What Air Quality Tests Can I Do Myself to Check For Issues in My Home
Posted in Air Quality, on March 09, 2021
Before you call in the professionals, there are several easy things that you can do to prepare for home air quality testing. If you have questions or issues in your indoor environment, a service like radon testing can help pinpoint the problem and give you valuable insights into the whys and hows of the situation — and once you know why, a safe and effective solution is not far behind.
Below are six of the common pollutants that professional home air quality testing can detect:
Radon is a tasteless, odourless and colourless radioactive gas that is present in many homes across Canada. Radon gas isn’t caused by human activity. However, it’s formed by geological forces deep within our planet. As uranium decays, it releases radon gas, a radioactive substance that drifts through the soil to the surface. Our basements — sunk at least partially into the ground — often act as a magnet for radon gas because of negative pressure. This gas collects in our basements or low-lying rooms by slipping in through cracks in the foundation, sump pumps, or other gaps in the building envelope.
Why should you be worried about radon gas in your home? After tobacco smoke, radon gas is the leading cause of cancer in the Lung amongst Canadians and may account for as many as 3000 lung cancer deaths a year. Without any warning signs that you’re being exposed, radon testing is the only way to know if your home is affected.
It’s now the law to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and it’s one of the most straightforward home air quality testing that you can do yourself. Detectors are available at any hardware store and are easy to install around your home. Like radon, carbon monoxide can’t be sensed using your eyes, nose, ears, or sense of taste, and you only know you have a problem when it’s too late.
Many older homes and apartments are at risk for lead paint. Before the government banned it in 1978, lead was a common additive in house paint, and as it ages, chips, flakes, and paint dust can introduce lead into home environments. Lead is especially dangerous to children, in whom it can cause developmental and physical poisoning. We always recommend lead paint testing before renovating, which can give you peace of mind and help you determine the levels of precaution you need to take.
Testing For Mold
Mold testing is one of our most popular services. Mold reproduces by airborne spores that are easily picked up during an air quality test. Professional mold testing can help you determine how much mold is present, what type it is, and locate areas or rooms that it is growing. Mold can quickly spread throughout a home and cause serious health issues as well as thousands of dollars of damage.
Testing for Vapor (VOCs)
While some things, like radon testing, detect environmental issues, testing for VOCs almost always leads to a human-caused issue. Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs) are formed when chemicals vaporize at room temperature — the fresh scent of a newly cut lemon is an excellent example of a VOC. The problem is, not every VOC is as harmless as a fruit, and many can cause serious irritation to the lungs, eyes, nose, and throat. Many VOCs are brought into our homes through activities like renovation, painting, and cleaning.
Safety Risks of Doing DIY Tests
One of the common responses that homeowners have to air quality issues is purchasing an indoor air quality monitor. These devices are often available at the hardware store and are a consumer-level version of the professional tools and equipment we use at SafeAir. They have a decent track record for picking up some of the common indoor air quality pollutants, but their accuracy and detail leaves something to be desired.
When it comes to DIY air quality testing, our recommendation is to always work with a professional — and it’s not just because we’re in the business! Professional air quality testing removes the risk of dangerous false positives or negatives and gives you an in-depth and science-based reading of your indoor environment. While DIY tests may save you a few dollars here and there, the risk to you and your family’s safety if something is missed can be acute and life-threatening.
Whether you’re thinking of radon testing or another type of home air quality testing, call SafeAir to learn more about what you can do to improve your indoor air quality and book a complimentary assessment.