Air Quality Testing
Air quality testing (also known as air sampling) checks for high levels of pollutants in an indoor environment. Common indoor pollutants found in Ottawa and Montreal homes include mold, asbestos, VOCs, radon and carbon monoxide.
The results of an indoor air test give you important information about the health of your home. From there, you can decide what kind of remedial action to take.
Do you experience allergies year-round? Do you find yourself constantly coughing and sneezing but don’t know why? If so, you may have poor air quality in your home.
Here are a few possible solutions:
- Adding extra air filters or air purifiers
- Investing in better ventilation
- Cleaning your air conditioner
- Getting your air ducts cleaned
Why test your home air quality?
Most Canadians spend about 90% of their time indoors! Finding air quality problems early on plays a crucial role in maintaining good health and quality of life.
Other IAQ testing benefits:
- Helps mold inspectors develop a proper scope of work and remediation strategy.
- Identifies the type and concentration of mold spores in a room.
- Can be used in legal matters as official proof of a mold problem.
- Can be used in real estate transactions or as part of a complete home inspection.
Symptoms of poor home air quality
The following are some of the most common symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality:
- Respiratory conditions
- Coughing, sneezing, wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent headaches
- Eye, throat or skin irritation
- Dizziness, disorientation or mental confusion
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Worsening of allergies
All of these symptoms are also associated with long-term exposure to toxic mold. Molds like Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold) can cause debilitating health effects that can prevent people from performing everyday tasks and enjoying life.
How does IAQ testing work?
A Mold Busters technician will collect a sample of air from the area(s) you are concerned about. To do this, a specialized bioaerosol sampling pump is used (pictured above). The technicia will then send your air sample(s) to an accredited microbiological lab for detailed analysis. The results reveal the exact types of mold spores present and their concentrations.
You will receive a report explaining the results along with our professional recommendation for remediation if mold or other air pollutants have been identified.
Mold Busters’ air quality testing services in Ottawa, Gatineau and Montreal are the fastest and most accurate way of finding out if the air you’re breathing in is clean and safe.
How much does air quality testing cost?
The cost of an air quality test largely depends on the type of test you are getting (viable or non-viable). Non-viable testing is substantially more expensive than non-viable testing–almost double the cost.
Another factor that influences the price of an air test is how fast you want your results. Typically a turnaround of 24-48 hours will cost more than the regular service.
Finally, each indoor environmental professional has their own pricing system and some variance in costs can be expected. Contact Mold Busters today to get a quote.
Types of air tests for mold
Air sampling is one of the best ways to identify indoor contaminants and assess the quality of your indoor air. There are two main air tests for mold: viable and non-viable.
What is viable air sampling?
In viable testing, a sample of air is taken on a growth media and incubated in a petri dish over time until colonies form. This process reveals the exact genus and species of the microorganisms gathered in the sample.
There are literally thousands of mold species, and some are more dangerous than others. Viable air sampling helps to identify mold down to its exact species—information that’s important in determining if you are being exposed to various toxic molds.
Pros and cons of viable air tests
A viable air sample provides more detailed information about the microorganisms present in an air sample. However, because this method requires culturing, it takes longer to get results. It’s also more expensive.
In addition, some microorganisms captured in the sample may not germinate depending on the growth media used and competition from other molds. This means that results aren’t 100% accurate.
Mold Busters works only with accredited microbiological laboratories in Canada and the United States so that you get accurate and reliable results in a timely manner.
What is non-viable air sampling?
In non-viable testing, an air sample is collected and observed directly under a microscope. No culturing is required, so the results are ready much sooner.
Non-viable tests (also known as spore traps) are the industry standard for residential mold testing.
The pros and cons of non-viable air sampling
Because no culturing is required in non-viable sampling, you get results much sooner. It’s also much cheaper than a viable test.
The results of a non-viable test are presented in an easy-to-read list that includes the genus name and concentration of spores contained in the sample. This makes evaluating the extent of a fungal contamination much easier.
The main drawback of non-viable air tests is that they reveal only the genus of a microorganism, not the exact species. Therefore, they cannot distinguish between, for example, Stachybotrys chartarum and any another species of Stachybotrys.
Mold Busters uses industry-recognized Air-O-Cell and Allergenco-D air monitoring cassettes and works directly with accredited laboratories to provide the fastest and most reliable results to our Ottawa, Gatineau and Montreal clients. Book your air quality test today!
