How to Test for Black Mold in the Air

Hand holding mold testing device testing a moldy wall

Are you breathing black mold? For your health’s sake, it’s important to find out. Most airborne molds are capable of harming certain people, but toxic black mold presents a particular risk. Even short-term exposure to black mold can be dangerous to health. 

When people talk about toxic black mold, they’re referring to a specific variety known as Stachybotrys chartarum. Like all molds, black mold is insidious; it’s hard to find and even harder to remove. Just because you can find a visible mold colony, doesn’t mean you’re not inhaling its spores and byproducts.

If you suspect black mold is growing in your home, it’s a good idea to run a test before beginning the expensive remediation process. While you’re investigating, make sure to run a high-quality air purifier for mold to protect yourself and your family. Keep reading to learn when and how to test for black mold. 

If your home has a mold problem, it’s time to act. Protect your family by running a high-quality air purifier from Air Oasis. Questions about our purifiers? Give us a call at (806) 373-7788

What Makes Black Mold Dangerous? 

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding black mold and its health effects. While some people are relatively unaffected by exposure to black mold, others have allergic reactions. Research suggests that in cases of acute exposure, a person may even experience severe symptoms, including lung disease and neurotoxic effects. 

The health effects of black mold not only depends on the individual exposed, but also on the particular mold colony. Black mold can release a number of byproducts, including spores, mold fragments, microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) and mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are the most dangerous of these byproducts, but not all black mold colonies release them. 

When Should You Test for Mold? 

If you’re wondering about black mold exposure, there’s probably a good reason. More often than not, homes with mold infestations have a distinct smell, but not always. You may want to test for the mold if any of the following are true: 

  • You are purchasing a new home. Some mold infestations are hidden, and homeowners don’t find them until it’s too late. Before purchasing a new home, especially if the home’s been unoccupied for a while, you may want to run a mold test. 
  • Your home has high levels of humidity. Like most molds, black mold needs two things to spread: moisture and nutrients. If your home has a persistent moisture problem, you’re more likely to encounter mold. 
  • Your home smells musty. Molds release mVOCs, compounds with an odor that is often described as “musty.” Although the health effects of mVOCs are largely unknown, they have been linked to dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nasal irritation and nausea. 
  • You have chronic health issues. Black mold can cause profound health consequences, including chronic inflammatory and respiratory problems. Even in the absence of mycotoxins, long-term exposure to black mold can cause chronic allergy symptoms and other illnesses. 
  • You just finished mold remediation. Mold remediation is expensive, and it’s not always successful. If you recently had professional mold remediation, it’s a good idea to perform additional tests to ensure the black mold is gone. 

When a mold colony is present, the spores will be, too. So if you can see visible mold growth in your home, there’s no reason to test the air. However, certain mold tests may be able to tell you which type of mold is present, as well as its concentration.

How to Test for Black Mold

These days, there are plenty of black mold testing options. However, they’re not all equally effective at testing for black mold in the air. Before buying a test kit or hiring a testing service, make sure to find out exactly what information the test will provide. 

DIY Mold Testing Kit

If you’re looking for a fast, affordable option, a DIY kit is your best bet. Many DIY kits can be purchased through online retailers or hardware stores and offer results in as soon as 48 hours. Before purchasing one, make sure it can do the following: 

  • Detect Stachybotrys chartarum spores
  • Test for mold in the air, not just surfaces

Some DIY test kits include an optional lab analysis, which can be useful if you’re struggling to perform the test alone. The downside to cheap mold tests is that they’re not always accurate. If you need specifics, you may want to opt for a different type of test. 

Indoor Air Sampling Kit

Indoor air sampling kits are the next step up from DIY mold testing. Air sampling kits generally include an air pump and containers for collected air. After collecting the samples, users mail them to a laboratory for analysis. Laboratory analyses offer a distinct advantage over DIY mold tests in that they provide mold concentration in addition to type. 

Professional Mold Testing

A lot can go wrong with home mold tests, and inaccurate results are always a possibility. For these reasons, some people prefer to hire professional mold testing services. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have a certification program for mold inspectors, it’s important to ask about qualifications, training, experiences and references before hiring a professional.  

It’s important to note that mold testing only identifies the presence of mold particles and spores, not any mycotoxins that the mold may be releasing. If you’re experiencing symptoms of toxicity after living with black mold, you may want to pursue mycotoxin testing. Instead of testing your home, these tests look for mycotoxins in your body, usually through urine or blood. 

Air Purifiers for Black Mold

Whether you’re in the mold remediation process, are currently testing for black mold or just suspect its presence, you need to protect yourself. Scientific studies have shown that running a high-quality air purifier can drastically reduce mold in the air. However, not all air purifiers are up to the task. When you’re dealing with potentially dangerous airborne contaminants like black mold, it’s important to buy the best.

At Air Oasis, we’re proud to produce some of the most powerful air purifiers on the market. Whether you need to remove odors, VOCs, viruses and bacteria, smoke, allergens or mold, we’ve got you covered. Our air purifiers harness multiple purification technologies to provide you with comprehensive coverage. Questions about air purifiers and mold? We’d love to hear from you! Visit us online or give us a call at (806) 373-7788.

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