Air Quality Testing

Indoor Air Quality Testing

Indoor air quality is an often-overlooked part of daily life, but an essential one. Statistics show that Americans spend at least 90% of their time indoors, and that indoor air often has two to five times the pollutants as outdoor air. The source of this pollution might be biological, as from mold or mildew, or artificial, as from paint and cleaning supplies. But whatever its nature, indoor air pollution has enormous potential to cause respiratory illness and other problems. There is, then, a dire need for reliable indoor air testing.

Types of pollution

As we’ve already stated, there are many different types of indoor air pollution, and unfortunately, they can’t be all tested for at once. Different kinds of tests are needed for biological, chemical and combustion pollutants. Here are some common examples of each type of pollution.

  • Biological— mold, mildew, pollen, dust mites
  • Chemical— lead, radon, formaldehyde
  • Combustion— carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke

The tests for each type of pollutant have different cost structures. 

Testing for biological pollution

Testing for biological pollutants begins with an assessment of the likely sources of pollution. Our inspector will do  a structured walkthrough of your home to try to determine, room by room, what may be going on. Samples will then be collected and submitted to the lab.  Both air and swab samples can be utilized to determine the extent of contamination and are sometimes used in conjunction with each other to further understand the problem.  Cost is structured on the amount samples are taken.

  • Mold— Our inspector will check common problem areas, like bathrooms and kitchens where water regularly runs, including sinks, showers and toilets.  Our experienced inspector can also determine other possible problem areas in your home.
  • Dust mites— These little parasites can be found in the cleanest home and can be major triggers for asthma. There are preventative measure that can be tried before next steps are taken, like mattress covers, regularly washing sheets, and so forth.
  • Pollen— This visitor from outdoors can easily filter into your indoor air, triggering hay fever symptoms of sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. Note that exposure to pollen can be minimized by staying inside during daylight, closing windows, and generally decreasing exposure to the outdoors.

Note: There are a range of preventative measures that can be applied before the need for remediation/invasive measures are taken.

Testing for chemical pollution

There are a range of possible sources of this kind of pollution. You’ll want to look at every part of your house that might harbor these contaminants.

  • VOCs— Volatile Organic Compounds are highly reactive, carbon-containing substances often found in cleaners and stored fuels. They can cause headaches, dizziness and similar symptoms in the short-term; in the long-term, they can cause nervous system, liver and kidney damage. Improving ventilation while using products that contain VOCs and discarding old or unused chemicals can help. VOCs must be tested for by a trained professional.
  • Formaldehyde— This toxic chemical is commonly found in building materials and insulation. It can cause allergic reactions including itchy eyes, a runny nose and asthma. Better ventilation can reduce intake of this toxin, or it can be tested for through a home-test kit, though they tend to be a touch pricey.
  • Lead– Peeling pre-1978 paint is the main source of exposure to lead. If it becomes airborne or is removed improperly, it can cause coma, convulsions and sometimes death. If your house has pre-1978 paint, and especially if you have small children, you should definitely test for lead. Do not remove lead paint yourself. Only a qualified professional should do this!

Combustion particles

These are less common than the other kinds of toxins and more controllable.

  • Tobacco smoke— The risks are well known for second hand smoke, especially if children are present. The best solution is to quit smoking, and if you need added impetus, testing can give it to you.
  • Carbon monoxide— Colorless, odorless, and potentially lethal, this gas causes headaches and dizziness at lower concentrations. It can come from furnaces, stoves, heaters and dryers. Experts recommend a yearly inspection of all fuel-burning equipment.

Conclusion

Before testing, you’ll want to identify the likely sources of contaminants and control them through proper ventilation, storage, and maintenance. Testing can help if you are uncertain what pollutant is causing any symptoms you are having, or how much of a danger it is.