Most people think of air pollution and immediately thing of smokestacks and car exhaust, but indoor air is often polluted too. In fact, the very characteristics that make many of today’s homes energy efficient can also trap pollutants indoors.
Some indoor pollutants are merely annoying, like dust mites, while others, like pollen, smoke, and animal dander, can aggravate allergies. Other indoor air pollutants, like mold, radon, and asbestos fibers, can cause serious health problems. Testing indoor air quality can help you make changes that result in a healthier home. Leading home inspection services offer indoor air quality testing, and this service is valuable to homeowners with health problems and to people considering purchasing a home.
Lack of adequate ventilation, or in-flow of contaminated air are common causes of poor indoor air quality. Dampness and moisture due to flooding, high humidity, and leaks can cause mold to grow and mold spores to be carried in the air. Construction and remodeling activities can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can irritate respiratory passages. Furry pets will cause animal dander to enter the air, and cigarette smoking produces indoor air pollution too. Geologic characteristics can introduce radon gas into indoor air, and some building materials made with asbestos cause asbestos fibers to enter the air.
Mold testing has become very popular in recent years due to high profile flooding and other weather events, and increased knowledge about how mold can affect health. However, not all mold testing is equally valuable. If you see mold, or suspect a mold problem, it’s important that you seek out a certified mold inspector to learn if there is a problem and if so, the extent of the problem. Mold testing may also be in order if you find a pipe leak that may have been present for a while.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted from carpets, flooring, paint, countertops, cabinetry, and lumber. The most widely known VOC is formaldehyde, which irritates the respiratory tract and is suspected of being a human carcinogen. VOCs are particularly noticeable in new houses, and manufacturers of many building products and home furnishings have changed their chemical formulations in recent years to cut down on VOC levels. Airing out a new home for a couple of days before moving in can lower VOC levels, as can keeping the home well ventilated and using exhaust fans.
Radon gas usually comes from uranium in the soil or rock that homes are built upon. As the uranium breaks down naturally, it releases colorless, odorless radon gas, which enters homes through cracks, drains, and dirt floors in basements. Radon gas may be problematic in any home, new or old, well-ventilated or well-insulated. Indoor air quality test providers can detect radon levels and advise you on abatement. Asbestos can’t be definitively identified with air sampling, but air sampling can give a general level of fibers in the air, and if fiber levels are high and asbestos products may have been used in construction, further testing can be done for asbestos. Professional home inspectors like MD Mold Testing are licensed and experienced in testing homes in the DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware region for a range of indoor air pollutants.