Indoor air quality is important for everyone, and for a good reason: an average of 11.65% of deaths all around the world are attributed to air pollution. Even if the results might not as extreme in your case, air pollution can still lead to a variety of health problems such as respiratory issues, allergies, or even cancer.
The contaminants present in the air can make your life difficult, no matter if we are talking about mold, bacteria, or asbestos. To create a healthy environment, you need to get rid of these hazardous contaminants. Air quality testing is crucial, and this article will tell you why it should not be skipped.
Why Is Air Quality Testing Important?
Air quality testing is important because it can help identify various hazards present in your home such as mold, bacteria, asbestos, and more. By determining their presence, you can take the necessary steps for having them removed.
Air quality testing is even more important if you have someone in your home suffering from respiratory health conditions. For instance, if they have allergies or asthma, the irritants or allergens present in the air can make life very difficult for them. By finding these contaminants, you will know what steps to take to prevent any future health complications.
Types of Air Pollutants
Air quality testing is important because air pollutants come in various forms. Here are the two types of pollutants you will come across:
Visible Air Pollutants
The contaminants are visible, like small smog or thin particles you see floating around your home. If you constantly see these contaminants, then you likely have various allergens in your home that may affect your respiratory issues.
Invisible Air Pollutants
In this case, the pollutants are not noticeable, but it doesn’t mean that they are not harmful. Very often, the invisible pollutants can be the more harmful ones. This category can include carbon dioxide, bacteria, and more. Since these pollutants cannot be seen with the naked eye, air quality testing is essential to determine their presence.
Most Common Contaminants in the Air
Indoor air can be filled with a variety of harmful contaminants that can compromise your well-being. Here are some of the most common contaminants that you will likely find in your home:
Mold can grow in any home that is dealing with high humidity levels. It is more common in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, but can occur in other areas of your home as well. Its presence may lead to allergies and respiratory issues, but also to potential neurological problems.
Like mold, bacteria can easily multiply in areas with high humidity levels. In high quantities, the presence of bacteria can directly invade and damage your tissues, leading to infection and other illnesses. Bacteria can also lead to a variety of diseases such as pneumonia or Legionnaires’ Disease.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can happen when you burn fuels in an area. This can include oil, gas, charcoal, or wood. While most believe these contaminants are found outside, there are instances when they can form indoors as well. If you have a fireplace that you constantly use or if your cooking stove releases a lot of carbon monoxide, the effects on your health can be significant. It can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness, and, in high concentration, even death.
Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in houses built until the 80s. When the spores go airborne, they can lead to a variety of respiratory health issues and even lung cancer. Asbestos is dangerous because it can break down into microscopic fibers and without regular air quality testing, you may not even know that you are surrounded by asbestos particles.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds come from a wide range of household products, which include air fresheners, cleaning products, paint, and more. These compounds can lead to a variety of health problems such as headaches, respiratory issues, and different lung problems. Other symptoms may also include irritated eyes, a dirty or runny nose, and a lingering sore throat. Over time, repeated exposure may also lead to cancer.
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes out of soil, rocks, and water. It gets into your home through small holes or cracks in the wall, building up and leading to a variety of side effects. Since it has no taste, color, or smell, you may not even know that you are surrounded by this gas. High exposure can lead to lung cancer, which is why air quality testing is essential to identify this compound.
How to Test Indoor Air Quality
Luckily, nowadays, testing your indoor air quality is easier than ever. Here are the most common ways for you to test the quality of the air inside your home.
Buy a Home Air Quality Testing Kit
There are different home air quality kits that can help you test your air quality. They can be used to test for anything, from mold and bacteria to VOCs, asbestos, radon, and more.
Bear in mind that some kits only test for specific contaminants, so you need to have at least one suspicion of what you may be dealing with. Other test kits can look for multiple types of contaminants if you are not sure, but they are often more expensive. Once the samples are collected, you may send them to an accredited laboratory where they will check the contents.
Track Your Health Symptoms
Sometimes, tracking your symptoms is the best way to determine whether there is a problem with the air in your home or not. For a few weeks, try to look at how your symptoms are manifesting themselves. See if they overlap with a specific moment of the day or if they only occur when you enter a specific area.
For instance, you may be dealing with congestion and headaches when you spend most of your time in your office. If that’s the case, the air quality in your home may not be your issue. If most of the symptoms are in your home, look at the types of symptoms that you are experiencing.
For instance, if you have watery eyes or a scratchy throat, you may have an allergic reaction to pollutants in the air. On the other hand, confusion and nausea may suggest a high level of carbon monoxide in your home. If your air quality test kit determines there is a problem as well, then you should consider seeing a doctor and then taking the measures to clean the air in your home.
Hire a Professional Air Quality Testing Company
Home air quality testing kits represent a good option to determine the contaminant levels in your home but are not always accurate. If they are not performed properly, then they may lead to incorrect results. For this reason, you may want to consider hiring a professional to do the testing for you. They will have the tools and the skills necessary to deliver a more accurate result.
It’s important to keep in mind that air quality testing should be done periodically, as the air around you may change constantly. This is even more important if you or someone in your household is susceptible to respiratory problems. Recognizing the contaminants can help you take the necessary steps to cleanse the air.
Tips to Keep Indoor Air Clean
Testing for indoor quality is the first step to cleansing the air of pollutants, allowing you to choose a course of action. However, if you want the air to remain clean afterward, here are some steps that you could take:
Clean Your Home Regularly
If you have a problem with allergies, then keeping your home clean can help prevent any respiratory issues. Dirt, dust, and other pollutants in the air can trigger asthma and other similar conditions. If your air quality test results suggest that you have high levels of dust particles in the air, then you may want to reconsider how often you are vacuuming. It can take up to two days for sheens of dust to form, but if you live in a high-traffic area, that dust can gather even faster.
Good ventilation is essential to ensure air quality remains at an optimum level. Indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air, which is why you need to circulate and “change” it. Make sure to open your windows regularly and install exhaust fans on your walls. This can help take the polluted air out and bring the fresh air in. If you live in a high-pollution area, you should also ensure the exhaust fans are equipped with HEPA filters.
Control Humidity In Your Home
Controlling the humidity in your home is one of the best ways to ensure you have high air quality in your home. Contaminants such as mold and bacteria thrive and easily multiply in these environments. If your air quality screening test suggests you have mold spores and bacteria in your home, the best way to control them is through proper ventilation. Tools such as a dehumidifier can help reduce humidity, preventing the reappearance of these contaminants.
Be Careful Around Chemicals
Most of the cleaning products that you use daily contain various chemicals that can be very harmful to your health. If the test kit suggests that you have high VOC levels inside your home, then you may want to reconsider how you use those chemicals. Make sure that you follow the instructions on the label and that you always use them in a well-ventilated area.
Get an Air Purifier
Getting an air purifier is one of the best ways to ensure the air stays clean of pollutants. Units like the Airfree purifier can catch airborne contaminants as well, even smaller ones such as bacteria and viruses. If your air quality test kit suggests that you have a problem with pollution inside your home, an air purifier may be used to remove the contaminants.
The Bottom Line
Your home should be a place of health and relaxation, and this starts with the air you breathe. To ensure you are not breathing harmful contaminants in, you should regularly test the air around you using air quality testing kits or professional services. Once you find the culprits in the air, you should proceed to take the best measures for cleansing the air and improving your health.