Air quality test – what is it, and why do you need it?
The air quality in your home can be affected by many factors and can result in serious health and safety risks. Although you might not see it, air pollutants are all over. They range from fumes gotten from cleaning products to dangerous molds. The higher the concentration of indoor air contaminants, the higher the risk to our health. Air pollutants can arise from harmful gases – the two most prevalent gases being carbon monoxide and radon. They can also arise from molds and mildews growing in certain areas in your home like your furniture, wet carpets, enclosed in your cooling and heating system, and around building materials.
Why you should test your Air?
The quality of air in your home plays a large role in providing the desired comfort provided by a home. Moreover, having a home with quality air plays a major role in maintaining good health in your home. One reason why you should test the air in your home (apart from the reasons of comfort and maintenance of good health) is that some pollutants have long-term effects on your health.
Some other reasons for testing the air in your home include:
One reason to test the air is because of the presence of odorless gases that can be harmful to your health and the health of your family. Top on this list is carbon monoxide, which is a dangerous odorless gas that is produced when there is incomplete combustion of fuel. Initial symptoms include excessive tiredness, dizziness, and headaches. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can even lead to death. Doing a proper air quality test can help in identifying the levels of these gases and ascertain if they are above the average levels in the home. You can as well install a carbon monoxide detector to help in identifying the levels of carbon monoxide in your home.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
The second reason you should do an Air quality test is because of the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds emitted from paint products, building materials, and aerosol cans. VOCs are majorly found inside the home and contribute largely to the pollution of the air. Symptoms of VOCs being present in the home could include frequent irritation of eyes, nose, and throat.
Presence of Radon
The third reason for doing a quality test for the air in your home is because of the harm that can be caused by Radon. The danger of Radon gas lies in the fact that it cannot be seen, smelt, or tasted. Also, research has shown that radon is amongst the leading causes of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon can be indoors as well as outdoors, but exposure is more within the home. Radon is mostly gotten from the breakdown of uranium in the soil, which is then moved up into the atmosphere from the ground. Buildings take these gases by trapping them within their structure and eventually become a risk for homeowners. It is best you test for the levels of radon whenever you are buying a home to ensure the levels are not above the average.
Asthma and Allergies
The next reason you should perform an air quality test can be because a member of your family or even you might be suffering from an allergy or asthma. In this case, an air quality test is very important to help you identify the levels of pollution and find a way to remedy it. These pollutants, allergens, and irritants have an immense effect on asthma attacks.
Exposure to unknown and unseen harmful materials
Last on our list of reasons to do an air quality test is because there are certain pollutants you might not know about and can be present in the home. Examples are airborne mold and formaldehyde, which cannot be seen but are present in the air. Exposure to these materials can cause serious health issues like cancer, lung disease, long-term illnesses, and other health complications. Therefore it is advisable to always carry out an Air Quality test in your home to identify these materials and take steps to remove them from your home.
Types of Air Quality Testing
Although major air quality tests are built around VOCs, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde testing, there are four major types of air quality testing.
- Chemical Testing
- Gas testing
- Biological testing
- Particulate testing
As the name implies, this involves the testing for chemicals, especially Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This can be done using a photo-ionizing detector, EPA TO-15 mass-spectrometer, Sorbent tubes, summa canisters, or Tedlar bags. Common chemicals tested for include:
- Methylene; and other chemicals
It involves testing for the gas levels of certain gases (majorly Carbon Dioxide, Carbon monoxide, and radon).
Gases to test for include:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Petroleum gases
- Combustible gases
- Sulfur Dioxide
For biological testing, there are 4 major categories of biological materials that are tested for:
- Molds: including testing for Mold spores and bulk mold testing
- Sewage bacteria: this includes Coliform, E.coli, and Enterococcus
- Allergens: include pollen, dust mites, skin cells, pet dander, and rodent dander.
Testing for particles is also a part of air quality testing. This involves laser particle counting, soot analysis, dust analysis, silica levels, and filtration evaluation.
Having a healthy home is important for you and your family. Taking the right steps to do an air quality test is a giant step in the right direction. Next, get a professional to evaluate your home or get the necessary tools to help you test the air quality in your home.