Knowing how to properly use the EC3 Mold Screening Test plates for TAP testing can quickly yield you and your family valuable information about the safety of your indoor environments. You don’t even have to do an extensive air quality test to find out if certain furniture or places in your home or workplace have unhealthy amounts of mold present. A simple “TAP” test is all you need.
First, let’s be very honest: Every home on the planet can have mold somewhere. If you own a bottle of Tilex for your bathtub, you most likely have mold. For those allergic to mold, the issue is to know how to clean or mold and keep mold levels at a minimum, so that you don’t get sick, or for anyone, not just mold-allergy sufferers, if you have a type of mold that produces mycotoxins. (Mycotoxins are poisonous chemical compounds produced by certain molds.) The EC3 Test Plates can help you evaluate your home or office, especially if being there, or in a specific area seems to be making you sick or producing an allergic reaction of any kind. Your results on the plates will let you know if you need professional help for further remediation and evaluation, or just need to clean an object or location for mold a little better.
EC3 Test Plates are easy-to-use and extremely portable, so you can take them with you for quick, non-invasive TAP testing. TAP testing gathers samples by “tapping” an object to create a puff of air through it and into the culture material on the Agar-coated side of a test plate, and thus providing valuable, health- and possibly life-saving information about the presence of mold on objects around you before it is too late. You can also test objects before and after cleaning them for mold to make sure your efforts are working.
Here is a basic how-to guide for using the EC3 Test Plates effectively in a TAP testing situation. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to be TAP testing some silk draperies in the dining room of my parent’s home. I do not expect the drapes to have problematic levels of mold, because the air quality in their home does not cause me to have any allergic or health issues. We shall see, though! I will continue to post pictures of my findings and results in the next few days. I love experiments like this, because they reveal actual results. There is no disputing the findings. Soooooo…without further ado, here we go!
(Note: There is much more detailed information on the MicroBalance Health Products website about the testing procedures. You can also order the plates there and find contact information for any questions or problems you may have while testing or using the plates. Also, if you do find mold and need a diagnostic test that will verify the type(s) of mold present, you can find the info about who to contact and where to send your testing plates.)
- Package of EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates
- Permanent Marker
- Clear Tape
- Aluminum foil
- First, decide where you would like to test. If you are testing a home or office to get a picture of the overall environment, make sure to test items in many rooms and various places. The more areas you test, the better picture you get. Also, leave air conditioning or heat on as normal for the time and season, so that you get a picture of what it would actually be like for your health to live there, or to be there for an extended amount of time. For example, if the curtains in both the family room and the kitchen are revealing greater than 6 mold colonies when tap tested, it is a good idea to have a professional test the home for mold. For the test I’m doing, I am trying to see if the silk draperies in my parent’s dining room reveal an excess of mold spores.
- Once you are ready to test, open up a plate and turn the bottom half with the Agar on it towards the object to be tested.
- Tap the object with the bottom half a few times to create a puff of air to push any mold spores on the object into the Agar.
- Close and seal the plate immediately.
- As you put each lid back on, use your marker to note the area where the plate was placed. If you are testing more than one object or area, do this as you go, so as not to mix them up.
- Once lids are back on, items and areas where those were are noted and plates are collected, seal the rim of each shut with clear tape.
- Wrap each plate with aluminum foil and write the date in marker on top of the foil. (I did not do this step, because I only tested one item and am logging it for this blog, so I know the date and have it recorded.)
- Place all plates in plastic grocery bag, and store inside in a warm, dry place.
- Ideally, you should wait for 5 days, but if time is an issue, you can check the plates sooner to get a pretty good idea of if you have a mold issue. (I will post pictures of my results on the blog in a few days.)
- Remove aluminum foil and count the mold colonies present (a colony is represented by a round or circular area of growth on the test material wherever mold is present) on each plate to determine the level of risk for inflammation for each area. (Note: Each plate’s colonies should we counted separately. It is the sum of colonies on each individual plate that you are counting, not your total overall. For example, your kitchen air may culture 3 colonies, while your basement air may culture 7. )
- The general key for reading your results, according to the MicroBalance literature, states the following when counting the colonies:
1 – 2 colonies
Low risk of inflammation
3 – 5 colonies
Moderate risk of inflammation for low
sensitivity sufferers / High risk of inflammation for severe sufferers.
6 – 10 colonies
High risk of inflammation to all sufferers
Risk to all persons
These plates represent an excellent picture of what you are dealing with, in terms of mold in your indoor environment. I highly recommend using them to see if you require some extra care in your cleaning procedures or more involved remediation help. Chances are, if you are experiencing sinus symptoms, or unexplained fatigue, allergic reactions or illness, your problem could be the presence of mold in your indoor air environments.
I do want to reiterate that if you find visible mold, be extremely careful and let professionals test and deal with it. Also, if you alert your business or property manager to the presence of mold, they should not try to clean it themselves without a skilled professional. Doing so could release mold spores into the air, and create a bigger problem.
Stay tuned for my findings on the silk draperies!