How mold and mildew affect your indoor environment
Most people are not aware of how severely mold can affect their health. Because mold spores are so small, they can become airborne easily and spread quickly. Just because you cannot see a mold contamination in your home doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
Mold and mildew are the result of moisture and water damage. Rooms that are prone to leaks, condensation and flooding often experience mold growth. These include bathrooms, attics and basements.
Property owners have to be careful because moisture problems are not always obvious or visible. They can remain completely hidden from sight (behind walls and underneath carpets). If left untreated, they will lead to black mold contamination.
Exposure to black mold can cause or aggravate health conditions like asthma and allergies.
Over time, it can also lead to more serious conditions such as chronic bronchitis, problems with the nervous system, cancer and heart conditions.
Luckily, you have two types of air tests to help you detect unseen mold: viable sampling and non-viable sampling. Each has its advantages and drawbacks (see above), but both are effective means of assessing indoor air quality.
Mold testing vs. indoor air quality testing
It’s not surprising that so many people are confused—after all, both types of tests are used to detect and diagnose mold problems. However, mold tests and air quality tests are not the same. One test is more telling than the other.
What is a mold test?
Generally, a mold test is a quick procedure that involves taking a swab of the suspected material, inserting it into a liquid and waiting for a colour change.
If the liquid turns green, no mold is present in the sample. If the liquid turns purple, then the material tested is contaminated with mold.
While these instant mold tests will give you a clear, yes-or-no answer, they will not identify the species of mold you’re dealing with and how much of it is present in your living environment. They’re also not a good indicator of what’s in your air.
For this reason, we only use mold swab tests when clients need immediate answers. Otherwise, we suggest other testing methods.
What is an air quality test?
This kind of test analyzes a sample of air that has been collected from the room in question. It can recognize various particles floating around in your air, including mold spores, asbestos fibres, volatile organic compounds, pollen, dust and other allergens.
Typically, each air sample contains 75 L of compressed air, so the results provide a very accurate snapshot of the health of your indoor environment. Air sampling can reveal major mold, moisture and ventilation problems in seemingly normal spaces…much to the surprise of homeowners.
Which is better?
We usually recommend air quality testing for mold because it provides more accurate and detailed information about your indoor environment.
Mold tests are great if you want a quick answer (for example, if you want to find out if mold is growing on your drywall). However, if you’re looking for the big picture, an air quality test is the way to go.
In our experience, we have noticed that people request a mold test when they are actually referring to an air quality test for mold. We hope that the difference between the two is clear now.
Annual IAQ testing & monitoring
Indoor air pollution is a big problem, one that’s being recognized by Health and Environment Canada, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, last but not least, the World Health Organization (WHO).
Given that the air we breathe directly impacts our health, we must ensure that the places we’re spending most of our time in are free of air pollutants. This applies to workplaces, classrooms, doctors’ offices and stores just as much as it does for homes.
Indoor air (a.k.a. ambient air) can be compromised by poor ventilation, off-gassing of furnishings, mold contamination, combustion processes and a number of other biological and chemical contaminants.
Annual assessments are therefore highly recommended for the following types of structures:
- Medical clinics and hospitals
- Schools and daycare facilities
- Offices and government buildings
- Nursing homes and retirement residences
- Shopping centres
- Gyms and fitness centres
Mold Busters can help provide the information you need to maintain a pollutant-free indoor environment.
Air quality monitoring and routine maintenance
Monitoring our indoor air is often overlooked. When people don’t see or smell a problem, they often assume it’s not there. However, many pollutants are completely odourless and colourless, so their presence is difficult to identify and exposure is hard to control.
The purpose of air quality monitoring is to:
- Determine the types and levels of air pollutants present in the indoor environment
- Identify the source(s) of these pollutants
- Identify which areas are most affected
- Improve overall indoor air quality
This does not have to mean big or costly changes to your routine maintenance program. It’s actually a simple and quick procedure that gives an accurate snapshot of your indoor air. A series of tests are taken from the most frequently used parts of a building as well as outside (this acts as the baseline sample).
It takes only a couple of minutes to gather the air samples, and the results are ready in as little as 24-48 hours. A full digital report is delivered to you, outlining any pollutants identified in the sample and the concentrations in which they are found. Best of all, it’s discrete.
Using the information provided in this report, you can act to reduce the concentration of air pollutants in your indoor environment and promote healthy living.
For more information about annual air quality assessments or to book a consultation, contact Mold Busters now!