Can the age of mold be determined?
There is no real scientific way or test to determine the age of mold…..a competent inspection can lead you to some probable conclusions.
Mycologists indicate and my field experience confirms that fungal growth can occur in a building over a broad surface and quite rapidly, in as short a time as 2-3 days in some conditions and they add that it is not very reliable to guess at the “age” of a given mold colony. I have opened up walls two to three to five years after a water loss has occurred…the moisture level is normal…mold growth is apparant….blooming after all those years.
Of course there are exceptions: some fungal growth such as “tree ears” and hard fungi produce slow-growing and durable structures over many years – the larger their size the older they are. But in general, mycologists are precisely correct: looking at a sample mold itself does not easily permit us to guess how long mold has been present on that surface.
As a building scientist with some training in mycology, I can in some cases sort out the probable history of mold contamination in a building by using evidence from a variety of supporting sources outlined below.
Water leak history sets a probable age of mold
Evidence of a history of recurrent water entry in a building will establish that mold-producing conditions have been present since the beginning of those water or wet conditions in and at the property. These include both:
• Evidence of water-entry producing conditions (missing gutters, in-slope grade, improper ventilation, history of plumbing leaks, multiple flood lines in a building) and
• Evidence of the effects of water entry (water stains, damage from rot or insects, visible mold). Mold spores are available in the environment nearly all of the time under all conditions.
Evidence of rot sets a probable age of mold
Evidence of exfoliating rust sets a probable age of mold
Indirect evidence of moist conditions can suggest probable age of mold
Evidence of wood destroying insect activity is suggestive of moist or wet conditions as those invite insects into a building; other conditions such as wood-soil contact are also factors in the development of insect damage.
Evidence of age of mold in the forensic microscopy laboratory
Condition of the mold or fungal colony itself, examined microscopically, may be suggestive of the length of time a mold infection has been present on a surface.
• Dry desiccated fungal material is consistent with prior, currently inactive fungal growth on the surface which was sampled.
• Fresh, hydrated fungal hyphae or fungal fruiting bodies (conidiophores or other sporulating bodies) are consistent with ongoing, current fungal growth. Some fungal bodies such as thick woody structures grow much more slowly and if present, almost certainly have been developing over a long time.
• Of course, both types of fungal presence may be found on a surface, thus indicating that there is both a pre-existing moldy condition and current or renewed fungal growth
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If your dealing with a insurance claim and are being denied for the mold being too old…call TP Environmental 207-991-0171 we can help.