When we hear people talk about air pollution, they’re almost always talking about the air outside. However, we really should be talking more about the air inside our homes. That’s because the air inside your house could be between two to five times more polluted than the air outside of it.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered that more than four million people died in 2012 due to indoor air pollution. Seeing how important indoor air quality is, it’s important that you know how to test the air quality in your home.
In the United States, the actual amount of air pollution in each home is going to vary greatly. There’s a wide range of risk factors that can affect indoor air quality (IAQ) and the ones that are relevant can change by region, state, and even by city. If you know what these risks are, then you can probably guess how much indoor air pollution affects your IAQ.
Still, if you want some peace of mind, then you can always test the air inside. At the very least, you should know what you’re dealing with and breathing in. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything.
How To Test The Air Quality In Your Home
One of the best ways to test the air quality in your home is with an indoor air quality monitor. An indoor air quality monitor does exactly what its name implies. It’s a tool that monitors the quality of the indoor air. IAQ isn’t something that many people think about.
So you’re probably not alone if you didn’t even though that these products existed. However, not only do these products exist but they are also an easy and useful way for you to consistently check your indoor air quality.
This is an electronic device that’s always on. It consistently checks and reports on the levels of pollution in your house. What the product actually tests for will vary by device.
However, practically all of these test for humidity, chemical pollutants, and particulate matter. Particulate matter includes things like dust and pollen.
These are important to track because many IAQ problems are associated with particulate matter. Some monitors will track carbon monoxide, its less harmful counterpart carbon dioxide, temperature, and even formaldehyde levels.
The average starting price for a well-made basic indoor air quality monitor is around $100, although you can find some that cost as little as $50.
High-end monitors can cost more than $300 and there are also many that cost around $200. This is not a cheap device but the information they provide can be considered priceless by many.
And this should really only be a one-time purchase. Many models come with a display panel that shows you readings and values in real-time right on the actual device.
Other models show overall IAQ with an indicator light. Some can even connect to mobile apps on your smartphone. Many of these devices can also be connected to your smart home and pair with devices like thermostats.
Test for Mold In The Air
Mold is a common household pollutant that your air quality monitor won’t test for. Everyone has seen mold at some point in their home. You most likely have seen on bread that’s been out for too long.
While that kind of mold is easy to take care of, it’s much harder to spot and treat airborne mold spores that can pollute your indoor air.
What Type Of Home Mold Test Should You Use?
Home mold tests are easy to use, cheap, and available at most hardware stores. Unfortunately, they’re pretty much completely useless. You really shouldn’t use any kind of home mold test. A typical home mold test usually consists of a petri dish that you put out, along with a substance to create mold growth inside.
You leave this test out for a certain amount of time and then you close the dish and let it incubate. If mold grows, then you have mold. And if mold doesn’t grow, then you don’t.
The thing is that there’s mold in your air. Mold spores are everywhere, and so you might as well be testing to see if there’s air in your home.
You shouldn’t be asking if there is mold in your home (there is). You should be asking if the amount of airborne mold spores found in your home is excessive.
You can tell if you have excessive mold by comparing how much mold is floating in your home versus how much is floating outside of your home.
To do this, you should hire a professional mold inspector.
Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Many IAQ problems will have gradual and long-term effects on one’s health. The presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in the home isn’t one of those. CO is known as the silent killer.
That’s because it’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless. If you’re exposed to large amounts of it for too long, then it can kill you.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fuel combustion. So appliances like gas furnaces, gas burning stoves, and gas dryers are risk creators. Anything that burns gas creates CO.
Fireplaces and gas water heaters also produce CO. Even if you think you don’t need a carbon monoxide alarm, the benefits of these devices far outweigh the costs.
Conduct A Radon Test
Like carbon monoxide, radon is also tasteless, colorless, and odorless. It’s also completely undetectable without a detection device.
However, unlike carbon monoxide, it won’t asphyxiate you. Radon can still produce long-term effects. Radon can enter your home through cracks in your walls, foundation, floors, and areas around pipes.
Radon gas typically enters at the lowest levels of your house and concentrates there. That’s because it forms from the breakdown of natural uranium deposits in the soil. You can buy short-term radon test kits in most home improvement stores.
Unlike home mold tests, these actually provide value and tell you how much radon is in your house. A short-term radon test is easy to do.
You just have to place the test object that’s provided in the package in the highest risk area of your house. You then let it sit for a certain amount of time.
The highest risk areas will be the rooms that are closest to the ground. There are also long-term radon tests. These tests stay in your home between three months to one year.
Radon levels can fluctuate greatly depending on the time of year and the weather, so these kinds of tests can help give you an average.
The lab results will let you know if you should take further action with regard to the radon in your home.
How To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
So you’ve done the tests and noticed that your home’s indoor air quality can use some improvement. Luckily for you, there are several things that you can do that are both easy and effective. One thing you can do is get a humidifier. There are a variety of humidifier benefits out there.
For one thing, humidifiers can help you stay healthy in the winter. Dry air reduces the amount of moisture in the air. This can lead to chapped lips, dry eyes, and dry skin. Dry nostrils can impair your nose’s ability to protect against airborne germs and can also cause nosebleeds.
By getting a humidifier, you can help your body retain its normal moisture level. You should also change out your AC filters. As your unit cycles air, it also filters out air pollutants. These pollutants fill up your filters and eventually render them ineffective.
By changing your filters regularly, you can make sure that you’re continuously filtering out pollutants. Don’t just check your AC filters though. You also want to clean out your kitchen vents, clothes dryer, and vacuum cleaner. You should also keep your carpets and rugs clean.
That’s because these items trap dust and other particles in their fibers. Cleaning your carpets will help keep your air quality clean and free of excess particles.
The Importance Of Knowing About Indoor Air Quality
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now feel that you know how to test the air quality in your home. As we can see, the air quality in your home can be more toxic than you may have thought at first.
By testing and improving it, you can make sure that you and your family members stay healthy and safe. Are you looking for other helpful articles? Make sure to check out the rest of our blog today!