Mold Testing

Mold testing is the mold frequent requested air test required of residential and businesses. Mold propagation cannot occur without water, and homes and businesses use water for many purposes and are impacted by water (and mold) from many directions (roof leaks, basement leaks, pipe leaks, air conditioner condensation, etc.) and are thus always at risk of mold growth. Boston Environmental’s personnel are trained and equipped to handle all levels of testing for mold, mildew and fungi in residential, commercial, industrial and hotel buildings.  This includes testing room air, non-destructive wall and ceiling cavities, surface, carpets, HVAC systems, window and air conditioners, attics and basements.


Mold is frequently referred to in the literature as Mildew, but technically, Mildew is a name describing mold types that attack grains and vegetation.  Mold and mildew are microscopic organisms that propagate where moisture resides. Although mold can cause illness in humans and other mammals, and can destroy building materials, clothing, leather goods, food goods and many other materials, mold is a necessary part of the global ecology.  Without mold, there would be no means of ridding the planet of the zillions of tons of dead leaves, bugs, and animal carcasses, and other organic waste produced by our living planet. With the aid of water, mold spores begin to convert this waste within 24-48 hours of being wetted. Thus the cycle requires water, an organic material and mold spores.  This is the reason that any water release in our homes, businesses, work spaces or other human habitat dry up any water intrusion, leaky pipe or flood water within 24-48 hours. It is also the reason why mold investigators always begin their mold surveys by asking about past water problems and searching for evidence of water releases, dampness, water stains, etc.


As a full-service environmental engineering company, Boston Environmental can determine if mold or other indoor air quality contaminants may be present in the air, on surfaces or hidden behind walls, between ceilings and floors, or in crawl spaces. We will perform a detailed inspectional survey and, if necessary, test for mold in the air or on surfaces in your home, apartment, workplace, or commercial property. Boston Environmental does not perform any kind of mold remediation services, because we believe this would be a conflict of interest.  If testing for mold, or mildew contaminants shows evidence that mold is present on your home or business, Boston Environmental will prepare a mold remediation plan and will recommend competent mold remediation companies. If requested by the client, Boston Environmental will act as the client’s agent to hire and oversee the mold remediation conducted by a third party.


Boston Environmental’s testing protocol always utilizes both viable and non-viable testing methodologies. The viable mold testing methodology collects samples onto Petri dishes, coated with a nutrient (called an Agar) which allows the mold spores to propagate and grow.  This is enhanced in the laboratory which incubates the Petri dishes. Thus the spores grow very large on the Petri dish and are easily identified as by genus and species and whether they are viable (alive) and able to propagate. Additionally, only this methodology can identify Yeast spores in the sample.  Yeast, although not a mold, is nevertheless a fungus, to which many individuals develop allergy symptoms and will not be found without viable testing. This method has limitations because non-viable mold types cannot grow in the AGAR nutrient, and are thus not able to be counted. Because dead mold spores have the capacity to cause allergic reactions in humans, not including them in the total count risks understating the potential problem.


The non-viable methodology collects samples onto an adhesive surface which is immediately examined under an optical microscope when the sample is received at the laboratory.  Thus, it counts all of the mold spores present, both viable and non-viable, but it cannot distinguish between those mold that will continue to grow and those that are virtually dead (non-viable).  An additional limitation with this methodology is that because the molds are microscopic (ranging in size from 0.5 to 20 microns), this test can count but cannot identify many of the mold types present in the sample.  However, when used in conjunction with the viable sampling methodology, a very complete picture of the total mold contamination scenario is constructed allowing the engineer to best understand the true scope of any mold contamination problem.


Most mold consultants use only the non-viable methodology for conducting their mold surveys, likely because of the higher cost and time required to do both.  Boston Environmental always uses both methodologies unless the client specifically requests that only the non-viable methodology be employed.


Boston Environmental’s viable and non-viable mold testing, can determine both the quantity and the genera and species of molds present (e.g. genera=Aspergillus; species=Aspergillus fumigatus) as well as those molds that are viable; i.e., molds that can continue to propagate and those that cannot. If the survey data indicates a serious mold contamination problem exists and /or that there may be a health risk to the building occupants, Boston Environmental will provide the client with a plan for remediation of the mold. Our experienced degreed engineers begin the process by conducting an initial survey of your premises, when they arrive on scene, to determine what testing may be necessary to evaluate your indoor air quality.  Before any testing is undertaken, the engineer will review his survey findings and testing plan, and seek your written approval before commencing testing. Should the client for any reason wish to take fewer samples than what is proposed by the engineer, the test plan will be adjusted to meet the client’s needs.


