Do you get the feeling like there’s a problem with the air in your home?
If you have, you’re not sure of how to get it tested. Indoor air quality has a huge impact on your health and productivity irrespective of whether it is in your residential, commercial, or institutional setting.
So addressing the air quality concerns before they turn into a bigger problem is essential to not only maintain but improve the health and well-being of your family.
Three of the most common types of indoor air quality concerns include volatile organic compounds, radon, and mold. And the best way to determine which problem you have is by getting the air tested.
So what exactly is the difference between air quality testing and mold testing and how does it affect your health?
Air quality testing and mold testing is ultimately the same thing.
Although mold testing can be conducted by doing a swab test and this entails taking a sample of the mold and having it analyzed, ultimately to get the most after the results, you should use an air monitor designed to pick up mold spores in the air to give you precise results.
Air quality testing will basically let you know what’s in the air. In some cases you may have a soul contaminant in the household or the could be a combination of pollutants all contributing to the poor indoor quality.
Some of the most common causes that an indoor air quality test will pick up on include carbon monoxide, asbestos, dust and pit addenda, pesticides, cleaning products, radon as well as mold and mold you.
What is an Indoor Air Quality Test?
Indoor air quality testing is basically a process that involves using a device called an indoor air quality monitor to pick up on contaminants and pollutants circulating inside your home.
Depending on the device, you are using an indoor air quality monitor will pick up on a number of different contaminants, vapors, gases, and volatile organic compounds.
Some examples of contaminants roaming around in your indoor air include radon, asbestos, mold and mildew, dust, pet dander, pesticides, and cleaning products.
What Are Air Monitors and How Do They Work?
If you’ve never come across an air quality monitor before, you’re probably wondering how it works. Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
It is ultimately a device that one uses to test the quality of the indoor air.
If you didn’t know what this was, then you’re not alone. Lots of people don’t really consider the quality of their indoor air, and therefore most people don’t even know that there’s something called an air quality monitor.
However, they do, and they are probably the most straightforward option on the market for consistently and accurately testing the quality of your indoor air.
This is as mentioned before an electronic device that tests the indoor air quality inside your home. Tests will usually pick up levels of pollution, radon, volatile organic compounds, and in most cases, mold as well.
Ultimately all of these monitors test for particulate matter and even humidity. Some will track temperature, and others will check carbon monoxide and formaldehyde levels as well.
Most models include a display panel that shows the readings and in the real-time. Others deliver the results by using an indicator light and then pushing the results of the readings to your phone via a dedicated app.
Most of these monitors are smart home enabled and you can sync them with other devices such as thermostats to help manage your indoor air quality and energy usage.
What is a Mold Test?
Mold testing involves a process of taking a sample of air or a surface. A mold inspector tests the air or surface to find out what type of mold is present and if it’s able to grow in the tested area.
The above method of testing for mold included purchasing a mold test kit, and this would require you to collect mold samples and then send it off to a mold testing laboratory. Then, you wait to get the results back. This method is referred to as surface testing.
Lately, however, air testing has become increasingly popular as it is a more convenient way of testing for the presence of mold in your home. As a bonus, it’s also a more accurate method.
These air tests check for the concentration of mold spores inside your indoor air, and samples are taken using an indoor air quality monitor.
It is later examined under a microscope, and this process is able to determine the type of mold present in your home and also determines whether it is able to spread.
Health Symptoms Associated With Poor Indoor Air Quality
Understanding and maintaining common pollutants inside your home can reduce the risk of health concerns. If you have poor indoor air quality, the health effects from contaminants may be experienced immediately after exposure and in some cases years later.
The immediate effects may show up shortly after being exposed to the air contaminant. Some of the most common symptoms include nose, eye, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
These immediate effects, although unpleasant, are short time and treatable. Often the treatment could be as simple as removing the person from the exposure to the source of pollution. Soon after they go outdoors or leave the house, the symptoms may disappear.
However, people who have asthma and other respiratory issues may see the condition elevated or worsen after exposure to these contaminants.
Some factors that may influence how quickly or severely you react to poor indoor air pollutants include your age as well as your medical condition. S
ome people also react to pollutants due to individual sensitivity, and this varies significantly from one person to another. Others may become sensitized to biological, and chemical contaminants after being repeatedly exposed to high levels of it.
The symptoms or immediate effects of exposure to pollutants in the air could be very similar to the symptoms of cold and flu. So it is often difficult to tell whether this is the result of exposure to indoor air pollution or in fact a symptom of an actual cold or flu.
