With summer slowly coming to a close, leaving windows and doors wide open all day long for fresh, natural ventilation will no longer be an option. This means less air exchange (fresh air coming in and stale air going our), which inevitably leads to a buildup of indoor air pollutants like chemical cleaners, dust, paint, gases released by furniture, and even worse, black mold.
So, as we nestle in for fall and winter, it’s important to ensure that the quality of air inside our homes is at a healthy level. The best way to do this is with an air quality test.
Types of air quality tests
There are many pollutants that can decrease the air quality inside your home, from mold spores and other biological contaminants like dust and pollen to chemical compounds like VOCs, formaldehyde and radon.
Likewise, there are many different types of air tests you can use to check your indoor environment for toxins, depending on what you’re worried about. In the following sections, we’ll outline the most common ones.
Testing for mold
Mold is one of the most common issues that plague homeowners, landlords and tenants. It’s persistent, toxic and, worst of all, not always easy to detect.
Molds are fungi and, like most fungi, they produce microscopic spores that can become airborne very easily. Inhaling these spores, especially over prolonged periods of time, can be toxic and lead to health problems ranging in severity from mild allergies to chronic respiratory conditions, neurological problems and even cancer.
That’s why it’s important to get your home tested for mold—even if there is no obvious sign of a problem. This is even more important if you’ve recently experienced a moisture intrusion, flood or leak in your home, as moisture is the root of all mold problems.
An air test for mold will not only identify the types of mold spores present in your home, but it will also tell you exactly how much mold there is (e.g. spores per cubic metre). This will give you a good idea how contaminated your indoor environment is—something that a simple mold swab test cannot do.
Testing for asbestos (or vermiculite)
Asbestos is one of those things that every homeowner dreads. Even if your home is brand new, there is always that lingering fear that there may be some asbestos hiding out somewhere—in the ceiling tile, caulking, piping or wall insulation, etc. This is especially true if you live in a home that was built before the 1980s.
Of particular concern is vermiculite insulation, which has been well known to be a source of asbestos. While vermiculite itself is not dangerous, it is important to get it tested for asbestos to avoid exposure to this dangerous substance. However, due to the highly hazardous nature of asbestos DIY or self-testing is not advised. Always contact an experienced professional to take an asbestos test.
Testing for VOCs
Believe it or not, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are quite common in the home and have a variety of sources. Everything from air fresheners, perfumes and cleaning products to tobacco smoke, appliances, furniture and paint contain VOCs that linger in your air and compromise your health.
While it’s usually impossible to get rid of every VOC in your home—and sometimes you may not even want to (think of the lovely aromas that candles give off)—it is important to monitor the level or concentration of VOCs if you want to prevent health problems like Sick Building Syndrome, which are often caused by long-term exposure to indoor pollutants.
There’s no better way to do this than with an air test for VOCs.
Keeping your home safe
The air quality inside your home directly affects your health. Luckily, there is a way for you to identify hidden threats in your home. It’s called air quality testing and it’s especially important in the winter months when air exchange is limited due to closed windows and doors.
Remember, you often won’t see or smell indoor air pollutants because they are so small and imperceptible that we don’t notice them. As a result, we end up exposing ourselves to harmful substances day after day. But turning a blind eye is not the solution—getting an air quality test is.
Call Mold Busters now and ask about our various air testing services in Ottawa, Montreal and surrounding areas.