Every day we make choices that effect our health and increase our exposure to risk. Driving cars, flying on planes, exercising all involve some level of risk and as we go about our lives, we choose to accept these risks so that we can continue to live our lives. Some risks we take unknowingly but given the proper information we can make informed choices. One of these such risks is indoor air quality.
Research is finding that the indoor air quality is far worse than outdoor air quality. With people spending approximately 90% of their time indoors, this is not surprising. Air quality can be affected by many pollutants from chemicals such as lead, carbon monoxide, and radon to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) such as cleaners, perfumes, and craft supplies. You would be shocked at the multitude of air pollutants found in the average home!
Homeowners can identify and treat bad air in the house by taking a few simple steps.
- Monitor pollutant levels – there are detectors available for most gases found in the home.
- Weatherize your home – making sure everything is sealed correctly makes a big difference.
- Know the source – determine individual pollutants such as gas stoves, lead-based paint, or asbestos.
- Ventilation – HVAC systems do not bring outside air into the home, so it’s important that when possible you open windows and let the fresh air in.
- Air Cleaners – there are several types of air cleaners that will effectively increase the indoor air quality with the home, but most will not remove gaseous pollutants.
If you suspect that your home has indoor air pollutants, it is important that you measure the air quality correctly. Self-testing is less expensive, but also is less reliable. Think about homeowner testing much like self-diagnosing a sickness. If you are like me, you know you’re sick and if symptoms persist, you seek professional advice. The same can be said about your home, if you have many of these air pollutants discussed odds are you are in need of a AC service professional.
Indoor air quality self-testing tips:
1. Radon Testing –
The charcoal canister is the most widely used test. This annual test will help you determine if you have elevated Radon levels which will require attention from your local professional air conditioner repair service.
2. Mold Testing –
Every house has mold both inside and out, when using a mold test, you know you have a problem when your indoor results are higher than your outdoor results.
3. Carbon Monoxide Testing –
Indoor air quality monitoring today includes Carbon Monoxide, it is recommended by OSHA that homes have one on every level but especially in the room that shares a door with the attached garage.
4. Lead Paint Testing –
Homes built before 1978 are required to test for lead based paint.
5. Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Testing –
Home test kits are available that will test for substances such as tobacco, formaldehyde, and common VOC’s. In many cases investing in improving air quality with added ventilation, upgrading AC unit filters, and checking fireplaces and gas stoves for leaks may provide a better solution than trying to identify the VOC.