Indoor air quality test – Does it really matter?
Indoor air pollutants are all around us! Here are some reasons why you should have your home air quality tested every year.
We have all heard the expression “as light as air”. However, the air is not as light as it seems. Your lungs feel the weight of air, especially when it is full of toxins. And although we tend to view air pollution as an outside threat, it can be even worse inside the buildings where we live and work.
The causes of indoor air pollution vary from region to region, from house to house and even from room to room. Contaminated air infiltrates from the outside, but it also emanates from a multitude of indoor sources such as building materials, consumer products, mold, insects and pets. Poor ventilation can let it build up to dangerous levels, a problem that gets more complicated in the fall and winter as we close buildings to conserve heat.
Here is an overview of the most common indoor air pollutants, which are best detected by regular air quality tests.
1. Air quality test: Mold
Fungi are notorious indoor air polluters, capturing hot and humid conditions to colonize and contaminate. Outbreaks often start in basements and bathrooms, but can quickly spread with enough moisture. The health effects vary depending on the type of mold and personal sensitivity. Symptoms may include nasal congestion, wheezing and skin irritation. Studies have also linked indoor exposure to mold and the development of asthma in children. Having the air tested inside your home annually can prevent many health problems for you and your family.
2. Air quality test: Asbestos and vermiculite
Asbestos and vermiculite is dangerous to breathe, several respiratory problems are linked to them, this is why it is generally important to avoid moving it so as not to release its spores suspended in the air and thus created respiratory problems for the inhabitants of the house. You will need to have strict and rigorously followed procedures at all times.
It is important to carry out an air quality test by experts in the event of an asbestos or vermiculite discovery.
Air quality test: Dust, dander, excrement and fungi
Mold is not the only biological polluter of indoor air. Many buildings are invaded by mites and cockroaches, two very different arthropods that leave a trace of allergenic feces and body parts. Fumes from urine and rodent feces can also cause respiratory problems, as can animal dander and airborne proteins from cat’s saliva. In addition to this, indoor air can be invaded by pollen and bacteria from outside.
These contaminants like fungi often trigger allergic reactions and asthma, and symptoms can worsen with chronic exposure. Children, the elderly and people with other respiratory problems are particularly exposed to biological agents in confined areas. If you have pets or have seen rodents in your area, a test of the air inside your home can help avoid some health issues.
When it comes to factors affecting indoor air quality in your home or work space, the list can be endless. One of the easiest ways to monitor air quality in these two environments is to perform annual tests, which can help prevent many different health problems at the same time.
4. Air quality test: Combustion
The gases and particles resulting from combustion are the main sources of indoor air pollution in the world. This category includes kitchen stoves, heated stoves, fireplaces, hot air generators, backup heaters and tobacco smoke. The main pollutants released by combustion are carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particles.
CO causes a variety of symptoms, ranging from headaches and nausea to confusion and loss of consciousness. NO2 irritates the mucous membranes and causes shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure to low levels may increase the risk of lung infections or emphysema. Airborne particles can lodge in the lungs, which can damage tissue and even end up in the blood.
Since CO is colorless and odorless, the best way to detect it is to install CO alarms near bedrooms and combustion appliances. These devices must also be inspected at least once a year by a qualified technician, as well as chimneys, flues and air treatment systems.
5. Air quality test: Radon
Another colorless and odorless gas, radon, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Almost all soils contain low levels of decaying uranium, which emits radon, although some areas have more. This gas can also enter buildings through holes inside foundations, allowing it to reach dangerous levels in basements and lower floors.
Air quality tests are the only way to make sure the air you breathe isn’t contaminated. Radon remediation consists of isolating the interior of the building from the exposed floor, a complex task generally entrusted to professionals.