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How Do I Know if My Home Air Quality Is Bad

Posted in Air Quality, on April 23, 2024

How Do I Know if My Home Air Quality Is BadAir quality is tricky to diagnose — did you catch our pun? At SafeAir, air quality testing in Toronto requires more than just the limited powers of a human nose to catch pollutants, particles, and other indoor allergens that cause adverse health effects. A funny smell might not be pleasant, but it may have an easily discoverable cause, whereas many other more dangerous pollutants often lurk without any discernible trace. Home air quality testing is the best method for determining if one or more common sources of indoor air pollution exist in your home so that you can safely eliminate or reduce them. 

Signs of Poor Air Quality

The warning signs of poor air quality are easy to miss. At SafeAir, we often have clients coming to us with a host of seemingly unrelated complaints or stories about colds and flu that drag on for ever. With a bit of questioning, we quickly learn about other minor complaints that often help us build a picture that leads us straight to air quality issues. Here are some of the most common signs of poor air quality: 

  • Respiratory problems like coughing, sneezing, or congestion. 
  • Headaches — especially those that disappear when you leave a specific room/the house. 
  • Fatigue. 
  • Irritation or dryness of the eyes, nose, or throat. 
  • Unpleasant odours, especially those that resemble leaf mold. 
  • Visible mold growth or staining. 
  • Stale, stuffy, and stagnant air. 

Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Where does indoor air pollution come from? Unlike the outdoors, where there are easily discernible sources of pollution such as highways, industry and manufacturing, indoor pollution is more challenging to see, mainly because its signs are easy to confuse with viral infections like the cold and flu. Part of every home air quality test at SafeAir is to look for common causes of air pollution because understanding the cause is critical to developing a solution. Here are some of the most common sources of indoor air pollution:

  • Building materials like wood, paint, and varnish — if you’re renovating or demolishing anything at home, contact us to help you plan an air-safety plan!
  • Cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals and VOCs that can damage the respiratory system and mucous membranes. 
  • Pesticides. 
  • Combustion appliances, especially old or ill-maintained ones, may produce carbon monoxide. 
  • Mold and mildew create airborne spores, one of the most common allergies at home. 
  • Pet dander. 
  • Outdoor pollution can affect the indoors, too!

Factors that Affect Indoor Air Quality 

Now that we’ve shared some of the causes and effects of indoor air pollution, we want to discuss more about how your home’s unique ecosystem might amplify or increase the impact. Each home is different — even if all the homes on your block were built at the same time with the same materials, you may experience various indoor effects based on how you use, renovate, or maintain your property. When it comes to indoor air quality, small changes can often have a significant impact. 

Some of the factors that affect indoor air quality include: 

  • Ventilation, or how well air flows inside your home, can greatly affect pollution build-up. 
  • Because it fluctuates, temperature can cause all sorts of havoc when combined with ventilation and the next factor, humidity.
  • Relative humidity is how we refer to airborne moisture. As one of the most significant causes of poor air quality because of its relation to mold growth, it is critical to balance and maintain indoor humidity for comfort and safety. 
  • Cooking is so every day that we don’t consider how it might affect air quality. At SafeAir, we suggest installing an exhaust fan or opening a window to reduce odour, particulate, and moisture. 
  • Smoking indoors can introduce hundreds of air quality pollutants that linger in the indoor environment. 
  • Cleaning materials or methods can often affect air quality. 
  • The environment around your home, like gardens, big trees, or flood plains, can cause indoor problems. 

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

At SafeAir, we’ve helped thousands of families across Ontario identify indoor pollution and reduce factors that cause air quality problems like mold. Regardless of your home’s age, location, or condition, there are many ways you can make positive changes that help your indoor air quality. 

Of course, our first recommendation is home air quality testing. This safe, non-invasive and effective test looks at your home from top to bottom, assessing risk factors and identifying causes that may affect your health and wellness. Once problems have been identified, we may suggest solutions like: 

  • Increasing ventilation. 
  • Controlling humidity levels. 
  • Using air purifiers. 
  • Cleaning areas or items more regularly. 
  • Using natural cleaning products. 
  • Smoking outdoors. 
  • Maintenance of combustion appliances. 
  • Installing fans or vents.  
  • Replacing aged or damaged building materials, like insulation. 
  • Having mold remediation.

The Importance of Professional Air Quality Testing

As we mentioned at the start of this article, your nose is inadequate for identifying air quality problems at home. While some things, like mold growth, may smell, others, like radon gas or asbestos, have no scent, sound, or visible effect — until it’s too late. Because these latter issues have serious, life-threatening consequences, SafeAir recommends pursuing professional home air quality testing whenever you:

  • Are expecting a new family member, or have children.
  • Have elders living with you. 
  • Are buying or selling a house. 
  • Experience new or persistent health problems. 

Professional air quality testing is a scientific approach, and we work with a third-party lab to analyze our samples for impartial results. Our methodology and testing are developed by industry-wide organizations that offer us ongoing education and access to the latest tools and information about air quality issues nationwide.

While air quality may not answer all of your questions, air quality testing in Toronto is risk-free and only has positive outcomes, such as identifying areas at risk for mold growth or ventilation changes that improve sleep and rest. To learn more about how we test and what tests might be suitable for your home, contact the SafeAir team by phone or online to book an inspection. 

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