Mold Testing vs. Air Quality Testing—What’s the Difference?

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| 2014 Nov 28 |
Mold Testing vs. Air Quality Testing—What’s the Difference?

Today we’re going to clarify a common question about mold tests: What is the difference between a mold test and an air quality test?

It’s not surprising that so many people are confused—after all, both types of tests are used to detect and diagnose mold problems. However, mold tests and air quality tests are not the same, and one test is more telling than the other.

What is a mold test?

Generally, a mold test is a quick procedure that involves taking a swab of the suspected material, inserting it into a liquid and waiting for a colour change.

If the liquid turns green, then the material is clean and free of mold. However, if the liquid turns purple, unfortunately you have a mold problem on your hands.

While instant mold tests will give you a clear, yes-or-no answer to your mold concerns, they will not tell you what kind of mold you’re dealing with and how much of it is present in your living environment. They’re also not a direct indication of what’s in your air.

As such, at Mold Busters, we only use mold swab tests when clients need immediate answers. Otherwise, we suggest other testing methods.

What is an air quality test?

An air quality test analyzes a sample of air that has been collected from the room that you suspect is contaminated by mold. The results tell you about the various particles—mold spores, asbestos, VOCs, pollen, other allergens—floating around in your air.

Typically, each air sample contains 75 L of compressed air, so the results provide a very accurate snapshot of the health of your indoor environment. Often, air quality tests reveal major mold, moisture and ventilation problems in seemingly normal spaces…much to the surprise of homeowners.

Which is better?

While the answer to this question really depends on what you want to find out with the testing, we usually recommend air quality testing due to the amount and accuracy of information it provides about your environment.

Mold tests are great if you want a quick, simple answer to your mold worries (for example, if you want to find out if mold is growing on your antique wood table). However, if you’re looking for the big picture, an air quality test is the way to go.

In our many years of experience, we have found that when people request a “mold test” they are actually referring to an air quality test for mold. Hopefully now the difference between the two is more clear.

Give Mold Busters a call to learn more about our mold testing services in Ottawa and Montreal.