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Our Certified inspectors will answers most questions on what to do about
mold, providing expert, un-biased information for owners, occupants,
inspectors. How to recognize mold, how to test mold, how to clean up or
remove mold, how to prevent mold in buildings, and what mold related
illnesses and symptoms have been reported are all discussed in depth.

Our Company offers impartial, unbiased advice without conflicts of interest.
We will block advertisements which we discover or readers inform us are
associated with bad business practices, false-advertising, or junk science.
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This website provides information and procedures for finding, testing,
cleaning and preventing indoor mold, toxic black mold, green mold, testing
building indoor air quality, and other sick house / sick building

We give in-depth information about mold and other indoor air quality
problems: causes of respiratory illness, asthma, or other symptoms such as
neurological or psychological problems, air quality investigation methods,
and remediation procedures such as mold cleanup, handling toxic mold
contamination, and building or mechanical system repairs.

We offer advice on mold prevention and mold-resistant construction
resistant to indoor problem molds such as the Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp.
and Stachybotrys chartarum groups.

When is a good time to test for mold?

When you want to determine if mold is growing in you home.
After any flooding or water damage event.
Whenever you find a leak that has been present for more than 24 hours.
Whenever you smell a moldy odor.
Occupants of your home experience a long-term medical condition
without a known cause.
Unusual stains appear on furniture or building material.
You suspect mold but do not see any visible mold growth.
If you suspect you have a mold problem, whether mold is visible or not,
one call to A Mold Specialist is all it takes to be sure. Our only interest
is in providing our clients with accurate reporting of the data we collect
in the course of the inspection process and reliable results of mold tests
and samples.

Areas of Service: Orange County, Los Angeles County, Mold
Testing and Inspection. A Mold Specialist is the most experienced mold
inspection company in Johnson County specializing exclusively in mold
inspections and mold testing in residential and commercial properties.
Mold is a natural living organism in our environment. It exists in the air
in the form microscopic spores that move in and out of buildings
through doors, windows, vents, HVAC systems and anywhere else that
air enters. If you suspect you have a mold problem, it is always best to
have a certified mold inspector assess the over-all condition and make
the appropriate recommendations for correction.

Although toxic black mold is a headline grabber, mold comes in a wide
variety of colors and is often not even easy to see. It creeps up the inside of
walls, collects in water-damaged basements and crawl spaces, and grows
inside poorly cleaned humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning units.

Mold and Your Health
The health concerns of mold are wide ranging and cause respiratory and
many other problems. While infants, young children, the elderly, and the
immune-compromised are at the greatest risk, mold can affect anyone,
causing everything from a mild allergic reaction to mycotoxicosis and more
serious diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly all of the 37 million
chronic sinus infections are a result of mold. Mold has been linked to both
causing asthma and advancing asthma. Fortunately, mold can be eradicated
if you know what it is and where it is, which is why regular mold inspection
is an important part of general home maintenance.

Extensive Mold Damage
Still, health problems associated with mold growth aren't as common as
many people believe, but that doesn't mean the mold is innocuous. Left
unchecked, extensive mold damage can require professional remediation
that can cost thousands of dollars. Imagine a bathroom with inadequate
ventilation. Mold builds slowly on the ceiling and walls, allowing residents to
scrub them clean every few weeks. But with poor cleaning habits this mold
takes over and begins to eat away at the drywall itself. The same thing
happens with mold trapped inside your walls, until discoloration and bad
odors require that you rip out your entire wall.

Mold Inspections
A mold inspection is a simple and important task that should be performed
with regularity and/or when the situation demands. If you find water
damage, discover that people in your home are having respiratory problems,
or if you realize that you've never had an inspection, it's a good idea to get
one done and soon. A basic Mold Inspection L
os Angeles will cost
approximately $400 for a mid-sized home, but more extensive inspections
will naturally cost more. These larger inspections should be done on
occasion to make sure nothing is left unchecked.

Toxic Mold & Black Mold  

What is "black mold" or "toxic mold"?
You have probably heard a great deal about black mold or toxic mold. It is
usually associated with Stachybotrys, a black mold that is often found after
there has been persistent water damage. The known health effects from
exposure to Stachybotrys are similar to other common molds and may cause
illness in individuals with a sensitivity to “mycotoxins” (chemicals produced
by certain molds), to people who are immunocompromised, or to individuals
who have become sensitive after prolonged exposure. In fact, many molds
are black and it is the amount of mold and level of exposure that are
necessary pieces of information to discover.

