Biological sampling including mould and / or bacteria sampling can be a very useful tool in the right hands but it is not the “be all and end all” to biological hazard investigations – an extensive visual inspection can often tell an Indoor Air Quality professional more about what is going on than a set of ‘out of context’ samples can.

The most important thing when it comes to sampling is to understand what you are trying to achieve as, like any scientific process mould and bacterial sampling has multiple limitations.

There are two main types of biological sampling – viable or cultural-able samples – these samples can be grown into mould and bacteria colonies that can be analysed and identified; and non-viable or non-culturable samples – these samples cannot be grown into mould or bacterial colonies.

Biological sampling may include samples taken from the air or from surfaces but you must remember that it is only possible to sample part of a surface or a small piece of the air so the results from a bacteria or mould sample will only give you an indication of what was there at the time – they are not 100% accurate, nor do the samples necessarily tell the whole story for the property.

There are a limited number of environmental mycology labs in Australia, all excellent at what they do and staffed by highly trained people, however the process of analysing each sample accurately is extremely labour intensive involving the visual inspection of each and every sample to count and identify the mould and bacteria. Because of the processes required to analyse the samples completing biological sampling can be expensive and should only be completed when it can add true value to the investigation that is being completed.

Biological sampling is not a tool to diagnose health problems however, it can certainly assist an Indoor Air Quality professional to determine the extent of mould or bacterial contamination, and help a doctor identify an allergen that maybe affecting one of their patients.

Do I need to sample the mould?

Mould growth on agar plates

Leading Australian and International professional expert groups including the World Health Organisation and WA Health Department make the same recommendation for mould in an indoor environment – irrelevant of mould type; “that any mould or dampness problems are remediated as soon as they are identified”.

If you do choose to sample mould then IAQS can complete a wide range of biological sampling. These samples are collected by a member of our trained and qualified team and analysed by a specialist, third party, environmental mycology laboratory to ensure that we can provide the highest quality information to our clients to help them make the best decisions.

If you are concerned with the air quality with your home or office IAQS can help – please contact us through our web site:, call our office on (08) 9355 1060 or e-mail us on