General Glossary

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Absolute levels  - The total spore concentration at any given location.

Airborne mould - mould spores. (See Spores).

Air Sample (Viable) - A viable air sample identifies the types of organisms present in a location, that are capable of growing if the optimum conditions for growth are provided. A viable air sample is collected by impacting a known volume of air onto the surface of a nutrient media. The nutrient media is incubated for a period of time during which the organisms mature and then can be identified and enumerated by the laboratory.

Air Sample (Non-Viable) - A known volume of air is impacted onto the surface of an adhesive which captures the particulate matter present including but not limited to fungal spores, pollen and skin cells. The particulate matter collected can then be identified and enumerated by the laboratory. Examples of non-viable air samples include the Zefon Air-O-Cell.

Allergen - Substance (such as mould) that can cause an allergic reaction.
Allergist - A physician specializing in treating allergies.
APR - Air Purifying Respirator


Bacteria - A group of unicellular prokaryotic organisms, some of which are important as pathogens and for their biochemical properties.

Biocide - Substance or chemical that kills organisms such as moulds.

Biodegradable - A material capable of being broken down by microorganisms.

Cellulose - The principal polysaccharide of plant cell walls.


Dander - The tiny particles of skin and dried sweat and saliva that are shed by animals such as cats and dogs. These are a major cause of allergies.

Dry Rot - A type of brown rot decay.
Dust mites - Tiny creatures related to spiders and ticks. They are found in house dust. House dust mites, due to their very small size, are not visible to the eye, and live for approximately 3 to 4 months. The two most commonly occurring dust mites are the American house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides farinae) and the European house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus).
ELISA - ELISA is the abbreviation for "Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay" which is a highly sensitive technique for detecting and measuring antigens (allergens) in a solution. The solution is run over a surface to which immobilized antibodies specific to the antigen being measured have been attached. If the antigen is present, it will bind to the antibody layer, and then its presence is verified and visualized with an application of antibodies that have been tagged in some way.
EPA - The United States Environmental Protection Agency.
ERMI - Environmental Relative mouldiness Index.
Etiology - In medicine, the term refers to the causes of diseases or pathologies.Where no etiology can be ascertained, the disorder is said to be idiopathic.

Fungi - Fungi are neither animals nor plants and are classified in a kingdom of their own. Fungi include moulds, yeasts, mushrooms, and puffballs. In this document, the terms fungi and mould are used interchangeably. moulds reproduce by making spores. mould spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mould spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on. moulds can grow on virtually any organic substance, providing moisture and oxygen are present. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million species of fungi exist.

Fungicide - Substance or chemical that kills fungi.

Genus - Taxonomic rank below family. Examples of genus level names are Cladosporium, Alternaria and Pithomyces. These names are always capitalized.

GNB - Gram Negative Bacteria.


HEPA - High-Efficiency Particulate Air

HERTSI-2 - Health Effects Roster of Type Specific formers of mycotoxins and inflammagens - Second version.

HVAC - Heating Ventillation & Air Conditioning System.

Hypersensitivity - Great or excessive sensitivity

IAQ - Indoor Air Quality
Idiopathy - An idopathy is any disease with unknown or apparently spontaneous origin.
Indoor Air Sample - A sample taken from an indoor source. Usually compared with an outdoor sample to determine if there are elevated concentrations of spores present indoors.
Jute - A long vegtable fibre that is spun into long strong course threads and is commonly used for flooring, and carpet backing.
Ketone - An orgainic structure. Examples include many sugars, and the industrial solvent acetone.
Lichen - A duel organism composed of a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria.

Mould - Moulds are a group of organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi. In this document, the terms fungi and mould are used interchangeably. There are over 250,000 identified species of mould but some literature suggests there may be as many as 1.5 to 2 million species -so this suggests many are yet to be discovered.
Mouldy - Covered with or containing mould.

mVOC - Microbial volatile organic compound, a chemical made by a mould which may have a mouldy or musty odor.

Mycoflora - The fungi characteristic of a region or special environment.

Non-Viable Sample - A sample taken for the purpose of determining what organisms are present. A non-viable sample cannot differentiate between viable and non-viable organisms.

OSHA - United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Outdoor Air Sample - A sample taken from an outdoor source. Usually compared with an indoor samples to determine if there are elevated concentrations of spores indoors.

PAPR - Powered air purifying respirator

PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction - a method of genetically amplyfying specific DNA to improve detection sensitivity

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment

Protein - Any of a group of complex organic compounds that are composed of amino acids.

QPCR - Quantative Polymerase Chain Reaction.
Quartile - A data set that is divided into four equal groups.

Remediate - Fix

Rhinitis - Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the nose, often due to an allergy to pollen, dust or other airborne substances. Seasonal allergic rhinitis also is known as "hay fever," a disorder that causes sneezing, itching, a runny nose and nasal congestion.

Sensitization - Repeated or single exposure to an allergen that results in the exposed individual becoming hypersensitive to the allergen.

Spore - moulds reproduce by means of spores. Spores are microscopic; they vary in shape and size (2-100 micrometers). Spores may travel in several ways—they may be passively moved (by a breeze or waterdrop), mechanically disturbed (by a person or animal passing by), or actively discharged by the mould (usually under moist conditions or high humidity).

Tape Sample - A sample collected by applying and pealing away a transparent piece of tape on a surface area suspected to be contaminated with mould. During this process, the mould present on the surface sampled adheres to the surface of the tape. The sample thus collected can be processed and analyzed by the laboratory.

Ubiquitious - Commonly occuring. 


Viable Sample - A sample taken for the purpose of determining what organisms are capable of growing on specific nutrient media.

Viable Spore - A spore capable of germination.

Wall Cavity Samples - Samples taken from inside a wall.
WDB - Water Damaged Building. A Building that has become damaged by water through construction defects, faulty construction, severe weather events, water pipe failures, or remediation that was not carried out correctly..
Xerophiles (fungal) - Fungi that thrive at low water activities
Yeast - A member of the fungus kingdom.
Zygomycetes - A large group of fungi which usually produces a structure called a zygosporangium as part of its sexual cycle.