Hurricane Sandy is gone, but flooding and water damaged buildings remain throughout New York and New Jersey, and now a nor’easter is bringing wet snow. The temperature and humidity has dropped in the Northeast, which will suppress the growth of many mold species. However, psychrotolerant and psychrophilic (cold tolerant and cold loving) mold species are able to proliferate at temperatures above 32 F and below 60 F. They include various Penicillium, Alternaria and Cladosporium species. Flooded and water damaged buildings without power are at greatest risk. Buildings without water damage, but have no power are also at risk. Winter typically brings low outdoor humidity, often below 60% RH. RH values above 60% provide moisture for surface mold growth. However, local flood waters may create pockets of high humidity to fuel surface mold outbreaks in buildings without power.
Winter Mold Proliferation in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Nor’easter.
Early detection of cold weather mold species is essential to prevent extensive colonization and adverse health issues when occupants return. The optimal method to detect winter mold is air sampling. However, the standard inertia impaction technology that is found in most spore traps is inefficient to capture low concentrations of airborne spores. Moreover it does not provide species identification. To identify mold species requires DNA based diagnostics that decipher the genetic code of the spores. In addition, a high efficient capture technology is required to accurately assess airborne spore concentrations. Molecular entrapment is a highly efficient spore capture technology. It incorporates specialized sticky proteins that when applied to a 3D capture matrix will rapidly ensnare airborne microbes.
The mTRAP capture cassette incorporates both molecular entrapment and DNA diagnostics in an easy to use package. Collecting an mTRAP sample is routine. Most mold inspectors and industrial hygienist have the basic rotary pumps, which when calibrated are optimal for collecting airborne samples. The mTRAP includes an adapter that attaches to standard ¼” tubing. The flow rate is 15L/minute and the sample collection time is only 10 minutes. The DNA data reported from the mTRAP provides a detailed list of species, many which are cold adapted, plus it includes the concentration of spores for each species that was detected. If you would like more information about the mTRAP please contact Merissa at Assured Bio Labs (865) 813-1700. If you are already using the mTRAP or are considering using it on a project, Dr. Sobek is available to discuss project planning and sampling methodologies. His number is (865) 813-1703.