Therefore it’s important to pay attention to when and where the symptoms occur. However, in most cases, indoor air pollution is the culprit and if the symptoms worsen once you are indoors, then your indoor air is most likely polluted.
Some people don’t suffer immediate or short-term effects of indoor air pollution; however, their symptoms are long term. It could even show up years after exposure to poor quality of indoor air. Some of these effects include heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. They can be debilitating or fatal in some cases.
Therefore it is in your best interest to ensure that you monitor the quality of your indoor air regularly and consistently to ensure the health and well-being of your family.
This is especially true where children and the elderly are concerned since they have weakened immune systems due to age. Therefore, they are more likely to suffer health complications from exposure to polluted indoor air.
6 Benefits of Air Quality Testing
During the cold winter my months you’ll probably want to stay indoors to avoid the cold. However, the more time you spend indoors,
the more vulnerable you become to indoor contaminants. Testing the quality of your indoor air has various health benefits, and here are six of them:
Pet dander and pet droppings
Mold, although one of the most common indoor air pollutants, is not the only organic polluter inside your home. Lots of people struggle with the presence of rats, roaches, and various other insects inside the house.
Even simple pet hair and dust can contribute significantly to your indoor air quality. And indoor air quality check will help to identify how animals, rodents, and insects may be affecting your indoor air quality.
By thriving in warm and moist conditions, fungi are big contributors to indoor air pollution. Although mold often develops in bathrooms and basements, it can rapidly spread to other areas of the home, especially where moisture is present.
If you have a mold infestation, you may experience symptoms of nasal stuffiness, skin rashes as well as wheezing. The most logical approach would be to treat the mold and eliminate it from your home. One way to do this is to get rid of the dampness and moisture inside your house.
Ensure that humidity levels indoors remain between 30 to 50% and make use of a dehumidifier to dry out the air if it’s needed. In most cases, pockets of mold can be eradicated by scrubbing the surface of the mold infestation with hydrogen peroxide, detergent, and water.
For more significant infestations, it may be necessary to call in a mold remediator. However, it is worth the investment considering the health benefits you experience and health complications you will avoid by doing this.
Most people don’t know that asbestos is a fibrous material. It’s often used in building material due to its strength, durability, affordability, and fire-resistant capabilities.
It was discovered in the 20th century that asbestos fibers could possibly cause lung cancer and mesothelioma in the home.
In recent years, homes and workspaces choose other materials which are safer than asbestos. Unfortunately, if you live in an old structure, it may still contain asbestos, and this can put your health at risk.
A professional will be able to determine if your home contains asbestos and can then recommend safe ways to remove it.
Radon is often an unwanted guest in your home and is extremely dangerous. The gas is tasteless and odorless. It is released from the soil and can invade the structures in your home through holes or cracks in the foundation.
Over time it can reach dangerous levels, especially on the lower floors and cellars. Basements are usually the most popular spots for radon to accumulate. Air quality testing is not the best ways to ascertainment whether or not you have this present inside your home.
Lots of tests are available online and from home improvement stores; however, you may choose to call a professional to conduct the analysis for you.
Be vigilant when testing for radon and choose to keep it undetected inside your home. These detectors can let you know when concentration levels are above the normal indoor levels, and this will alert you to take the necessary steps to protect your family.
Radon mitigation may be necessary if you have incredibly high levels of it inside your home. And a professional will be able to assist you with this.
Some bad odors develop inside your home in places like the basement due to poor ventilation.
These spaces are usually clammy and dark and make ideal environments for mold to thrive. Although improving the quality of your indoor air will diminish the smells, it will benefit not just the infected space but your entire house.
Getting your indoor air quality rectified or improved by an expert is one of the best ways to ensure that you are breathing cleaner and safer air.
By ensuring that you have fresh and clean air circulating through your home, you can eliminate health problems and allergies as well. It also lowers the chances of an attack or other allergic reactions.
How Mold And Mildew Spores Contribute to Poor Indoor Air Quality
Mold and mildew spores can adversely affect you indoor air quality. If you have experienced the presence of mold or are health-conscious, then you need to educate yourself on how to discover and eliminate mold and mildew spores from your home.
You also need to know that there different types of mold, including toxic mold, black mold, and allergenic mold. These different types of mold are always present around us and in the air that we breathe.
Mold found in their low levels are generally harmless, but in concentrated levels can adversely affect your health and well-being. This is especially true if you suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma, wheezing, or allergic conditions such as sinuses and various other types of allergies.
