Even if you only have a marginal interest in home improvements, you’re likely to have heard about the importance of indoor air quality. The air we breathe inside our homes will have some levels of pollution, but poor air quality can have a detrimental impact on our sense of well-being. Indoor air quality is a measure of the levels of common air pollutants and the relationship to occupant health and comfort. Every day, your family may be exposed to environmental air quality issues such as vehicle traffic, excessive humidity, and manufacturer products off gassing when the filters and air ducts of your HVAC system are dirty and clogged. According to The American Lung Association, indoor air can be as much as 70 times more polluted than outdoor air, as contaminants such as pet hair, animal dander, dust mites, pollen, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores can accumulate. So, here we’ll explore how you can test your indoor air quality to ensure that you and your family are protected.
The Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality
While it is easy to overlook, indoor air quality can have a massive impact on our health and wellness. The accumulation of contaminants can not only trigger sore throats, sinus irritation and cold like symptoms, but it can also impact concentration and even mood. So, if you or your family members can’t seem to shake feeling unwell, your indoor air quality may be the culprit.
Poor indoor air quality can also be highly problematic for those with underlying issues such as respiratory conditions, asthma or bronchitis. It can trigger attacks or allergic reactions, making it difficult to relax in your own home.
The most effective way to test for mold spores in your indoor air is to seek assistance from a professional mold tester, specializing in air quality issues. Mold can be detected by a musty odor, which is easy to notice when you walk into a room, but tracing the source of the mold can be a little more tricky. If you notice a persistent odor in certain areas of your home or see the dark spots of mold growth on walls in your basement or window frames, it is possible to purchase a mold testing kit. These types of kits typically contain a specially prepared petri dish that should be placed on a flat surface inside your home. There will be instructions for placing the dish and how long it should remain in place, but typically the sample will need to be incubated for several days. After this time, you may be able to see signs of mold growth, which can be confirmed by sending the dish to the lab for testing.
Mold can be tricky to detect, as it tends to develop in confined areas. Mold thrives in damp conditions, so bathrooms, basements and any other areas of the home where moisture may be present can be vulnerable to mold growth. Unfortunately, mold spores can move around your home, particularly if they are pulled into your HVAC system, which can carry them throughout your home. So, you may find that there is a musty smell in areas of your home that may not appear hospitable to mold.
Another indoor air contaminant that is of particular concern is radon. Radon gases inside a home occur as a result of decaying radioactive materials that can leach into the property through cracks in floors, walls, basement walls, or the foundation. It can also enter the home attached to the dust that is carried in from outdoors. A short term test can be performed between two and ninety days to meet the EPA requirements with a number of radon testing kit options. For example, a charcoal canister kit that requires a sample to be collected before being sent to a laboratory for analysis. If it is determined that there are high levels of radon inside your home, it is a serious issue. Radon is a toxic gas that requires a specialist radon remediation service to determine the source and ensure safe removal.
Other Indoor Air Pollutant Testing
You may also wish to test for other indoor air pollutants such as VOCs. VOCs are gases that are emitted from certain liquids and materials. Unfortunately, there are thousands of consumer and household products that may emit VOCs. The long term effects of VOCs include dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and many other health issues. Since there is such a vast variety of VOCs, the full side effects of exposure have not been fully explored.
To test for a wide range of potentially harmful air pollutants, you may wish to use an indoor air quality monitor. This can be used to detect levels of many common air pollutants including carbon monoxide, smoke, and dust. It can also detect VOC fumes that are emitted from paint, perfume, glue, inks, household cleaning products and other liquids found around the home.
Once you have determined the levels of VOCs that may be compromising your indoor air quality, you will need to tailor your approach for treatment depending on the specific contaminant. There are a number of ways that you can minimize the presence of VOCs inside your home, such as storing paint, solvents and other potentially harmful chemicals away from living areas of your home, choosing natural based cleaning products and choosing fabrics or materials that are shown to contain lower VOC levels. You will need to trace the source of contamination inside your home and take the appropriate steps to minimize the pollutant exposure.
If you have concerns about your indoor air quality, be sure to speak to a reputable HVAC technician. An experienced HVAC specialist can not only provide duct cleaning services to reduce the air pollutants entering your home, but also discuss any of your indoor air quality concerns. This will ensure that your indoor air quality is improved to boost the health and wellbeing of you and your family.