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What's In Your Dust?

Dust is a reservoir for a variety of biological substances, many of which have the potential to cause health problems. Dust can contain fungi, mites, insects and their feces, animal dander, etc. All of these can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions in sensitive individuals.

SGS Forensic Laboratories (SGSFL) can test your dust sample for a number of health-compromising substances. With one dust sample we can analyze for fungi (molecular qPCR method (ERMI™)) and other indoor allergens (highly sensitive ELISA method) that may be present in the sample. This combination can save you the time and cost of multiple sampling.

In five days you can discover whether potential health problems are lurking in your dust. FALI has been a leader in the field of environmental monitoring for over 20 years. We have extensive experience isolating and identifying microbes from the environment. With that experience we can provide the information you require to help create a more healthful indoor environment.


Allergens are substances that trigger an immune response in sensitive individuals. Often proteins in secretions from household organisms are treated as foreign in sensitive individuals, acting as allergens; upon ingestion and/or inhalation. The immune system reacts and causes an adverse response. Sensitivity can also increase over time. Reactions can range from minor to severe and may cause a wide variety of symptoms in reactive individuals.

Indoor allergens produced by dust mites, cockroaches, mice, cats and dogs are analyzed using ELISA. ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and is a method of analysis that is specific and highly sensitive. ELISA tests are utilized to detect substances that have antigenic properties, primarily proteins. ELISA is a rapid immunochemical test where results can be obtained in a short period of time. We analyze indoor allergens that commonly occur in your dust and are frequently the source of allergy problems.

  • Cat, cockroach, dog, dust mite, Alternaria, Aspergillus, mouse, rat


Fungal spores are everywhere in our environment. They're also brought into buildings by air currents as well as being tracked in by people and animals. Once inside, spores can accumulate in dust, acting as a reservoir. Testing homes for mold spores can be time consuming and expensive.

Since 2002, SGS Forensic Laboratories (SGSFL) has worked with the US-EPA to validate a procedure for using DNA sequences to analyze environmental dust samples. This work has been part of an ongoing governmental effort to develop a nationwide database of molds present in typical and mold-affected homes in order to produce a national Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI™). Since ERMI results quantify 36 species of molds by qPCR you get the best of both worlds: an ERMI™ score which quantifies your home's position on the Relative Moldiness Index, plus quantification of all 36 species that may be present. By testing for a wide range of molds and comparing their concentrations, the ERMI™ aims to assess if your home has been affected by a mold growth event. This can help in making the decision on how to proceed with decreasing potential health risks in your home that are associated with mold.

Fungi (ERMI™)

  • Acremonium strictum
  • Alternaria alternata
  • Aspergillus flavus
  • Aspergillus fumigatus
  • Aspergillus niger
  • Aspergillus ochraceus
  • Aspergillus penicilloides
  • Aspergillus restrictus
  • Aspergillus sclerotiorum
  • Aspergillus sydowii
  • Aspergillus unguis
  • Aspergillus ustus
  • Aspergillus veriscolor
  • Aureobasidium pullulans
  • Chaetomium globosum
  • Cladosporium cladosporioides grp. 1
  • Cladosporium cladosporioides grp. 2
  • Cladosporium herbarum
  • Cladosporium sphaerospermum
  • Epicoccum nigrum
  • Eurotium amstelodami
  • Mucor racemosus
  • Paecilomyces variotii
  • Penicillium brevicompactum
  • Penicillium chrysogenum
  • Penicillium corylophilum
  • Penicillium crustosum
  • Penicillium purpurogenum
  • Penicillium spinulosum
  • Penicillium variabile
  • Rhizopus stolonifer
  • Scopulariopsis brevicaulis
  • Scopulariopsis chartarum
  • Stachybotrys chartarum
  • Trichoderma viride
  • Wallemia sebi