Pictured is my mold sampling kit that was set up on outdoor furniture in Metairie. The pump pulls air through a plastic tube and a cartridge, which is called an Air O Cell. The cartridge traps the spores that are floating in every air sample. So yes, toxic mold is in every breath of air that you take. But if you are outside then it is usually at a natural level, which your body can usually process well. I take two samples for every air test. The control sample is taken outside and this gives me the “normal” toxic mold levels in the air on the day and time of the test. The indoor sample is also taken and both are timed for 10 minutes, which is a sufficient amount of time. Both cartridges are sent to the lab and I get the results back in about 4 business days. I compare the outdoor (control) sample to the indoor sample and determine if the indoor toxic mold is beyond normal levels. I would guess that about 70% of the time my tests come back as positive for toxic mold.
While the pump is doing its thing, I walk around with a flashlight and inspect for mold. I check in ducts and vents, the air handler (furnace), under sinks, ceiling and walls for leaks, etc. If I find a problem, then more investigation is needed. Sometimes mold grows because of a leak. These are usually easy to find. Sometimes the mold is a little more complicated. It can be caused from more of a science issue. This usually consists of a moisture problem in the home because of the house being too tight. This is a pretty common problem around New Orleans where we have a humid climate. Tight homes can be caused from many different problems combined. This requires more time and more investigation. But I love it because I get to use my scientific background as a meteorologist to figure out how the mold is growing. Sometimes it can get a little tricky but so far I figured out the cause every time, I think.