EP ANALYSIS
Mould and Building Biology



If you are researching mould you may come across a lot of different information regarding its risks and potential health impacts. Apart from the fact mould and dampness come hand-in-hand and that dampness in building materials prematurely ages your home, the following are excerpts from selected reputable sources:

  • In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mould with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mould exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
  • In 2009 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released guidelines in the interest of protecting public health from health risks associated with dampness, acknowledging health hazards associated with the moisture, specifically microbial growth. WHO (2009) reviewed and evaluated epidemiological, clinical and toxicological evidence, concluding sufficient evidence to show that damp buildings
    • increase risks of respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections and exacerbation of asthma;
    • increase risk of rare conditions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic alreolitis, chronic rhinosinusitis and allergic fungal sinusitis, and;
    • are linked to an occurrence of diverse inflammatory and toxic responses.
  • The 2018 Australian Government inquiry into Biotoxin-related illnesses in Australian from Water Damaged Buildings acknowledge that a small population of people may experience allergic reactions or more serious effects through exposure to mould. The SA governments advice on mould as publicised in the inquiry is that it is associated with the following health effects:


    "Allergic reactions; coughs; congestion; and/or runny nose; eye and skin irritation; and headaches. If immuno-compromised or suffering from a respiratory disease: fever; and/or breathing problems."


mould photo

Advancements in understanding the susceptible individuals.

Research out of America (Ritchie Shoemaker, 2015) has shed light on susceptible populations, identifying 24% of people that have a known genetic susceptibility to Biotoxins. A further 5% of people develop illness after exposure to Biotoxins because of immune system failure and depletion of regulatory neuropeptides such as those associated with sleep disturbance, pain (eg MSH) and gastrointestinal problems (eg. Leaky gut - diarrhoea).

For individuals genetically susceptible to biotoxins, their bodies have an inappropriate immune stimulation that creates the illness labelled as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This multi-symptom, multi-system illness includes the following responses (Shoemaker, 2011) which come and go, and vary:

  • Fatigue (including weight increase);
  • Cognitive Issues (including mood swings, agitation, brain fog);
  • Joint problems (including fatigue, muscle cramps and shortness of breath);
  • Autoimmune problems (including reoccurring and prolonged illness/infection), and;
  • Neurological problems (including difficulty concentrating and memory).

When to Inspect for Mould?

The visibility of mould is one bonus about dealing with mould. However it takes 65 million spores per square inch before it is visible, which is why mould can exist as 'hidden mould' in walls or HVAC ducts and/or exist at concentrations below visible.

A few scenarios should alert you to look for any mould problems in your house:

  • You notice a damp, earthy or musty odour. Active mould releases VOC's giving off that musty odour.
  • Water damage. Any place that got wet and was not quickly dried (within 24 to 48 hours) could become contaminated by mould.
  • Purchasing a new home. There is no way to know what kind of water damage may have happened in the house you are planning to buy. The only way to find out if mould is present is to do a mould inspection.
  • After a house has been unoccupied. If a house has been closed up and unoccupied for months or years, humidity could have built up inside and caused mould to grow. This is especially a problem in warmer areas with high humidity.
  • After mould remediation. If you have gone through the steps to deal with a mould problem, regular mould inspections are a good idea to make sure you really got rid of it all.
  • You see some mould. If you notice some green, blue, black or white stuff growing in your house, do a mould inspection to make sure you find it all. It might not be restricted to one location.

Mould Testing versus Mould Inspection?

If you are researching 'dealing with mould' you may come across a variety of terms including mould testing, mould inspection and mould remediation.

In the last 15 years the mould industry has evolved thanks to the ever increasing evidence and tools becoming available. So too has the quality and knowledge foundation required to competently navigate the industry. Mould remediation is now an accredited service to an industry standard (ANSI/IICRC S520-2015), always look for a contractor certified to conduct the remediation.

Here at EP Analysis, I am a certified Mould Technician having completed the nationally accredited Mould Assessment course - BLDBIO605 Conduct a Mould Assessment - through the Australian College of Environmental Studies (RTO.2174).

In addition, I am a SA Safework licenced Asbestos Assessor and have 17 years of experience in Environmental and Contaminated Site monitoring including air, dust, soils and groundwaters.


As a Mould Technician I have been trained to undertake mould investigations which uses the following approach:

  • Survey for visual mould growth, moisture damage and odour
  • Look for evidence of current or past water damage or excess moisture
  • Survey for hidden mould
  • Determine the existence of mould growth and/or dampness and other indoor air contaminants
  • Hypothesise the underlying causes
    • Assess if mould had degraded indoor air quality and/or locate hidden mould (eg. Air)
    • Assess spread of fungal particulates and/or determine Category of contents or building material (eg. Surface/Bulk
  • Review the sample results and gauge the nature and extent that the building has been affected by mould growth and/or mould particulates as a consequence of historic growth; and
  • Summarise the issues, evidence and recommendations arising from the dampness/mould impacts encountered.
  • Mould Investigations allow you to define the extent of moisture issues with the building versus mould testing which gives an empirical result for the number and type of spores found in air/on a surface at a single snapshot in time. Such consideration may assist future decision making with respect to the potential risk from exposure of persons to airborne mould spores and fungal fragments and assist in the detection of hidden mould and scope of remediation.


    When looking at the mould testing results it is important to be aware that:

    • site conditions, including the extent and concentration of mould and moisture, can change with time and weather, and a combination of understanding the conditions under which the testing was conducted, and the survey observations are important to interpret the data.
    • all indoor spaces have mould spores that drift in from outside, so testing should include an outdoors sample.
    • Whilst there are no legally enforceable exposure standards for mould testing or remediation in Australia, there are guidelines which provide criteria that are designed to prompt further investigations and relates to the potential of the mould ecology to elicit adverse health effects in individuals. The assessment criteria are not legally enforceable health-based threshold levels, due to the uncertainty of the health impact in sensitive populations.

How much does a mould inspection cost?

(Click) to request a quote.

Mould Testing Only Estimates Prices excl GST

ERMI
Environmental Relative Mouldy Index (ERMI) testing on a building includes genus and species of the mould which is useful to determine any correlation to health effects, especially when comparing to the mycotoxins found in the urine of occupants. It also provides a relative mould loading in the home. ERMI can provide a cheaper alternative to site audits and is useful to screen for historic water damage events, however it is unable to identify the source of the moisture, damaged building material or remediation requirements.

Vacuum Sample - $750
Cloth Sample - $750
Air or Surface Spot Checks
Sampling air may assist future decision making with respect to the potential risk from exposure of persons to airborne mould spores and fungal fragments, and assist in the detection of hidden mould. Sampling surfaces may assist future decision making with respect to the spread of mould spores and fungal fragments to other parts of the home, as well as establish the Condition rating of building material and contents to allow recommendations to be made regarding remediation

Air - $115
Air Wall Cavity - $135
Surface Tape/Swab - $105
Home Inspection Spot Check
Investigate adverse health effects related your environment. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or damaged paint) is a hazard. The paint may contain lead which can get into bodies when it is breathed in (especially during renovations and disturbed painted surfaces, or if it re-enters the air during vacuuming for example), swallowing lead dust that lands on food and food preparation surfaces, and eating paint chips or food from soil that contains lead. Lead is especially dangerous to children under the age of 6 and females of childbearing age .
Lead in Paint Sample - $75
Asbestos Sample - $95
Methamphetamine residues Sample - $272

Mould Inspections Estimates - Prices excl GST

Vetting Services, Residential
Pre-purchase/Rental
$950


This walkthrough inspection will highlight any areas of potential concern including Mould, Asbestos, Lead in Paint, Methamphetamine and other hazardous materials.






  • 2 Mould Tests: Inside versus outside air OR 2 surface mould tests
  • 1 HVAC swab mould sample
  • Interior and exterior visual inspection
  • Inspection of HVAC
  • Relative Humidity and Temperature readings.
  • Limited moisture assessment in wet areas (if applicable)
  • Testing plan provided*
  • Letter form report



Additional fee for physical entry into ceiling cavity.

Additional Samples
Mould - $92
Lead in Paint Sample - $55
Asbestos Sample - $85
Meth residues Sample - $150
Additional Travel fee if outside of nominal service area.
Isolated Area Inspection

$1680


This limited inspection targets a predetermined isolated area to address a current or historic water damage scenario and/or visual mould growth.





  • 8 Mould Tests: Outdoor air + 7 air/cavity/surface/swabs related to the limited investigation
  • Interior and exterior visual inspection
  • Interior wall assessment with moisture and/or thermal imaging meters
  • Hidden mould evaluation
  • Moisture assessment
  • Relative Humidity and Temperature readings.
  • Attic and/or crawl space (if applicable)
  • Testing plan provided*
  • Letter form report limited to isolated area
  • Remediation and/or further investigation recommendations limited to isolated area



Additional Samples
Mould - $92
Lead in Paint Sample - $55
Asbestos Sample - $85
Meth residues Sample - $150
Additional Travel fee if outside of nominal service area.
Full Property/Building Inspection

From $2500
This detailed investigation will identify current and potential issues of the site, and undertake mould sampling to describe the potential health effects of any microbial activity. The report provides recommendations to address issues and improve air quality. This assessment is useful to identify adverse health risks related to your environment and can be extended to target biotoxins and bacteria.
  • Mould testing as per testing plan including air/cavity/surface/swabs related to the limited investigation
  • Interior and exterior visual inspection
  • Interior wall assessment with moisture and/or thermal imaging meters
  • Hidden mould evaluation
  • Moisture assessment
  • Relative Humidity and Temperature readings.
  • Attic and/or crawl space (if applicable)
  • Testing plan provided*
  • Detailed report listing all sample locations, findings and recommendations in line with litigation requirements
  • Remediation/further investigation recommendations
Price depends on size and complexity of the building.
Additional Samples
Mould - $92
Lead in Paint Sample - $55
Asbestos Sample - $85
Meth residues Sample - $150
Additional Travel fee if outside of nominal service area.

* We will suggest a testing plan that could be beneficial to you, the client, based on our investigations. It is then your decision to decide what is most important to your situation and what you would like collected and submitted for analysis. It is not uncommon for more samples to be suggested than submitted. We must do things in this way to avoid problems with a client figuring out they needed a sample that was NOT submitted; legal matters that need as much evidence as possible for example.

(Click) to request a quote. Appointments are available with Kellie to discuss the process in person at 26 Railway Terrace, Cummins by booking only 0439188354

References:

In 2009 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released guidelines

2018 Australian Government inquiry into Biotoxin-related Possible Health and Social Impacts of Exposure to Mould

Research out of America (Ritchie Shoemaker, 2015) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3oZ4-RJL_s]

This multi-symptom, multi-system illness includes the following responses (Shoemaker, 2011) biotoxinpathway