Black mold is an expensive predicament. It can start out as barely noticeable and then erupt into a serious infestation where entire walls of a room are coated with dark splotches of mold colonies. Black mold at that final stage requires the assistance of professional mold removers and their help isn’t cheap. The sooner the mold is detected, the sooner it can be eliminated.
Detection has been made a bit easier by the availability of mold test kits on the market. The kits fall into two categories: air and surface. As the titles suggest, one detects the evidence of black mold in the air (airborne spores) while the other detects mold growing on surfaces such as walls and floors. Mold spore traps are used to discover spores in the atmosphere. It has a sticky slide surface and room air is blown over it using a pump. Particles that are currently in the air stick to the slide and the slide is then examined for the presence of black mold. An air impactor will use a petri dish full of fluid to catch mold spores as they are blown over the open dish. If either test kit does nothing else, both give an idea of the current quality of the air.
A swab test will use a cotton swab or an adhesive tape to collect a sample from a surface suspected of having black mold growing on it. This test doesn’t cost much in terms of time or money, but the tester ought to wear protective gloves to prevent contact with the mold. There are times when the contamination is visibly obvious and the need is to determine how serious the situation is. A bulk sample, material pieces larger than what would be stored in a test tube, are collected and sent to a laboratory for closer analysis by trained professionals. This test does mean that some part of the building will have to be damaged in order to obtain the sample, unless there is some fabric or other material that can be easily collected and sent.
Air and space mold test kits share one thing in common: neither can be used to detect mold in the other’s environment. For instance, a swab test is almost useless in finding black mold spores in a room’s air space, while a mold spore trap isn’t designed to diagnose black mold’s infestation of a wall. Because using only one form of test can give an incomplete picture or scope of them problem, however, it is recommend that both be used to give a full understanding of the degree to which black mold has established itself, and ensure the safest precautions be taken to remove it.
There is something else to keep in mind once a contaminated area has been identified; removal procedures for advanced stages of black mold infestation are not DIY projects. Worst case scenario, these situations can call for a home evacuation and experienced professionals must be called in to solve the problem. If the results of a mold test kit indicate more than superficial evidence of black mold, immediate and technically sophisticated remedies ought to be applied as quickly (and safely) as possible. Mold test kits can help to uncover the level of black mold contamination and this information can then be used to decide what is the best corrective action to be taken.