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How to Identify Toxic Mold

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Okay, Rachel in California is looking to test the toxicity – toxicity? That’s a hard word – of mold in your house. Tell us about the mold first and then we’ll help you out.

    RACHEL: Okay. Well, I’m highly allergic to mold, first of all. And so, I smelled it on December 1st this past year. And then we got hit with a major flood here in California. So it’s … you can see it in the windowsills and you can smell it in the air. It’s black and kind of gummy looking in the windowsills. And I have a feeling it might be the one that’s really bad for me because I had a lot of headaches living there.

    TOM: The first thing to do is to do a little investigation in terms of the type of mold. Now, can you physically see the mold?

    RACHEL: It’s more like the black. You don’t get the spore looking things.

    TOM: But it looks sort of dark and greenish?

    RACHEL: Dark and blackish mostly.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that could be stachybotrys but the best way to know is to test it. And the way you would do that is you would get some scotch tape …

    RACHEL: Okay.

    TOM: … and you would press it into the mold and then pull it off and then sort of fold that tape over so it’s sort of like a circle.

    RACHEL: Okay.

    TOM: Slip that inside of a plastic sandwich bag and then send it out to a lab to have it tested. And they can actually read it and tell you exactly what kind of mold it is and what concentration it is.

    RACHEL: So you don’t have to do anything else other than put it in the bag and …

    TOM: No, it’s actually fairly simple to do that.

    LESLIE: And if you have different types of mold in different parts of the house, you might want to test each kind; especially if they look different.

    RACHEL: Is there any kind of self test that’s available … you know, that I could buy cheaply and maybe … you know, kind of like the pregnancy test for mold, you know? (laughing)

    TOM: Well, there are Petri dish tests out there, where you kind of leave them open and then the mold sort of lands on it and it grows. But the problem is it gives you a lot of false positives. If you go to our website …

    LESLIE: Just like pregnancy tests.

    TOM: Yeah, just like pregnancy tests. That’s right. (laughing) If you go to our website at moneypit.com, there is a mold resource guide – in the Ideas and Tips section – that was actually authored by a good friend of this program. His name is Jeff May and he is the author of “My House is Killing Me,” which is one of the best-selling mold investigative books out there. And he actually goes into a lot of detail on those Petri dish tests and just feels that they are very inaccurate and not very reliable. The best way to do is to actually physically take the mold sample and then have it tested. Okay?

    RACHEL: Okay. Do you know what that costs?

    TOM: Well, probably somewhere – for one sample, to have it read – maybe around $50 to $75 with a report. And then you’ll know what you’re dealing with.

    LESLIE: And then you’ll know exactly how to take care of it, too.

    RACHEL: If it’s pregnant or not.

    TOM: Yeah. (laughing) Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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