How do I know if the mold in my home is toxic?
Web sites and media articles will often use the terms “toxic mold” or “toxic
black mold”. This is largely a marketing strategy, a scare tactic designed to
encourage you to make financial decisions that may not even be necessary.
In fact, most molds are toxic to some extent and many are black. There is
one variety of particular concern; Stachybotrys. About 30% of the strains of
this species produce abundant mycotoxins and are reportedly more potent
than other types of mold. A few species/strains of Aspergillus and several
others can be nearly as dangerous. Ingesting mold in contaminated foods has
been shown to poison people and may even cause cancer. Of further
concern is mold contamination found around the home in areas in which
children could have access to it. It is important that young children do not
put items in their mouths if there is a chance of mold, especially if it is
Stachybotrys or Aspergilus. The main thing to remember is that many molds
are toxic and once you know you have a mold problem, all molds need to be
removed to minimize exposure risk. The type of mold has no bearing on the
remediation process. All mold contamination needs to be removed,
regardless of the type.

Basement Mold  

After my basement flooded, the carpet was removed, but I still smell a musty
odor. Why?
If moisture remained on materials in the basement for a sufficient amount of
time, the materials, such as sheetrock, insulation, cardboard boxes, walls
studs, paneling, etc., molds will continue to grow and produce the volatile
organics or the mold odor. If, in addition to the flood, moisture is entering
slowly through the foundation, the condition will be chronic until the
moisture sources are resolved.

Why does the mold odor in a basement usually go away in the winter?
This musty odor is produced by actively growing molds that are metabolizing
(breaking down) a food source (wallboard, wood, cardboard, etc.) While the
molds are feeding on the materials, they produce mold volatile organic
compounds or mVOCs, which are simply chemicals that travel easily in the
air and therefore disperse throughout a house or building. Because
basements dry out in the winter, mold is relatively starved for moisture and
grows more slowly or not at all and the odor may lessen in strength. This is
not, however, the end of the mold problem.

Wall Cavity Mold  

Can mold contamination inside a wall cavity be identified?
Yes. For example, after a basement has flooded and the water is extracted,
the carpet should be removed and the floor disinfected. However, a mold
odor may still be present and the mold source not easily recognizable.
Wallboard, paneling, plaster, wood and insulation that make up the walls in a
basement absorbed moisture up into the wall cavity and mold growth
resulted. Wall cavity samples are collected through very small, drilled holes,
cultured, and analyzed similarly to airborne samples. Collection of a control
wall cavity sample in a wall that was not affected by the moisture is
recommended for comparison purposes.

Surface Mold  

Why do airborne mold samples sometimes not show that mold
contamination is present, even when there is visible surface mold growth?
Mold growing on a surface is not necessarily producing airborne spores,
especially in an area that has little or no activity such as an unfinished
basement used primarily for storage. Also, if the surface that the mold is
growing on is still damp or wet, the mold spores will not become airborne as
easily. AMS has found cases of significant amounts of active mold growth
on building materials without the companion air samples showing elevated
mold spores. As long as surface mold growth is present, it will need to be
removed, regardless of what air samples show.  

Residential mold removal will rid the home of microscopic organisms that
colonize in wet or damp areas that can threaten the health of the those who
reside there. Mold is a microscopic organism that is  a type of fungus. Spores
that are airborne look for damp places to settle and colonize; unfortunately
these places are not always visible to those who are living in the home.
Basement mold removal should be considered since it is a common area of
infestation along with the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and attic. This is
not really a do-it-yourself kind of job because care should be taken to not
inhale the substance or expose areas in the home that are not infested. Mold
can make people sick especially those who are susceptible to allergies, sinus
problems, asthma, and other respiratory type illnesses. Companies that offer
this type of service have experience in cleaning up many types of substances
and have the necessary equipment to do the cleanup right so the organisms
are completely gone.

Molds can differ in appearance and color including but not limited to black,
white, green, and yellow. Black is the one type of fungus that is the most
toxic to humans and can cause a multitude of health problems. Inhaling the
spores can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema,
pneumonia, and even lung cancer. The fungus can be absorbed into the
bloodstream and cause problems with vital organs such as the kidneys and
liver. After a person is first exposed he or she may suffer with flu symptoms
including diarrhea and nausea. Residential mold removal will help to find the
spores and remove them effectively and completely to avoid further health
Smelling a musty odor can be one indication that a home may be infested
with fungus. Living in an older home is another indication that it may be
time for an inspection. Older homes usually have older water pipes and are
more prone to leaks. There is also a greater chance that the roof or
windowsills may leak. Seeing a visible sign of fungus should alert the
homeowner that the entire home including the attic and basement needs to
be examined for other infestations.

