Tape Sampling for Mold Inspections

Tape sampling is the most common technique used to test surfaces for mold during a mold inspection.  It provides valuable information.  The species of mold, the relative degree of contamination, and the potential for airborne spore production may all be determined by tape sampling.
This method can be performed using either standard, clear cellophane tape or a packaged kit specifically designed for mold sampling.  Both types involve sampling by direct contact to visible mold.  The tape or a slide prepared with adhesive is pressed against a moldy surface in order to collect the sample, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. This method is non-invasive and will not damage materials or surfaces, when performed properly.  Depending on the material, tape samples can be obtained from the surfaces of valuable furnishings and materials of historical provenance that have visible fungal growth, usually without risk of damage. 

The Bio-Tape™ System

Mold Testing Bio-Tape

The Bio-Tape™ system is one of the most popular tape sampling and collection products on the market.  It consists of a flexible, plastic microscope slide with an adhesive area.  The slides come packed in their own individual mailers and are provided with unique serial numbers for traceability and documentation.

Some benefits include:

sample consistency and uniformity.  The sample area is always the same and the center point is clearly marked;
the samples are easier to handle than standard, household or office-use tape;
each sampling device is identified by an individual serial number for documentation;
low to no risk of cross-contamination because each sample is stored in its own mailer;
the mailers provided protect samples during their trip to the testing laboratory; and
samples are compatible with both optical microscopes and scanning electron microscopes (SEMs).

Where and When to Sample

The use of personal protective equipment is recommended, including gloves and a respirator rated at N-95 or higher, because tape sampling requires direct contact and disturbance of mold-contaminated areas.

Tape samples may be taken when non-invasive, visual inspection reveals any of the following:

moisture intrusion;
water damage;
visible mold growth;
musty odors; and/or
conditions conducive to mold growth.

Samples can be taken in each room or area where there is apparent mold growth.  If there appear to be different types of mold present, as evidenced by different colors, for instance, each can be sampled separately.  Visible mold on different substrates and building materials may also be sampled separately, with a tape sample taken from the mold on each material.