Were you aware that outdoor pollutants make up two-thirds of indoor dust? Some you bring into your home yourself, primarily through your clothes and shoes. Others, such as particulate matter (PM), enter your home via open or leaky windows and doors.
The thing is, outdoor PM (and ozone) pollution is a problem faced by 135 million people in the US. That’s 40% of the US population living in places with high PM and ozone pollutant levels.
So, if you’re one of those folks, you’re likely breathing polluted air inside your home.
Fortunately, indoor air quality testing can help keep you away from further exposure.
Ready to learn how exactly it can do that? If so, then keep reading, as we’ve listed the top benefits of testing your home’s IAQ in this guide.
Determine Your Home’s Indoor Air Pollutants
An indoor air quality test measures the air for allergens, including mold and pollen. It can also monitor for the presence of odorless gasses like radon and carbon monoxide. Some can even detect airborne PM and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
It’s vital to know if those pollutants are in your indoor air since they can cause adverse health effects.
Mold and Pollen
Many of the 50 million people in the US with allergies are allergic to mold, pollen, or both. Exposure to these allergens, in turn, can cause symptoms in the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. Some people may even develop skin conditions, such as rashes and itchiness.
Mold exposure can also contribute to the development of an allergy. That means you’re at risk of becoming allergic if you constantly expose yourself to molds.
Almost one in every 15 US homes has an unsafe radon level. Worse, there’s no such thing as a safe radon level. If it’s in your indoor air, you’re in danger.
Radon is dangerous because it’s a radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. Indeed, it’s a leading lung cancer cause, only second to tobacco smoking.
Carbon monoxide, an odorless and toxic gas, is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. It’s also present in fumes generated by fossil fuel-powered heaters, cookers, and generators.
Up to 50,000 people in the US seek emergency medical help for unintentional CO poisoning each year. Worse, hundreds of others succumb to its deadly effects.
Particulate matter, also called particle pollution, consists of solid and liquid particles. Examples include dander, dirt, soot, dust, dust mites, insect parts, mold, and pollen. Some are large enough to see with your eyes (called PM 10), while others are too small (PM 2.5) and easier to inhale.
Researchers link PM exposure to higher hospitalizations for heart and lung conditions. They also associate it with exacerbated respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Worse, long-term exposure appears to play a role in premature death.
VOCs are compounds with low water solubility and high vapor pressure. Many are in synthetic (human-made) chemicals, such as paints, solvents, and cleaning solutions.
VOC exposure can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It can also cause respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Higher concentrations may even damage organs, including the liver and kidney.
Helps You Track Pollution Sources
When you test indoor air quality, you can create a list of all the pollutants degrading the air in your home. That can help you track down and minimize or even eliminate their sources.
Suppose the test reveals your air is full of molds; then you can have your home inspected for them. For example, they may be growing indoors because your roof or plumbing pipes leak. In that case, knowing you have a mold issue also gives you time to fix problems with your home before they worsen.
Another example is an ill-maintained air conditioner whose filter is full of PM. Those particles can become airborne again, mixing with the conditioned air you breathe. Plus, a lack of AC upkeep can cause uncomfortable indoor climates, according to K&S Heating and Air.
An indoor air quality test can also help you detect allergens produced by dust mites. Those include their feces and the decaying bodies of the dead, microscopic insects. If testing reveals their presence, you likely have infested mattresses, carpets, or upholstery.
Allows You to Prioritize IAQ Improvements
Since an indoor air quality test can tell you what’s polluting your air, you can focus first on the worst ones.
For instance, suppose your home has a radon level of 4 pCi/L (Picocuries per liter of air) or higher. That’s incredibly high, but you can reduce that with a radon mitigation system. On the other hand, you can install a soil depressurization system if it’s only between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
If you have a problem with high CO levels, you can prioritize improving your ventilation. One example is installing and using an exhaust fan over your gas stove. The device can help reduce CO concentrations by venting the fumes into the outdoors.
Improved ventilation can also help you control or reduce VOC concentrations indoors. However, it’s best to combine this strategy with reduced use of VOC-emitting products. Other items that emit VOCs are aerosol sprays, air fresheners, and even hobby supplies.
Boosting IAQ Helps Minimize Health Risks
If you’re not aware of what’s polluting the air in your home, you may go on breathing polluted air until you get sick.
You may also make the wrong IAQ investments if you don’t know what’s in the air you breathe. For example, you might invest in a radon mitigation system even if you don’t need it.
However, not knowing you have high radon levels is even scarier. After all, it doesn’t cause symptoms right away; instead, it causes poisoning gradually. Affected people may only exhibit signs after they’ve already developed cancer.
Since an IAQ test tells you what pollutants you have, you can take steps to boost your indoor air quality ASAP. That includes eliminating or controlling them, thus, helping minimize your exposure.
The less exposed you are, the lower your odds of developing IAQ-related health woes.
Invest in Indoor Air Quality Testing
Always remember that most people in the US, on average, spend 87% of their time inside buildings. That’s enough reason to ensure you’re breathing in healthy air.
That’s also why it’s best to invest in indoor air quality testing. It’s the first step to accurately determining if what you’re inhaling is safe.
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