How will the Mycometer results stand up in court?
While we cannot predict the actions of any Court, we can discuss the past performance of Mycometer in Court Cases in Texas and Florida. Expert opinions based on Mycometer samples have been accepted in three Courts in Florida and six Courts in Texas. The widespread acceptance of the Mycometer test results by Federal Government Agencies, including DOD, and State Agencies (Florida and Texas Departments of Health) illustrate acceptance of the method by scientific peers. Acceptance of the Mycometer depends on the expert opinions based upon the data. Over reaching interpretations jeopardize the acceptance of any test method.
Can the Mycometer results help make the remediation process more efficient and economic?
Yes. Time is MONEY. Not having to wait for lab results allows for rapid demobilization of remediation barriers and containment systems, enabling the re-occupancy of an area that much faster. Additionally, you can use the Mycometer-surface test to evaluate cleaning efficacy of certain methods for contaminated materials. Using the Mycometer-surface test enables remediators and consultants to quickly, and empirically, identify materials that can and cannot be cleaned.
Is the Mycometer fair to the contractor?
If you define "fair" as confirming or verifying that the contractor has accomplished the task of returning materials to an uncontaminated condition, then the Mycometer is extremely fair. However, it can be argued that the Mycometer is a rigorous, unbending test that may be more difficult for some less than efficient contractors to pass than previously used air samples or visual inspections.
Do the Mycometer results correlate to CFU?
Cultivation methods such as agar plates, Rodac or Dip slides can be used for quantifying fungal spores which are typically unicellular (with few exceptions). One cell = one colony. However, mould growth consists of multicellular hyphae and "one cell, one colony" does not apply. Sincespores typically only consist of 0-5 % of the total fungal biomass of mould growth, cultivation methods are not well suited for quantifying fungal (mould) biomass. The Mycometer test quantifies mould by measuring the activity of an enzyme which is present in both spores and hyphae in roughly the same amount per biomass unit.
How does the Mycometer technology compare to ATP based technology?
Assays based on Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is often very cheap, rapid and very easy to perform but compared to the Mycometer they are much less reliable. Overall the Mycometer does not correlate well with ATP based methods mainly due to the facts that:
- The ATP molecule is present in all living organisms which is not the case for the enzyme (N-acetylhexos-aminidase (NAHA)) that is measured in the Mycometer test.
- The thick walled fungal cells has to be opened in order to be able to measure ATP while no extraction is necessary to measure NAHA.
The ATP molecule is not specific to fungi, but is present in all living organisms, in the cells as well as in exudates and secretions. The enzyme activity (N-acetylhexosaminidase) that is detected in the Mycometer technology, although not entirely specific to fungi, is a much more specific measure of fungal presence. As an example: Slide a finger cross a surface. This will leave high amounts of ATP on the surface while no N-acetylhexos-aminidase can be measured.
It has been argued that although ATP is not specific to mould it can still be used to test whether surfaces have been successfully cleaned. If there is no ATP on the surface there is no mould left on the surface. Surperficially this sounds logical and correct, however it is not. In order to measure ATP from fungal cells ,the cell walls have to be opened and the ATP extracted. In most ATP assays there are no chemistry added that can open the cells walls and even if there were, a quantitative opening of the fungal cell walls takes relatively long time to do. As a result the ATP assays available only measures a minor fraction of the fungal ATP which is present leading to false negative results. In other words mould can be present but not measured by the ATP tests.
Apart from that, the Mycometer test has been verified by an independent Agency (US Environmental Protection Agency) who found that the methodology was highly reproducible. We are not aware of any USEPA verified ATP technology.
How do the Mycometer results correlate to tape lifts?
The Mycometer results correlate well with tape lifts. This is especially true when one person I performing the microscopy. The two methods aim at measuring fungal biomass meaning both hyphae and spores. Due to the subjective nature of microscopy withy personal interpretation the two technologies may not overall correlate well to each other. A more comprehensive review of this correlation can be found in the paper “Measuring the efficacy of Mold Remediation on Contaminated Ductwork” by JD Krause and YY Hamad.
Who can use the Mycometer technology and what training is required?
Anyone can learn to perform the analysis. However, all users of the Mycometer technology have to go through a proficiency training course. A basics course is available on the the internet or on a flashdrive. It includes instruction on all the basic steps of sampling and analysis and is followed by an exam The onsite course is a more comprehensive, interactive course and includes a hands-on portion. .hich takesOnsite courses are available for Mycometer surface, air, and bulk materials ( and also for Bactiquant surface and water). Each onsite course is approximately 5 hours per course (surface or air) and for investigating porous materials, an additional 1-2 hours. All courses have a required exam at the end. We do have a course available on the the internet or on CD-ROM. It goes through all the steps of sampling and analysis contains and test questions. To pass the exam, at least 80 % of the question should be answered correctly. It is our experience that personal onsite training is superior.
Important facts on mould problems
- Mould growth should be dealt with independent of what species are present. There may be fungi which have been linked more closely to adverse health effects than others, However, there is no good mould when it comes to high levels in the indoor air.
- Mould is mainly a quantitative problem. The greater the areas that are covered with mould growth the greater the problem.
- Dead mould growth should be removed as well as viable mould growth. Mould remediation is not about killing the mould but more importantly, about removing mould.
- Post remediation verification (PRV)
- Documenting the efficacy of the cleaning of surfaces for mould growth
- Documentation of mould growth
- Documentation that discoloration is NOT mould growth
- Delineation of mould growth where it is non-visible. How much should be cleaned?
- Documenting the cleaning of HVAC systems