Indoor Air Quality Testing
Most people are unaware of the fact that their health symptoms are related to poor indoor air quality (IAQ)—people who have coughs, headaches, upper respiratory problems, muscle pain, and other illnesses with no clear explanation that their healthcare provider cannot find a solution to.
When someone suspects that they have an illness and it is related to their building, they will give us a call. We will come in and confirm the presence of some of the most common contaminants, locate the direct source, and then make recommendations of how improvements can be made.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Lung Association, State Health Departments, and other organizations encourage and recommend indoor air quality investigations and testings.
How to Choose the Right IAQ Inspector
When it comes to choosing the right indoor air quality inspector, the first question that needs to be asked and answered is who is qualified to perform the testing.
- The individual must be licensed in the proper field, including mold, lead, and asbestos. If your inspector fails to have these licenses, then it is important to begin looking at other inspectors.
- Many air conditioning companies advertise that they perform indoor air quality services. It is important that you understand that they often don’t have the proper measuring equipment to perform an adequate inspection. In addition, they are biased; they want to be able to sell you their products. Last, but not least, installing the equipment that they recommend will not help your situation in most situations.
- Other professionals that consider themselves as able to perform indoor air quality inspections are air duct cleaning companies. However, according to the EPA, it won’t help.
- Mold inspectors also assume that simply testing your home’s air for mold does the trick. However, this is not indoor air quality testing; instead, it is mold air testing.
The Process of Indoor Air Quality Testing
One of the first questions that we will attempt to answer is whether your indoor air is polluted more than the air outside the home. In order to answer this question, we will take between 60 and 70 air test around the home or office. We will also compare outside air to inside air and one room to other rooms.
We will ask you various questions about health symptoms that you and other members of the household have been recently experiencing. We will perform a visual assessment, as the inspector’s eyes are sometime the best to see clues. We will determine if there is someone in the household that is identified as “sensitive”. These types of individuals would be those with asthma, allergies, autoimmune disease, as well as individuals who are very young or old. Individuals who have cancer, COPD, HIV, damage to their lungs, or other immune deficits would be in a highly sensitive group.
As soon as testing has been completed, you will receive a preliminary report verbally prior to the inspector leaving. He or she will need to perform some research and enter data into a computer prior to a final written report can be completed and issued. This is actually where the majority of the inspector’s time will be spent. Within a couple of days (48 hours), you should have your final report in your hands. If samples needed to be sent to the lab, then you will receive your written report within 48 hours of the inspector receiving the lab results back.
What Exactly Is Tested?
During the indoor air quality testing, your indoor air will be tested for a variety of contaminants that can cause illness, as reported by the EPA. Some of these are as follows.
- 5 – Fine Particles – Particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers in size are known as fine particles. They are so small that you cannot see them with your naked eye and can only be detected with a special electron microscope. These fine particles come from a variety of sources like power plants, motor vehicles, forest fires, residential wood burning, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.
- PM10 – Coarse Dust Particles – Particles that are between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in size are known as coarse particles. These coarse dust particles come from a number of sources like pollen, mold spores, dust mites, insect parts, dust stirred up by automobiles on the roads, and crushing or grinding operations.
- Carbon Dioxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Sulfur Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Relative Humidity
Prior to the Testing
When an indoor air quality test is being performed, most individuals want to try to clean their home prior to the inspector arriving at the home. However, this is the last thing that needs to be done. The IAQ testing needs to be performed in a normal living condition. When you vacuum, dust, and spray air freshener in the home, it can provide false numbers during the testing phase.
So, 48 hours before the test is to be performed, make sure that all windows and doors remain shut, and this does include the garage door. It is okay to walk and drive in and out of exterior doors and the garage door, but the doors should not remain open. If at all possible, try not to use the oven, stovetop, or shower for four hours prior to the testing. If this is not possible, make sure that the inspector is informed of what action took place and how long before he or she arrived.
FAQs Regarding Indoor Air Quality Testing
How Much Does IAQ Testing Cost?
For the average size home and office, you can expect to pay around $XXX for residential and XXX for commercial space. It is important that you understand that IAQ testing doesn’t provide a hypothesis and doesn’t include a visual assessment. It is simply testing the air in your home or office for the most common contaminants. While extra services can definitely be provided, the first—and most important—step is to determine if there is a problem.
What Occurs During Testing?
The process of testing the air is actually pretty short. Once the air has been tested, we can provide you with a preliminary verbal report. However, the data collected in your hoe must be taken back to the office, download, and used to create a final report. This final written report will then be delivered to your home or e-mail, generally within about 48 hours.
What Healthy Symptoms Are Often a Result of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
- Irritated, stuffy, or runny nose
- Irritated eyes
- Sore throat, cough, phlegm
- Eye pressure or headaches
- Muscle soreness or pain
- Sinus problems and hay fever-like symptoms
- Chest heaviness or wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of energy/lethargy
- Diarrhea and nausea
- Asthma and allergies
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Cognitive problems
- Cardiac or stroke
- And more
No one else in the household seems to be having any problems but me. Am I going insane?
No. It isn’t uncommon for only one person under the roof to experience signs of illness. Some people are more sensitive to certain contaminants than others. So, in this particular case, the contaminant that happens to be in your home or office is the contaminant that you happen to be more sensitive to.
I have visited my primary care physician, and they don’t know what’s wrong with me. Can you help?
Most general healthcare providers do not specialize in environmental causes; however, once they are familiar with the contaminant, they are able to help you. Of course, there are some doctors who do actually specialize in environmental medicine, so you may want to consider making an appointment with one of them.
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at Southern Valley Services. If you believe that your indoor air quality is contaminated, contact us today to schedule testing.