Expert Guide to Mold Sampling for Accurate Species Identification


Discover the essential steps for collecting physical mold growth samples to ensure accurate identification of mold species at an affordable cost. This guide provides property owners, landlords, and workplace managers with the knowledge to effectively gather mold samples for laboratory analysis, helping to maintain a healthy living and working environment.

Understanding Mold Sampling and Identification

Mold infestation can be a serious concern for homeowners, landlords, tenants, and employers. Identifying the specific species of mold present is crucial for effective remediation. Certified Mold Inspector Phillip Fry, author of “Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Prevention, Inspection, Testing, & Remediation,” emphasizes the importance of accurate mold species identification. The process involves two key steps: collecting physical mold samples and having them analyzed by a mold laboratory.

Cost-Effective DIY Mold Sample Collection

The most economical approach to mold sampling is the do-it-yourself method, which involves physically collecting mold samples and submitting them to a laboratory for analysis. The cost for laboratory analysis can start at around $20.00 per sample, according to industry standards.

Bulk Physical Mold Sampling

When visible mold is present on surfaces such as walls, ceilings, or HVAC ducts, property owners or occupants can undertake “bulk mold sampling” by scraping mold particles into a small ziplock bag. It’s essential to wear protective gear, including rubber gloves and a full-face respirator mask with organic vapor filters, available from reputable stores like 3M.

For scraping, use a new or disinfected paint scraper, cleaning it with ethyl or rubbing alcohol between samples to prevent cross-contamination. Label each sample clearly with the owner’s name, address, test location, date, and sampling method, along with the tester’s contact information. The label should also include the test number from the mold chain of custody form, which can be obtained from the mold laboratory.

Alternatively, mold particles can be scraped directly into a mold test kit (Petri dish) for culturing, which typically takes 5 to 7 days for accurate species identification. The tester can monitor the test kits for mold growth or send them to the mold lab immediately or after the observation period.

Another technique involves cutting out a small section of mold-infested material, such as drywall or carpeting, and placing it into a ziplock bag or pressing it into a mold test kit. Follow the same labeling instructions as mentioned above.

Tape Lift Sampling

Tape lift sampling is a straightforward method for collecting mold samples:

  1. Cut a three-inch strip of one-inch wide transparent sticky tape, like Scotch® Brand Tape.
  2. Wearing protective gloves and a respirator mask, press the tape firmly onto the mold growth or test surface.
  3. Peel the tape from the surface and press it onto the inside sidewall of a ziplock bag.
  4. Seal the bag completely, using additional tape if necessary.
  5. Attach an adhesive label with sample identification information, specifying “lift tape sampling” as the method.

Additional Resources

For more detailed information on bulk physical mold sampling, tape lift sampling, laboratory analysis, and mold species identification, consider visiting authoritative sources such as:

While this guide provides a foundation for mold sampling, it’s important to note that professional assistance may be necessary for large or complex mold infestations. Always prioritize safety and accuracy when dealing with potential health hazards like mold.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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