keep all windows closed in the room you are testing, have the test plat agar side up, and open two feet away from the walls, and leave it there to collect for approximately 30 minutes. This can be done simultaneously in various rooms with different plates and you and your family can go about your lives while testing. This allows for more rooms to be tested at the same time to ensure no part of the home is missed when investigating for mold. Testing the car involves running the A/C for 30 minutes, then placing the plate in the car with the A/C running for 30 minutes for collection. There is also the direct swab option. I f there is a vent, windowsill, etc. with visible mold, this is a direct way to collect said sample. The cost of Immunolytics’ testing is dependent upon how many plates and/or swabs are requested. Each plate or swab is about $33 each. This includes the testing materials with labels required for testing. With this you can then self-analyze your plates and determine your homes mold yourself. For an additional fee, you can send in your samples and have an ImmunoLytics analyst analyze them for you and provide a consultation to review your results and help you understand next steps. This company allows for tailor-made testing materials to be ordered for by the client to fit their needs.
EnviroHealth Consulting, Inc, is a company dedicated to helping people limit their environmental exposure. This company gives information regarding electromagnetic fields and how to reduce your exposure, clean air and how to make you indoor air cleaner, and mold exposure. This company has a Certified Microbial Consultant certified through the American Indoor Air Quality Council with over 3,000 home inspections worth of experience. As the client, you can collect your own samples at home or in your office and have them analyzed. The website outlines how to collect the samples. Their testing is different in that it doesn’t require a plate with agar or a dust filter. They require a tape method for collection. You can purchase clear tape and collect dust from multiple areas, as outlined in their collection instructions, and apply them to a plastic bag. From here, you send in your samples and they are analyzed for a fee. The fee ranges from approximately $25-$100. This an affordable option for clients. The turn-around time for results is said to be about a week with results e-mailed directly to the client.
PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTIONS
For those looking for someone to come out to your home for an inspection, there is a company called Environmental Analytics (EA). They will do an indoor environmental inspection of your home or office looking for potential off-gassing of chemicals, microbial overgrowth, and how your environment is potentially encouraging or minimizing your toxic exposure. It is an overall assessment of your potential environmental toxic exposure. Based off your results, a customized plan is developed to help you combat the results and follow ups are given as needed, according to the company’s website. Not much information is given regarding what type of testing equipment is used, as it is based off their assessment of your home for what type of testing is needed. It appears they follow Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), Surviving Mold, and International Society of Environmental Acquired Illness (ISEAI) guidance on best practices for their testing. The benefit is that there is someone that will come to your space and do a visual inspection. Even though this service isn’t offered everywhere there is the option for virtual consultations. They will help you determine, over the phone, where you should go or look next in your environmental investigation. Second opinions on other lab testing for environmental inspections and sample gathering assistance are also offered to those out of state and out of the country. This may be a good follow up for those out of their service area to better understand results from another company or to get a second opinion.
Another resource for seeking out mold inspectors in your area is the National Association of Mold Remediators and Inspectors (NAMRI). NAMRI is dedicated to ensuring professionalism in the mold inspection and remediation profession. It is for mold professionals to have an ethical code and standard of practice befitting the mold industry to protect all. Inspectors associated with this group are held to a minimum requirement for describing and reporting microbial overgrowth and contributing factors. Members also must have a minimum of 90 hours of accredited mold education training. If they do not have this training, at least 25 mold inspection or remediation jobs need to be successfully completed to apply for membership. Their list of accredited mold educators includes Professional Mold Inspection Institute and Professional Home Inspection Institute. There is also an exam all applicants must take and pass before membership is granted. This organization also serves as a directory for clients looking for professional mold inspectors in their area. For those looking for an actual person with credentials in mold inspection, this may be a good resource to explore when searching for a mold inspector.
In the journey of mold-related illness, finding the source of exposure is a crucial part of the puzzle. When it comes to finding the right test or inspector, it can be overwhelming. I hope this guide has outlined a few options to make it simpler to navigate the choices that are out there. Currently there is no gold standard for how many mold spores in the air or environment are an acceptable amount. There is also no gold standard in the testing of mold. Continue to do your own research when looking for a mold inspector or mold testing company. When looking for an inspector in your service area, ensure the inspector is qualified with a degree in microbiology and/or has experience in looking for mold in the home or other building environments. Utilize resources that you trust, that are credentialed, and that provide clear and detailed information about how they sample and test for mold, their price point, and quality communication for any questions or concerns that may arise. Before going with any home mold test or inspector, be sure you know what questions you want answered. Are you more interested in how your home’s moldiness compares to other homes or are you curious about what is growing in your environment? Who you decide to go with on this journey to understanding your exposures is ultimately up to you. This will hopefully serve as a guide to help your decision-making process.
- Consumer Information: National Association of Mold Remediators and Inspectors (NAMRI). (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.namri.org/consumer.php
- ERMI Sampling for PCR Testing. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2020, from https://www.emlab.com/resources/sampling-guides/pcr-ermi-sampling/
- ERMI Testing Lab Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2020, from https://www.emlab.com/services/ermi-testing/
- How to Test for Mold (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2020, from http://createyourhealthyhome.com/checking-for-mold/how-to-test-for-mold/
- Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://environmentalanalytics.net/services/
- Testing & Treatment – The ImmunoLytics Mold Testing Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://immunolytics.com/testing-treatment/