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Environment Flooding & Water Damage Health Healthy Home Indoor Air Quality & Radon Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

Spring Mold: What to Watch For After A Wet Winter

After such a wet winter, now that it’s warming up, we’re seeing the effects of those flooded basements and roof leaks – mold issues.

Mold can start growing in as little as 24 – 48 hours, and may stay dormant during colder weather, so you often don’t even realize it’s there until the temperatures start to rise. Once this happens, the mold starts to grow and spread.

Here are warning signs that mold may be a growing problem, and advice to help you deal with it:

Musty Odor

Although mold begins growing fairly quickly after water enters your home, it takes a while before you can actually detect the musty odor that means mold. Be sure to keep your senses on alert for a musty smell developing in your home or business.


I smell mold, but can’t see it.

Mold plays hide-and-seek, which is why testing is so important. Typical hiding places include:

  • the back side of drywall, wallpaper or paneling;
  • the top side of ceiling tiles;
  • the underside of carpets and pads;
  • around pipes – inside and outside your walls;
  • the surface of walls behind furniture;
  • inside ductwork;
  • in roof materials.

What should I do about that musty smell?

It’s important to test for mold to determine where it lurks, as well as its root cause. Do-it-yourself testing kits are generally unreliable. Qualified, trained mold inspection professionals like RTK offer the best protection, as they can provide you with a blueprint of where the mold is.

I can see mold. What should I do?

If you can see the mold on hard surfaces in a small area, try to clean it off with detergent and water. But be aware that there may be more mold hiding on the backside of that wall or floor. Also, be sure to dry the surface completely. If the problem is too large (more than a 3’ x3’ area), a commercial cleaning or remediation company is your best bet.

Who should test for mold and when?

Consumers should have a certified professional test for mold, and make sure that the mold inspector doesn’t perform the remediation services because this is a conflict of interest. A certified microbial investigator will discover mold’s root causes and provide a detailed report with recommendations on how to remove the mold.

You should test for mold before you hire a remediation company, and again after work is complete to make sure the mold has been properly removed and that the moisture that caused the mold is resolved and will not grow back and resurface a few weeks or months later.

What is the health impact of mold?

Mold can cause a host of health issues. It has been known to trigger allergies that cause headaches and coughing, as well as irritate the nose, skin, and eyes. For people with asthma, mold can make breathing particularly difficult. In addition, mold can get into the bloodstream and cause long term effects that may be difficult to remedy. Read more in depth about the health risks of mold.

For more information on mold, click here. For accurate and professional testing by licensed inspectors contact RTK Environmental at rtkenvironmental.com or call our experts at our office at 800.392.6468.

Environment Healthy Home Lead Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

DIY Home Testing Kits for Mold, Lead, and Water Quality Are Risky. Here’s Why You Need a Professional

DIY Home Testing Kits for Mold, Lead, and Water Quality Are Risky. Here’s Why You Need a Professional

In recent years, do-it-yourself (DIY) testing kits have gained popularity among homeowners and renters alike. These kits, which are readily available online and at retail stores, promise to provide quick and easy answers to concerns about mold, lead, and water quality. However, while the convenience of DIY testing may be appealing, there are significant drawbacks to relying on these kits for accurate and reliable results.

Mold Testing Kits: Misleading Results Can Lead to Uninformed Decisions

Mold testing kits, which often rely on petri dishes to collect airborne mold spores, are inherently flawed in their methodology. Passive sampling, as this method is called, fails to capture the true extent of mold contamination, as it only detects ‘heavy mold spores’ that happen to fall into the dish. Lightweight mold spores, some of which ae the most hazardous, which do not drop as easily and tend to remain suspended in the air, are less likely to be captured in a petri dish thus evading detection by DIY kits.

