First of all, why should you be testing your indoor air quality? This is something many homeowners make the mistake of placing on the back-burner. However, the air you breathe should be a priority for you and your family.
A common misconception around air quality testing is that it’s only important if you live in a large metropolitan area with a lot of pollution. This isn’t accurate, as there are dozens of air quality hazards in any given building, at any given time.
Air pollution doesn’t happen simply from the obvious – cars and buses, etc. Your air can easily be polluted due to substances in and around your home – for instance, your cleaning products, dry-cleaning chemicals, glues, paint, permanent markers, and more.
We’ve convinced you that you should test your indoor air quality? Great. Now it’s up to you to make the decision to test yourself with an at-home kit versus hiring a professional.
DIY Air Quality Testing
There are many inexpensive kits out there available for you to run a simple at-home test. Most of these kits will simply test for the most dangerous substances that could be polluting the air you breathe – such as formaldehyde or VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), some of which include sulfur, bromine, and nitrogen.
What these kits are notorious for missing, is mold. As you know, in our damp climate, many homes are susceptible to mold. The dangers can be mild – causing nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. However, people with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. And what’s more is that immunocompromised people can end up with chronic lung illnesses like obstructive lung disease, or may get serious infections in their lungs.
The other thing to take into consideration when doing it yourself, is that there is a lot of room for human error. If the test isn’t placed in a proper location, for a shorter period of time (and many other factors), you may not get an accurate reading. Finally, when you complete the test, you send it in to get tested at a lab. Since the professional isn’t physically in your home to administer the test, important cues may be overlooked.
Professional Air Quality Testing
A professional can analyze the current environment, evaluate locations and extent of possible source areas for indoor air problems, investigate possible hidden contamination sources, physically collect and analyze air and surface samples to identify contaminants, look into the cause of any water damage or moisture problems, take a look at air ducts or other air handling equipment for contamination or malfunction, and measure ambient air quality parameters such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and humidity. The result is a detailed written report of each hazard and next steps on how to improve your air quality.
- A professional will test for:
- Airborne asbestos
- Carbon dioxide & carbon monoxide
- Chemicals, solvents & resins
- Cleaning products
- Combustion gases
- Dusts & pollens
- Insulation fibers
- Molds & mildew
- Office machine off-gassing
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
The risk of using an at-home kit isn’t worth the reward. Your at-home kit test may miss an important finding that could negatively affect you and your family’s health. There are certainly other places to cut corners when it comes to home ownership, but this isn’t one of them. Although a professional analysis may seem like overkill, you can rest assured that if there is a problem, it will be identified. Take a deep breath – we’re here to help.