Testing the new place should happen before buying or leasing. Observation skills are helpful but not foolproof, especially if the place has recently been renovated, painted, or had new flooring put in. Also mold is often concealed behind walls, under floors, behind cabinets or appliances, etc.
If you have mold symptoms that occur fairly quickly when being exposed or immediately afterward, observing whether or not you feel symptoms in a place is helpful. If you feel it or smell it, it’s there whether you see it or not.
Anything wet, musty, or humid is 100% chance of mold. Basements or other below grade buildings, dirt crawlspaces, even raised slab crawlspaces often harbor mold and can be very difficult to keep dry enough to prevent mold occurring.
Central HVAC’s are also notorious for mold, especially if they have flex ducting or are in a vented, unconditioned crawlspace or attic.
It’s very hard to avoid every building scenario that is conducive to mold growth, though. CIRS information recommends looking for a house 3-8 years old that has not had any water damage or mold issues. Less than 3 years is probably off gassing too many toxins. The idea is to get a place that has off gassed a good bit before water damage occurs and then work your butt off doing meticulous cleaning, home maintenance, leak checks, etc. from that point on to keep it that way.
There are good resources on other sites about
what to look for, what to avoid, how to clean and maintain. (survivingmold, biotoxinjourney, paradigmchange.me). The last one has a link to the book Beginners Guide to Mold Avoidance, which has a chapter on possessions. There are also small particle cleaning instructions for both possessions and cleaning the air and surfaces inside a building. See links here: https://paradigmchange.me/wp/approach-3/
N95 mask is probably okay for dust. For mold or mycotoxins get P100. I just ordered P100 half face masks made by 3M and they worked pretty well and were less than $20. They can be cleaned and reused. If you use half face mask, you will need goggles too. I ordered a full face mask ($$$) but it was too heavy and pulled forward on my head from the weight. I will be returning that one.
Mycometrics is who I did the ERMI with. However, I’m finding that mold inspectors insist they have to do the samples themselves due to liability issues and none in my area are CIRS literate, so they treat the ERMI like it’s some cheesy petri dish thing I bought at a store. Ignorance and lack of interest in learning anything new. The ERMI and HERTSMI-2 are what you need from a medical standpoint. Those are the only ones that have identified measurements connected to CIRS medical situations.
I am presently moving things out of the moldy house and putting them in a storage unit to be cleaned at a later time. Items are to be cleaned outside of the new, clean place and brought in one piece at a time to test for reactions.
Upholstered furniture, mattresses, porous items that cannot be washed are usually unable to be successfully cleaned and are trash. PAPER (paper, books, magazines, paper boxes, photos, etc) is the worst for holding toxins and causes severe reactions for me. I am putting photos and papers in storage until I can decide how I want to deal with them. They recommend scanning (or having someone else) scan those items for you and save them on a disk or thumb drive. You could also laminate some things if you want.
I would not move anything from the moldy place into the clean place until making sure I understood what type of cleaning is required for the particular item and thoroughly cleaned it and tested it outside the new place. If it passed that test then test it inside.
The effort required for fogging and wiping a building is extensive. You definitely don’t want to contaminate a clean environment with contaminated stuff. Cross contamination sounds hokey and hard to believe, but I can personally attest to its reality. It is NOT fun and can make you feel like you want to give up and die.
As far as possessions go, that can be very emotionally and financially difficult for some to ditch material things. For those who know they are severely affected, it’s a no-brainer. Nothing is worth that kind of suffering.
I was going to try to keep a solid wood chest of drawers I have had lifelong, as it’s a quality piece of furniture that you can’t find anymore without paying a fortune. However, once it was taken out of the house, I saw visible mold on the back of it. Same thing with a solid oak rocking chair that was like new - visible mold on the arms and legs. I don’t think I want to deal with trying to clean it. Cleaning isn’t easy. Unless you have an army of mold-safe volunteers to help with the cleaning, it can be a very overwhelming task. Just something to consider - is the item worth that level of effort.
Hope this is enough to help you out.