At A Mold Specialist we pride our selves on our accuracy and honesty. You can rest assured when you call us for Mold Testing and Mold Inspections, you will receive professional service at an affordable price. We not only offer inspections and testing, we are also Certified Mold Consultants for all questions and concerns regarding Mold and Water Damage.
Warning: According to industry standards it is a conflict of interest for the same company to do the testing/inspection and the actual work. Our company only does the testing and inspection, so you can be assured our test results and recommendations 100% accurate, not motivated by the chance to do unnecessary remediation and expensive repair work.
Our Certified inspectors will answers most questions on what to do about mold, providing expert, un-biased information for owners, occupants, inspectors. How to recognize mold, how to test mold, how to clean up or remove mold, how to prevent mold in buildings, and what mold related illnesses and symptoms have been reported are all discussed in depth.
Our Company offers impartial, unbiased advice without conflicts of interest. We will block advertisements which we discover or readers inform us are associated with bad business practices, false-advertising, or junk science. Our contact info is at AMoldSpecialist.com This website provides information and procedures for finding, testing, cleaning and preventing indoor mold, toxic black mold, green mold, testing building indoor air quality, and other sick house / sick building investigations.
We give in-depth information about mold and other indoor air quality problems: causes of respiratory illness, asthma, or other symptoms such as neurological or psychological problems, air quality investigation methods, and remediation procedures such as mold cleanup, handling toxic mold contamination, and building or mechanical system repairs.
We offer advice on mold prevention and mold-resistant construction resistant to indoor problem molds such as the Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp. and Stachybotrys chartarum groups.
When you want to determine if mold is growing in you home. After any flooding or water damage event. Whenever you find a leak that has been present for more than 24 hours. Whenever you smell a moldy odor. Occupants of your home experience a long-term medical condition without a known cause. Unusual stains appear on furniture or building material. You suspect mold but do not see any visible mold growth. If you suspect you have a mold problem, whether mold is visible or not, one call to A Mold Specialist is all it takes to be sure. Our only interest is in providing our clients with accurate reporting of the data we collect in the course of the inspection process and reliable results of mold tests and samples.
Areas of Service: Orange County, Los Angeles County, Mold Testing and Inspection. A Mold Specialist is the most experienced mold inspection company in Johnson County specializing exclusively in mold inspections and mold testing in residential and commercial properties. Mold is a natural living organism in our environment. It exists in the air in the form microscopic spores that move in and out of buildings through doors, windows, vents, HVAC systems and anywhere else that air enters. If you suspect you have a mold problem, it is always best to have a certified mold inspector assess the over-all condition and make the appropriate recommendations for correction.
Although toxic black mold is a headline grabber, mold comes in a wide variety of colors and is often not even easy to see. It creeps up the inside of walls, collects in water-damaged basements and crawl spaces, and grows inside poorly cleaned humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning units.
The health concerns of mold are wide ranging and cause respiratory and many other problems. While infants, young children, the elderly, and the immune-compromised are at the greatest risk, mold can affect anyone, causing everything from a mild allergic reaction to mycotoxicosis and more serious diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly all of the 37 million chronic sinus infections are a result of mold. Mold has been linked to both causing asthma and advancing asthma. Fortunately, mold can be eradicated if you know what it is and where it is, which is why regular mold inspection is an important part of general home maintenance.
Still, health problems associated with mold growth aren't as common as many people believe, but that doesn't mean the mold is innocuous. Left unchecked, extensive mold damage can require professional remediation that can cost thousands of dollars. Imagine a bathroom with inadequate ventilation. Mold builds slowly on the ceiling and walls, allowing residents to scrub them clean every few weeks. But with poor cleaning habits this mold takes over and begins to eat away at the drywall itself. The same thing happens with mold trapped inside your walls, until discoloration and bad odors require that you rip out your entire wall.
A mold inspection is a simple and important task that should be performed with regularity and/or when the situation demands. If you find water damage, discover that people in your home are having respiratory problems, or if you realize that you've never had an inspection, it's a good idea to get one done and soon. A basic Mold Inspection Los Angeles will cost approximately $400 for a mid-sized home, but more extensive inspections will naturally cost more. These larger inspections should be done on occasion to make sure nothing is left unchecked.
What is "black mold" or "toxic mold"?