Thus, mold spore counts are commonly inaccurate. When heavy mold spores seem to exaggerate a sample, the results might trigger unnecessary alarm, leading to unwarranted remediation efforts, or worse, a lack of spores may trigger a comfort level that will prevent necessary action for a real hazard. A professional sampling with a forced air non-viable spore trap is the only way to determine a truly accurate count of mold spores in the air. This, in conjunction with a professional visual inspection, moisture readings and thorough investigation of the conditions in an interior environment is the only way to determine conditions that require action for remediation or not.

Lead Paint Testing Kits: Overestimation and Inadequate Detection Limits


do it yourself lead testing kits

Do-it-yourself (DIY) lead paint testing kits, though convenient and cost-effective for checking lead in paint, present several risks and limitations. These kits often lack accuracy and sensitivity, potentially failing to detect low, yet extremely harmful, levels of lead. They are prone to false positives and negatives, which can lead to unnecessary anxiety or dangerous complacency. Their scope is limited, often testing only surface lead, and not identifying it in deeper layers. There are many possibilities for mistakes.

Moreover, they usually don’t quantify lead concentration, crucial for assessing hazard levels and planning remediation. Laypersons might struggle to interpret results correctly, and without professional guidance, they might not adequately address lead problems. Some kits’ chemicals, if mishandled, pose health risks, and disturbing lead during testing can lead to exposure. Also, DIY tests usually don’t meet regulatory requirements for lead paint testing.

Water Testing Kits: Inaccuracy, False Alarms, and Limited Scope

water test kit

DIY water testing kits present several risks and limitations. Their accuracy and reliability are often inferior to professional laboratory tests, potentially leading to false positives or negatives. These kits usually have a limited testing scope and may not detect crucial contaminants like heavy metals or certain microorganisms.

Incorrect usage, such as not following instructions or contaminating the sample, can skew results. Accurate transporting, even if delivered locally is imperative to a proper analysis of the samples. Unlike professional tests, DIY kits lack expert interpretation, which can lead to misinterpretation of results.

The shelf life and proper storage of these kits are crucial, as the chemicals and reagents can degrade over time. DIY water testing kits should not be the sole method of water quality assessment, particularly when accurate and comprehensive analysis is required.

The Value of Professional Testing

Given the limitations and potential pitfalls of DIY testing kits, it is strongly advised that everyone who cares about their health opt for professional testing services when concerns about mold, lead, or water quality arise. Professional testing services employ trained technicians, utilize calibrated equipment, and adhere to rigorous testing protocols, ensuring accurate and reliable results.

Professional mold testing involves a comprehensive inspection of the property, including sampling from various locations to accurately assess the extent and severity of mold contamination.

Professional lead testing utilizes EPA-approved methods to provide accurate and quantifiable results, ensuring that even low-level lead contamination is detected.

Professional water testing encompasses a wide range of contaminants, including lead, arsenic, nitrates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), providing a comprehensive assessment of water quality. Professional testing services also offer expert interpretation of results and guidance on appropriate treatment measures.


While DIY testing kits may sometimes seem faster, less expensive or more convenient, their shortcomings far outweigh their benefits. Relying on these kits for accurate and reliable information about mold, lead, or water quality can lead to misleading results, uninformed decisions, and health risks.

When concerns about these environmental hazards arise, it is essential to seek the expertise of professional testing services. Professional testing provides peace of mind, ensuring that you have accurate and reliable information to make informed decisions about your health and the safety of your home. Contact RTK to schedule a test today!

Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Why DIY Mold Test Kits Don’t Work

Why DIY Mold Test Kits Don’t Work

Often, homeowners use DIY test kits to detect the presence of mold. But home-test kit results are unreliable and often misleading. Here’s why:

Mold is naturally occurring and present in almost every environment.

  • Home mold test kits that use ‘settle plate applications’ (set the dish out for 24 – 48 hours and spores are supposed to fall into the dish) generally do not measure airborne particles accurately.
  • mold test kitSpores vary in size, shape, and most importantly weight. Heavier mold spores will fall out of the air more quickly, and therefore are represented in greater numbers in a home-test kit dish. Since most environments contains some amount of mold, it’s difficult to determine whether the mold spores you collect are from a dangerous indoor colony or just part of the outside environment.

