1. Sampling Overview
    1. Culturable air samples
    2. Non-culturable air samples
    3. Surface samples
    4. Special cases
  2. Interpretation Overview
    1. Activity levels
    2. Weather conditions
    3. Condition of the area sampled
  3. Additional Information
    1. Spore trap air sampling
    2. Andersen or Biocassette air sampling
    3. Surface sampling (Tape, Swab, Bulk)
    4. Surface sampling (Dust)
  4. Environmental Reporter
  5. Ask Dr. Burge
  6. Allergen Glossary
  7. Food Microbiology Glossary
  8. Fungal Glossary
  9. Resources

Spore Trap (Non-culturable) Air Sampling


To capture and quantify a broad spectrum of fungal spores (both culturable and non-culturable) present in the air.

To assess whether the levels present suggest a fungal problem in the indoor locations.

Advantages and Disadvantages


Spore trap samplers are capable of capturing a majority of spores and particulate matter in the air. Consequently, it is possible to accurately characterize problem environments where spores are present but either are no longer viable or are species that do not culture well. These are two situations where culturable sampling techniques, if used alone, may miss a potential IAQ problem.

Spore traps can also be used to quantify pollen, fiberglass particles, hyphal fragments, hair, skin cells, etc., present in the air.

Samples can be analyzed immediately.


While many mold spores have a unique morphology and are identifiable by direct microscopic examination, others do not and are more difficult to identify. These latter types must be counted in broader spore groups. In certain situations, this grouping may mask an IAQ problem.

Viability is not assessed. This is not critical in most situations.


Zefon Air-O-Cell cassettes and 15 lpm pump, or

Allergenco-D cassettes and greased slide, or

Burkard sampler and greased slide and (Greased slides are available for the Allergenco or Burkard at no charge from EMLab P&K 888-836-5227).

Calibrated Flow indicator or Rotameter

Pump Calibration

Before sampling, always calibrate the sampling pump using a calibrated flow indicator or a rotameter that has been calibrated to a primary standard depending on the type of sampler. (Zefon Bio-Pump usually is supplied with a pre calibrated flow indicator for calibrating the pump).

Sampling protocols

Sampling locations should include problem areas, an indoor non-problem area if available, and an outdoor sample (or samples) for interpretation.

Air sampling data represents a specific moment in time and field observations are of equal importance. Noting items such as weather, activity levels, HVAC operation, and how accessible the outside air is (e.g. nearby windows and doors to the outside) will be helpful in interpreting the results.

Sampling at multiple times may be helpful.

Environmental conditions

Recommended sampling time at 15 liters per minute

Wall cavities

1 minute

Dusty, dirty, visible particles in the air

3 minutes

Normal office

5 minutes

Very clean

10 minutes


No special shipping requirements are necessary except adequate padding.