Many people are not aware of the impact that poor air quality can have on their health. If you feel your ventilation is insufficient and you’re worried about the indoor spread of pollutants, then it’s worth it to test your home for air quality. In this post, we’ll cover why high pollutant levels are dangerous and how to test indoor air quality to prevent health concerns.
What are the Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Your Allergies Worsen
If your indoor air contains many allergens—dust, pet dander, mold—then your allergies might worsen. You might start sneezing or coughing with more intensity or frequency, your eyes might feel itchy or watery more often, and in general, your symptoms might be more intense and frequent. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time at home, like if you work remotely.
Your Asthma or Respiratory Issues Worsen
The same pollutants that worsen allergies also worsen asthma. Since your airways are already sensitive, breathing in dust, dander, or mold can trigger flare-ups or asthma attacks. If you have other lung issues, the same may be true for you.
You Often Experience Shortness of Breath
Breathing in too much dust can trigger respiratory problems, like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Unless you’ve been exercising, shortness of breath can be a sign of a harmful heart or lung condition triggered by the inhalation of dust or mold.
You Experience Headaches or Nausea
Air pollutants like lead and carbon monoxide can lead to migraines, headaches, or nausea throughout the day.
How to Test Indoor Air Quality
Use an Indoor Air Quality Monitor
As the name suggests, an indoor air quality monitor electronically keeps track of the pollution levels inside your home. Most test for small particles (like pollen and dust), chemicals, and humidity. (If the humidity is too high, it can lead to mold formation.) Depending on the model that you buy, you should be able to connect it to your phone through an app.
Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms Around Your Home
Do you use appliances or fireplaces that burn gas? If your home doesn’t already have them, you need carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless—you can’t detect its presence without an alarm. Even if you don’t use gas appliances, carbon monoxide alarms are cheap, effective, and well worth installing. Your indoor air quality monitor should also be able to detect this gas.
Test for Mold
Mold is always present in the air—but when it reaches high levels, mold can be harmful. While home mold tests from hardware stores are cheap and easy to use, they’re ineffective at testing for mold. Instead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you opt for a professional inspection.
In some cases, you might notice mold visibly forming on your walls or a musty smell in the air. In other cases, you might simply notice a change in your health if you’re coughing or sneezing more than normal.
Do a Radon Test
Like carbon monoxide, radon is another gas that is undetectable to our senses. When natural uranium particles in the soil break down, radon forms. That’s why it usually enters through the lowest levels of your home, like your basement and floors. You should be able to buy a radon test from your local hardware store. The test will usually require that you place it in a high-risk area in your house for two to seven days. (There are also radon tests that you can plug into your walls to continuously monitor radon levels over longer periods of time.)
In the case that you do find high levels of gas, a professional service should be able to seal the areas where the gas is leaking.
Keep Your Air Clean to Prevent Health Issues
Learning how to test for indoor air quality is fairly simple, though it requires you to conduct multiple tests. Your health is priceless—taking some time to assess your air is worth it for your peace of mind!