Indoor Air Quality Test: What You Need to Know

So, as with any other family in the US, you are on a mission. Not just any mission, but you are on a mission to ensure the safety of your family.

The safety, which requires certain actions on occasion. It’s not just a matter of cleaning your home, but also making sure that those external forces that you can influence, are controlled, so that they don’t pose any harm to you and your family.

Along with our many other articles, this is one of the articles that is focused on keeping your family safe. This article is the one that follows our article on whether or not it is safe to live in a home that has lead paint in it.

In that article we looked at just the harm that can be done by not being aware of the age of your home, including the importance of not just ensuring that the inside paint is in good condition, but that the outside paint is too.

If it’s your first time on this website, we briefly want to highlight what it is that we do. We sell EPA-approved lead test kits, mostly to contractors, but also to certain homeowners, which are required when you’re remodeling a home that was built before 1978, as they have a tendency to contain lead, which can have life-lasting consequences on your health, and especially on the health of your kids.

We’ll also briefly be touching on that topic in this article, although the topic of this article is a little bit more broad and touches on a bunch of different things that could be affecting the quality of the air in your home, as well as the procedures for testing it and making sure you’re good to go.

What you need to know

Indoor air isn’t always great, although you may be taking a bunch of measures to improve it. In fact, indoor air can be 400% more polluted than the other side of the windows, although it isn’t always the case.

There are definitely places around the world where the outside air isn’t amazing, and where people may choose to close the windows simply to avoid outside air coming in.

Assuming that you’re not living in one of those heavily-polluted areas, there may be great reason to bring in some fresh air.

Again, there are exceptions to this when it’s not the case. In order to make sure you don’t have bad indoor air quality, one of the solutions that some people choose to go to is an air purifier, but the issue with that is that you may not necessarily be addressing the reason why the quality of the air is so bad in the first place.

If you are at all able to address the underlying reasons for the low air quality, we suggest that is where you start. Pollen and dust may be some of the more common things that people are aware of, and you may even be among the unfortunate group of people that is highly allergic to both. Perhaps you spend your entire spring sneezing as the pollen gets intense, and your inside is your safe haven where you go to escape those rough outside conditions.

If that’s the case, it really isn’t ideal if all that you’re finding inside is that you can’t breathe because there are a bunch of other pollutants that affect you.

The real question is whether you want to scratch the surface, or whether you would rather want to address the issue. An air purifier is a great thing and can significantly help the lives of people that are suffering from bad allergies, but we’ll still take you on a mission. A mission to make you more comfortable, but also more safe with some of the recommendations we’ll be providing you with right here.

If you are choosing to get an air purifier, it’s also a good idea to make sure that it is properly rated for the pollutants that you are struggling with the most. In addition, make sure that you are checking whether it can actually help with the job that you are hoping for it to be able to perform, as there are a bunch of junk purifiers on the market, and once you have bought it, you won’t be able to get your money back. There are also pollutants that they simply won’t be able to deal with, where you will have to find another way to improve your situation.

For instance, if you’ve read our article on the occurrence of lead paint in homes built before 1978, you would know that the risk of lead being present in homes vastly increases the older the home is.

When someone is doing lead abatement work, while they will take a bunch of steps in order to limit the amount of dust in the air, lead dust is still a concern, why the contractor is wearing the adequate level of protection to make sure that the dangerous dust doesn’t end up in the lungs. What needs to be noted about that situation is that they won’t just be using your average vacuum in order to do the necessary cleaning, they’ll be using specific HEPA vacuums to make sure that the lead dust doesn’t end up contaminating the rest of the house.

Air purifiers are the same – there are some jobs that they’re capable of handling, and there are others which they aren’t.

Where you live and the activities you engage in will help determine which of these things you should probably be concerning yourself with the most.

In fact, air pollution isn’t just a nuisance, it kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every single year – that’s no joke! That number is straight from WHO.

In terms of activities, of course if you don’t have a pet, you won’t be dealing with pet hair, and the influence that it may have on air quality. Remember how we previously said that some people are vastly allergic to certain things. For some, it’s enough that there is just the presence of a pet in the house before they start feeling a strong need to sneeze.

All that from the impact that the pet has on the air quality.

If you’re living in the Midwest, pollen might be the thing that you struggle with the most, although people living on either of the coasts won’t be saved from its effects either.

