MOLD AND INDOOR AIR QUALITY TESTING
Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction is the umbrella term used to describe mold DNA testing based off the EPA’s ERMI research program. MSQPCR is objective and specific because it is a detection system based on unique DNA sequences. MSQPCR helps in understanding of the dynamics of indoor mold populations. The real-time availability of data from MSQPCR can assist in monitoring the presence of potentially pathogenic molds in the environment. MSQPCR can also be used to monitor plant pathogens and toxin-producing fungi. When using dust collector samples you can get a look at the mold history in the home or office. A SIM (Survey of Indoor Molds), which uses all the same technology as the ERMI, can be used for other sample types that do not conform to the ERMI protocol. If you are interested in the current levels of indoor airborne mold, the MTrap® cassette can also be used with an IAQ sampling pump which you can perform a SIAM (the ERMI panel for the air) to get results similar to a spore trap but with species identifications.
ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index)
The most recommended mold test for their patients, by environmental doctors, is the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index). This test, originally developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), examines the DNA mold proteins in a dust sample from the building being inspected. Using DNA analysis, the sample is tested for the genetic presence of 36 different mold species. The ERMI report provides a score that compares the building in question to a variety of 1,000 other U.S. buildings, with regards to the likelihood that it may cause harm to its occupants. Although many experts believe that the ERMI does a generally good job in identifying unhealthy buildings that are harming people, it is not considered a perfect test and is still classified by the EPA as a research tool. The ERMI is a moderately priced test, costing around $400 depending on the laboratory used.
As experienced inspection professionals, we have seen over 7,000 buildings and can pinpoint where mold, moisture and indoor air quality problems are likely to be hiding. This type of comprehensive inspection is considered more reliable than mold or indoor air quality testing only. During the comprehensive inspection, the investigator looks for malodors, moisture damage, visible mold, historical moisture damage, water staining, building air flow patterns and elevated moisture conditions. As part of our inspection, we provide a detailed written scope of work for the client’s use to promptly and safely resolve the indoor air quality problem.
The most recommended mold test for their patients, by environmental doctors, is the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index). This test, developed and licensed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), examines the DNA mold proteins in a dust sample from the building being inspected. Using DNA analysis, the sample tests for the genetic presence of 36 different mold species. The ERMI report provides a score that compares the building in question to a variety of 1,000 other U.S. buildings, with regards to the likelihood that it may cause harm to its occupants. Although many experts believe that the ERMI does a generally good job in identifying unhealthy buildings that are harming people, it is not considered a perfect test and is still classified by the EPA as a research tool.
The Institute of Medicine report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health (2004), recommended the development of “More rapid measurement methods for specific microorganisms that use DNA-based and other technology.” This report also indicated that the “Application of the new or improved methods will allow more valid exposure assessment of microorganisms and their components, which should facilitate more-informed risk assessments.” After ten years of research, EPA patented such a method called mold specific quantitative PCR (MSQPCR). MSQPCR is a DNA based method for quantifying molds. The “application” of the MSQPCR technology has resulted in the development of the ERMI.
Mycotoxins: The World Health Organization (WHO) in its publication: Mycotoxins: Children’s Health and the Environment defines mycotoxins as “Natural products produced by fungi that evoke a toxic response when introduced in low concentrations to higher vertebrates by a natural route.” Note: There is no definition of what “low concentration” means. Also, humans are “higher vertebrates” and inhalation is a “natural route” http://www.who.int/ceh/capacity/mycotoxins.pdf
Aflatoxins: NIH, National Cancer Institute web site: “Which cancers are associated with exposure to aflatoxins? Exposure to aflatoxins is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.” https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/aflatoxins
Ochratoxins: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 14th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) lists Aflatoxin as “Known to be a Human Carcinogen” and Ochratoxin A as “Reasonably anticipated to be Human Carcinogen”. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/listed_substances_508.pdf
Gliotoxin: Gliotoxin is an immunosuppressive mycotoxin long suspected to be a potential virulence factor of Aspergillus fumigatus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2043361/
Trichothecenes: CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Case Definition: Trichothecene Mycotoxin states: “The trichothecene mycotoxins are a group of toxins produced by multiple genera of fungi.” They later state: “Systemic symptoms can develop with all routes of exposure (especially inhalation) and might include weakness, ataxia, hypotension, coagulopathy and death.” https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/trichothecene/casedef.asp
Mycophenolic Acid: Mycophenolic Acid: Use during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of pregnancy loss and congenital malformations. Females of reproductive potential must be counseled regarding pregnancy prevention and planning. Increased risk of development of lymphoma and other malignancies, particularly of the skin, due to immunosuppression. Increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections, including opportunistic infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0045948/#DDIC603035.side_effects_section
Sterigmatocystin: Sterigmatocystin is carcinogenic in mice (pulmonary adenocarcinomas) and rats (hepatocellular carcinomas at milligram doses of sterigmatocystin per animal per day for 1 year) following oral administration and is classified as an International Agency for Research on Cancer class 2B carcinogen (i.e., as possibly carcinogenic to humans) http://aem.asm.org/content/68/8/3886.full
Chaetoglobosins: Chaetomium globosum, the most common species within this genus, produces chaetoglobosins A and C when cultured on building material. Relatively low levels of these compounds have been shown to be lethal to various tissue culture cell lines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17551849If you have toxic mold in your home, you may be exposed to Mycotoxins . Mycotoxins are known to be hazardous; some are even associated to cause cancer.
The EMMA mycotoxin test uses sensitive molecular detection technology to look for the presence of 10 of the most toxigenic molds. It determines their presence and determines their relative abundance. EMMA also tests directly for 15 of the most poisonous mycotoxins using its patented Mycotoxin detection test.