Question:
> Message: Kitchen air tested; 3000 Penicillium, Aspergillus, mold spores per cubic meter of air.
> Is this a dangerous level that we could erradicate ourselves with
> cabinet removal and drywall replacement plus chemcial treatment?
Answer 
Airborne spore level information from the center of a room alone tells you very little about likely conditions on your walls, behind cabinets, or in your walls, you cannot use air born spore info to tell you about the difficulty of a mold removal job because such data is only a very small part of the big picture.
  • You also have to consider very roughly how much wall area is covered with mold, is very large amounts of mold possibly hidden in the walls?
  • Is an AC return near your work area that could pull contamination in during removal?
  • Are the workers wearing proper protection to prevent something called organic dust  toxic syndrome or other problems?
  • Are you sure the workers do not have asthma, or immune system problems?
  • Do you have dehumidifiers to dry the interior wall voids?
  • And of course has the initial moisture intrusion problem been discovered and repaired?
If the contamination is believed to be more than say 10 square foot then it is best to first have a mold inspection done and then have a professional mold remediator removed the problem. To be safe I am recommending you have it inspected regardless of size because it may be more than you thought. Certified mold inspectors have proper training to diagnose such conditions and we can provide a written remediation protocol addressing the types of  concerns brought up in this e mail. Remediators have special equipment and training to help correct such problems.
Please do not reply to this e mail, this could go back and forth forever, if you need help visit us at or at our other site and give me a call or schedule a mold  inspection appointment.
P.S.
By the way it sounds like you had a swab Jockey test your air.
In the industry we call inspectors who provide a lab report and a meaningless inspection report, or no mold inspection report at all swab jockeys, two day wonders, and pump jockeys, because most states have no license for mold inspectors and most of us just take an inexpensive two day course teaching how to sample your air, they buy a pump and a few sample swabs from the lab, then go out and give you a false feeling of security because you feel that a certified mold inspection was done, when all that was done was the air was sampled and this revealed spores in your air. Wow your air has spores, and you know the scientific names of those spores and the numbers or spores. Only problem is you probably knew you had mold and spore level problems before the inspector came out or you would not have called him and paid him for consultation. Often homeowners do not understand that a disservice was done until months or years later when an unresolved problem gets out of control. It seems that many such inspectors have legal problems and leave the industry after a year or so. Sample analysis has it’s place but what some inspectors do not know is that it is only 5% to 50% of the picture depending on the specific investigation.
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Odors produced by mold and your health

 

Most inspectors as well as people suffering with mold problems assume that spores are what make people  sick, but is it possible that mold odor alone without spores can cause health complaints such as but not limited to allergy, asthma, and more frequent colds?

 

I have done mold inspections since 2003 and have long suspected a direct and strong correlation between mold odor and building occupant health complaints. It seems that mold odor has more to do with health complaints than spore levels in many cases.

 

It is a well known fact that many manmade volatile organic compounds such as benzene, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, and formaldehyde to name a few not only have scary names, but can have scary health effects and can contribute to indoor air quality problems such as sick building syndrome and other IAQ problems.

 

Mold odors are also made of volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds produced by mold include chemicals similar to alcohols, aldehydes, amines, ketones and many more.  When volatile organic compounds are produced by mold or bacteria we stop calling them volatile organic compounds and refer to them as microbial volatile organic compounds.  (mVOCs).

 

Mold odors or mVOC’s are typically over looked as a source of health complaints by many mold inspectors who look for spores as the only source of potential health problems. Other inspectors are concerned about the health effects of toxins produced by toxic black mold. During many inspections because visible mold was not obvious and the lab report you receive states that spore levels indoors are low,  inspectors will tell you that you do not have a mold problem, and that your health problems are not related to mold in your home.  This inspector has investigated numerous cases where mold odors were produced inside AC units, behind wall paper, in crawl spaces, or inside walls in many such cases spores were trapped or simply not released by the mold and yet people became ill.

 

After years of noticing this correlation between the occurrence of mold odor and allergy and asthma like health complaints I started to find information on the internet to support these observations.  Please note that the legal and health implications are powerful, even in the lack of elevated spore levels building occupants can still become ill from mold.

 

 

Samples of indoor odor can be taken for quantitative and qualitative analysis by accredited labs using proven and advanced methods of analysis, Prism Analytical labs AKA PATI is one of the few labs that specialize in not just voc analysis but also mVOC or microbial volatile compound analysis. 

 Do not rely on my observations, also see what academic and government mold experts say about this often overlooked issue. Do a search for mold odor and health for yourself and you will see that even if spore levels are low in your home there is no guarantee that you are free of mold problems.

But do not despair, there is hope, simply never rely on spore levels and lab tests alone, always hire an experienced inspector who does much more than take samples, he or she should know something  about building construction or home inspections,  AC systems, science, indoor air quality, and industrial hygiene. The mold inspector must do a very detailed investigation using his or her knowledge and experience and should not just take a few samples. 

 A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc.