That which is visible is mold

Visible Mold
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in most cases, if visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary. An inspector may object to that statement, because of the assumption that what is present is actually mold. There may be many inspectors who are comfortable in making that assumption.

“That which is visible is mold” is a statement based upon assumption. The only way to actually know that what is visible is actually mold is through sampling. If neither you nor your client need to confirm that what you see is actually mold, you don’t need to sample. However, there may be others (affected by the findings of the inspector’s report) who will request proof or validation of the findings, including the occupant or owner of the building.

How Do You Know It’s Mold?
Don’t guess. It is essential for an inspector to report with a high level of accuracy. Reporting “the presence of visible mold” for a professional inspector should be based upon fact or evidence rather than assumptions and appearances. When the appearance of what is visible is at least questionable, the inspector should search for evidence to confirm what is being examined. For an inspector, it may be a great leap of faith to report that a moldy-looking building component is in fact actually visible mold (or microbial growth). Error comes with guessing.

Something that has the appearance of mold may not actually be mold. For example, spider webs, fine dust, paint spray, dried mud, and water stains may all give the appearance of microbial growth. The inspector whom reports the existence of mold growth based upon the discovery of something that appears to look moldy may be in error. It may be mold; it may not.

To report mold growth with accuracy and confidence is through sampling by a certified inspector and analysis by a laboratory.

That which is visible is “…an organic substance consistent with mold that should be sampled, tested and (if applicable) removed by a qualified mold remediator prior to close of escrow”.

I had a client this week who’s agent told me she might need a mold specialist because they could smell mold in the basement and did I know any.

After telling her let’s do the inspection before we go down that road.

When I walked down the stairs to the basement it did smell pretty bad.
But nose said it was animal waste.

When the client showed up I gave them my opinion and the client turned to the agent and said “see?”

I then showed them the corner of the wall that was chewed on and the yellow lines running down the wall and onto the carpet. They weren’t talking about mold anymore.

Should I have had the yellow matter tested to make sure what it was?

they are correct, there is no need at the initial visual inspection to do air quality testing, however where you and I part is that mold growth can assessed by other means then air, a scraping sample can be taken and sent off for a ERMI test which will tell you down to the strain of mold, also mold especially in a colonized form has distinct patterns of growth which are recognizable,plus what is the Rh,moisture level,temp, if using IR what are you seeing. and yes wood that has been affected by condensadition or water can appear black but is not mold, finally if a spider web throughs some one off they should not be looking for mold, this is my opinion

You might not want to open up that can of worms.
Especially do not quote the EPA because they are wrong about mold, and it can be easily proved. Also the EPA are nothing but hypocrites when it comes to mold.

Are we qualified to discredit the EPA?

I will always sample for mold, visible or not. The majority of my sampling requests involve a sick occupant who needs to know what is making them that way. Now the fact that I can see the growth and source doesn’t help the client. What does help them is knowing what exactly is in the air. They can then compare that to an allergen test from their doctor. Combine that with my allergen screen and you have a pretty good base to work from.

I want to have a qualititative and quantitative answer for my clients, regardless of the mold’s visiblity or lack thereof.

EPA does it to themselves. Government at its finest.
Pick up and read some trade magizines. There is a lot of discussion about this from some very smart people in the mold industry. The EPA has even made some press releases. They are starting to back peddle, they realize they are over their heads when it comes to mold.

Did I use the word “air?”

So, do you agree see the “catch 22” with the EPA’s statement?

“In most cases, if visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary.”

You can’t tell if what you are looking at is mold or not (with confidence and accuracy) without sampling. Sampling is necessary to confirm that which is visible is mold.

Do you see the “catch 22” with the EPA’s statement?

By phrasing it in this way: “In most cases, if visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary,” the EPA has actually been saying all along that “Sampling is necessary to confirm that which is visible as mold.”

Ben, it appears you are spinning the the intent of the EPA statement to fit your own belief and or training. IMO

Perhaps all they are really saying is that mold sampling is rarely necessary.

Now I think we may agree that it may be useful for some who are allergic to determine what type of mold is present.

The fact is that all of us are exposed to mold everyday of our lives.

I understand you never said air, I just wanted to describe both testing methods is all, and yes the EPA language can make you dizzy. But we all have mold around us, just as we all have radon around us. I call it out as a biological growth has been seen at this location and is in need of further attention. Mike is right for strain testing for allergens, until we get something beside a standard this is what we have as inspectors and we have to do right by our clients. Bottom line what ever you want to call it,it has to go.

I believe I’ve had no formal training in mold. Often a fresh perspective and critical evaluation of an old way of doing things may seem like spinning.

The state of Minnesota states that “health effects of mold exposure can be severe, depending upon the type of mold present.” The only way to know the mold type is through sampling. The EPA statement (previously posted) is just inadequate.

Ben is right.
Mike, stop quoting the EPA. You are scaring me.

“Surface samples may be collected to identify the presence or absence of mold if a visual inspection is unclear (for example - discoloration or staining).”

Who said that?

I do not know, but it is a common practice in the mold industry and it is the best way to tell if the dark stain is considered toxic mold.

No such thing as toxic mold.

The State of NY

The point is: It may be common practice, but it’s actually a recommended/approved practice by the State of New York Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology Department.
Cool huh?

As molds grow, some (but not all) of them may produce potentially toxic byproducts called mycotoxins under some conditions. Some of these molds are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. More than 200 mycotoxins from common molds have been identified. In cases in which a particularly toxic mold species has been identified or is suspected, a more cautious or conservative approach to remediation is indicated.