We provide initial and detailed mould inspections, testing and assessment for workplace premises. SESA occupational hygienists perform comprehensive mould inspection, mould testing and mould assessment in commercial, industrial and residential buildings. Depending on the purpose of the mould assessment and investigation the methods for mould inspection and mould testing may vary. The following is an overview of the types of inspections and testing performed by SESA.
An initial visual mould inspection is performed to identify localised areas of mould growth to determine the cause and extent of mould contamination on surfaces. During this mould inspection a visual check is performed on building envelope and fittings and if present the mechanical ventilation system, to find the source of the mould contamination including any water damage and delineate presence or significance of the mould contamination. If required, during the initial mould inspection, testing of airborne and surface mould is performed with limited number of samples collected and analysed via the use of Mycometer to evaluate the mould contamination based on established Mycometer test evaluation categories.
Where required, SESA will perform detailed mould inspection and investigation which involves all or some of the following:
- Thorough visual inspection of building envelope and fittings suspected of mould contamination, moisture testing and if required thermal imaging. Some limited intrusive technique used under controlled conditions for inspecting walls and ceiling cavities and the subfloor area may be required to check for mould growth in hidden and concealed locations
- If installed, checking specific components of the mechanical ventilation system for microorganisms contamination
- Surface mould sampling using biotape or surface swab and airborne mould sampled using Air-O-Cell, Via-Cell or Agar plates. The samples are analysed by a mycology laboratory for total spores count or total colony forming units with basic mould identification to genera. The airborne mould samples will include outdoor samples. There is a need to collect sufficient number of samples to enable collection of reliable data and the interpretation of results
- Measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air, relative humidity, and temperature at the test locations.
Depending on the type of inspection and testing performed, the mould contamination assessment involves evaluation of inspection findings and tests results by comparison of data collected with available published guidelines. The report presented may be used for the following purposes as established in the scope of the project:
- Identification of problem mould growth, extent of mould contamination, underlying causes and building moisture issues.
- Delineating the cause of mould contamination and the required remedial action
- Identification of mould species in the hazard identification task of the exposure risk assessment. For example, identification of elevated levels of mould genera that are considered unacceptable (atypical fungi) such as certain pathogenic (disease causing), or toxin‐producing (poisonous) micro‐organisms.
- Establish a mould remediation plan to control exposure and cross contamination during mould remediation works.
- Establish procedures for the ongoing management of mould contamination in problem buildings.
In situations where mould growth and causes are readily identifiable (eg. condensation in a bathroom from a shower) a mould inspection and immediate simple mould treatment by a mould cleaning company or mould remediation company would be sufficient to address the issue. Professional mould inspection by an occupational hygienist, an indoor mould expert or building moisture expert would be needed in the following situations:
- Mould growth and underlying causes are not readily identifiable and building occupants are experiencing health effects that may be related to indoor mould exposure or other indoor air quality issues
- Scientific knowledge is required to investigate specific mould growth patterns including using specialised testing methods
- Expert witness report is needed for tribunal if a dispute between landlord and tenant occurs regarding mould growth and potential causes
- Expert report is needed for legal proceeding (eg. exposure in the workplace and specific health effects)
- There is a need for detailed mould inspection to delineate mould affected areas and causes for an insurance claim
- Writing mould remediation protocol and mould remediation scope of work to be used by mould remediation contractor
- Mould inspection and testing following remediation to verify the standard of remediation and that the building has returned to normal mould ecology before re-occupancy. This is known as Mould Post Remediation Verification (PRV) or Mould Clearance.
Where required, depending on the questions to be answered and the purpose of the mould assessment one or more of the following common types of mould samples may be collected from the site:
- Airborne mould spores (non-viable) collected on spore trap (usually 5 minutes sample duration). Samples are analysed by direct microscopy to identify mould genera and total mould spores count
- Airborne mould (viable) collected on agar plates (usually 2-5 minutes sample duration). Samples are incubated and then analysed for identification of mould genera or species and colony forming units
- Surface biotape samples (lift-off tape). Samples are analysed by direct microscopy to identify mould genera and total mould spores count
- Surface swabs (viable mould) collected on cotton tipped swabs. Samples are incubated and then analysed for identification of mould genera or species and colony forming units
- Mycometer samples (surface or airborne mould). Does not tell the type of mould. Estimate mould based on mould specific chemical bioassay
- Environmental Relative Mouldiness Index (ERMI) or HETRMI-2 samples. Mould in surface dust or in carpet. Dust is sampled and analysed for mould by qPCR (DNA analysis). This method is an excellent mould screening technique that is species specific and very useful in expert cases. However, interpretation of results requires high level of training and skills
- Other types of samples are also used depending on the established requirements.
To have an idea on the cost of a mould inspection and an assessment by an occupational hygienist, a basic mould inspection for an average office area or a single level residential dwelling would take about 2 hours to complete. Adding to this, cost of travel to site (time, kilometers and tolls), preparation for equipment and samples and administration (30 minutes) and time for report writing and peer review (about 2.5 hours) would results in total time of about 5-6 hours if the site is within the Sydney metro. If mould sampling is required, additional time would be consumed for sampling and reporting as well as additional cost for laboratory samples analysis. Larger sites and detailed mould inspections would take much longer time to complete. You can contact our office to get a quote for the service.