Indoor Air Quality Assessment
The indoor air quality services that we offer leaves you with extensive knowledge and information about the state of your home or office. We will outline everything from the composition to your home’s levels of pollutants. The reason for many of these usual pollutants can stem from dust issues, poor ventilation, inadequate levels of humidity in your home, water leakage (leading to mould growth), sewer issues, chemical off gassing, bacterial problems, and sometimes, the poor state of your building. The main benefit of ordering an air test is that it will show you exactly what you’re putting into your system everyday.
Overall, the only thing that can tell you the causes for your inadequate air quality is an assessment. It can truly test the amount of bacteria in your home. With this type of information, only then, can you begin to make changes. After we help you find the solution to your poor indoor air quality, you won’t ever have to be in a sick environment again. We take the time to perform high quality tests for your indoor air quality. We also perform forensic mould tests to further improve the air quality of your home or office.
Does an air quality test detect mold?
Indoor mold growth is a challenging problem in homes across the GTA that can lead to long-term health problems and complications. An indoor air quality test for spores can make a huge difference when mould growth is suspected but no visible signs of growth are present. Mold reproduces by releasing tiny spores (which can be likened to seeds) into the air; these spores then attach themselves to people, objects or pets or float through the air to start a new colony elsewhere. This reproduction system is unfortunately very effective - but it also means that an air quality test is your best weapon.
While inexpensive mold test kits available at hardware stores may seem convenient, they really only give yes or no answers - and when it comes to mold, the more information you know, the better able you are to deal with the problem. A professional mold inspection and air test will help you confirm the presence of these spores and to pinpoint the type and amount of spores present. This not only helps us design an efficient remediation plan, but it also helps you feel confident and safe in your home.
Reasons for mould growth
There are many reasons why your home may be suffering from mold problems, and many of them are easy to improve or fix without breaking the bank. Like human illnesses, ‘prevention is nine tenths of the cure,’ and by approaching mold as a sickness that affects your home, you can make a number of easy, positive changes to help your home feel - and do - its best to keep you and your family safe and comfortable.
Two common reasons for mold growth are moisture problems and a lack of ventilation.
Homes with high humidity or moisture problems (such as a leak or flood) are often plagued with mold problems. Moisture and water damage are the single most common cause for mold growth in the GTA. Mold spores can be present but remain inactive for years - until they are exposed to water or moisture in the form of humidity or condensation, which can then restart its growth. Mold and moisture can damage the structure of your home and lead to expensive renovations and remediation.
Reducing the amount of moisture in your home by installing ventilation, running dehumidifiers, airing out after a flood, and promptly fixing leaks can all make a huge difference in preventing mold growth. Places that commonly suffer from excess moisture in GTA homes are basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and attics.
Lack of ventilation:
Mold thrives in places that are airless in part because air helps to dry out excess moisture. Places in the home where a lack of ventilation are commonly found are the basement and the bathroom.
The basement is a classic problem area for mold growth - it stays cool all year round, often has moisture problems due to leaks or floods, and has reduced traffic and ventilation. Opening windows or installing additional ventilation can make a big difference in keeping the basement dry, and homeowners with older properties may like to install a dehumidifier as well.
The bathroom can also suffer from mold growth because of a lack of ventilation. There’s plenty of water in sinks, bath tubs, showers and toilets, as well as steam and the potential for leaks. Installing an exhaust fan can help whisk moisture laden air out and bring fresh air into small areas like the bathroom.
Common indoor air pollutants
There are many different chemicals, allergens, and particles that can be detected in an indoor air quality test. Health problems caused by air pollution is a growing problem around the world, and is not limited to places with loose health regulations or rampant pollution. Because we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, healthy indoor air quality is a priority we all need to take seriously. Some of the common indoor air pollutants that appear in our testing services include:
- Asbestos: Commonly used until the ‘90s in everything from roofing tiles to pipe insulation, asbestos breaks down as it ages, and its tiny fibres are easily breathed in and become lodged in our lungs. Asbestos causes long term lung damage as well as a fatal cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos is so dangerous that it’s treated as toxic waste, making it imperative that you test for it before any renovations or major work in older homes.
- Black mold: There are hundreds of varieties of mold that can affect our homes, but only a handful that are truly dangerous - black mold being one of them. This type of mold is so dangerous because it produces mycotoxins, airborne poisons that have serious effects on our brains, lungs, skin, eyes, and nose. These mycotoxins can effect our four-legged friends as well, and can result in acute and long term health problems for the whole family.
- Formaldehyde: Most of us remember formaldehyde from high school science - frogs and mice preserved in a colourless liquid. But outside of the classroom, formaldehyde is used in a number of different product and materials that we regularly encounter in our homes. Formaldehyde is a useful preservative that is found in wood, paints, glues, fabric, and paper, among other things. Colourless and odourless, it quickly breaks down in the air, where it is easily absorbed into our bodies. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and products that contain it should be kept out of the home whenever possible.