Boston Environmental has extensive resources for testing and evaluating any mold contamination problem. Our professional associates include:


Registered Professional Chemical Engineers

Registered Professional Structural Engineers


Construction Technicians

HVAC Technicians


What is Mold?


Molds are microscopic organisms found both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores are tiny and lightweight parts of the mold that can be easily detached by airflow, vacuuming, walking on a carpet or sitting on a couch. In indoor environments, mold grows in air-conditioning ducts, on carpets, pots of household plants, upholstered furniture, leather goods, gypsum wall board, wood paneling, structural wood members etc. Mold produces and release millions of spores, which are small enough to remain airborne threatening to invade the human respiratory system and attack materials in our indoor environment.


Every time a door is open allowing outside air to enter, or when individuals enter from the outside mold carried on air currents, on our clothing, our shoes etc., into our indoor environment. However, in order for mold to grow, it needs an organic food source (such as the carpets, gypsum wall board or other organic materials in our indoor environment), and a source of water. Thus water is the catalyst that enables mold to propagate in our indoor environment. Without water from leaky basements, plumbing leaks, miscellaneous flooding, condensation from humidifiers, window and roof leaks mold does not cause problems.


Mold and/or mildew can cause illness in several ways:


Allergy: Allergic reactions to mold and/or mildew include hay fever or asthma symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing, chest tightness, cough and wheezing.


Irritation: Exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, nose, and upper breathing passages. Burning eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, and post-nasal drip are all irritations typical of mold and/or mildew symptoms.


Infection: Some molds can cause chronic sinus infections. Individuals with weakened immune systems are at high risk of mold induced infections; these include those with HIV infection, those receiving chemotherapy, and the elderly. Children and pregnant women may also be at increased risk.


Toxin shock: Some molds produce toxins that can affect the skin, the respiratory system, the immune system, and the nervous system.  However, the risk of mold related toxin to humans is very low.


Other Symptoms of Mold contamination in your office, apartment, or home may include:


Balance Loss

Bloody Noses

Chronic Colds

Chronic Headaches


Flu-like Symptoms

Irritation of Eyes, Nose, & Throat



Skin problems

Skin Rashes

Sinus Congestion

Upper Respiratory Distress


What is the Process for Mold & Mildew Detection?


Mold testing begins with a physical inspection conducted by an engineer who visits the site and conducts a comprehensive physical inspection of the premises for mold or mildew. Upon completion of the inspection, engineer explains to the client what he/she has found and where it will be necessary to collect test specimens (including the reasons for collecting samples at the proposed location with the structure).


What is the Process for Mold & Mildew Removal?


If mold contamination is found within your residence or work space, the areas to be treated must be isolated from the clean areas of the building with 6-mil polyethylene film barriers and placed under negative pressure with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air filter) blowers, to prevent the spread of mold to unaffected areas. The mold contaminated surfaces (walls, ceilings etc.) must then be treated with a mold treatment reagent, if the surfaces are accessible, or removed and disposed of if parts are inaccessible (if mold is between a wall, for example, one wall must be removed to allow treatment of the other wall). The entire contaminated area is HEPA vacuumed, including floors, walls, ceilings and room contents, and treated with a mold cleaning reagent like that provided in the ANABEC System.


After treatment of all surfaces, the air in the contaminated area is fogged with a product like ANABEC Cleaner to eliminate any live spores floating in the air. A HEPA blower is then operated to purge any remaining mold spores from the air in the treated area, after which all surfaces are treated with a biosealant, like ANABECs, Anashield (used for finished surfaces) or ANABECs X-70 (used for rough surfaces). After treatment, Mold Clearance tests are conducted to assure the remediation has successfully reduced mold to safe levels.


If you suspect that you may have mold or mildew in your residential, commercial, or industrial building, please contact us and we can send a consultant to test and survey your building and assist you in removing any contamination that may pose a threat to the health of occupants.


Ten Things You Should Know about Mold


  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.


  1. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.


  1. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.


  1. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.


  1. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:


– Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside


– Using air conditioners and dehumidifiers


– Increasing ventilation


– Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning


  1. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.


  1. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.


  1. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.


  1. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).


  1. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.