How can you test the air in your house?

In this blog post, we will discuss “How can you test the air in your house?” First, we will discuss the basics of air pollution. Then, the article will focus on indoor air pollution. Then, the article will outline the tips to test the air in your house. In the end, the blog will provide the main tips to improve air quality.

How can you test the air in your house?

According to scientific studies, most Americans spend more time indoors than outdoors. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than the recommended limits. Thus, it is necessary to test the air in your house. You can test the air by using the following factors:

 What is air pollution?

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

What is indoor air pollution?

Air pollution created inside a closed environment is called indoor air pollution. Many household activities such as heating, cooking, cleaning and other miscellaneous activities significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. Therefore, indoor pollution contributes to ambient air pollution. In addition, many regular household products such as cleaning sprays, varnish, paints, solvent removers, perfumes, tobacco smoke and incense stick can pollute the air.

Asbestos can also cause deterioration of indoor air. It is found in various products such as home construction materials, and they are commonly detected in paints, coatings, ceilings and floor tiles. Generally, the old products or older houses would be having more presence of this toxic material than the newer ones.

Asbestos can cause shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, tightness and persistence of dry cough. But the good news is that the United States has banned its use in construction activities and it’s no longer used. Formaldehydes group are colourless gas having a pungent smell. Even though its production has been banned in the United States since 1970, they are still found in paints, sealants and wooden floors. Carpets also use formaldehyde as permanent adhesives.

Radon is one such toxic agent which is found underneath homes. Radon is usually discovered in bedrock and other building materials that cause indoor air pollution. The gases from radon can seep through the basement and cause a significant risk to the residents. Tobacco smoke is also one of the neglected and concerning air pollutants. The study also revealed that pregnant women smoking cigarettes caused a potential threat to the fetus development; the smoke can cause molecular changes. In addition, the tobacco smoke exposure of the mothers caused hindrances in the lung development of the fetus. Researchers further analyzed that such children at early stages and later teens got asthma or experienced asthmatic problems.

You would like to keep fresh flowers keeping in your living room. You also would be having furry friends living with you. Though I am not very keen on plucking flowers or purchasing them to decorate my house, I love doggies and other furry pets. But they all come with one big drawback. They can produce biological pollutants such as pollens, mould, bacteria, viruses and animal dander, developing asthmatic symptoms in people. 

Gas appliances such as heaters, wood stoves, space heaters, dryers, fireplaces and space heaters release hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates. Carbon monoxide and particulates, as mentioned earlier, causes many respiratory and heart-related ailments. High levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause a hazard to the human respiratory tract. It can increase the susceptibility to various respiratory infections and asthma. Prolonged exposure to elevated amounts of nitrogen dioxide can result in chronic lung disease. It can also affect the smelling ability of humans.

The fumes released from the paraffin wax candles causes air to pollute. Research done by South Carolina State University said that paraffin wax releases toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene indoors. Even the office stationeries such as copiers, laser printers, correction fluids, etc., release volatile organic compounds which deeply penetrate the lungs and inflame their linings. Besides, dry cleaned laundry clothes contain highly toxic substances such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. All the pollutants, as mentioned earlier, can cause throat and nose irritation, flu, dizziness, anaemia and other allergic reactions. They can irritate your respiratory tract too. In addition, toxic chemicals can cause lung cancer and damage vital organs such as the liver, kidney and brain.

Air experts around the globe also suggest the use of beauty products can also contribute to air pollution. The majority of the cosmetics and perfumes available in the market contain toxic pollutants such as volatile organic compounds. These pollutants are released into the air when they are used. Thus, the fashion industry or the increased population using such products can significantly contribute to indoor air pollution.

Below, I am providing tips to test the air quality in the house.

Tips for testing the air quality in the house

 Purchase suitable indoor air quality sensors

Air quality sensors are machines used to detect parameters such as light, motion, temperature, etc. These sensors measure these parameters and are displayed electronically on their screen. These indoor air quality will also detect any pollutants in the air.