Although there is credible information on mold, trying to understand it is difficult without knowing the biology and chemistry of it. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 different species of mold, and this is only what has been discovered to date.
Mold is commonly associated with allergies, and this tells us that there are apparent and very much prevalent species that are indoors. In addition to causing allergic responses, they can be irritating, infectious, and sometimes toxic to human beings.
Fungi is basically nature’s garbage disposal. Like any other organism, mold needs water to survive, and also needs food. In this case, the favorite food of mold is organic matter, and this is often found in things that were once alive. Inside your home, mold will feast on anything from wood, paper, and dust to leather, skin flakes, and body oils.
To give you a better understanding of this, when a mold spore lands on a food source, it waits there patiently for water. In cases where the food contains sufficient moisture, it draws the water from that source, and the spore germinates and starts to multiply.
As the mold begins to grow, it releases something called volatile organic compounds. These items are a result of the actions that are essential to the life of the mold organism. Volatile organic compounds include alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, and hydrocarbons.
The reason why they are called volatile is because they evaporate easily at room temperature and pressure. Fresh air will minimize the concentration of volatile organic compounds and disperse the concentration.
If you’ve ever smelt a musty odor in your home, then volatile organic compounds are usually the culprit. They irritate the mucous membranes and are also responsible for both the short and long-term adverse health effects you experience from exposure to mold spores.
So if you smell an unpleasant musty odor, it’s definitely a sign that you have mold thriving somewhere inside your home. The best thing to do would be to discover the source of the growth and habitation and eliminate it as quickly as you can. This will prevent further exposure to the harmful effects of these VOCs.
What is The Difference Between Air Quality Testing And Mold Testing?
Air quality testing can be done to pick up various contaminants inside your home, including mold.
Therefore, an air quality test will also determine the presence of mold inside your house. However, there are various ways to test for the presence of mold inside your home, aside from doing an air quality test.
It should be noted though that an air quality test is one of the most accurate methods of determining the type and concentration of mold you have in your home.
How does an air quality test check for mold?
An air quality test will take a sample of the inside of your home and then assess it for pollutants. You can get a customized air quality monitor to check for specific contaminants if you are looking specifically for mold.
However, in most cases, air quality monitors will check for allergens, radon, asbestos, mold, and other pollutants. If you suspect indoor air pollution, then a broad spectrum monitor can be used. This is usually when you’re not sure about what’s contaminating the air.
However, if you would like to test specifically for the presence of mold then you need a monitor specifically designed to do this.
These monitors will tell you exactly what type of mold you’re dealing with and exactly how much of it you have inside your home. These tests are more expensive than other ways of testing for mold; however, thanks to the detail and accuracy of the readings, it is worth the investment.
Other ways of testing for the presence of mold include doing a chemical mold test. These tests require sampling the materials you suspect to be infested, and once you obtain a sample, you can place it in a test liquid. The liquid will change color to indicate the presence or absence of mold.
These tests are faster and also much cheaper than an air-quality analysis. However, they will not determine the type of mold that’s present. But if you do want to confirm your suspicion that you, in fact, have mold in your home, it is suitable.
You can also choose to do a full mold inspection, and this will include bringing in professionals. These professionals are trained to search for mold and hard-to-reach places. Therefore they will test and check walls and wall cavities, attic spaces and chimneys, crawlspaces and foundation walls as well as inside air-conditioning systems.
This test can give you incredibly accurate answers about the type of infestation on your property. In the majority of cases, these professionals will come in with an air quality test to increase their understanding of the situation.
Therefore an air quality monitor is one of the most crucial accessories used in mold testing even if you choose to do a full mold inspection.
Ultimately the reason why air-quality monitors are so valuable is because they don’t just provide you with basic information but fully comprehensive answers to your mold infestation questions.
Common Indoor Pollutants and Allergens
Indoor air pollution causes serious health hazards in approximately 40% of buildings, as per the World Health Organization. Here are some of the most common indoor pollutants and allergens.
Not only are nasty odors unpleasant, but hey have a direct effect on your emotions. This is because of how it affects the endocrine system, which is responsible for your emotional state.
So the same way that the smell of a particular perfume brings back fond memories, so to unpleasant odors influence the way you act and feel.
Lots of people use spray air fresheners to mask odors; however, it just covers up these smells and doesn’t eliminate the source of it. In most cases, these spray deodorants contribute to indoor air pollution.
According to the Center for Disease Control, around 480, 000 people die each year in America from smoking-related sickness.
Some of these illnesses include heart disease, emphysema, and cancer. Cigarette smoke contains more than 3,000 gases and chemicals and ages the lungs and respiratory system. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous, and some 41,000 people die from exposure to it each year.
