Everything you need to know about monitoring your Indoor Air Quality

Air Quality Testing

Monitoring your home's indoor air quality has never been easier. Over the last 3 years, we have seen an explosion of indoor air monitors within the connected device or "smart home" arena. This is not unexpected though - a healthy home leads to a healthy life. Mold, bacteria and pollen can greatly reduce your quality of life when inside your home.

Many people take significant care when cleaning their homes, but a surprising number don't consider the quality of the air they are breathing every time they step in the door. Every day, the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths. And every breath represents a chance to do your body harm, or do your body good.

To help you understand air quality and why you should be concerned, consider the following.

Is your home's air polluted?

Enter your zip code below to get your area's air pollution ranking compared to others across the United States.

US Air Pollution Map

What is Air Quality Testing?

If you have entered your zip code in the form above, some of you may see a very big need to purchase an air quality monitor for your home. These monitors identify a number of potential pollutants in your home's air, including:

  • Fine particulate matter, or PM are very small particles floating around the Earth's atmosphere. When being descibed in terms of pollution, these are usually microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in your home's air such as dust, pollen and spores.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, are organic compounds that turn into vapors and gases. These VOCs contain carbon, and other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen (CO2), fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur or nitrogen.
  • Mold is an especially dangerous home pollutant, especially when it is suspended in your home's air. Exposure to mold spores around your home will contribute to allergies, sickness and asthma attacks.

Factors of a Healthy Environment

In-home air monitoring allows you to observe specific aspects regarding the quality of the air you breathe. Some common factors in overall comfort include features like temperature and humidity, as well as the amount of ventilation throughout a space. Each of these facets help create an overall picture, and using the information to create an optimal environment increases a person's level of comfort as well as the sense of satisfaction within the space.

Beyond comfort, other factors need to be considered to evaluate the quality of the air. This includes:

  • Bacteria
  • Mold
  • Fungi
  • Chemicals
  • Particles
  • Gases
  • Vapors
  • Tobacco Smoke

All of these contaminants can affect air quality, and may even lead to negative reactions in certain people. In some cases, the substances in the air may be toxic, posing a risk to everyone. Others promote allergic reactions in certain individuals or are simply irritants.

Signs of Potentially Harmful Air Quality

At one point, people who expressed concern that a particular building was harmful to their health were labeled hypochondriacs. Now, we better understand the health risks that certain conditions can pose and that, when left unchecked, an environment can even become dangerously toxic.

Breathing in certain substances can have negative effects on your health. And, when left unchecked, these issues can become chronic, or even dangerous. Some signs that might be attributed to contaminants in the air in your home include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Upper respiratory congestion
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Skin irritation
  • Frequent respiratory infection
  • And more

One common example of a condition that is often tied directly to a particular environment is legionella, also known as Legionnaires' disease. The illness is caused by the presence of specific microorganisms like Legionella pneumophila. Symptoms can affect the pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. In severe cases, renal failure can occur and may lead to the need for dialysis or can lead to death.

The likelihood that your home may be responsible for some of your symptoms increases when your symptoms get worse while you are home and dissipate when you are away. For example, if you experience sinus congestion and discomfort every evening, but your symptoms subside whenever you are at work or school, then your home may be a factor. If it is, you may be suffering from a condition referred to as Sick Building Syndrome or SBS.

Sick Building Syndrome

SBS refers to any collection of symptoms that are tied directly to the indoor air quality of a particular building. Over time, certain pollutants can build up within the air conditioning and heating systems, as well as on a variety of surfaces within a structure. As the air moves over these areas, it picks up contaminants.

The contaminants remain in the air for a period of time, and if a person happens to cross into the area while they are airborne, these materials can be inhaled. This gives them the opportunity to come in direct contact with a person's respiratory tract and can lead to serious medical events.

Some of the more serious health issues that may be tied to SBS include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Miscarriages
  • Cancer
  • Not every air contaminants can cause all of the issues listed above, but there are certain airborne materials that can be responsible for any of those conditions.

    Making Your Home Safe

    If air quality could be causing you or someone else health issues, your first step should be to get your air tested for contaminants. Professional services can help ensure that all of the proper tests are run and that the right areas in your home are examined for contamination. They also have the knowledge necessary to spot certain common causes of air quality issues, and can help instruct you regarding any immediate steps that may be necessary to keep your home healthy for yourself and your family.

    Air Monitoring and Testing

    Professional air monitoring services obtain samples from the air in your home. These samples are then analyzed to determine the overall makeup. The process identifies potentially harmful items, such as mold or microbial contaminants, which exist in the air you are breathing. If undesirable items are detected, then procedures from removing them from your environment can be selected.

    During the monitoring and testing process, air samples are taken from multiple points within your home. The reason being is that contaminants located in one area may not match those in another. For example, kitchens or bathrooms may be more prone to mold due to the damp conditions. However, pollen levels may increase in rooms with windows.

    Once samples are collected, professional laboratory tests are performed to analyze the content of your air. This includes any of the potential contaminants listed early in the article, as well as certain specialty tests that may be required based on your area, the age of your home, and other factors.

    Working with Professionals

    When it comes to the quality of the air you breathe, now is not the time to cut corners. Often, it is wise to enlist the services of a professional to ensure your home receives the most thorough examination available. Additionally, professionals working in the sector will have experience regarding common contaminants in your local area, so they can help you determine which of the available monitoring services of testing options will best suit your needs.

    Industry Leading Tests and Cutting Edge Equipment

    Professional air quality services will have access to the most advanced tests and the latest monitoring equipment. This allows them to detect smaller amounts of harmful materials in the air, and potentially complete the analysis more quickly than options available to most homeowners. Additionally, the results can be broken down to help you determine how much of a risk is posed by each contaminant.

    For example, if chemicals and mold are detected, the results can help you determine which issue requires immediate action depending on the exact nature of the contaminants and the prevalence of it in the air. Additionally, it will help you understand which tasks can be managed on your own, and which require the presence of a skilled professional.

    Professionals are also prepared to handle tasks that can pose a threat to individuals who aren't properly protected. This includes testing for toxic substances like black mold and asbestos.

    Part of Your Community

    Air quality monitoring and testing companies are part of your local community. They understand what makes your area unique, including any aspects that increase certain risks to the air quality of your home. Additionally, they can coordinate with you to provide services quickly. That way, you can improve the quality of the air in your home so that you can once again feel safe in your space.

    Quick Results

    If air quality is a concern, then you want test results quickly. No one wants to be kept waiting if their health is potentially at risk. Top air quality monitoring and testing services can ensure that you get the information you need as soon as it is available. Then, if action needs to be taken, you can move forward as fast as possible.

    In-Home Air Quality is Important to Your Health

    The quality of every one of those 17,280 and 23,040 breaths is important. While you might not be able to control what you are exposed to when you are outside of your home, the air in your home is something you can do something about.

    If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, use the following checklist to make sure everything is managed properly:

    1. Contact a professional air quality monitoring and testing service
    2. Schedule the required tests
    3. Obtain the results
    4. Plan any remediation or other actions needed to remove all contaminants
    5. Maintain your home based on professional recommendations to limit the number of contaminants in your environment
    6. Monitor and retest your air regularly to ensure your home remains safe

    One you get into the pattern of maintaining the air quality in your home, you will find the tasks are often easy to manage. And, once your air is contaminant free, you may find yourself more comfortable on a daily basis, and you might even suffer from fewer health concerns.

    With all of those potential benefits, why wouldn't you want to schedule your air quality tests today? Your (and your family's) health is counting on you, so make the decision to test today.