Do-it-yourself mold test kits often cause people to make uninformed decisions.

  • The levels of spores that are analyzed by the lab are not accurate and they cannot detect hidden mold, so the homeowner cannot properly assess the situation. People often do either too little or too much based on these results.  Just because you have mold does not mean you will need costly remediation.
  • When a professional takes a sample of spores, they forcefully draw air into a spore trap. Home-test kits rely on air currents in a room over a 24 – 48 hour period. Property owners need to be sure of the situation, and these home-test kits do not provide certainty.

The bottom line is if you think you may have mold, contact a professional testing service – preferably one with a Certified Microbial Investigator (as certified by the American Council for Accredited Certification). With a professional environmental testing service, you will get interpretation and analysis of the mold, allowing you to make informed choices.

Your decision can make all the difference between potential health problems for you, your family or your tenants, and a very messy and expensive cleanup – let alone a potential lawsuit. The wisest course is to have the job handled professionally, properly, and quickly. Contact RTK at 800.392.6468 or click here.


Flooding & Water Damage Healthy Home Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation Weitz Advice

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in the Spring

Why It’s Important to Check For Mold in the Spring

Here’s How Mold Can Affect Allergies, Health, and Your Home

April showers may very well bring May flowers, but spring’s warmer temperatures and wet weather can certainly dampen one’s health.

Asbestos Healthy Home Lead Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)

Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)


Home is where we spend a large portion of our lives. It’s important to make sure that our homes are not only comfortable, but also free from threats to our families’ health and safety. Residential environmental testing, or environmental inspection, is an important component to ensuring the absence of these threats.

What is Residential Environmental Testing?

Residential environmental testing is a series of inspections conducted at your home. It commonly includes testing for things such as mold, lead, asbestos, and the air quality of your home. There are also specialty inspections and testing that check for allergens, the quality of your water and soil, or look for dangerous gasses.

xrf lead testing new york

Why Should You Get Environmental Testing of Your Home Done?

Environmental inspection can identify improvements that need to be made to your home. Testing is the only way to alert you to the presence of hazards that can be harmful to you and your family, as well as costly to rectify if left untouched for a long period of time.

In addition to the cost of fixing environmental issues themselves, they can also lead to large amounts of medical debt if you allow the hazards to remain untreated. For example, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma and, depending on your medical coverage, mesothelioma treatment costs can range from $10,000-50,000 per month. The CDC reports that health issues related to mold can include lung inflammation and asthma. For people with severe allergies, specialty testing of dust and allergens within the home can provide peace of mind and a path toward symptom relief.

When Should You Conduct an Environmental Inspection?

when to get environmental testingIf you’re shopping for a new home, it’s a great idea to have an environmental home inspection in addition to a traditional inspection. On the other hand, if you’re selling your home, it’s also a great time to have these inspections completed because it makes for a great selling point and can help you close faster. In addition, if your home is older, you should have inspections for lead and asbestos done as soon as possible. The U.S. government banned the use of lead paint in 1978 and asbestos in the 1980s, but both are often still present in older buildings. If your home isn’t a newer build, then it’s important to find out if these hazards are present in your home.

It’s also easy to end up with mold in your home and professional removal is important in situations where cleaning won’t fix the problem. There are many reasons and times to test for mold. For example, if your home has had any water damage or you’ve experienced flooding, you should have a mold inspection completed. Homes that have been unoccupied for a while (such as vacation homes) should also be inspected. If you’ve recently had mold remediation, then a follow up inspection is necessary to ensure the issue has been resolved. Of course, if you believe you’ve seen mold, you should also schedule an inspection. And finally, if you have symptoms of mold exposure it’s necessary to test for mold in your home. There are many illnesses you can get from exposure to mold and the symptoms vary; but in general, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, headaches, body aches, and nose bleeds without other explanation are a good indicator that you should inspect for mold.

best NYC mold testing

What Should You Do After Testing?