Sometimes a fungus will invade the air ducts in a home so that every time
the heater or air conditioner is turned on the spores will be spread
throughout. An indication of this is when a musty odor is smelled only when
air is circulating throughout the home. Residential mold removal will identify
the areas in question and take samples for further investigation. When the
presence of fungus is found it is imperative that the decision is made for a
cleanup to be conducted. Most professionals will want the home to be
vacant at the time and for any sick residents to get medical care for possible
mold poisoning.

Using a professional for help will normally begin with a thorough
examination of the residence as the certified mold inspector will do a visual
walk through of the premises. He or she will note any smells that could be
indicative of fungus and note any possible areas that need to be checked
further. Typically the areas that are looked over very carefully are the areas
in the home susceptible to water leaks or that are typically damp. The
ventilation system will be checked carefully and humidity levels will be
checked throughout the home. Residential mold removal will include
samples from suspect surfaces that will be grown in a laboratory to identify
possible fungus spores. Air samples will also be taken comparing outside air
with the inside air.

Some good indicators of possible contamination due to fungus in a home
include not only visible sights and smells but the health of the residents
should be considered as well. Some of the symptoms to be on alert for are
nausea, fatigue, sore throat, overall body aches and pains, respiratory
problems, irritated eyes, stomach problems, chronic headaches, nosebleeds,
dizziness, hearing problems, and skin problems. Doing a search on the
Internet for basement mold removal will provide some vital information
about more health concerns associated with fungus overgrowth and
instructions on how to find help for an inspection and ways to tackle the

A Comparison of Some Indoor Air Sampling Devices - simultaneous
application of popular sampling cassettes and slide samplers allows
comparison of typical particle collection variation by device in actual field
use. A field study in process by DJF, 2008 - 2005 (Technical Paper)
Burkard personal air sampler used by many residential investigators (we use
multiple units simultaneously in some investigations). We also employ other
residential building sampling equipment for surface, air, vacuum, and bulk
sample collection methods as well as for gases.
Alternative, low-cost air sampling equipment and methods such as the mini-
vacuum pump and Zefon Air-o-Cell or Allergenco-d cassettes or MCE filter
cassettes for viable, non-viable or other forensic particle identification in

When the building interior surfaces were demolished we then performed a
visual inspection and collected bulk surface samples using tape. The wall
check samples were completely unable to detect large and significant mold
contamination in the cavities of this building.

We postulate that even with mechanical agitation (banging on the wall
during wall check sampling) the flow rate of the sampling method does not
move enough air to reliably pick up surface contamination unless the mold
genera/species happens to be at a particularly high state of active
sporulation. The tool remains in the professional's arsenal, to be used with
Vacuum samples of Soft Goods of carpeting, drapes, furniture, clothing
permits testing for mold contamination. We use this method for screening of
areas where mold is not visible, and in clearance testing.
MOLD CULTURES - Validity and Usefulness of Mold Cultures & Culture-
Based Home Test Kits for mold
For a quick to understand overview of the validity and usefulness or perhaps
not-usefulness of culture tests for mold, see Validity of Cultures (settlement
plates or swabs) to find toxic mold in Buildings which is an overview and
critique of using mold cultures, settlement plates, petri dishes, and cultured
swab samples, and air sample testing limitations for determining what's in a
Building, and which tests are useful in different situations.

For more thorough detail see Shortcomings of cultured mold samples which
lists a number of detailed concerns about viable spore traps and culture
media for Building problem detection

Why identify mold - Reason 1: Cosmetic-only vs. problematic mold
But if mold present in the Building is only of "cosmetic" concern, it is
unlikely that special cleanup methods such as negative air, establishment of
a containment system, and special personal protection for workers is needed.
If these special methods can be avoided, the cost to remove mold will be
substantially less. Therefore it cases where a large amount of mold is present
it may be appropriate to have an expert perform testing and to prepare an
appropriate remediation plan to guide the remediation contractor. The same
expert may be used to perform clearance testing later to assure that the
cleanup was proper and successful. Also see Can mold make you sick?"

Harmless "Black Mold": A very common example is the
Ceratocystis/Ophistoma group which appear as "black mold" on framing
lumber and which are more commonly known as "blue stain" or sapstain
molds. This mold is found on lumber as it arrives from the lumber yard - a
condition that is readily apparent to a Building expert and which can be
confirmed by sample identification.