You have probably heard a great deal about black mold or toxic mold. It is usually associated with Stachybotrys, a black mold that is often found after there has been persistent water damage. The known health effects from exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to other common molds and may cause illness in individuals with a sensitivity to “mycotoxins” (chemicals produced by certain molds), to people who are immunocompromised, or to individuals who have become sensitive after prolonged exposure. In fact, many molds are black and it is the amount of mold and level of exposure that are necessary pieces of information to discover.
How do I know if the mold in my home is toxic?
Web sites and media articles will often use the terms “toxic mold” or “toxic black mold”. This is largely a marketing strategy, a scare tactic designed to encourage you to make financial decisions that may not even be necessary. In fact, most molds are toxic to some extent and many are black. There is one variety of particular concern; Stachybotrys. About 30% of the strains of this species produce abundant mycotoxins and are reportedly more potent than other types of mold. A few species/strains of Aspergillus and several others can be nearly as dangerous. Ingesting mold in contaminated foods has been shown to poison people and may even cause cancer. Of further concern is mold contamination found around the home in areas in which children could have access to it. It is important that young children do not put items in their mouths if there is a chance of mold, especially if it is Stachybotrys or Aspergilus. The main thing to remember is that many molds are toxic and once you know you have a mold problem, all molds need to be removed to minimize exposure risk. The type of mold has no bearing on the remediation process. All mold contamination needs to be removed, regardless of the type.
After my basement flooded, the carpet was removed, but I still smell a musty odor. Why?
If moisture remained on materials in the basement for a sufficient amount of time, the materials, such as sheetrock, insulation, cardboard boxes, walls studs, paneling, etc., molds will continue to grow and produce the volatile organics or the mold odor. If, in addition to the flood, moisture is entering slowly through the foundation, the condition will be chronic until the moisture sources are resolved.
Why does the mold odor in a basement usually go away in the winter?
This musty odor is produced by actively growing molds that are metabolizing (breaking down) a food source (wallboard, wood, cardboard, etc.) While the molds are feeding on the materials, they produce mold volatile organic compounds or mVOCs, which are simply chemicals that travel easily in the air and therefore disperse throughout a house or building. Because basements dry out in the winter, mold is relatively starved for moisture and grows more slowly or not at all and the odor may lessen in strength. This is not, however, the end of the mold problem.
Can mold contamination inside a wall cavity be identified?
Yes. For example, after a basement has flooded and the water is extracted, the carpet should be removed and the floor disinfected. However, a mold odor may still be present and the mold source not easily recognizable. Wallboard, paneling, plaster, wood and insulation that make up the walls in a basement absorbed moisture up into the wall cavity and mold growth resulted. Wall cavity samples are collected through very small, drilled holes, cultured, and analyzed similarly to airborne samples. Collection of a control wall cavity sample in a wall that was not affected by the moisture is recommended for comparison purposes.
Why do airborne mold samples sometimes not show that mold contamination is present, even when there is visible surface mold growth? Mold growing on a surface is not necessarily producing airborne spores, especially in an area that has little or no activity such as an unfinished basement used primarily for storage. Also, if the surface that the mold is growing on is still damp or wet, the mold spores will not become airborne as easily. AMS has found cases of significant amounts of active mold growth on building materials without the companion air samples showing elevated mold spores. As long as surface mold growth is present, it will need to be removed, regardless of what air samples show.
Residential mold removal will rid the home of microscopic organisms that colonize in wet or damp areas that can threaten the health of the those who reside there. Mold is a microscopic organism that is a type of fungus. Spores that are airborne look for damp places to settle and colonize; unfortunately these places are not always visible to those who are living in the home. Basement mold removal should be considered since it is a common area of infestation along with the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and attic. This is not really a do-it-yourself kind of job because care should be taken to not inhale the substance or expose areas in the home that are not infested. Mold can make people sick especially those who are susceptible to allergies, sinus problems, asthma, and other respiratory type illnesses. Companies that offer this type of service have experience in cleaning up many types of substances and have the necessary equipment to do the cleanup right so the organisms are completely gone.
Molds can differ in appearance and color including but not limited to black, white, green, and yellow. Black is the one type of fungus that is the most toxic to humans and can cause a multitude of health problems. Inhaling the spores can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema, pneumonia, and even lung cancer. The fungus can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause problems with vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. After a person is first exposed he or she may suffer with flu symptoms including diarrhea and nausea. Residential mold removal will help to find the spores and remove them effectively and completely to avoid further health problems.