Hopefully, you received good news after your testing. If nothing harmful was found, then continue to keep an eye on your home and arrange for further testing should other concerns arise. On the other hand, if something was found, the course of action for hazards discovered depends on the specific issue.

If asbestos was found in your home, the next steps largely depend on the condition of the items containing asbestos. For example, if the item is undamaged, then asbestos exposure is unlikely. In this situation, continue to monitor the area because wear and tear can lead to exposure and may require repair. These repairs should always be handled by a professional, not done yourself, because disturbing asbestos creates risk of exposure to the fibers and improper handling can create a hazard where none existed before. Removal is sometimes required by state or local law, but it’s the most expensive option and comes with the greatest risk of exposure to fiber, so it should be avoided if possible.

westchester asbestos testingLead paint is often handled by painting over it and it’s important to take precautions when doing so. You never want to try to sand or scrape off lead paint. Instead, use an encapsulant and then paint over it with new paint. You should dispose of materials, such as drop cloths used while painting over lead paint, and immediately wash the clothing you wore during the project when you finish. Keep the area clean and make sure not to spread dust from the area which may contain lead. After you’re finished, you should regularly monitor the area to make sure the original paint remains covered and keep children and pets away from the area as they are more likely to chip and ingest the paint.

If mold was detected, it’s important to remove the mold. Most mold comes from issues such as leaks, and these problems need to be fixed first so that the mold doesn’t return. The best option is to have a professional come in and handle the remediation. Once you have completed testing and have blueprint for mold removal, you can choose a reputable remediation company to implement the plan. Ask about their certifications, insurance and licensing, as well as how long they’ve been in business. You may even want to ask for references. The process of mold recemdiation itself is detailed here.

What is the Cost of Fixing Residential Environmental Issues?

cost of environmental testingThe price of fixing these issues depends on a lot of factors and can climb quickly. Though location impacts the price, the average mold removal cost is $2,347. Asbestos, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $1,120 for a small space to $30,000 to remediate an entire house. Unfortunately, many insurance policies and home warranties won’t cover the abatement of these hazards, leaving homeowners responsible for the cost. If you have emergency savings, this is always the best option for financing your repairs. However, if you don’t have the necessary funds on hand, you can apply for an equity loan based on the amount of equity you’ve currently paid into your house. The funds can be used for anything and often have a lower interest rate than other personal loans. In the cases of some home improvements, the interest paid on these loans can also be deducted when you file your taxes.

Final Thoughts

Environmental hazards in your home can be frightening and overwhelming to address, but it’s important for the health and safety of yourself and your family to routinely test for them. Regularly monitoring your house, getting testing as needed, and having a plan to handle any problems can make things easier on both your health and peace of mind.

Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Mold Testing: Do-It-Yourself Kits vs. Professional Testing

Mold Testing: Do-It-Yourself Kits vs. Professional Testing

Is it ok to use a do-it-yourself mold testing kit? Are home testing kits for mold reliable? Will a home testing kit ensure the health of my family? We get questions like these all the time. The answer is simple – no.

There are offers for home mold testing kits everywhere, from your hardware store to the internet. Each guarantees you will be able to determine if there is mold in your home. But before you invest in one of these kits, there are some important facts to keep in mind.

Basic Science

Mold is everywhere, and actually plays an important part in our ecological system. For example, if it weren’t for mold, fallen leaves would not break down, with the result being mountainous piles of leaves everywhere.

Home mold kits are basically science experiments that tell you if your home has mold. All homes have some level of mold. What you need to know is:

– The type of mold present in your home;

– Where the mold is located;

– The source of the moisture in your home; and

– What can be done to rid your home of mold.

DIY-mold testing kits do not reveal this information. You need a professional mold test, conducted by a certified microbial investigator (CMI), to accurately report these important facts.

