Why Particle Counters Can’t Prove Your
Home Is Safe For Your Family
And How We Solved
When Virginia and DC homeowners go through the mold remediation process, if it’s not being tested by a 3rd party tester, called a Post Remediation Verification (PRV), then the final step is the remediator performing a Post Remediation Evaluation (PRE). This measurement is meant to ensure that the air in the containment is now at a normal mold level and safe to take down.
Unfortunately, many remediators rely on particle counters to conduct the PRE, which really aren’t up to the task. While these units do a very good job of counting air particles, they can’t tell which particle is harmless and which is a mold spore, making their findings mostly useless.
At Valor Mold Removal, that’s simply not a good enough reason to accept incomplete results.
Understanding Air Particles
There are millions of particles in the air around us at all times, and our bodies are constantly addressing them through filters like the hairs in our noses. This natural filtration system does a great job under normal circumstances. It’s not until we encounter high concentrations of particles that we start to see problems such as fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath.
Since it has been proven that high particle levels can harm us, the EPA has determined what level of outdoor air particles is safe, with growing levels of risk as the numbers rise. These numbers are measured as micrograms per cubic meter or ug/M³ and are split into two groups of 10 microns (PM¹⁰) and 2.5 microns (PM²⋅⁵).
The recommended safety levels for each are:
- PM¹⁰ – 150 ug/M³
- PM²⋅⁵ – 12 ug/M³
The reason for the different safe levels is because fine particles at PM²⋅⁵ are small enough to bypass your natural defenses and enter your bloodstream, which can cause real trouble, so the safety threshold is much lower.
As of this writing (Oct 2021), there are no EPA standards for indoor particle counts. But we include the information above so you get the idea.
Particle counters can’t give you any more data than how many particles of each size range are in your air, which is little help in the world of mold remediation.
Our industry’s job is very specific – get the mold spore concentrations in the containment back to a normal level. And yet, mold contractors are using equipment that can’t count mold spores to certify their work.
Simplifying The Complex
Think of it this way:
You are allergic to peanuts, and you’re at a party. Somebody fills a bowl with off-brand shelled candies, and some are chocolate-filled, and some are filled with peanut butter and chocolate.
You know that eating anything more than ten of the peanut-butter-filled candies will make you sick.
Would you feel safe grabbing a handful of these candies from the bowl? No.
So someone comes along and empties all but 30 of the candies and tells you it’s safe now because there’s hardly any candies left. Is that a good enough answer for you? Probably not.
You need to know for a fact that there are fewer than ten peanut-filled candies in the bowl before you’d even consider eating from that bowl. Unfortunately, all you have on hand is a candy counter that cannot tell you which candy is which.
That, in essence, is how useful particle counters are for verifying mold remediation work.
Enter The InstaScope
At Valor Mold Removal, we’ve gone to the expense of purchasing one of only 70 InstaScope machines in the world. It can not only instantly display a 99% accurate particle count but also give an instantaneous spore count.
We also noticed something interesting that further proves how useless particle counters are for PRE.
Take the Main-Level Playroom, highlighted with the green box, and compare it to the 2nd-Level Twin’s Bedroom, highlighted with the yellow box. The PM²⋅⁵ and PM¹⁰ counts in both rooms are nearly identical.
Looking strictly at particle counts, someone with just a particle counter would claim the mold counts in both rooms are the same. But look at the spore counts. The mold spore count in the playroom is double compared to the twin’s bedroom.
If this homeowner had relied solely on particle counter results, they would think their children’s playroom is fine when it was definitely not.
These results, and the dangers they present to homeowners, are why we don’t use particle counters to prove our work – and neither does 3rd-Party Testers.
Simply put, our customers, and their families, deserve better than incomplete testing of their homes.
If you are concerned that there’s a mold problem in your Virginia or DC area home and want answers that are accurate and complete, contact us at Valor Mold Removal for a free estimate.