As a matter of fact, where I live, in Raleigh, NC, which is just a few hours away from the coast, we’ll get extremely bad pollen every single year to the extent that it colors the drains and sewage system when it is being washed away. Funny if you have a roommate who is mildly allergic to it, and you’re having a blast from seeing him sneeze, but less so funny when you’re the one dealing with the pollen.

Do you live in a more humid climate? Well, if that’s the case there’s a very significant chance that you might be struggling with the presence of mold if you’re not making sure that you’re properly venting air, and taking measures that helps keep down the humidity inside the house.

Although these are general ideas, of course it’s always a good idea to make sure that your bathroom doesn’t end up being humid for extended periods of time, even if you don’t live in a part of the country that can necessarily be considered to have overall high levels of humidity.

If you’re living in Las Vegas, where humidity is practically not a thing, worrying about mold is definitely less of a risk than in a lot of other places.

That is not to say that you can’t get mold in Las Vegas, since you’re probably going to use the air conditioning system for the better part of the year, and cooling your house in the winter, as humidity can still accumulate inside a room that has no air circulation.

Are you a smoker? It should come to you as no surprise that there are a bunch of pollutants added to cigarettes that will cause the air quality to suffer in your house.

Improving the air quality in your home isn’t just going to make your life more pleasant to live but could have direct consequences on your health, and thereby likely also be able to help you save on doctors’ bills and other medical expenses.

Ways to test the indoor air quality

The way that you ensure that you get the best results is obviously to take advantage of the offerings of a pro, whether it comes to air quality testing or some other service, but you may be happy to know that that’s not the only way you can get a sense for the situation in your house.

On the other hand, when you’re doing things yourself, you tend to save money, although you won’t be getting the same results from it either, and the accuracy of the options available to the DIY just aren’t as good.

When it comes to testing for lead paint, those people that do it on a consistent basis and offer it as a service will also be more likely to do so with an XRF machine, whereas the DIY option is using one of the test kits on our site. While they get the job done, they still leave a mark where the test has been done, why they’re better for those times when you won’t have to worry about leaving a mark on the wall anyway.

Another option is to start out with a DIY solution and if you end up discovering any significant issues, you can rather have a pro come in and find out what you need to do to further improve the air quality.

Some cases may warrant doing the DIY option, but it is obvious that if you are starting to experience a bunch of symptoms that may be indicating allergies or be the symptoms arising from poor indoor air at your place, you might just want to go with a pro.

How do you know if the air in your home is really what is causing you issues? For one, if you are experiencing symptoms that seem to be isolated to when you’re actually at home versus when you instead go into work, it may be indicative that there is something that is bothering you for whatever reason.

What are you testing for?

The pollutants you’ll be looking for are usually subdivided into 3 different categories: The biological, the chemical annd combustion.

We’ll briefly be touching on some of the different ones, so you’ll know what they commonly are.

Combustion pollutants

For instance, probably the most common combustion pollutant is secondhand smoke, which you probably already know is what remains in the air when a smoker is smoking that cigarette.

Perhaps you’ve been to a smoke-filled bar at some point in your life, and if you yourself aren’t a smoker, it’s very easy to just come home from that after a long night, and all you want to do is find some way to cleanse your lungs as you feel as if you inhaled an entire pack of cigarettes yourself.

In fact, if you didn’t know it already, the actual tobacco in a cigarette isn’t the main issue when it comes to smoking, but rather some of the other 4,000 compounds packed into the little stick, with more than 40 of those being carcinogens – meaning they promote the formation of cancer. You might not have known just how many compounds these little sticks include, but you sure know that they can make you drowsy, and they’ll make the air quality suffer, too.

In terms of improving the air quality, at least it is very easy to figure out if smoking has been happening in the house, and the air can be vastly improved by taking the smoking outside.

Another combustion pollutant is carbon monoxide, which is one of the things you’ll have an alarm for. Too much of this stuff won’t just affect the air quality, but can in fact cause death. It’s bad and its odorless making it very hard to realize is there. A working CO alarm is therefore crucial.

Chemical pollutants

When it comes to chemical pollutants, one of the biggest ones is VOCs, which stands for volatile organic compounds. If you’ve painted your home recently, there’s a significant chance that you’ve seen that on the paint can. Cleaners, disinfectants and fuel are other common sources that will bring them into your home.

