Mold Assessments and Mold Reports: What to Know

If you have scheduled a mold investigation, our Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) will ask you for details about the mold issue, your goals and your concerns, ususally before even arriving on site. Most certified mold professionals will start a project by gathering this information, as it is crucial for resolving the mold issue. 

 

Information Gathering

It is in the client's best interest to provide as much information as possible about the building history, past water events, past mold issues, areas of concern, health complaints, etc. A professionally trained mold investigator with field experience will know the kind of questions to ask, what to look for, where to look, when and how to take mold samples, when the issue is minor, and when there is cause for concern. 

 

Physical Inspection

After gathering information from the client, the IEP will perform a physical inspection at the site. taking notes, photographs, and measurements. The IEP will assess the location(s) identified by the client, and then look for additional clues, both visible and hidden, such as leaks, condensation, structural issues, visible moisture, water stains, odors, etc.

 

Other Areas of Concern

Depending on the project, the IEP may also inspect the basement, attic and HVAC system, and other common areas of mold growth. After thoroughly inspecting the indoor environment, the IEP will then head outside to take note of the land slope, roof issues, standing water, exterior mold growth, etc. All of these things can affect if, where, and how moisture enters the building envelope to cause mold growth. 

 

Taking Measurements & Samples

The IEP will likely measure moisture and humidity levels in several areas, note size and distance of mold contaminated material, any wet materials, etc. Collecting mold samples is not always necessary, and reasons vary (discerning types of mold, hidden mold, client request, etc.)

 

Samples are collected by either tape lift, dust wipe, bulk sampling, and/or air sampling. Mold samples are carefully labeled and brought back to the laboratory for analysis. The lab report will indicate the types of mold present at the site, and if air samples were taken, the number of spores per cubic meter. 

 

Your Mold Report

When the on site mold investigation and sample analysis are complete, the IEP will then write a thorough report detailing the entire process and their findings, including professional conclusions and recommendations. 

 

Here is an example of a typical mold report. This document professionally and thoroughly outlines the details of the entire mold investigation, visual observations, scientific data, conclusions and recommendations. 

 

What's Included in the Report

The first three sections of the report in the example give an overview of the mold situation, the building and the work plan. In the section labeled Findings, the IEP describes what was observed during the physical inspection, and provides information about how moisture affects mold growth. A certified mold professional has vast experience determining the various ways that water and moisture can enter a building envelope, and in this particular case, it seems that there were issues with the shower and improper drainage. Information about measurements and mold sampling are also described in this section, as well as some helpful “Mold Prevention Tips.”

 

Resolving moisture issues is the first and best way to resolve most chronic mold problems. This "Mold Prevention Checklist" is a great resource. 

 

Scope of Work & Remediation Plan

If mold remediation is deemed necessary, detailed recommendations will be provided in the Scope of Work, organized by the various areas of concern. Since most Mold Consultants do not perform remediation,  the next step is to find a reputable mold remediation firm. 

 

Red Flags

If the company is certified and offers both investigation and remediation services, you might want to contact their certifying body to file a report or get clarification, as doing both on a single project is considered a conflict of interest in the mold industry.

 

Health Issues

Although we are asked frequently for medical advice as it relates to mold exposure, we are not qualified to diagnose symptoms or verify whether or not mold is causing health problems. As IEPs, we can tell you when mold spore counts are higher than normal, and which mold species in your living space are considered unsafe (such as Stachybotrys, otherwise known as “black mold.”) Many environmental contaminants (like asbestos and lead) are regulated for health reasons, but mold is not, so we cannot speak to "safe levels" of mold. 

 

Final Step- The Clearance

Once the remediation has been completed, we would suggest scheduling a “Post Remediation Verification” or “Clearance Report” with the IEP who did your original inspection. It is important to make sure that the mold remediation was completed correctly and according to standard industry protocols. In a clearance, the IEP will re-inspect all areas of concern with a visual inspection, and will take additional lab samples if needed or requested.

 

A "Failed Clearance" means that the remediators neglected to address one or more areas indicated on the Scope of Work, and therefore the mold issue remains, or has a good chance of returning. The remediation firm would then have to return and fix the outstanding issues. 

 

An optional last step, the Post Remediation Verification / Clearance can provide confidence and documented verification that the mold issue was handled professionally and properly as outlined in the mold report and Scope of Work. 

 

 

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