How DIY Mold Testing Kits Work

Home mold testing kits use “settle plate applications.” You set the provided dish out for a specific period of time, usually 24 to 48 hours, and the spores are supposed to fall into the dish. Unfortunately, false negatives and false positives are common with home mold tests. Additionally, even if the test discovers you have mold, it does not identify the type of mold, and whether it is toxic or not. To find out this important information, you have to send the dish of collected samples back to the company who distributes the testing kit, of course at an additional cost.

The results come back, and in most cases, they are unreadable. Instead of saying you have black mold or that you need black mold remediation, it will, for example, give the scientific term, “stachybotrys.” It’s up to you to find out what type of mold this is, and whether you need mold removal or remediation.

Where is the Mold?

Sometimes you can see mold growing. In most cases, you cannot. It’s hiding behind your walls, in your ceiling, or under your carpets. Home test kits will not tell you where it is, so without your knowledge, mold is still spreading out of sight.

CMI’s Tool Kit

A CMI’s report is accurate and precise. The investigators test for mold with sophisticated tools, including infra-red equipment, borescopes (to view inaccessible areas), moisture meters and hygrometers (to measure moisture content).

Professional Mold Testing

It’s important to hire a professional environmental testing company that only conducts testing, not mold remediation or mold removal, so you are assured of an accurate and unbiased assessment. A CMI’s inspection will:

  • Discover where and why excess moisture is entering your property;
  • Conduct air monitoring, air sampling and bulk sampling to compare the results with normal background mold levels;
  • Send all samples to independent laboratories accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association;
  • Identify the affected areas and measure the amount and types of mold present;
  • Determine if the health of your family is at risk and if professional mold remediation is necessary;
  • If mold removal or mold remediation is required, once it is completed, the CMI will return to your home to conduct a final mold testing. This is the only way to make certain all your mold is gone.

Click here or call 800.392.6468 to contact RTK Environmental Group and set up a mold inspection.




Healthy Home Testing vs. Remediation

Why Is Unbiased Environmental Testing Important?

Why Is Unbiased Environmental Testing Important?

independent mold testingWhen you choose an environmental testing company, it’s important to select a firm that provides independent and unbiased testing—meaning the company only performs testing, and not remediation. This is a very important distinction. Here’s why:

When a company performs both testing and remediation, there is a financial benefit in finding a problem. If the company does find mold or lead, it is reasonably sure that the property owner will likely want to remedy the situation. The natural inclination is to ask the same company to do the work. But this raises some issues: are the workers at a remediation company properly trained or certified to test for environmental issues? Or will they “find” a problem in order to land a job? The bottom line is this: there’s an inherent conflict-of-interest if a company both tests and remediates, and the homeowner might wind up paying more and not solving the actual problem.

While there are some companies that are honest, there are enough unreputable ones to cause concern. These companies often find a “problem” that isn’t necessarily there, or may exaggerate findings in hopes of creating a bigger repair job for themselves. As we’ve pointed out, this is a clear conflict-of-interest—it’s even against the law in New York State. So, why take a chance on bloated repair bills or an improper test? Your health could be at risk.

How the Laws Have Changed

mold lawsIn 2016, New York State passed a law that bars a contractor who assesses a home’s mold problem from also doing the cleanup. This necessary measure was taken when unscrupulous contractors took thousands of property owners for a ride after Hurricane Sandy. The law seeks to prevent scams in which a disreputable remediation company exaggerates or lies about a mold problem in order to make large profits fixing minor problems. The law also requires NYS certification and licensure for conducting mold testing or remediation. These rules seek to prevent unskilled workers from improperly handling mold contamination and reduce the risk of cross contaminating clean sections of a property. RTK Environmental Group fully supports New York State’s strict standards as they can save property owners thousands in repairs. Only a few states have such laws, so it’s up to consumers to do their homework.

