Mold became a major concern following Hurricane Ian, and it’s not something to play around with. Whether your home had a small leak or a large flood, experts say you must inspect and test. If you follow those two key steps, you will avoid a lot of problems down the road.
“We’ve been working seven days a week since the storm,” said Andrew Sharpless, owner of Eco Mold Testing in Lehigh Acres.
Sharpless has been in the business for nearly 30 years. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s critical, especially in Southwest Florida.
“We come out, and we provide mold, bacteria, lead testing in homes, along with asbestos testing after storms, after pipe leaks, or if you are purchasing a new house and you want it checked out to see if it’s healthy to live in,” Sharpless said.
After Hurricane Ian, Sharpless was inundated with home inspection requests. WINK News Trust & Verify reporter Kellie Miller got an inside look at the process.
Inside a home being tested for mold. (Credit: WINK News)
“This home had about 4 1/2, 5 feet of water in it during Hurricane Ian,” Sharpless said. “It’s been partially remediated. The drywall, insulation, and flooring have all been removed. Now they are just getting ready to start the cleaning process.”
After Sharpless takes samples of bacteria and mold, he sends them to a lab. When the results come back, he puts together a protocol for the homeowner.
Swabbing a home for mold. (Credit: WINK News)
“It’s kind of like the blueprint for the remediation process,” he said.
After Hurricane Ian, many mold samples were tested at Daane Labs.
“We are just the nerds in the lab that look at the samples,” said Andrew Daane, founder and laboratory director.
Daane Labs is an ISO 17025-certified lab in Naples. In a given month, scientists at Daane labs identify nearly 50 different genres of mold.
Daane Labs scientists showing WINK News investigative reporter Kellie Miller the testing process. (Credit: WINK News)
“Everyone that works here is a scientist, so everyone has a technical role,” Daane said.
The scientists at Daane Labs are trained to examine surface and air samples. They also are experts in bacterial analysis.
“So, if the problem wasn’t mold-related, if they had a sewage backup, or even just general floodwaters, we have different methodologies that can give them some really quick answers in terms of bacterial populations,” Daane said.
The bottom line is whether your home experienced storm damage or a small leak, it’s critical to take action as soon as possible.
“If there is something inside that it likes, it’s going to find that,” Daane said. “It’s going to find a surface that has a food source, suitable temperature, and then some moisture, and in just a couple days it can start to proliferate.”
Not only is your home at risk, but so is your health. In early January, WINK News spoke to a functional medicine doctor about the long-term health effects of mold. The doctor explained why traditional medicine doesn’t test for mold toxicity and offered a solution.
READ MORE: Ian leaves Southwest Florida homes with mold