A surprising number of pollutants may be present in your home, impacting your health and quality of life. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t require home indoor air quality (IAQ) testing and no federal standards oversee IAQ, an evaluation is a good idea. Pollutants can come from construction materials, home cleaning products, and mold while poor ventilation only makes matters worse. Here, we’ll look at if and when you need indoor air quality testing.
Should I Test My Home?
It’s wise to test your home at some point. Depending on its age, location, and any signs or symptoms present, you can narrow down what to test for. As for when to perform air quality testing, you should when moving into a new home or if your house was recently renovated.
Symptoms to Look For
Indoor air pollution is associated with a range of symptoms. If you experience any of the following, consult a doctor to help determine if they’re related to an IAQ problem:
- Shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
- Chronic headaches
- Water eyes
- Throat irritation
It’s important to note when the symptoms occur. Do they go away or diminish in intensity when you leave your house? Have they suddenly appeared or gotten worse when you renovated, used an appliance, or turned on the air conditioner? Are they more prevalent in certain areas of your home or at certain times of the day?
Other Signs of an Indoor Air Quality Problem
There’s a wide variety of indoor particulates, allergens, toxins, pathogens, and pollutants, meaning there are many poor air quality indicators. But here are some key signs it’s time to schedule indoor air quality testing:
- Ventilation Issues: If you’re experiencing musty smells, see mold collecting on walls, or condensation is collecting on walls and windows, your home may be poorly ventilated or your ventilation system may require cleaning or repair.
- Odors: If unusual odors suddenly appear, that’s a sure sign of a problem. It may be hard to notice these odors if you’re always home. But if you’ve been out for a while and realize something is permeating the air, mold or other pollutants may be present.
Types of Pollutants
When performing indoor air quality testing, it’s crucial to focus on a particular type of pollutant. You can’t test for all indoor pollutants at the same time. But you can narrow down the possibilities to determine what types of testing are necessary. These are some of the most common pollutants in homes as identified by the EPA:
- Biological Pollutants: Mold can release a variety of toxic substances while dust mites are a powerful allergen. Pollen can trigger irritation and hay fever. You can test for what pollen is present, but fortunately, you can limit exposure by staying indoors when pollen counts are high, keeping windows closed, and not hanging clothes outside to dry.
- Chemical Pollutants: Include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can turn into vapors and gases. They’re found in many cleaning products, building materials, and furnishings. Some VOCs can cause irritation and skin reactions while others can lead to memory impairment or even damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
- Combustion Pollutants: Secondhand smoke is one of the most prevalent and hazardous combustion pollutants. It contains dozens of carcinogenic compounds. Another is the colorless, odorless gas known as carbon monoxide (CO), which can come from fireplaces, space heaters, gas and wood stoves, or blockages in chimneys, flues, and vents.
How to Test Indoor Air Quality
An indoor air quality test should be performed once you’ve identified and controlled the source of pollution. Options include an indoor air quality monitor, which can help identify toxins or particulate matter, depending on the model. Some monitors detect specific pollutants while others estimate how many particulates are in the air. There are also gas, temperature, and humidity monitors.
Mold test kits come in many forms. The downside is, that while most are good at showing the presence of mold, they won’t identify the type. And tests that must be sent to labs can take weeks to come back. Consumer radon tests are also available, but work by detecting radon levels over time, from 90 days to several months, and then you’ll need to wait for a lab to analyze the results. Continuous radon tests provide faster alerts, but significant installation work may be required.
Carbon monoxide detectors are among the most reliable and effective air quality monitoring solutions, along with smoke detectors. They instantly alert you of trouble and should be placed on every level of your home and near bedrooms.
Schedule Indoor Air Quality Testing with IRBIS
At IRBIS, we use the latest, most advanced air quality monitors to determine what and how much of it is polluting your home. Our indoor air quality testing methods allow us to determine the best solutions, including UV air scrubbers that kill microbes in your HVAC system. High-efficiency filters, humidity controls, and duct repair and sealing can also potentially resolve your IAQ issues. The proper testing can therefore help us find ways to address all types of contamination.
Indoor air quality testing can improve comfort, energy efficiency and when you consider the cognitive effects of some pollutants, productivity and learning. By addressing IAQ issues, you can also eliminate some factors that cause your AC and heating system to be strained. This means you can reduce operating costs and avoid expensive repairs.
To schedule air quality services in San Jose, book an appointment online or call IRBIS at 669-266-5464 today.