Allergenic mold: Other dark molds, including the most common genera
Cladosporium sp. are often allergenic: a potential respiratory irritant or a
problem for people with allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities.

Toxic/Pathogenic mold: a third broad group are molds which we call "toxic"
and includes species which are toxic, pathogens, or infectious agents which
in some cases may be capable of infecting humans or of producing disease in
humans. Aspergillus flavus, A. niger, are two examples.

We find in many cases that large areas of "black mold," about which
owners/occupants may be unduly frightened, are Ceratocystis/Ophistoma, a
common mold that is found on framing lumber from time of construction,
and which is known to be only of cosmetic concern, and which is not an
indicator of mold-conducive conditions in the Building - it came in on the
lumber and is inactive and cosmetic. Without knowing what this is, people
may make large and inappropriate expenditure on "professional
remediation" - in one case in CT a client was about to launch a $600,000.
complete re-framing of the first floor of a Building, a totally inappropriate
step which was completely unnecessary with a little knowledge of mycology
and Building science.

Why identify mold - Reason 2: convey possible health effects to a physician:
Proving that mold in a Building caused a health concern is so arduous and
costly as to be inappropriate in most cases. If a lot of allergenic or toxic
mold is present, it needs to be removed. But information about what was
found in a Building may be useful: a number of our clients have health
complaints for which IAQ problems are a potential cause or contributor -
information which they want to convey to their physician. For example, a
delay in diagnosing fungal infections in two of our clients led each to have
permanent loss of eyesight. we acknowledge that these cases are not
common, but they occur enough for caution to be in order. we don't submit
that we should be practicing medicine nor diagnosing ailments, rather that
information about a sick person's environment might be useful to their
physician. Harriet Burge at the Harvard School of Public Health has taught
us that the cost of proving that a specific illness is caused by a specific mold
or allergen in a particular environment is so arduous as to be impractical.
However we agree, as we expect you do too, that if a large area of allergenic
or more toxic mold is present in an environment it should be removed.

Where large areas of remediation are needed, using professional cleaning
services, we find that in many cases the "professional" does not properly
maintain containment, and actually increases the level of allergens in the
Building. In Buildings where occupants are at particular risk (elderly,
immune-impaired, infant, asthmatic) we have had cases where an occupant
entered an area contaminated with high levels of allergenic mold and suffer
severe asthma attacks. In Ellenville, NY we are aware of a fatality involving
just such an instance.

For large remediation projects we find it very useful to have a base-line of
data on what areas need to be cleaned and which are acceptably clean
before the remediation project. Then a quick test after the remediation can
confirm not only that it was successful, but that the remediator did not
inadvertently fail to contain. If the containment was unsuccessful and other
Building areas have become contaminated enough to want to have additional
cleaning (typically HEPA vacuuming or wiping), having the baseline
showing that the contamination followed the remediation rather than
preceded it protects the property owner or occupant from additional
unnecessary expense.

The usefulness of samples depends on the knowledge and thoroughness of
the person collecting the sample as part of a Building investigation. Arbitrary
or random samples are unlikely to be a reliable characterization of a
Building. Choice of method as well as how the method is applied (for
example, just where to stick the tape to collect a surface sample) makes a
large difference in the quality and representativeness of the sample.

Several years ago it was asbestos. Today, mold is in the spotlight and Los Angeles  is divided over whether toxic
mold really is a legitimate issue or  another over-rated environmental issue.

Whatever we believe about
Mold in Los Angeles County, it is a reality that is here to stay.
Several alerts from the medical profession in Los Angeles County and the
skyrocketing number of lawsuits against landlords, realtors, employers, insurers,
warn us of the seriousness of mold and justify the need for proper mold testing,
especially in Los Angeles County where everyone is sue-happy.

Some have even called mold "The Silent Killer". That may be on the extreme side,
but with all the information available about mold and it's potential for harm, there are
plenty of valid reasons for mold testing. For example, we now know that some molds
produce mycotoxins which may be linked to severe cases of asthma, respiratory
problems including bleeding lungs, and many other very serious ailments including
immune system disorders. The medical and legal communities in San Diego County
are now taking mold contamination very seriously. With so much overwhelming
evidence to support the dangers of exposure to mold,
Mold Testing is the first step in
properly assessing whether an abnormal or elevated mold condition exists.