The next one on the list is the one that we’re the most familiar with on this site – lead. When you think of lead, you might rightfully think of it as a metal, but it can in fact also be something that becomes airborne and ends up in the air in the form of lead dust. This material stems from deteriorating paint that contains it, as it was commonly added to residential paint before its ban in 1977. Today, the EPA requires, through the RRP rule, that old homes predating 1978 are tested before lead-disturbing activities start.

Biological pollutants

The first one to mention under biological pollutants is mold, which probably doesn’t need more than this very brief mention. Properly airing out a room is a great measure, but you can also get a dehumidifier to help you out with the task.

Dust mites and pollen are other biological pollutants to look out for.

DIY testing

If you want to continue to monitor your air quality at home, our recommendations are that you either go with Speck or Foobot that can help you monitor for bad things in the air, whether it is VOCs, CO2, particulate matter, and more.

Testing your place for radon

One of the other things that many homeowners choose to test for is radon. The issue with this type of gas is also that it has some of the same properties as carbon monoxide does which will make it very hard to actually realize that you may have a problem in your house. While it doesn’t necessarily pose some of the same dangers that carbon monoxide does in the short term, there are devastating long term effects from exposure to this gas which you don’t want to have to endure.

In that sense, exposure to radon has some of the same properties as does exposure to lead paint, in the sense that you won’t be realizing the sort of damage you are doing in the short term. While exposure to lead may end up being a problem if you are ingesting big amounts of it in a relatively small amount of time, it is still the accumulation over time that is really the problem you want to avoid. Radon exposure is often one of those things that homeowners take for granted and vastly underestimate the harmful effects of, but the reality is that there are 21,000 cases of lung cancer in the United States every single year that stem from exposure to this g as. That is, of course, if you choose to believe what the American Cancer society has to say about the matter.

As with carbon monoxide, you are talking about an odorless, colorless gas that you can’t simply realize is present if you don’t have the required tools to test for it, why it is that so many people don’t realize it is present before a professional comes to your home and tells you you have a significant problem with it.

Have you bought one of those homes that may have a nice walkout basement?  While you may have previously thought that you were doing yourself a favor by buying a place that has good possibilities for storing a lot of things on the lower floor, exposure to this dangerous gas may not have been your main focus. Additionally, you may even have chosen to include one of your children’s bedrooms on this lower floor, why it would be even more so important that you test for the gas. Radon is one of those dangerous gases that will seep up through the cracks in your house, which means that the basement is going to be the  first place where larger concentrations of this gas will occur. The foundation, the walls and the areas around the pipes are where it will be coming from, so before you choose to use the lower level of your house for purposes requiring that anyone spends vast amounts of time down there, it is important that you have someone come out and do the necessary testing for it.

There are different options when it comes to testing for the presence of radon, but one of your options is that you can buy a test that you are able to use yourself. When you start searching the internet, you will quickly find out that these tests are probably going to set you back around $150 for a test, but they are pretty easy to use, which is an advantage. They typically require that you go down to the basement and put the test up, where it will have to sit for up to a week before accurately showing the level of radon in your home.

If you aren’t actively using your basement all that much, you might not necessarily have a lot of benefit from putting the test in the basement. The alternative would be that you put up the test in the room in the house that someone is going to be spending a lot of time in. However, if you are using the space for either a home gym or a bedroom, making sure that you get it tested is important to ensure your long-term health. No one wants to deal with having lung cancer, and this is just one of those small measures that you need to take in order to protect your family.

You can also get tests that will sit there for a longer period of time than the typical test kits that sit for up to a week, and the advantage to that is that you are ensuring that you are not just spot testing the area, but that you are rather seeing what sort of fluctuations there are in the measurements, which Is  beneficial as there are various factors that will influence the numbers you will see. Things such as the weather and the time of the year may influence the sorts of readings that the test kits will end up with, as radon levels fluctuate a bit.

When it comes to ensuring the health of your family, we always encourage you to work with a pro who can come out and make sure that there isn’t an issue with radon, the same way that he will be testing for various things like the presence of lead paint.

The good thing about it is that there are measures you can take in order to have radon gas removed. Radon testing is really just one of those measures you would take the same way you would either encapsulate lead paint or have the old paint stripped away in order to ensure the quality of the air in your home.

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