Opt for Trusted, Independent Environmental Testing

unbiased mold testingRTK Environmental is an independent, licensed, and certified testing company that performs only high-quality environmental testing and does not do remediation. RTK’s results are unbiased because RTK has no conflict-of-interest. If asked, RTK will refer property owners to at least three reliable and reputable remediation companies. We want to be sure that our clients are protected from mold remediation scams. It’s why RTK has been trusted and recommended for over 25 years. Click here to book a test.

Mold Mold Testing Testing vs. Remediation

Video: Why is Independent Mold Testing Important?

Video: Why is Independent Mold Testing Important?

‘One-stop shops’ that do both mold testing and remediation tend to magnify the problem in hopes of charging large fees for the remediation to follow, which may or may not be necessary. This became clear on Long Island after the disaster of Superstorm Sandy.

If a company offers you testing and remediation services: think twice. Why? You may wind up paying thousands of dollars for exaggerated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation, and you won’t know if the problem exists or not. An independent mold test can save you thousands. Also, it is now illegal in New York State to conduct mold testing and remediation on the same job. You must hire two independent companies.


Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Top Questions on Mold Answered

Top Questions on Mold Answered

There is a lot of information circulating about mold. Unfortunately, when it is incorrect, it may cause homeowners to spend money for the wrong reasons or on the wrong solutions. RTK Environmental has created a list of common misconceptions and the top questions on mold. To find out whether or not you’ve been getting good advice about mold problems, read on.

Robert Weitz, an environmental testing expert, answers your questions. He’s a certified microbial investigator and principal at RTK Environmental Group, a leader in the field of testing and consulting in mold, lead, asbestos, water, soil, radon, and indoor air quality. What sets him apart is his passion for working with his clients, with whom he shares his 30+ years of knowledge and expertise on a daily basis. Mr. Weitz helps homeowners and commercial property owners by assessing their environmental situations, identifying root causes of mold, and explaining the best methods to address the issues.


Q: What is mold?

what is moldA: Mold is a fungus that devours other natural components. It can consume fruit on your kitchen table, damp wallboard, or fabric that is neither dry nor aired. Mold can look like discoloration, and appear like fuzz or a black smudge as it consumes whatever it has latched onto.

Mold is spread by spores, which are usually airborne. When they land on a wet or damp surface they start to grow. Mold multiplies at an extraordinary rate and will consume whatever component it adheres to.

For example, Sheetrock, or wallboard, is nothing more than paper with gypsum on the inside. When these materials get wet, the mold attaches itself to the paper and grows. If left alone, the paper will deteriorate over time. When the mold works its way inward, it will attach to that inner surface and eventually to the wood structure beneath. If left untreated, the degradation will develop into large-scale rot.

Mold Inspection and Testing

Q: I think I see mold growing in my home. Do I really need an inspection before fixing the problem?

tape lift sample moldA: Mold detection can be tricky. It is impossible to see every area where it may be present unless you have the right technology. And do-it-yourself mold testing kits can be unreliable. The best way to determine the full scope of your mold problem is when comprehensive samplings are taken during professional testing by a certified and trained mold inspector. At RTK, that’s what we do.

Q: When should I test for mold?

A: You should test for mold when you see it, or when you suspect it’s present—if people or pets are experiencing allergy-like symptoms, if there’s a foul or musty odor in the air, or if a basement or other area is perpetually damp. You should also test if you’ve had a flood, leak or sewage back-up, if an ice dam has formed on your roof, or if you plan to purchase or sell your home. An RTK inspection will ensure reliable results. 

Q: Do I need to test only before I renovate and remediate a mold issue, and not after?

mold testing wall

A: Wrong! While you should test before a remediation to pinpoint exactly where the mold issue is and have a blueprint for removal, testing after the remediation and renovation is just as important. By testing after the job is done, you can be assured that remediation was done properly. This can help avoid future problems.

Q: What should I expect during a mold inspection?

