Conversations surrounding environmental pollution are so focused on outdoor spaces that most of the world’s population neglect the fact that the air we breathe is everywhere the same. In fact, the air inside our homes and indoor workplace can be equally polluted or, sometimes worse, making indoor air quality tests a necessity.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, wearing masks to protect ourselves from the deadly virus is the new normal in the current world scenario. But what if in the future you will be asked to wear pollution masks inside your homes? What would be your reaction? No one will feel good about it.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air quality in indoor spaces can sometimes be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoors, and occasionally the figures can go high as 100 times. Sounds terrible, right? Are you wondering how it could even be possible when you religiously clean your homes all the time? Let us explain.
Indoor Air Quality is a complicated thing, and it’s nearly impossible to gauge the air quality with our proper indoor air quality testing. The factors contributing to making the air quality worse vary with geographical location, habits, and activities of the residents of a house, construction, ventilation of the house, and others.
Therefore, it is crucial to understand the common causes of indoor air pollution, how to detect them, and what kind of solutions are available to deal with them effectively. We have jotted a list of prevalent indoor air pollutants and appropriate methods on how to test the air in your home or office buildings. Have a look.
Some Common Indoor Air Pollutants
- Gases & Particulate Matter:
Did you know that in 2017 1.6 million people died untimely because of indoor air pollution? The estimate is more alarming in low-income countries. Combustion is part and parcel of our daily lives. Whether we cook on gas stoves or choose to smoke tobacco in indoor spaces, any combustion activity releases gases like Carbon monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are a leading cause of several health problems. When inhaled via air in indoor spaces, it can induce headaches, nausea, worst-case scenarios, brain fog, and neurological disorders.
How to detect them:
- CO is colorless, and you cannot smell it either, so installing a CO detector alarm would be a rational choice. A yearly check-up of the device is recommended.
- NO2 is a more noticeable one and can be detected by the human eye. It is reddish-brown and has a weird burning like smell. If you are very concerned about the presence of NO and want to identify lower levels, too, invest in a home air quality test kit that detects it.
- Buy an air quality monitor. These are dedicated instruments for continuous indoor air quality testing. The price depends on what kind of matter and pollutants they can detect and their efficiency. The starting price is from $50, and the high-end ones have a price tag of around $300.
Not all indoor pollutants are chemical, but some very notorious ones are biological. Yes, we are talking about the unwelcome guest in 50% of the American homes, the Mold. Mold belongs to the fungi family of the plant kingdom and can appear anywhere they find moisture.
Damp indoor spaces like bathrooms and basements are their breeding grounds, but it can conveniently spread anywhere where there is moisture. Mold doesn’t only look sloppy but also causes several health issues like nasal congestion and skin irritation. Tiny mold spores and their particles are present in the air and can travel anywhere in the indoor space, causing a nuisance to the residents.
In fact, one of the sure-fire ways to decrease the chances of mold is to invest in a high-quality air conditioning system that will circulate the air around your house. If you are in need of an air conditioner, check out American Home Water and Air here, they provide top-notch HVAC services all across Arizona, as well as their site is full of useful information.
Symptoms of Presence of Mold.
- Frequent Allergies and skin irritation
- Visible green blackish growth in places with more moisture
- Weird musty smell in the indoor space
How to Detect Mold & Mildew
- Cheap DIY mold detection kits available at hardware stores. With these home kits, there is an increased chance of false positives.
- Comparative air sampling for mold presence. Professionals take samples from indoor and outdoor air and test for molds in both samples to compare if the house has more mold spores.
- Other tests like tape swab tests & lift tape tests.
- Dust & Droppings:
Particle pollutants like dust are present everywhere and inside ou homes and offices, which can degrade the air quality. Standard air quality tests take all these particles into account when calculating the air quality of your indoor areas. Apart from radon, CO and molds, there are certain other pollutants that people are more likely to ignore.
Organisms like cockroaches and mites leave particles in the air that pollutes them, and their body parts remain in the air too. If you have air ducts in the building, the chances of a rodent infestation are real, apart from the accumulation of dust and debris in the air ducts. When air passes through these ducts, it gets contaminated with dust fumes of rodent urines, body parts of insects, and other droppings, causing irritation and health problems to the occupants.
How to detect them:
- Air quality monitors can look for particle pollutants like dust, compounds that cause odor, and Formaldehyde.
- Professional air duct cleaning services look for dust and droppings in the air passages and effectively clean them.
- Visual inspection for cockroaches, pests, and rats or look for their droppings in the house and opt for a basement air quality test or anywhere else you spot them.
Radon is another culprit for indoor pollution present in almost all kinds of soils as a byproduct of decaying uranium. Being wholly colorless and odorless, it is impossible to detect it with a naked eye or any other sense, but ignoring its presence would not be the right thing to do because radon is a leading cause of lung cancer in America.
This creepy gas is mostly found in outdoor spaces and then penetrates your living spaces via cracks in the foundations and floors and accumulates in basements and undergrounds in higher levels.
Ways to Detect Radon
- Look at the radon zone map to gauge your properties at risk.
- Store available radon testing kits.
- Hiring the services of a radon inspection company
We have been talking about air pollutants and their impacts on our overall well being. Now it’s time to take action to breathe fresh air. If you start to take action by yourself, it will seize your calmness and time. So what should you do? Take a step, and consult a professional right away.
Following are a few of the essential things you can do to keep your indoor air free of pollutants:
- Maintenance of the HVAC system
- Change your filters
- Invest in air testing kits
- Cleaning the thermostat for proper temperature control
- Installation of carbon monoxide detectors
- Buy Mold testing kits and humidity controllers
Take a positive step and invest in proper air quality improvement remedies to make the best of your life.