Indoor air quality is a major concern, as poor air quality can cause various health problems, such as allergies, asthma, and respiratory diseases. Do you know the air quality in your home? Do you suspect that the air in your home is affecting your health? If yes, then it is time to test the air quality in your home.
It is essential to test the air quality in your home; this is to ensure that the air is safe and healthy to breathe. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of testing indoor air quality and the steps you can take to test the air quality in your home.
Why Test Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be affected by various factors, such as pollutants from household cleaners, smoke from coal and wood stoves, poorly maintained HVAC systems, non-vented gas heaters, vehicle exhaust emissions, pet dander, and environmental tobacco smoke.
Poor indoor air quality can cause various health problems, such as allergies and respiratory diseases. It can also lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, headache, fatigue, and dizziness.
In worse cases, long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can result in chronic and acute respiratory illnesses, including asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, systemic hypertension, Legionnaires’ disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and humidifier fever.
As a result, you must test indoor air quality frequently to ensure that your home is safe and healthy to breathe in all year round.
Steps to Install Air Quality Monitor in the Home
- Identify potential sources of indoor air pollution
Before testing air quality, you need to identify any potential sources of indoor air pollution, such as smoke, using chemical cleaners, or pet dander. Once you have identified these sources, you can easily take steps to reduce their impact on indoor air quality.
- Purchase an air quality monitor
After identifying the sources of indoor air pollutants in your home, the next step is to get yourself an air quality monitor.
An air quality monitor is a device that measures the level of pollutants in the air, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter (dust and pollen). You can purchase an air quality monitor online or from a hardware store.
- Place the air quality monitor in the desired location
After purchasing, run a quick inspection around your home or office to identify the area or room where you spend the most time. It could be your bedroom, living room, or home office.
Place the air quality monitor there.
- Turn on the air quality monitor
After deciding on the location to place your air quality monitor, plug it into the socket and switch it on to get a reading. Allow it to run for several hours to get an accurate reading of indoor air quality.
Some indoor air quality monitors also come with a dedicated app that helps you compare the tracked readings to the outside air. Some others are smart home enabled, so ensure you purchase an indoor air quality monitor that will provide the best services.
- Interpret the air quality data
Once the air quality monitor has completed its readings, interpret the data to determine the level of pollutants in the air. If the level of pollutants is high, take measures to reduce the sources of indoor air pollution. You can also get a professional to do this.
How to Test Indoor Air Quality
Primarily, asides from installing an indoor air quality monitor, there are three ways to test indoor air quality. These are:
- Radon test
- Installing carbon monoxide alarms
- Mold test
We’ll be discussing how to go about each test shortly.
One of the necessary tests to measure the air quality in your home is the radon test.
Radon is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and entirely undetectable without a custom-built detection device. It won’t asphyxiate you like carbon monoxide, but it will prove fatal in the long term.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.” It is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Even more frightening is the statistics that 2,900 of these lung cancer deaths occur among non-smokers.
Radon sneaks into your home through cracks in the walls, foundation, floors, or areas around pipes. However, you can seamlessly conduct a short-term radon test.
- Remove the test object from the package
- Place it in the highest-risk area of your office or home
- Leave it to sit for the allotted time recommended in the manual (usually 2-7 days)
- Send the test to the manufacturer’s lab for analysis and results
Your short-term radon test is now complete.
Tip: Ensure the doors and windows around the test area are closed and not accessible to anyone until the test is over. This is to eliminate any external elements that can alter the reading.
Install carbon monoxide alarms
Another necessary step to determine the purity of the air in your home is to install carbon monoxide alarms in various areas or rooms in the home where CO is sure to be concentrated.
Just like radon, carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and can prove fatal if inhaled over a long period. It is infamously known as the silent killer.
Carbon monoxide is an after-effect of fuel combustion, so you must be wary of appliances like gas-burning stoves, gas dryers, and gas furnaces. If you have any of these appliances in your home, you must install carbon monoxide alarms in different locations in the house.
Anything that burns gas creates carbon monoxide. Many homes contain gas water heaters that produce carbon monoxide. And there are also fireplaces. Fire, in every form (wood burning or not), produces carbon monoxide as well. In summary, just get yourself carbon monoxide detectors.
Various IAQ monitors measure carbon monoxide concentration and can alert you if anything is wrong. However, you can’t buy an IAQ monitor in every room or area in your home without spending around $1000.
Also, IAQ monitors don’t usually come with a screaming alarm that is sure to jerk you awake if something is going awry in the middle of the night. This reason alone is enough to tell you why you need to install CO alarms.
Tip: For better efficiency, you should place one CO alarm within ten to fifteen feet of each sleeping area. Also, try to keep them out of corners.
Many are battery-powered, but most are plug-ins. So, simply purchase a CO alarm from your regular hardware store, read the instructions in the manual, plug it in, and voila! Your home is protected.