A: Relax—a mold inspection is a fairly easy process. Reputable mold testing companies often provide specific instructions to prepare you for the inspection. You need to close all outside doors and windows, and leave internal ones open. During the mold inspection, you’ll discuss with your inspector your concerns and symptoms, and discuss anything else that may be pertinent for the inspector to know. A thorough investigation and visual assessment of the area will follow. Next, the inspector will take air and tape lift surface samples, which will be sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. Once the results are in, you should get a thorough report in clear language with the findings and recommendations for remediation.

Home Mold Test Kits

Q: Is a home mold test kit reliable?

mold test kitA: No. Mold is naturally occurring and present in almost every environment. Home mold test kits that use ‘settle plate applications’ (set the dish out for 24 – 48 hours and spores are supposed to fall into the dish) generally do not measure airborne particles accurately. Since most environments contain mold, it is difficult to determine whether the mold spores you collect are from a dangerous indoor colony or just part of the normal outside environment.

Do-it-yourself mold test kits often cause people to make uninformed decisions. The levels of spores that are analyzed by the lab are not accurate. They also cannot detect hidden mold with the result that those who rely on these kits, do either too little or too much based on the results. When professional inspectors take a spore sample, they forcefully draw air into a spore trap. On the contrary, home mold test kits only rely on air currents in a room over a period of time. So, the results are not accurate.

Black Mold

Q: Is all black mold toxic?

mold radiatorA: No, but it is still a health hazard. Mold of any color can be classified as either a “toxin” or an “allergen.” While toxic mold can create the most serious health problems, all types of mold and mildew can cause health issues, especially among those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Mold is a leading cause of airborne allergies.

Q: Should I be concerned with mold if it is not black? Does the color of mold matter?

A: The color of mold has no bearing on how dangerous it might be. There are over 100,000 kinds of mold, and the only way to be sure what kind is growing in your home is to have a mold test conducted by an environmental inspector. They can provide you with an unbiased assessment of the situation and recommend safe, effective ways to resolve the problem.

Mold and Your Health

Q: Can mold make you sick?

mold coughA: At worst, toxic mold can cause serious health issues; at best, mold and mildew aggravate allergies. Mold causes breathing difficulties, skin rashes, headaches, cough, wheezing, and asthma.

Q: What are the symptoms of mold exposure?

A: Symptoms vary and depend largely on how sensitive your body is to exposure to mold. The most common symptoms include cold and flu-like symptoms like chronic cough, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, chronic fatigue, and weakness. But studies

show that toxic mold exposure can also cause difficulty concentrating, a tingling or numbing sensation on skin, headaches and light sensitivity, joint pain and stiffness, poor memory or difficulty finding words, fibromyalgia, and multiple chemical sensitivity, which causes varying symptoms due to low-level exposures to commonly used chemicals. It’s a long list, for sure.

mold exposure

Q: How is one exposed to mold?

A: There are several ways. Skin contact is the first way. People who are highly allergic to mold may develop a rash where the mold has made contact with the skin. Another way is by inhaling mold spores. Finally, you may ingest food that contains mold. Avoid foods like mushrooms, cheese, dried fruit, and fermented products if you have a mold allergy.

Mold Remediation

Q: Can you take care of a mold problem by yourself rather than hiring a professional?

mold removalA: It depends. There’s only one way to fully understand the extent of your mold problem and that is to have a professional, independent mold inspector conduct a test. Why? Mold spores are lightweight and tiny and spread easily, so it’s very easy for someone not accustomed to working with mold to cross-contaminate “clean” areas of their home with contaminated areas. The EPA provides more information on this subject.

Q: Once mold is remediated, will it come back?

A: It could, especially if a water-damaged site was remediated too quickly and reconstructed and was not allowed to dry thoroughly. In such cases, moisture might have been trapped inside at the time the person conducting the remediation sealed up the walls. Sometimes remediation companies are too eager to move on to their next job, so they remove their equipment and fans prematurely. Mold thrives in damp, warm, dark areas. To fully dry an area, it can take up to a week and often more. That’s why best practice is to conduct post-remediation mold clearance testing to ensure the area was remediated properly.

