What is indoor air quality testing?
Is the air quality within your home as it relates to your and your family’s health and comfort. Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of IAQ problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources, and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants. Primary factors that affect IAQ are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, particulates, temperature, and humidity.
- Molds are living things that produce spores. Molds produce spores that float in the air, land on damp surfaces, and grow. Inhaling or touching molds can cause hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks. Indoor humidity can increase the likelihood of mold. Indoor humidity should be kept between 30 and 50 percent.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with the delivery of oxygen through the body. CO causes headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and even death. Potential sources are defective central heating furnaces, automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke, and space heaters using fossil fuels. The solution to CO contamination is source removal.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is exhaled by humans and pets as a natural part of the metabolic process. High levels of CO2 can cause drowsiness and headaches. ASHRAE recommends that indoor CO2 levels not exceed 700 ppm above outdoor ambient levels. The solution for high CO2 levels is ventilation.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in home furnishings, carpets, building materials, paints and lacquers, cleaning supplies, waxes, pesticides, moth repellents, air fresheners, and dry-cleaned clothing. VOCs, evaporate into the air when these products are used or sometimes even when they are stored. Volatile organic compounds irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and cause headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some of them can cause cancer. Solutions for high VOC levels include ventilation and VOC destruction technologies.
- Particulates can induce eye, nose, and throat irritation; respiratory infections, bronchitis, and even lung cancer. Particulates include asthma triggers and mold.
- Asthma triggers include mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, pet dander, as well as other pollutants in the air. Asthma triggers cause symptoms including coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and breathing problems. Asthma attacks can be life-threatening. However, asthma can be controlled by reducing asthma triggers.
Particulate solutions include filtration, air cleaner systems, and de/humidification.