These are also known as indoor air quality monitors. They are portable and can also be put on a table surface to check the pollution levels. Many sensors have different features, and they measure various other parameters.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that if you live in a building, you need to place such sensors for every 10,000 square feet. The primary measuring features of these sensors are as follows:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Particulate Matter
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Humidity
  • Formaldehyde
  • Radon

Below, I provide a recommended list of air quality sensors or monitors.

Air Quality MonitorsWhy should You consider buying?
Airthings 4200 House Kit Checks humidity, temperature, toxins and chemicals24*7 accessSmart radon detector
Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor Measures PM2.5, VOCs, CO, humidity and temperatureGet notifications on the Alexa app anytimeUser-friendly guidelines
Temtop M10 Air Quality Monitor User-friendly display screenMeasures PM2.5, AQI, TVOC and HCHOEasy to useLaser Particle and Dart electrochemical sensor

Check with your health symptoms

Another self-testing of indoor air quality is observing your health symptoms. If you experience nose and chest congestion or feel dizzy when you are indoors, but if you feel instantly fine when you step outdoors, then indoor air quality is in poor condition. Such conditions can also give you hints to detect the sources of air pollution. For example, if you experience nausea and confusion, it may signify high levels of carbon monoxide in a home. Another significant symptom is scratchy throat or watery eyes, which indicate the presence of allergens in the house.

Install Carbon monoxide alarms

Having said about the effects of high levels of carbon monoxide, it is beneficial to keep a tab on its limits. Carbon monoxide is considered one of the most lethal pollutants is impacting indoor air quality. It is often called a “silent killer” as it is an odourless and colourless gas. As a result, it can get built up in a poorly ventilated area. Elevated levels of carbon monoxide can pose a threat to pets, children and older adults. We can keep a check on its levels by using carbon monoxide detectors.

Below, I am recommending carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon Monoxide DetectorsWhy should You consider buying?
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector  CO detector that alerts with a warning signalEasy and quick installationUL Certified
Kidde Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide Detector  Detects CO and other combustible gases such as propane and natural gasLow battery warning featureUL Certified
X-sense Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm Flexible InstallationHigh accuracy and reliabilityInformative LCDInstant alert system

Radon Test

The EPA has noted that radon is the second-leading pollutant responsible for lung cancer in the United States. Radon is a naturally occurring and radioactive gas produced after uranium decays in water, soil or rocks. It can seep into your home through the basement level. Once it’s accumulated, it can prove dangerous to health.  At first, you can check radon levels by yourself too.

Radon tests can also be done by using home kits. You can get these home kits online or at hardware stores. You need to follow these instructions for the effective use of the test kit:

  • It would help if you closed all the doors and windows for 12 hours before the testing procedure.
  • Then, it would be best if you placed the detector in the lowest liveable area of your house. Then, leave it undisturbed for 48 to 96 hours.
  • After keeping it at the appropriate period, you can immediately send the detector to the lab. They will analyze it and give you its results. If you are not willing to test radon at home, you can call professionals to find out the radon gas immediately.

Other home test kits

There are wide varieties of home test kits to test indoor air quality. Allergens and moulds can be found in musty and stuffy air quality. The US EPA has stated that formaldehyde is carcinogenic. Pollutants such as lead and volatile organic compounds are also equally lethal. I am providing you with the list of standard kits which you can use:

You can follow the instructions from these kits and detect any specifically needed pollutants in your house.

How can you improve indoor air quality?

This is a vast topic, and there is no definitive answer to this. This is because the approach to indoor air quality depends on many factors such as type of structure, the intensity of the problem, lifestyle, etc.

The nature of indoor air pollution also depends upon the activity going on in the house. For instance, if your home is overcrowded due to many people, it may lead to the rise of carbon dioxide levels in that area. But the levels will come back to normal when the crowd disappears. The other solution for such an issue is that you can open windows to keep the airflow in the house.

However, if your house persistently has poor indoor air quality, it will require some different solutions to solve it. Below, I list some prominent tips to improve indoor air quality.

