If you’re concerned about the air you breathe inside your home or at work, you may be familiar with the term indoor air quality or IAQ. Since we spend most of our time indoors, the air inside is important to our health. Many times the air inside contains more pollutants than the air outside. To address the health issues that indoor pollutants cause, identifying contaminants and their concentration levels is key.
Is Indoor Air Pollution Making You Sick?
Indoor contaminants lead to a number of health issues both at home and at work. Potential health issues range from mild allergies to chronic respiratory ailments. Some common health issues related to poor IAQ include Sick Building Syndrome and allergic asthma. Long-term effects of exposure to contaminants include respiratory and heart disease as well as cancer. This makes identifying contaminants and their concentration levels a priority.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)
Sick Building Syndrome is the result of exposure to indoor pollutants. When building occupants, like office workers, for example, face daily exposure to VOCs, mold, and bacteria, identifying contaminants and their concentration levels lowers the risk of illness. The cost for employees in worker absenteeism and lost productivity is great.
Symptoms of SBS include:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Itchy skin
- Unusual odor and taste sensations
Pet dander, dust, dust mites, pollen, mold, and cockroaches may lead to a condition known as allergic asthma, which is the most common type of asthma.
Allergic asthma symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing
- Tightness of the chest
Identifying Contaminants and Concentration Levels
If you live close to a manufacturing plant, or in an area where wildfires are common, chemicals and smoke have likely entered the home through doors and windows. Common household allergens such as dust and pet dander also pose a risk. Mold and bacteria, and of course viruses that cause seasonal colds and flu, are also present. You face risks at work as well. Volatile organic chemicals from cleaning agents, paints, building materials, and office equipment pose a threat. In order to address the health issues these contaminants cause, they need to be identified.
We know that certain pollutants cause health issues, however, the concentration levels required to cause these problems are not as clear. That said, it’s important to identify these contaminants and their concentration levels indoors.
Common sources of indoor pollution include:
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances such as fireplaces and gas heaters
- Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke
- Building materials
- Deteriorated insulation containing asbestos
- Building materials such as newly installed flooring, carpeting, and upholstery
- Household cleaning products, paint, and varnishes
Outdoor pollutants enter through doors and windows. These include radon which is a colorless, odorless gas natural gas. Carbon dioxide from nearby highways and roads can also enter buildings as well as pesticides used on lawns.
Fungi, Mycotoxins, and Viruses
Fungi such as mold are commonly found in nature. Outdoors, they’re an essential part of the environment. They break down organic materials such as leaves. Inside, however, mold is an unwelcome presence. Mold thrives in areas with high humidity such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Some mold is easy but some mold may be hidden behind baseboards and cabinetry. The mycotoxins released by mold also present health risks.
The COVID pandemic also puts a focus on IAQ. The airborne virus that causes the disease can remain in the air as fine droplets for minutes or as long as an hour.
How to Identify Contaminants and Concentration Levels
One way to identify contaminants and their concentration levels are with DIY home air quality test kits. These easy-to-use, affordable kits help determine what pollutants exist in the home.
Kits are available to test for:
- House dust
- And More
Using the test is simple. First, find a spot to test. For example, if you suspect a mold problem, collect a sample from under sinks or in the basement. Kits include a Bioscan collection strip for collecting samples. Following the sample collection, fill out the chain of custody form and mail your sample back in the postage-paid envelope that comes with the kit. You’ll get your results within 3-5 days.
Using air purifiers to remove particles from the air also helps people breathe easier in their homes. Choose a model with a True HEPA filter. These filters trap up to 99.97 percent of contaminants as small as 0.3 microns. A good air-cleaning device also features carbon filters to remove odors and VOCs. A model such as the MA-125 Air Purifier is perfect for large areas such as living rooms and conference rooms. A smaller model such as the Aeramax 290 Air Purifier is good for bedrooms and rooms between 300 to 600 feet. It features ultra-quiet operation as well as a PlasmaTrue™ Technology setting that uses ionization to remove airborne pollutants.
Identify Contaminants and their Concentration Levels Today
Protect your home and workplace. Identify contaminants and their concentration levels today. Stop suffering from allergy symptoms now. Call 727-572-4550.