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Mold testing: InstaScope gives on-the-spot results

Examples of mold in structuresMold is a part of our natural environment.  Outdoors, mold plays an important ecological purpose. But indoors, mold growth should be avoided.

Mold reproduces tiny spores that are invisible to the naked eye and float through the air.  Whether you are outdoors or indoors, these tiny mold spores can be found on most everything we touch.

In order for mold to grow, it requires three things:

  • A food source, such as drywall, wood, concrete, dust.
  • Moisture (water).
  • Favorable temperature (heat).

The combination of these three characteristics within a home can gradually destroy whatever mold grows on and can cause health problems if this mold is allowed to continue to grow.

Mold comes in many colors; the most prevalent are white and black. The most toxic mold (stachybotrys) is black in color, but color alone is not a good determination of its toxic concern.  Both Cladosporium and Penicillium/Aspergillus can be black in color, but are often not toxic unless found in large amounts.

InstaScope mold assessment system

InstaScope mold testing system from AmeriSpec Omaha and LincolnThe best way to determine the toxicity of mold is to have the area of concern tested by a trained mold tester. AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln now offers the InstaScope system to assess mold levels and air quality. This testing is available only from select ServiceMaster brands, and we are one of only two early adopters of this technology in North America.

InstaScope can instantly calculate airborne mold levels and provide you with an in-room average during the time of the scan. This technology can even assist in the identification of the actual mold source.

How it was created: ServiceMaster partnered with Droplet Measuring Technologies (DMT) and a team of scientists at the University of Colorado, led by Dr. Mark Hernandez. He is a registered professional engineer and an internationally recognized expert on the biological aspects of air pollution.

InstaScope mold testing system by AmeriSpec Omaha and LincolnHow it works: InstaScope detects mold using optical detection and identification technology originally developed for detecting biological aerosols. It measures the existing mold levels outside your home or building, and compares these levels to each area scanned within that property. The internal spectrophotometer is used to inspect the particulates of air drawn into an optical cavity within the system. Each particle is then illuminated by a laser, allowing for InstaScope to detect and identify each particle as though it were under a microscope.

Each particulate reflects the light; an optical “signature” is generated and analyzed. InstaScope then analyzes the spores and compares their signatures to those of common molds listed in the AIHA library. It distinguishes between specific types of mold and common household dust or other biological materials and particulates.

The InstaScope report: Every InstaScope report is user friendly and easy to read. It lists the individual areas scanned with a color-coded status: Green, Yellow, or Red — colors noting potential areas of concern. Our certified indoor environmentalist will provide a comprehensive, computer-generated report of the assessment and notes for any visible mold observed.

*According to the EPA, all molds have the potential to cause health issues, including headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions and aggravation of asthma symptoms. Beyond health concerns, mold can also cause structural damage to homes and businesses if not treated, potentially resulting in significant unexpected repairs and lower property valuations.

How it’s different: InstaScope uses cutting-edge optical detection technology and has several advantages over traditional mold detection methods.

  • You’ll have your results instantly.
  • Traditional air canister tests are incapable of determining a mold source. InstaScope pinpoints active mold levels in each area.
  • Generally, air canister tests yields scattered results. InstaScope reads each particulate accurately and consistently.
  • InstaScope technology reduces the risk of operator error  and reliance on human interpretation.

With this new InstaScope technology, we can deliver scientifically accurate, room-by-room mold results instantly. Knowing the results of your mold inspection onsite allows you to address any problems quickly. Download the InstaScope brochure (PDF) for more information.

Traditional mold testing

AmeriSpec’s trained personnel also can use two traditional types of mold testing  to determine if mold is present:

  • Swab tests are used on visible areas. Swab tests cost $100 per test.
  • Indoor air quality test is used to determine the presence of mold spores in the air.  This test costs $300 and involves three samplings: 1) outside/exterior, which is used as the control sampling, 2) one from the main living area; and 3) one taken from the basement.

Mold in atticsResults from both types of mold testing are available through a certified lab within 48 hours of testing.

The best defense against having mold develop within the home is to maintain moderate temperature (70-72 degrees) and humidity (55% or lower), circulate air, dust regularly and keep areas moisture-free.

Mold produces allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  Allergic reactions to mold are quite common and can wreak havoc for those who are asthmatic.

To make an appointment for mold testing or for more information, please call AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln at (402) 393-3696 or make an appointment online.