Smelling a musty odor can be one indication that a home may be infested with fungus. Living in an older home is another indication that it may be time for an inspection. Older homes usually have older water pipes and are more prone to leaks. There is also a greater chance that the roof or windowsills may leak. Seeing a visible sign of fungus should alert the homeowner that the entire home including the attic and basement needs to be examined for other infestations.
Sometimes a fungus will invade the air ducts in a home so that every time the heater or air conditioner is turned on the spores will be spread throughout. An indication of this is when a musty odor is smelled only when air is circulating throughout the home. Residential mold removal will identify the areas in question and take samples for further investigation. When the presence of fungus is found it is imperative that the decision is made for a cleanup to be conducted. Most professionals will want the home to be vacant at the time and for any sick residents to get medical care for possible mold poisoning.
Using a professional for help will normally begin with a thorough examination of the residence as the certified mold inspector will do a visual walk through of the premises. He or she will note any smells that could be indicative of fungus and note any possible areas that need to be checked further. Typically the areas that are looked over very carefully are the areas in the home susceptible to water leaks or that are typically damp. The ventilation system will be checked carefully and humidity levels will be checked throughout the home. Residential mold removal will include samples from suspect surfaces that will be grown in a laboratory to identify possible fungus spores. Air samples will also be taken comparing outside air with the inside air.
Some good indicators of possible contamination due to fungus in a home include not only visible sights and smells but the health of the residents should be considered as well. Some of the symptoms to be on alert for are nausea, fatigue, sore throat, overall body aches and pains, respiratory problems, irritated eyes, stomach problems, chronic headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, hearing problems, and skin problems. Doing a search on the Internet for basement mold removal will provide some vital information about more health concerns associated with fungus overgrowth and instructions on how to find help for an inspection and ways to tackle the problem.
A Comparison of Some Indoor Air Sampling Devices - simultaneous application of popular sampling cassettes and slide samplers allows comparison of typical particle collection variation by device in actual field use. A field study in process by DJF, 2008 - 2005 (Technical Paper) Burkard personal air sampler used by many residential investigators (we use multiple units simultaneously in some investigations). We also employ other residential building sampling equipment for surface, air, vacuum, and bulk sample collection methods as well as for gases. Alternative, low-cost air sampling equipment and methods such as the mini- vacuum pump and Zefon Air-o-Cell or Allergenco-d cassettes or MCE filter cassettes for viable, non-viable or other forensic particle identification in Buildings.
When the building interior surfaces were demolished we then performed a visual inspection and collected bulk surface samples using tape. The wall check samples were completely unable to detect large and significant mold contamination in the cavities of this building.
We postulate that even with mechanical agitation (banging on the wall during wall check sampling) the flow rate of the sampling method does not move enough air to reliably pick up surface contamination unless the mold genera/species happens to be at a particularly high state of active sporulation. The tool remains in the professional's arsenal, to be used with discretion.
Vacuum samples of Soft Goods of carpeting, drapes, furniture, clothing permits testing for mold contamination. We use this method for screening of areas where mold is not visible, and in clearance testing.
MOLD CULTURES - Validity and Usefulness of Mold Cultures & Culture- Based Home Test Kits for mold For a quick to understand overview of the validity and usefulness or perhaps not-usefulness of culture tests for mold, see Validity of Cultures (settlement plates or swabs) to find toxic mold in Buildings which is an overview and critique of using mold cultures, settlement plates, petri dishes, and cultured swab samples, and air sample testing limitations for determining what's in a Building, and which tests are useful in different situations.
For more thorough detail see Shortcomings of cultured mold samples which lists a number of detailed concerns about viable spore traps and culture media for Building problem detection
Why identify mold - Reason 1: Cosmetic-only vs. problematic mold But if mold present in the Building is only of "cosmetic" concern, it is unlikely that special cleanup methods such as negative air, establishment of a containment system, and special personal protection for workers is needed. If these special methods can be avoided, the cost to remove mold will be substantially less. Therefore it cases where a large amount of mold is present it may be appropriate to have an expert perform testing and to prepare an appropriate remediation plan to guide the remediation contractor. The same expert may be used to perform clearance testing later to assure that the cleanup was proper and successful. Also see Can mold make you sick?"