Mold is a common house pollutant that an indoor air quality monitor will not detect; because mold is as present as the air itself.
Testing to see if there is mold in the air is akin to testing to unravel whether there is air in the atmosphere. It’s there, alright.
What you should be concerned about is how much mold you have in your home and the source. This will help you in removing and stopping the spread.
Both instances can only be investigated and treated by a professional.
Meanwhile, if you fall into any of the following categories, you should hire the services of a professional to run the mold test in your home to prevent further IAQ issues:
- You constantly experience allergic symptoms, such as headaches, stuffy head, runny nose, and scratchy throat, and don’t know why.
- You suspect you saw mold but are not completely sure it is mold.
- There is often a musty odor in your home but you don’t see any tangible or visible mold.
- You have been struggling with plumbing leaks or water issues in your office or home.
- You removed mold yourself and want to test your indoor air to know if mold levels are now normalized.
- You are trying to sell or buy a building and need evidence of whether airborne mold levels are normal or not before going ahead with the transaction.
- You are a tenant or a landlord and need evidence of the existence of a mold problem.
- You simply want a general assessment to ensure your family and employees are breathing in top-quality air.
A professional mold inspection will cost around $300 to $400 for an average-sized building.
Importance of Monitoring Indoor Air Quality
Monitoring indoor air quality is essential to ensure that the air in your home is safe and healthy to breathe. By regularly testing indoor air quality, you can identify any potential sources of indoor air pollution and take steps to ameliorate their impact.
Also, monitoring indoor air quality can help to prevent health problems caused by poor indoor air quality.
Need more reasons to prioritize monitoring the indoor air quality in your home? Keep reading!
- Monitoring indoor air quality helps to alleviate symptoms of asthma
According to the research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
1 in 12 people is suffering from asthma.
People that have asthma live with inflamed bronchial tubes; so, when exposed to air pollutants, they are more prone to attacks. This is because pollutants such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander react in their airways and make it difficult for them to breathe.
Living with pets puts asthmatic people at even more risk because when pets scratch themselves, they release lots of dander and hair into the atmosphere that continues to circulate and cling to various surfaces in the home.
Monitoring your indoor air quality means you get to know the necessary steps to take when your indoor air is found unfit to breathe in, and solutions to put into play like getting an air purifier.
Air purifiers help to alleviate symptoms of asthma by eradicating air pollutants and providing clean, refreshed air for everyone to enjoy.
- Monitoring indoor air quality eliminates harmful chemicals from indoor environments
Dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are commonly found in regions with high motor vehicle traffic and may enter your homes.
Research from the National Library of Medicine reveals that constant exposure to nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide PM increases the chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Other than these harmful gases, even your household cleaning agents contain toxins like chlorine, ammonia, and phthalates. Therefore, you need to make your home a haven by ensuring the air you inhale is purified from harmful chemicals.
Getting an indoor air quality monitor will certainly help with that.
- Monitoring indoor air quality reduces the chances of airborne diseases
Monitoring the indoor air quality in your home also helps to reduce the risk of contracting airborne diseases.
When you’re living with someone who has catarrh, for example, it is pretty easy for at least a few family members to get infected with the catarrh too. This is because of the pathogens flying about in the air.
When healthy people inhale them when their immune systems are weak, they become susceptible to contracting the illness as well, the aged and infants who already have weak immune systems.
So, if you have such individuals (the aged and the infants) in your home, having a system that monitors all these pollutants is imperative
- Monitoring your IAQ Helps to Eradicate Harmful Radon
When building materials start to break down, there is a release of naturally occurring radioactive elements, like uranium, into the atmosphere. This breakdown produces radon gas and it can easily be released into your indoor air environment from cracks on the walls and floors.
Radon gas destroys the cell linings of the lungs, which can lead to cancer. As stated earlier, an
EPA assessment conducted in 2013 showed that there are as many as 21,000 deaths related to lung cancer every year in the United States, and this is caused by odorless radon gas.
- Monitoring IAQ Helps to increase life expectancy
High-quality indoor air will help you sleep effectively; and meanwhile, good sleep is contributory to life longevity.
Air pollution can affect your respiratory, cardiac, and neurological systems. Harmful gases and chemicals from your everyday household products can pile up in your lungs and you may never get to know. This is because the airborne particles are tiny enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and affect your cognitive functions unawares.
Having an IAQ monitoring system will provide you with healthier air quality.
Testing your indoor air quality is essential to ensure that the air in your home is safe and healthy to breathe. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily test indoor air quality and take steps to improve it. Remember to regularly monitor your IAQ to prevent health problems.
Ready to take the first step toward improving your indoor air quality? Then visit our website to explore our range of air quality monitors, designed to provide accurate readings of indoor air quality. Our high-quality devices have been tested to ensure their accuracy and effectiveness.
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