Q: Isn’t it cheaper to hire a company that does both remediation and testing?

mold testing companyA: That’s a bad idea that can cost you thousands more! Homeowners should hire two separate companies for testing and remediation, according to an article in Angie’s List which states: “Hire one company to do the testing and another to remediate to eliminate any conflict of interest.” Unfortunately, companies that do both may offer cheap or free mold testing and then make up the difference through remediation services. Companies that perform both testing and remediation are known to exaggerate—or even fabricate—a mold problem to profit on a costly remediation job. These companies are banking on homeowners who are not educated. This problem became so widespread that in New York State, a consumer protection law now makes it illegal for the same company to test and remediate the same mold job. Laws vary by state, so be sure to check your local law.

Mold Assessment Certification & Qualification

Q: Do mold companies and inspectors need to be certified?

A: This varies by state. Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, and Texas are currently the only states that require state licensure. To be safe, be sure that your environmental testing company holds the Certified Microbial Investigator (CMI) accreditation from the American Council for Accredited Certification. Choose carefully. To find out if the individual or company you want to hire is certified, search for them on the ACAC site.


Flooding & Water Damage Mold Testing vs. Remediation

What’s Your Mold IQ?


Common Questions on Mold, Answered

In the wake of recent frozen pipe breaks, ice dams, hurricanes, and storms, there has been a lot of information disseminated about mold. Unfortunately, much of it is incorrect, and could end up costing homeowners a lot of money. We’ve created a list of the top mold questions, from black mold to mold certification, as well as common misconceptions. Take this quiz and see whether you’ve been getting good advice or not on these frequently asked mold questions.

Once mold is remediated, it’s gone and won’t come back.

mold infestationAnswer: Wrong. Mold can return to water damaged sites that were remediated too quickly, before the area was completely dry. In these cases, remediators sealed up the walls only to trap moisture inside a dark, warm area, where mold thrives. Don’t get caught in a trap. If you had water damage and had it repaired immediately or incorrectly, you may still find mold reappears, either because the home didn’t fully dry, treatment did not work, or unscrupulous contractors didn’t actually kill it. Trust only an independent, Certified Microbial Investigator to tell you where the mold is and when your home is dry enough to fix.

I only need to test before I remodel and not after, correct?

Answer: Incorrect. Testing after the remediation and renovation is done is just as important as testing before. You need to make sure the mold is gone and that the remediation was done properly to avoid a future problem.

Can you take care of a mold problem by yourself rather than hiring a professional?

mold removalAnswer: Possibly. If the mold is visible and the area is small enough (less than a 3-ft.-x- 3-ft. square patch), you can probably clean the mold yourself. The EPA provides information on how to clean mold on your own. If the area is larger than that, you should have an independent testing company assess the area and provide a removal blueprint for a remediation company.


It’s cheaper and easier to hire a company that does both remediation and testing, right?

Answer: Wrong. Homeowners should hire two separate vendors for testing and  Warning Conflict of Interestremediation, according to an article from Angi which states “Hire one company to do the testing and another to remediate to eliminate any conflict of interest.” Companies that offer to test and then remediate may offer mold testing on the cheap, but they could plan to make up the difference through remediation services. They’ll tell you all the mold is gone, but you can never be sure if the problem was properly remediated – or if it existed at all. Many consumers end up paying thousands of dollars for bloated repair estimates or an improper and ineffective remediation. In New York State, a consumer protection law was passed in 2016 making it illegal for the same company to test and remediate on the same mold job.

Do mold companies and inspectors need to be certified?

rtk mold connecticutAnswer: Yes, although many are not. Be sure that your environmental testing company holds the Certified Microbial Investigator accreditation from the American Council for Accredited Certification. In New York, mold inspectors must also be trained, certified, and licensed by the state. Choose carefully. To find out if the individual or company you want to hire is certified, click here to search for them on the ACAC site.

If you’d like more information on mold, click here. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to have a mold inspection, please click here to contact RTK.