Mold in air ducts is a serious concern if it arises in a property-both commercial and residential. Sometimes, signs may be present that there is an issue, such as:
-Leaks around the air handler
-Visible moisture in the ceiling drywall coming from the air ducts
-Odors in the property
-Visible mold spores on air vent
-Moisture streaking from air vent
The diagnosis of mold in an air duct is usually a team effort from HVAC technicians and mold inspectors. The mold inspector can test the air quality to see if there are any abnormal airborne mold spores in the property, as well as seeing if there is any visible moisture in the property via moisture readings. The HVAC technician can actually inspect the air ducts, as well as the air handler for any issues with the system.
If you suspect that there might be an issue, it is recommended calling these professionals out to the property for a further diagnosis.
It is expounded by OSHA guidelines that mold contamination in various types of building infrastrature contribute and compound poor indoor air quality; this includes contributing towards the notion of ‘building-related illness’. The main concerns surrounding microbial contamination, include irritation, pulmonary issues, cardiovascular concerns, nervous system concerns and various carcinogenic effects.
According to OSHA, various irritation effects, especially due to VOCs released by mold via mold sporulation (reproduction) have been displayed and documented in various case studies conducted on workers. Furthermore, sodden materials caused by water leaks are known to harbor and proliferate microorganisms which can compromise the air quality. This is noted by the musty odor often describe by those experiencing mold contamination in a property, which is the result of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) being produced during microbial growth.
According to OSHA, cancer is another concern due to the toxigenic fungi present, and mycotoxins produced by mold during metabolism. In reference to these concerns, it was noted by the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) that,
"[t]he toxigenic fungi are common contaminants of stored grain and other food products and have caused well-described outbreaks of acute systemic toxicosis as well as specific organ carcinogenesis when such food is consumed. It appears clear that massive contamination with a highly toxigenic fungus strain of a site in which aerial dispersion of metabolic products occurred would be necessary to induce acute symptoms. However, considering the carcinogenicity of many fungal toxins, an examination of the risks of chronic inhalation exposure appears justified".
Disclaimer: Mold Mitigation Professionals do not represent OSHA, or ACGIH, or have any affiliation with either body.
Mold Mitigation Professionals are pleased to announce that we will be expanding our air quality services by offering VOC and Formaldehyde monitoring services beginning in August of this year.
We currently offer mold inspections and mold testing (both surface testing and mold air testing), as well as allergen air testing for such variables as dust mites.
With our VOC and Formaldehyde monitoring, this will allow us to further investigate client complaints of air quality issues; therefore, if mold isn't the issue within the property, then we can test for other variables if the conditions appear to elicit a concern (such as with newly renovated properties).
Watch this space for an official announcement!
Indoor air quality is often a concern of residential owners and tenants. There are a multitude of factors which dictate the quality of air in a property; this could include the inefficiency of the HVAC system in the property (not ventilating it properly); overcrowding; newly painted properties; faulty cookers and stove-tops; newly remodeled properties etc. The following is a very brief and concise introduction to air quality in residential properties.
When there is any moisture incident, such as heavy rainfall intruding into the property, it is the proclivity of homeowners and inspectors to be suspicious of mold/fungal growth. Air quality tests, using what is termed as ‘non-viable’ sampling (using a sampling cassette on a bio-pump machine) can deduce if the mold spores in a suspicious area are abnormally elevated relative to an area which isn’t contaminated. Mold can be a concern since they can produce mycotoxins when they metabolize. Many may not be aware, but mold does produce VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can be responsible for headaches.
VOCs, in respect to air quality issues, are very common. There is a plethora of building materials which contain VOCs. More than 900 different VOCs have been assessed and discovered in indoor environments.
VOCs can be found in building materials, furnishings, fuels and most commonly, in household solvents. Some examples of household solvents are:
It is advised to limit the amount of household solvents in the property and use them conservatively.
Other areas of concern with air quality, if one is experiencing health symptoms are the following: Radon, which is generally derived from the soils underneath the property (which is why vapor barriers are advised); Carbon Monoxide (CO), especially for those who burn tobacco products in the house since cigarettes produce nearly 4,000 compounds, including CO; Asbestos, but this is generally only of concern when it is disturbed (Asbestos is a fibrous materials contained in building materials, generally found in buildings built or renovated prior to 1980); Formaldehyde, which manufactured properties are more susceptible to.
All of these potential aggravators, when it comes to air quality, are compounds to be mindful of when concerned with air quality in a property. There are a multitude of factors, contributors and determining variables when it comes to air quality in a property.
If the issue at hand appears to be too ambiguous and baffling, it may be worth reaching out to an air quality specialist to further assist you with your air quality issue.
Our clients sometimes appear to be slightly befuddled as to why we recommend an air sample from the outside, which is perfectly understandable! Why would one be concerned with getting an air sample from the outside, when, what we're concerned with is the interior air quality!
Our environment naturally harbors myriad types of mold, such as Cladosporium, but at levels which aren't concerning. If we take 3 air samples from within a property, and we review the results, the outside air serves as a useful barometer to extrapolate a reliable interpretation of the interior results.
For example, if, upon initiating an air sample in a bathroom, the results display 459 spores m/3 of Aspergillus, we may have reason for concern. Conversely, if, in our outdoor air sample, Aspergillus is registered at 569 spores m/3, then we don't have any reason for concern due to the exchanging of air between the exterior and interior of the property. This, ultimately, can save the homeowner or tenant a lot of issues, and money, in determining the presence, or extent, of a mold issue.
Then, there's the question of, 'why can't just a standard outside air sample be used time and time again, indefinitely? Why take an outside air sample at each new property and each new inspection?'
This is a very pertinent question. The concentration and overall distribution of mold spores can sway in its variation due to various factors such as the season and the time of day due to variations in meteorological conditions. According to data collated via the Environmental Analysis Associates (EAA), the range in the quality of outside air can vary in parts greater than a hundredfold. An excerpt from the EAA Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene states,
"For example, total mold spore concentrations at EAA’s outdoor monitoring station in San Diego have ranged from 200 spores/m3 during calm wind conditions to 80,000 spores/m3 during high Santa Ana wind conditions (wind speeds greater than 20 miles per hour). The most predominant fungal groups found outdoors include ascospore/basidiospore and Cladosporium species. Occasionally, elevated concentrations of other fungal groups, including Aspergillus/Penicillium, Alternaria, and smuts/myxomycetes, can also be found."
Due to the amount of variables involved in air quality testing, this is why it is highly recommended that people who are interested in discovering what is in their homes, have an outside air sample completed.
MOLD HEALTH EFFECTS BLOG AND RESEARCH