Bacteria is a common indoor pollutant and causes bacterial infections, especially when abundant in the environment. Some bacteria are antibiotic-resistant due to the use and abuse of antibiotics in society.
Toxic gases can be fatal in large doses. Carbon monoxide, oxidized nitrogen, sulfur dioxide outside as well as fireplaces and certain appliances such as gas stoves and heaters release these toxic gases.
Although concentrations of these toxic gases are unlikely to be in homes, small doses can still inhibit healthy respiration and cause fatigue.
Mold and fungus
Fungus and mold are more than just unsightly indoor instances. They are also pathogens that can cause many illnesses.
These illnesses range from athlete’s foot to aspergillosis. Most types of mold are allergenic, and some produce mycotoxins.
Mold usually thrives in moisture and dark cases. However, it can also grow in unseen places such as heat exchangers, humidifiers, and air-conditioners. Ultimately if they find their way into the air you breathe, it can lead to illnesses.
Chemical fumes and vapors
Certain materials can release harmful chemical fumes and vapors into the air. Some of these materials include synthetic fibers and fabrics, insulation materials, paints, solvents, adhesives, cleaning substances as well as aerosols and chemical deodorizers.
They are also responsible for the “sick building” phenomenon. These toxic substances are found in building boating materials such as particleboard and plywood as well as certain types of carpets and cabinetry.
Ultimately any of your furniture that has that new car smell is likely toxic. This is mainly because they contain formaldehyde and fire retardants which are built into these materials.
Dust and other allergens
Allergies are usually an overreaction to foreign substances or a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Undue stress is placed on the immune system when the body overreacts to common substances such as animal dander, mold, pollen as well as dust.
Ultimately it also makes you vulnerable to dangerous attacks by harmful bacteria and viruses. Those that suffer from allergy symptoms also experience fatigue as this takes a toll on the immune system.
Poor indoor air quality may have a negative effect on your health and mood. This poor air quality is caused by a number of factors such as contaminants from the outside, poor building materials and emissions from appliances and heating.
Poor air quality is linked to fatigue, asthma, and lung disease. There are a few ways to identify the quality of indoor air in the texture. One of the best ways to do so is by using an air quality monitor to test for pollutants and airborne contaminants.
11 DIY Steps to Check the Air Quality in Your Home
Air testing monitors have improved significantly over the last two years and therefore provide an accurate indication and assessment of your indoor air quality. Here are 11 tips to help ensure you breathe safer and healthier air.
Something crucial for indoor air quality is airflow. Getting enough insulation through your house is more stagnant and efficient interior as well.
You can try to leave doors and windows open to rejuvenate the indoor air quality, or if you live in a crowded city, the outside might be more unpleasant than the air inside.
In cases such as these the time of the day you choose to ventilate your home is secure. You should either do it early in the morning or late evening with traffic levels decreased. A chuckle ventilator is a handy way of bringing the outside into your home.
These devices allow the outside air to float inside throw full-time that cleans and purifies it as it passes through. The best place to station these ventilators is in your kitchen or cooking area.
This is mainly because cooking appliances have a common way of introducing pollution into your home. The vents can also be pops off an existing dual fable window or can be a standalone frame which can be retrofitted Thomas any building material.
2. Keeping your sheets and coding scene
A leading cause of poor air quality is dust mites. Not only do they get into your throat and nose but leave you feeling very tired and lethargic.
Dust mites can linger in the fabric of your homes such as beddings, curtains, and cushions, so it is essential to clean these items regularly and in suitable washing soap. If you have pets, try to keep them off your beds and coaches to minimize the buildup of hair.
3. Keeping your AC Clean
While air conditioners significantly improve the quality of your home by drying the air, this will need to be regularly cleaned.
This is because air-conditioners contain a type of filter that cleans and removes impurities such as pollen. Over time these filters would need to be cleaned out according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that they continue to do a good job of cleaning indoor air.
Some people enjoy burning candles inside the home. However, for many, this is not their cup of tea, and if this is the case with you, then you can use a salt lamp to have the same effect.
Salt lamps are created by putting a light source into a large mass of Himalayan salt, and ultimately it gives off negative ions when you light it up.
These negative ions fight against the charged particles and contaminants that are the biggest culprits of allergies. People who have asthma have agreed that salt lamps help to reduce their symptoms.
5. Beeswax candles
As beeswax candles burn, they release negative ions. Ultimately what happens is that if there are positively charged particles such as dust, dirt, and pollutants circulating negative ions will suck it into the candles.
