So, are you handling a mould remediation project for a large commercial building and have to do mould sampling? Or, is it that you have mould in your home? May be you panicked, picked up the phone or maybe Googled “mould problems” and find your search results full of all different kinds of mould photos and it becomes a little bit more confusing because you don’t know what type of mould you’re dealing with. Or maybe you are a home inspector or a contractor and your clients have come across mould issues?
Well, whichever is the case, ultimately, what you will need is a laboratory to analyze your mould samples. You may need to know just the type of mould that is on your bathroom ceiling or you may just want to know the mould spore counts in your air samples.
And when it comes to choosing a laboratory for your analytical needs, there are certain factors that you must consider. While there are lots of labs – local, just around the corner or out of the country labs (maybe in the USA), and labs that will charge you unbelievably low prices, you must ask yourself – is this the right lab for my mould samples? Do I get quality results for my mould samples? Do I get help with understanding the test results?
If your answers to the following questions are positive, chances are that you have selected the right one.
Does your Lab follow Proficiency Testing or is it Accredited?
Proficiency Testing is a special quality assurance program that enables laboratories to monitor their performance and compare their results against similar laboratories. Unknown fungal culture samples are sent to the lab for identification. Correct results indicate successful rating and the laboratory is rated as proficient in fungal analysis.
Accreditation means a public certification by a recognized body indicating that the lab meets quality standards of that particular agency for accreditation. In North America, AIHA – American Industrial Hygiene Association and CAEAL/CALA – Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation offer both proficiency testing and accreditation for fungal analyses. Before being accredited, the lab has to be rated proficient.
Laboratories following any of the above –mentioned programs ensure that standard analytical procedures are followed in a standard laboratory setting and that the analysis is performed by qualified personnel. This means you are assured of the quality of your analytical results.
Does the lab have QA/QC departments?
The QA (Quality Assurance) and QC (Quality Control) departments are the backbone of any microbiology laboratory. All the procedures that the lab follows – right from the point of submission till the issuing of results – will be handled according to protocols. And all these protocols are documented in what is called a QA/QC Manual. The Lab Management ensures that all the critical functions beginning from sample receipt, sample logging, analysis, reporting and data archiving are done according to standard operating procedures (SOP). This means your samples are recorded and stored well in case you need to retrieve them. The analysis is performed by well trained analysts and reports are reviewed with considerable expertise. Your company data or reports data are all retrievable and stored confidentially.
Does the lab provide you assistance with results interpretation?
The reports issued by such labs generally state a method of analysis in a an easy to understand manner and this gives you an idea of how your mould samples are being analyzed. The results section will state a summary of findings. This means you get to know the names of moulds in your samples and a short explanation on them. For your air samples, you may get ready computed data on the mould spore counts and types. Your lab should be able to explain to you what the counts mean and what does the presence of certain mould spores indicate. Your lab should be able to provide you a formal presentable document or report of analysis.
So now you know what to ask your lab when you want to get your mould samples analyzed. If you have some queries, please feel free to browse our web-site www.moldbacteria.com or call 905-290-9101.
Watch this 3-minute video from MBL.
Article by: Sneha Panchal, M.Sc., Senior Microbiologist, MBL Inc.
Edited by: Dr. Jackson Kung’u, Principal Microbiologist, MBL Inc.
Bradley P, Weekes Donald, Miller D. Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Indoor Mould. American Industrial Hygiene Association. 2008.