Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's Raining Mold. Among other things...

Question: How does a fabulous mold inspector such as yourself test for mold?
Answer: I use this bad boy right here:

BOOM IN YOUR FACE — A Zefon Bio-Pump Plus complete with Air-O-Cell Cassettes
Although I'm sure you all are highly interested in a blow by blow account of the mold sampling process, I'll keep my description of what I do short. The above sexy little gadget is a vacuum pump. It sucks air into a cassette sample for a period of five minutes, trapping microscopic airborne mold spores on a gel inside the cassette. During every inspection, I sample the indoor areas in question, and follow with a sample taken outdoors as a control (FYI, if you didn't know that airborne microscopic mold spores are flying around at all times, everywhere, now you do). A lab in Powhatan, Virginia (best city name ever) examines the samples under a microscope and counts the amount of spores trapped in each cassette's gel. Okay, we all still here? Explanation over!

Today I was asked to inspect a locksmith located on the Upper East Side. Apparently the business has a history of sewage flooding. Yeah, sewage flooding. And  yeah, I had to get all up in that. Yummy. As part of the inspection, the shop owner was very adamant that I test inside the ceiling access panel where the sewage had specifically leaked. 
Originally this was just a ceiling. They added the white access panel so that they could easily access the sewage damage since it flooded so often.
A GIF to properly express my reaction to this news
To open the access panel, I had to climb up a tall, rickety ladder. After almost falling off the ladder several times during my attempts to pry the stubborn panel off, the hatch interior revealed a layer of pink insulation. This insulation needed to be removed for me to see inside of the cavity. I reached directly above my head (while still on top of the rickety ladder) to pull the insulation down. Next thing I know, I've showered myself in...stuff. Not sure what kind of stuff, although it's probably best that I don't know. Below is a picture of the insulation after I had removed it. The photo does not do it justice. Trust me, it looked way grosser in real life. The dirt pictured below is only about half of what fell on me. I did count 3 dead cockroaches stuck to the pink fibers. *shudder*
Because the interior of the ceiling was so gross and scary and probably swimming in sewage particles, I was afraid to set my beloved air pump down inside the ceiling cavity. I therefore was forced to hold the machine near the ceiling opening. This meant holding it above my head, standing on my tiptoes on a rickety ladder, for five straight minutes. Talk about an arm workout. I will say, it felt like a serious John Cusack moment à la the 1989 classic Say Anything. Except minus any romance. Or complicated family drama. Or boomboxes.
Just like this, except not at all
Photo credits: Say Anything, Sesame Street, Zefon.com