Many people think the first step to getting rid of the mold in their home is to conduct a test to identify the mold. However, experts do not recommend testing to identify the type of mold because all types can cause problems, regardless of toxicity.
The Tennessee Department of Health does not do mold testing. We do not know of any government agency that will test your home for mold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both do not recommend testing.
Proper mold tests can be expensive and there are no standards for acceptable mold levels. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, the presence of mold in the home does not imply a health risk. There are 100 kinds of mold in Tennessee, whatever type of mold may be present should be cleaned and moisture problems in the home corrected so that the mold does not return.
If the source of excess moisture is not apparent, testing for the presence of excess moisture can provide valuable information to assist in identifying the source of a mold problem.
Moisture meters and digital humidity monitors are relatively inexpensive and available at many home and department stores. Both can be helpful. A moisture meter can tell you how much water is inside a building material. For example, a moisture meter can tell if a wall, floor, or ceiling has hidden water inside. A humidity monitor, sometimes called a humidistat, can tell you how much water is in the air. A humidity monitor can show if the air in the room is too damp. Maintain indoor humidity ideally between 30-50 percent.
If you consider buying a home mold test kit from a store or online, consider the cost of the test kit plus the cost of lab analysis of your sample(s). Consider what new information the mold test will give you knowing that you already believe you have a mold problem. Rather than putting money into testing, put the money into fixing the water problem.
There are different types of mold tests. A wipe sample is a simple test. This involves wiping a cloth over a moldy area. The sample is sent to a lab and put under a microscope for analysis. Another type of mold test looked at under a microscope for a mold count is a dish sample. These are kits seen in stores. A dish usually has a food gel inside. Mold spores land on the food gel over several days and grow. The lab analyzes what is growing in the dish. A more sophisticated test is an air sample. With an air test, a know amount of air is pulled through a filter. The filter is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Some private companies will test homes for mold. From what we've heard testing starts at several hundred dollars and goes up from there. If you choose to test for mold, make sure you'll get lab results with interpretation.