Two EPA scientists have developed a way to detect potentially dangerous molds much faster and with more accuracy, EPA said Wednesday.
The new technology can be used to detect the mold Stachybotrys, commonly known as "black mold" and more than 50 other possibly problematic molds.
Drs. Stephen Vesper and Richard Haugland at the EPA Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio, developed a DNA-based system that allows rapid identification and quantification of molds in a matter of hours.
Current methods require days or weeks to identify molds before remedial action can be taken.
EPA says that with the new technology, up to 96 analyses can be run simultaneously by laboratory technicians, reducing the labor required to analyze samples while significantly increasing the accuracy and validity of the analysis.
The new technology also enables scientists to make risk assessments by identifying which mold is present and in what numbers.
Molds typically grow in buildings affected by water damage and have been found in homes, hospitals, schools and office buildings.
EPA estimates that about 50 to 100 common indoor mold types have the potential to cause health problems, such as asthma, sinusitis and infections.
It is also believed that molds play a major role in cases of sick building syndrome and related illnesses.
In recognition of their work in developing the technology, the EPA scientists received the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer.
The technology is available for licensing on a non-exclusive basis by laboratories, indoor air quality specialists or other environmental professionals.
Aerotech Laboratories Inc., a small Arizona business, is the first licensee under this government patent.
by Virginia Sutcliffe