We all have fears but probably one of the greatest fears is what we can’t actually see. While our childhood fears likely involved monsters or similar creatures, adults tend to also have concerns about the world where they live.
When it comes to the quality of air in your home, this is something that you can’t see but should be concerning. There are any number of risks when it comes to indoor air quality that you might never know.
If you’ve taken the time to read this far, then it’s likely that you have some idea that you need to be concerned about air quality. Whether you’ve started to notice odors in the home, health concerns, or other comfort issues, you may be wondering if it’s time to get your air quality tested.
If you’re still on the fence though, these are five reasons why you should consider taking the next steps to ensure that the air in your house is safe.
5 Reasons for Indoor Air Quality Testing
1. Presence of Volatile Organic Compounds
If you’ve ever put in a new carpet or shower curtain, you probably notice a chemical smell that lingers for a few days. What’s you’re actually smelling is the VOCs that are coming from that material. However, they’re not the only ones that can emit them.
Cleaners, paint, and even furniture can all give off these compounds. Even though you may not always be able to smell them, they’re present in most houses to some level. They may cause short-term health effects such as headaches and nausea. You can also experience long-term health concerns.
Testing for COVs may not always be helpful since there aren’t good standards in this area. However, you can detect the presence of dangerous VOCs such as formaldehyde. This is a carcinogen that’s found in a number of common household products.
2. Carbon Monoxide
As a byproduct of combustion, carbon monoxide can be present if you have a gas stove, furnace, fireplace, or woodburning stove. They may produce dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide that can’t be smelled but can have a deadly effect if not treated. Any combustion can also produce particles into the air that may make it more difficult to breathe.
3. Mold, Mildew, and Bacteria
Chemical contaminants are always a concern but there are also much more commonplace contaminants such as mold, fungus, and bacteria. These microorganisms grow best in warm, humid air. This means that it’s best to be careful about the humidity in the house and especially the bathrooms. Fixing any water leaks promptly is also recommended.
Mold can produce a number of respiratory problems in addition to irritating your eyes and skin. Other contaminants may be more difficult to spot but mold can be seen through a visual inspection although you may also want to consider air quality testing.
4. Pest Droppings
Biological agents such as insects and rodents can leave behind droppings that may cause respiratory problems. This is a higher risk factor when you have children and elderly people in the home. Once again, a visual inspection is often all that’s needed to determine if they are present but consider indoor air testing as well.
Now that you’ve taken the time to get rid of the insects in your home, the solution may also be concerning. Pesticides used to get rid of pests can increase the dangers of your indoor air quality.
The EPA estimates that households typically use at least one pesticide a year. This means that if you have a test done, you’ll probably find some level of pesticides in the air. However, you can also use this to find unusually high levels which are more concerning.
What to Know Before Air Quality Testing
When you have a test done, it’s best done to confirm or deny a certain source such as mold or presence of carcinogens. To get an idea of where the air quality could be a problem, you’ll want to start by inspecting the space. These are the areas to pay attention to:
- Water Damage: Any leaks or damp spots in the house could cause mold and mildew. Review the plumbing, roof, and HVAC water areas to see if there are any leaks present. Fixing any leaks right away and removing water-damaged items such as carpet will help to eliminate any mold growth.
- Odors: You can’t see air contamination usually but there are compounds that you may be able to smell. Cleaning products, pesticides, fireplaces, and musty smells are often noticed. Try using a cleaning product that won’t produce odors and remove any products that have chemical contaminants.
- Ventilation: Does you house actually have the appropriate amount of fresh air intakes? Are they located in an appropriate area? If too close to the exhaust vent or sources or outdoor air pollution, this could be a problem. You might also have too much humidity as a result of a poorly functioning air conditioner. The HVAC ducts could also be a source of mold, dust, or other pests. For this and other concerns, it’s best to use a qualified HVAC professional.
By taking the time to review your house and note any problems that you can see, you’ll be in a much better place to find the source of the problem and resolve it faster. A quick visual inspection of your home can help to hone on what might actually be a concern so that you can better address any concerns.