Eventually, this leads to cleaner air. Since beeswax candles are 100% natural, they don’t just clean your home, smell good, and also creates a cozy ambiance.
6.Activated Charcoal Reduces contaminants
Considered one of the safest ways to clean the air, activated charcoal has been used for decades. This type of charcoal filters contaminants quickly and effectively.
This is why it is used in many HEPA filters. Activated charcoal HEPA filters should be used in your vacuum cleaners and air conditioners as well.
7. Homemade essential oil
Using essential oils reduce bad odors in your home that’s usually associated with poor air quality. In order to safely use essential oils, you need to choose the right quantities and use them appropriately.
8. Houseplants you need
Indoor plants have been removing toxins from the inside of your home for centuries. This is primarily because it provides additional oxygen. They are also aesthetically appealing and therefore serve many purposes.
However, not all houseplants are equal, and some of the most sought after plants for improving air quality include Bamboo Palm, Gerbera Daisy, English Ivy, Mass Cane, Janet Craig Dracaena and Warneckii Dracaena.
9. Your furniture matters
Many items of furniture are made from glues that release toxins into the atmosphere, and this may be true even after they have been around for a long time ago.
These toxins have a slow-release function and dramatically contribute to poor air quality.
So choosing your furniture carefully is crucial to avoid slow poisoning. Always find out about how your products are made and what’s used in the manufacturing.
10. Keep a clean home
Even a clean home is likely to contain dust and other types of air pollutants which can cause poor air quality and irritate allergies.
Using the right type of products is the key to improving indoor air quality. If possible, try to use natural cleaning agents such as lemon and vinegar which do not leave behind a carbon footprint.
Industrial cleaners, although, get the job done, leave behind a residue that causes poor air quality.
11. Make your home renovation completely natural
Paints and carpets contain gases and continue to give off these fumes even after installation.
These vapors can aggravate allergies and lower air quality. We conducting renovation, make good decisions to ensure that you have a healthy environment for a long time to come. There are many natural options to choose from that do not contain harmful gases and vapors.
9 Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home
1. Open the Windows
Heating and cooling systems circulate indoor air. So when it is possible and the weather allows for it, opens up the windows and doors and let the fresh air in.
2. Keep dust outside
You should use natural fiber mats to keep yourself from bringing outside dirt, inside. One must be used on the inside of your home as you enter and one on the outside of the main entrance. If at all possible, try to keep a no-shoes-inside policy for the inside of your house.
3. Run exhaust fans
While cooking, it is recommended that you turn on the kitchen fan to vent the pollutants. Bathroom fans should also be used to get rid of moisture that accumulates in the bathroom and is breathing ground for mold.
Leaving the fans on for at least 45 minutes a day will dry these moisture-prone areas out.
4. Testing for Radon
There are various do-it-yourself test kits that allow you to test for the presence of radon in your home. They are inexpensive and a convenient way to find out if you have this issue.
5. Using a Dehumidifier
Use a dehumidifier and keep it at 50% humidity inside your home. Your humidifier should also be cleaned thoroughly and regularly to keep mold at bay.
6. Masking Odors
Some people use scented candles and sprays to mask unpleasant odors.
These agents cause further air pollution and don’t get to the root of the odor. So do your best find out where the smell is coming from and remove it. Use ventilation to keep your home smelling fresh.
7. Vacuum regularly
By vacuuming you will reduce the number of pollutants and dust found in the house. As you vacuum the filter attached will trap tiny bits of dust and dirt.
8. Do it Outside
Things like painting, sanding, gluing, and anything that generates gases, pollutants, and particles, should be done outside your home as opposed to inside however if that is not an option then open a window and turn the fan on to blow out the dust and particles. Clean up the area as quickly as you can.
9. Monitor the air quality
By monitoring indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity, you have a better understanding of what’s going on inside your home. So when problems are detected, you can address them swiftly and effectively
How can polluted indoor air harm your health?
Indoor air that is filled with pollution and contaminants cause a number of illnesses like allergies, skin rashes, and fatigue. The can also aggravate existing health conditions such as asthma and other respiratory problems.
Will an indoor air quality test detect mold?
Yes, indoor air quality monitors are designed to detect the presence of mold in your home. Many of them may even identify the concentration and specific type of mold present.
Is an indoor air quality monitor worth the investment?
Yes, it is. These tests have improved over the years and are designed to pick up on various particulates including, hazardous fumes, vapors, gases, mold spores and pollutants.