As a home inspector, it’s important to know the pros and cons of different surface sample collection methods. At Sporecyte, we offer two options: swab and adhesive (tape lift) samples. Both methods can be useful in certain situations, but understanding the differences can help you choose the best option for your inspection.
At Sporecyte, we perform a non-viable direct read analysis on all surface samples. This means we examine the structures captured on the sample, but do not grow or culture them in the lab. This is beneficial for home inspectors, as even dead mold on building materials can cause problems for sensitive individuals and should be removed. Non-viable testing is also much faster, as culture-based testing can take up to a week or more to complete. As a home inspector, time is of the essence when delivering reports to your clients.
Tape lift samples involve using adhesive tape to collect a sample of mold spores and other contaminants from a surface. This method retains the orientation of the structures as they appear on the surface, making it easier for the analyst to determine if the mold spores are growing on the surface or just settled there. However, tape lifts may not be as effective on damp or heavily soiled surfaces, or materials like high-pile fabrics and carpets.
Swab sampling involves using a cotton swab or other absorbent material to collect a sample. The contaminants are then removed from the sampling media at the lab for analysis. One disadvantage of this method is that it can disrupt the surface and disperse spores and growth structures, making it harder to determine if they are associated with hyphae or other growth structures. Swabs are typically better suited for wet or heavily soiled surfaces.
How to choose?
In general, tape lifts tend to be the preferred method for surface sampling. However, it’s important to consider the specific circumstances of your inspection and select the method that will provide the most accurate and useful results.
If you have any specific questions about surface samples or mold please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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