- Lead paint: Like asbestos, paint containing lead from the 1960s and earlier has now aged and is causing serious long term health problems for people across the world. Lead paint chips, flakes, and dust are easily ingested or breathed in, where it is easily absorbed into our bodies. Infants, children and pregnant women have the highest risk of complications from lead exposure, which can lead to serious learning and cognitive disabilities. There is no known safe level of exposure!
- Volatile Organic Compounds: One of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality is to reduce the number of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These common gases are emitted from any number of safe or unsafe products in our homes - while the scent of a freshly cut orange may be relatively benign, there are other VOCs that come from cleaning solutions, varnishes, waxes, disinfectants, degreasers and any number of other common household agents. These VOCs can be harmful and can cause immediate irritation to the mucous membranes as well as skin and eyes; long term exposure can affect internal organs like the kidney and liver, as well as effect the central nervous system.
Health problems associated with mold and indoor air pollution
Health problems caused by indoor air quality issues have a huge range of symptoms that makes them difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone. An indoor air quality test is a valuable tool in getting back to wellness and pinpointing various pollutants and allergens that may be affecting you and your family. Some of the common health problems our customers report include:
- Headaches: If you’re experiencing headaches that come and go depending on where you are in your home, it could be related to problems like ventilation, VOCs off gassing, mould, and more.
- Skin problems: Rashes, infections, irritation, dryness and redness can all be caused by problems with indoor air quality. Our skin is our largest organ and can be disproportionately affected by airborne toxins.
- Lung problems: Next to our skin, our respiratory system is often the second most commonly affected organ to suffer from air pollution. Problems may be acute or chronic and can come and go depending on a variety of factors like outdoor air quality, pollution, weather, and humidity. Mould, bacteria, poor ventilation, VOCs, dust, and more can all have serious effects on even the healthiest of lungs; people suffering from chronic conditions like asthma and lung diseases are at an even greater risk.
- Fatigue: It’s not just a busy week at the office that can cause fatigue - so can exposure to common indoor air quality issues like mold, which may be affecting the quality or length of your sleep.
- Never-ending colds and flus: If it always seems like your cold or flu is lasting longer than anyone else’s, it may not actually be the flu - it could instead be a reaction to something in your indoor air quality. Allergies and reactions to common household problems like mold growth often closely mimic the common cold and flu, which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat the problem. An air quality test can help determine if there’s anything else floating around your indoor air that could be causing you to feel ill.
Ways to improve your indoor air quality
With many common household materials or products that off-gas or release harmful chemicals, it may seem as though it is difficult to improve indoor air quality - but it’s actually quite easy to make simple changes that have immediate positive effects. Some of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality include:
- Change your furnace filters: The filter on your furnace is there for a good reason - it catches any pollens, dusts, and other particles before they enter your furnace and HVAC system. It’s recommended that you change it every three months to keep you (and your furnace) happy and healthy.
- Clean up: It may be obvious, but a clean house is a healthy house. Sweeping up reduces dust and pet dander as well as helping to prevent dust mites. Vacuuming followed by a damp mop can have a huge effect on the accumulation of particles lurking in your home.
- Clean your ducts: Related to furnace filters are the air ducts that shuttle conditioned air around to your home. They can easy collect dust and air pollutants and help to recirculate them around your home, especially during renovations. Having a professional duct cleaning can give you a fresh start and will help your furnace to run better too!
- Fresh air: Ventilation is the best way to keep your home smelling fresh - opening the windows, even in the colder months, helps to move stale air along. If there are rooms in your home that lack ventilation, consider getting a fan to help bring fresh air in.
- HEPA filters: If you live near to a highway or in a neighbourhood with a lot of outdoor air pollution, consider getting a HEPA rated air filtration system to help reduce airborne pollutants.
- Green your home: Did you know that houseplants can help improve your indoor air quality? NASA found that a handful of popular indoor plants help to scrub the air of common pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. Easily available at hardware and grocery stores, plants like english ivy or mother-in-laws tongue can help to improve your indoor air quality and aesthetics at the same time.
- Throw out your air freshener: While we know many folks love to keep their house smelling fresh with air fresheners, these products are loaded with harmful and dangerous VOCs that may actually cause irritation or illness. Open up the windows instead or look for a more natural way to freshen up your home.
- Use eco-friendly and scent free products: Many common cleaning and personal care products are loaded with VOCs and chemicals that can adversely affect your health. Carefully read labels and check sites like Skin Deep (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) to ensure that you’re purchasing something that is safe for you and the whole family.