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Mold & Yeast

Mold and yeast are also known as fungi. Molds produce microscopic spores that are released into the air. Spores are always present in indoor and outdoor air. When mold spores land on a damp surface indoors they germinate and produce filamentous colonies that produce more spores. Unlike plants, molds do not have chlorophyll and do not need sunlight to reproduce. Molds obtain their nutrients from a variety of sources such a wood, decaying plant material, cardboard, paper, carpets, and food. Mold is common in the humid Northwest and growth is especially prevalent during warm, rainy periods in spring and early fall.

Moisture and Indoor Mold Growth

Mold growth indoors is always associated with excessive moisture. This may be due to roof or gutter leaks, leaking plumbing, or flooding. Sometimes the leak is not apparent and mold growth occurs in spaces between walls or under flooring. In cases where moisture is obvious the area should be completely dried, within 24 to 48 hours, if possible. Otherwise the mold will continue to spread. After surfaces are dry they should be washed with hot water and detergent. Water damaged absorbent materials such as sheet rock, ceiling tiles, and carpets may have to be replaced. The leak or other source of moisture should be eliminated. Providing proper ventilation will help to prevent return of the problem.

Health Concerns

A small amount of indoor mold is insignificant. Often the first sign of more extensive mold contamination is a musty, moldy odor. Not all molds are pathogenic. However, extensive, mold growth indoors is always undesirable. Inhalation of mold spores over time has been linked to allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory problems.

Pathogenic Molds

Some molds may cause human infections, others release toxins, and some are associated with allergies and respiratory conditions. Small amounts of mold are always present indoors. In general, it is not necessary to test for specific molds unless their growth in a residence or building is excessive and noticeable.

Stachybotrys – Black Mold

Stachybotrys chartarum or “black mold” is a greenish black mold with a sooty appearance. It grows on material with a high carbohydrate content and is associated with humid conditions indoors. It grows quickly following flooding. This mold is often found in the space between walls, growing on the paper surface of sheetrock. It also flourishes on water damaged wood, cardboard, and fiberboard. Stachybotrys does not infect humans or animals. However some, but not all, strains produce potent toxins. These toxins have been shown to suppress and damage the immune system. Chronic exposure to toxins may cause flu-like symptoms, muscle pain and headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, memory loss and even cancer. Stachybotrys is common in the northwest and has caused the closure of several schools and other buildings.

Collection and Analysis

Airborne mold samples are collected using a petri dish with broad spectrum nutrient mold agar. Mold growing on a surface may be sampled using either a simple biotape slide test kit, or by cutting out a small section of the surface up to 4 x 4 inches. For more information on sample collection and sample analysis PIXIS has knowledgeable and qualified staff to answer your questions and to perform the analysis.


Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is heat resistant and extremely durable. Because of these properties it was widely used in building materials until 1987. Asbestos is now considered to be a major international occupational health and safety problem.

Health Effects of Asbestos

When handled asbestos can break into microscopic fibers. If fibers become airborne they can be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause a specific form of cancer known as mesothelioma. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. For this reason asbestos removal has to be done with caution to prevent widespread contamination.

Sources of Asbestos and Detection

Although it is no longer used in newly constructed buildings many old buildings contain large quantities of asbestos. It is commonly found in materials such as “popcorn” textured ceiling material, floor tiles and adhesive, heating duct insulation and other types of insulation. Qualified analysts test samples from different types of building materials in order to determine presence and level of asbestos. At PIXIS Labs building materials are examined using stereoscopic and polarized light microscopy with dispersion staining in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA 600) protocol for bulk asbestos.

Problem Solution

If you are remodeling or need to verify if tiles, insulation, or other materials around your home contain asbestos call PIXIS and our qualified, experienced staff will perform the analysis. Turn around time is usually three days or less. Rush service (24 hours) is available on request.

Once you have confirmed the presence of asbestos, you may obtain information on safe removal or remediation by contacting the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)or by phone at  (503) 229-5359.

Lead Toxicity

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products and construction materials found in homes. Lead enters the body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead. When lead enters the body it is quickly absorbed and concentrates in the internal organs and central nervous system, including the brain.

Health Effects of Lead

Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children under 6 years old are most susceptible because their bodies are growing quickly.

Sources of Lead


One of the most common source of lead poisoning throughout the United States is lead based paint. Many houses built before 1978 contain lead-based paint. Prior to 1978 lead was added to paint to increase luster and durability. The Federal Government banned lead based paint in 1978. However, deteriorating paint still remains a major health hazard, especially for young children. Consumption of a fragment of leaded paint, as big as a grain of salt, can result in increased blood lead levels. According to HUD about 25 million homes in the US contain significant hazardous paint. Children and adults can become seriously lead poisoned from leaded paint dust during renovation and remodeling of older homes. It is important to know if your home contains leaded paint before remodeling.


The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recently required the Fisher-Price company to recall 100,000 imported toys manufactured in China. Surface paints on these toys could contain excessive levels of lead. Children’s jewelry may also contain lead.


Leaded gasoline was only recently banned in the U.S. However, much of the lead produced by vehicles emissions prior to the ban remains in soil where it was deposited over the years. Children should not play in bare soil in areas where lead contamination is suspected.


Some older homes still have plumbing with lead pipes. A simple lab test can determine if residential water contains lead.

Lead Detection

To verify that you are not exposed to any form of lead; PIXIS has the analytical capabilities to determine the presence of lead in paint, toys, water, or soil.

Heavy Metals Toxicity

Many communities may have high levels of toxic metals in their drinking water, particularly those served by from private wells, because of contamination or as a result of the geology of the area.

The toxicity of a substance is derived from studies by observing the health effect on humans who have been exposed to the substance, where applicable or on laboratory animals such as rats. Exposure to a substance is evaluated by three different ways: Read More


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