How to Do Low-Cost Mold Sample Collection and Mold Laboratory Identification of Mold Species


Although any mold in elevated levels indoors can cause severe health problems for mold-sensitive occupants, several toxic molds such as Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Penicillium pose far greater health risks than others, according to Phillip Fry, Certified Mold Inspector and author of the book Mold Health Guide.

Thus, many homeowners, rental property owners, tenants, employers, and employees in Canada, the USA, and worldwide want to know, and need to know, the precise identities of the various mold species infesting their moldy home, apartment, or workplace.

The accurate identification of mold species requires two steps: (1) physical collection of mold samples from the moldy building; and (2) mold laboratory analysis of the collected mold samples.

For the first step, a property owner, manager, tenant, or employee usually hires a certified mold inspector, an industrial hygienist, or an environmental hygienist for mold inspection and collection of mold testing samples, at a typical cost of US $500 to $2,000 for a 2,000 square foot (186 square meters) home.

This inspection and testing fee usually includes mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification for a small number (3 to 10) of collected mold samples.

Alternatively, if the available funds for mold testing and mold lab analysis are low, it is possible to achieve the same accurate mold testing results for just $60 to $200 by using—

(1) inexpensive, transparent, sticky, adhesive tape (“lift tape sampling”), such as Scotch® brand tape, to collect the mold samples; and

(2) a low-cost Asian mold analysis laboratory (e.g., $20 per sample for mold species identification and quantification, compared to the usual $50 to $150 per sample in North America or Europe).

Lift tape sampling and testing is an easy, practically-free (except for the cost of the tape), and an effective way to collect mold test samples when you—

(1) Can see mold growing on a wall, ceiling, floor, carpeting, furniture, heating/cooling duct register, or other surface;

(2) Want to know whether a particular stain, discoloration, or mystery substance on the wall or another surface is actually mold growth; and/or

(3) Smell mold (the digestive gas emitted by mold eating the home or building) and want to test a number of surfaces upon which elevated levels of airborne mold spores may have landed or been deposited, such as on walls, window sills, window and door trim, refrigerator top, kitchen cabinet tops, undusted furniture, heating/cooling duct registers, and the return air filter in the heating/cooling system.

The easy steps involved in tape lift sampling are—

1. Cut a three-inch (3”) long strip of one-inch (1”) wide, transparent sticky tape.

2. While wearing rubber gloves and a breathing respirator mask (with organic vapor filters) from the local hardware or home improvement store, press the tape strip firmly (sticky side down) onto the visible mold growth or onto the surface being tested.

3. Remove (peel back) the tape from the surface.

4. Open up a small ziplock bag (a transparent, easily sealable plastic storage bag), and press lightly the lift tape sample sticky side onto the inside sidewall of the ziplock bag.

5. Close [zip shut] the ziplock bag completely. Tape it shut if necessary to make sure no airborne mold spores can escape.

6. Attach to the outside of the ziplock bag a large adhesive label with the tester’s name, date of sampling, property address, the precise testing location at that address (e.g., “air conditioning duct register in living room”), testing method (“lift tape sampling”), and the name, postal address, email address, phone number, and fax number (if any} of the person submitting the sample to the mold laboratory.

7. Mail or express the collected lift tape samples (including payment of the lab’s analysis fee} to the mold analysis laboratory for mold species identification and quantification.

For more information about mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification, please visit—


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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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