Keep a check on the source

As you know, pollution originates from a source, and then it spreads through a medium such as the air. Thus, monitoring sources is of utmost importance. This can save your greenies from your wallet and is one of the easiest ways to control indoor air pollution. For example, if you purchase and install a low-VOC carpet or curtains, it can automatically reduce the VOC levels. Another example is that if you maintain the hygienic condition of your furry friends, then it can reduce the levels of pet dander, fur and dust. Another super practical tip is to cover formaldehyde-emitting materials and supplies so that air quality will remain good.

Keep your house airy

If the ambient air quality is of good standards, you should open up the windows and doors for a while, this will cause cross ventilation in the house, and you will feel refreshed. Generally, your house’s ventilation system is made up of ducts, vents, and fans that remove stale air from indoors and bring in the outside air. However, these systems might get clogged in this process and lead to indoor air quality problems.

Thus, a thorough check-up and cleaning or replacing the mechanical parts of the ventilation system are necessary to improve the air quality. You can also use air purifiers to improve the air quality.

If you are using an artificial source of heating and cooling your house, I suggest you use high-quality filters and clean them at least twice a year. You can also replace them as per the machine guidelines. Besides, I would tell you to use air purifiers to maintain healthy air. Air purifiers can quickly reduce the dust pollution present in the house. Thus, air purifiers also help your lungs to remain clean.

Generally, the best kind of air purifiers in the market always have HEPA filters as their features. HEPA means High-Efficiency Particulate Air. Excellent quality of HEPA filters can eliminate around 99.97% of airborne particles, and it monitors and decreases the dust in your home. Besides, it would be best to use air purifiers with ionizers on/off capabilities.

Below, I am providing you with the recommended list of air purifiers.

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier●    99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured.
AIRMEGA 400S●    Reduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns.●    Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.●    Washable and permanent pre-filters are available
Blueair Pure 121●    Includes 3-part filtration system.●     Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.●    An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Take efforts to clean the air

It is essential to remove the accumulated dust in the lobbies or the closet. It is also necessary to use kitchen chimneys while cooking food. Besides, you should also mop the floors and avoid carpeting if possible. You can also try keeping indoor plants to maintain good air quality. Thus, the bottom line is to keep a watch on your house and clean up the dirt whenever visible.

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

How can you prevent air pollution?

How do humans cause pollution?

How can you save the Earth?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “How can you test the air in your house?” First, we discussed the basics of air pollution. Then, the article focused on indoor air pollution. Then, the article outlined the tips to test the air in your house. In the end, the blog provided the main tips to improve air quality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How can you test the air in your house?

How do you know if you have bad air in your house?

These are the following symptoms to know the bad air in your house:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Headache and nausea
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Unpleasant odour
  • Insomnia

How much does it cost to test the air in your home?

Indoor air quality can cost between $250 and $300 on average. Radon testing can cost $135 to $150, while $295 requires mould and moisture assessment.

How do you know if the air in my house is clean?

If the air quality is terrible, you can get allergic symptoms and feel chest congestion.

How can I purify the air in my home naturally?

These are the steps to improve my air naturally:

  • Buy indoor plants
  • Plant-based wax Candles
  • Essential Oils and an electric diffuser

How does the air get polluted?

Air pollution can occur in multiple ways. Human activities such as the transportation sector, industrial processes, and combustion of fossil fuels generate particulates and other toxic gases such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides. Natural events also create air pollution. Some of the instances are volcanic eruptions and dust storms.

What are the causes of air pollution?

The causes of air pollution are as follows:

  • The burning of fossil fuels
  • Indoor Air pollution
  • Wildfires
  • Decomposition
  • Vehicular pollution
  • Construction and demolition activities

References

Dyson, K., 2021. How to test home air quality yourself (DIY indoor testing procedures): Home Air Guides. Home Air Guides |. Available at: https://homeairguides.com/how-to-test-home-air-quality-by-yourself/  

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring: How to test, measure & improve: Iota. Iota Communications, Inc. Available at: https://www.iotacommunications.com/blog/how-can-you-improve-indoor-air-quality/  

Kristin, 2011. Radon test: DIY or professional? HouseLogic. Available at: https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/diy-radon-testing/  

Weida, K., 2021. How to test air quality in the home. SafeWise. Available at: https://www.safewise.com/best-air-quality-monitor/

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