An essential element in the investigation is the visual inspection of all building systems to preliminarily assess the likely source or causative agent in the complaint.
During the initial phase of the investigation, potential sources of water intrusion, discoloration of building materials, and the presence of “earthy” odors should be evaluated.
If an obvious problem is not identified during the initial phase of the investigation, a more thorough effort may be required, including the documentation of occupant complaints and their associated observations, as well as the collection of air and surface samples.
Investigations of buildings should always target areas where contamination is suspected and include uncontaminated indoor and outdoor control samples. Of primary importance is that an adequate number of samples be collected in order to characterize the problem.
Because statistically relevant sample number recommendations do not exist, we typically recommend that as many sample locations be included in the investigation as is economically feasible. Where questions exist regarding the quantity of sampling required in a residence, we recommend that at least five indoor air sample locations be sampled (for an average-size home) in order to have a reasonable chance of characterizing the problem in one site visit.
The evaluation of air and surface sampling results is generally based on the assessment and comparison of fungi quantity and species in contaminated indoor areas with uncontaminated indoor environments, as well as a relative comparison of outdoor fungi to indoor fungi quantity and species.
Interpretation of fungi sampling results is complicated because there are currently no regulatory standards regarding acceptable levels of fungi in indoor environments.
The universally accepted method of interpretation supported by the health community is the assessment and comparison of fungi quantity and species in contaminated indoor areas with uncontaminated indoor environments, as well as a relative comparison of outdoor fungi to indoor fungi quantity and species.
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