Harmless "Black Mold": A very common example is the Ceratocystis/Ophistoma group which appear as "black mold" on framing lumber and which are more commonly known as "blue stain" or sapstain molds. This mold is found on lumber as it arrives from the lumber yard - a condition that is readily apparent to a Building expert and which can be confirmed by sample identification.
Allergenic mold: Other dark molds, including the most common genera Cladosporium sp. are often allergenic: a potential respiratory irritant or a problem for people with allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities.
Toxic/Pathogenic mold: a third broad group are molds which we call "toxic" and includes species which are toxic, pathogens, or infectious agents which in some cases may be capable of infecting humans or of producing disease in humans. Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, are two examples.
We find in many cases that large areas of "black mold," about which owners/occupants may be unduly frightened, are Ceratocystis/Ophistoma, a common mold that is found on framing lumber from time of construction, and which is known to be only of cosmetic concern, and which is not an indicator of mold-conducive conditions in the Building - it came in on the lumber and is inactive and cosmetic. Without knowing what this is, people may make large and inappropriate expenditure on "professional remediation" - in one case in CT a client was about to launch a $600,000. complete re-framing of the first floor of a Building, a totally inappropriate step which was completely unnecessary with a little knowledge of mycology and Building science.
Why identify mold - Reason 2: convey possible health effects to a physician: Proving that mold in a Building caused a health concern is so arduous and costly as to be inappropriate in most cases. If a lot of allergenic or toxic mold is present, it needs to be removed. But information about what was found in a Building may be useful: a number of our clients have health complaints for which IAQ problems are a potential cause or contributor - information which they want to convey to their physician. For example, a delay in diagnosing fungal infections in two of our clients led each to have permanent loss of eyesight. we acknowledge that these cases are not common, but they occur enough for caution to be in order. we don't submit that we should be practicing medicine nor diagnosing ailments, rather that information about a sick person's environment might be useful to their physician. Harriet Burge at the Harvard School of Public Health has taught us that the cost of proving that a specific illness is caused by a specific mold or allergen in a particular environment is so arduous as to be impractical. However we agree, as we expect you do too, that if a large area of allergenic or more toxic mold is present in an environment it should be removed.
Where large areas of remediation are needed, using professional cleaning services, we find that in many cases the "professional" does not properly maintain containment, and actually increases the level of allergens in the Building. In Buildings where occupants are at particular risk (elderly, immune-impaired, infant, asthmatic) we have had cases where an occupant entered an area contaminated with high levels of allergenic mold and suffer severe asthma attacks. In Ellenville, NY we are aware of a fatality involving just such an instance.
For large remediation projects we find it very useful to have a base-line of data on what areas need to be cleaned and which are acceptably clean before the remediation project. Then a quick test after the remediation can confirm not only that it was successful, but that the remediator did not inadvertently fail to contain. If the containment was unsuccessful and other Building areas have become contaminated enough to want to have additional cleaning (typically HEPA vacuuming or wiping), having the baseline showing that the contamination followed the remediation rather than preceded it protects the property owner or occupant from additional unnecessary expense.
The usefulness of samples depends on the knowledge and thoroughness of the person collecting the sample as part of a Building investigation. Arbitrary or random samples are unlikely to be a reliable characterization of a Building. Choice of method as well as how the method is applied (for example, just where to stick the tape to collect a surface sample) makes a large difference in the quality and representativeness of the sample.
WHY TEST FOR MOLD IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY?
Several years ago it was asbestos. Today, mold is in the spotlight and Los Angeles is divided over whether toxic mold really is a legitimate issue or another over-rated environmental issue.
A SIGN OF THE TIMES.
Whatever we believe about Mold in Los Angeles County, it is a reality that is here to stay. Several alerts from the medical profession in Los Angeles County and the skyrocketing number of lawsuits against landlords, realtors, employers, insurers, warn us of the seriousness of mold and justify the need for proper mold testing, especially in Los Angeles County where everyone is sue-happy.
Some have even called mold "The Silent Killer". That may be on the extreme side, but with all the information available about mold and it's potential for harm, there are plenty of valid reasons for mold testing. For example, we now know that some molds produce mycotoxins which may be linked to severe cases of asthma, respiratory problems including bleeding lungs, and many other very serious ailments including immune system disorders. The medical and legal communities in San Diego County are now taking mold contamination very seriously. With so much overwhelming evidence to support the dangers of exposure to mold, Mold Testing is the first step in properly assessing whether an abnormal or elevated mold condition exists.