How to Test Your Home’s Air Quality
7 min read
In This Article
What Are The Sources of Poor Home Indoor Air Quality?
We don’t think much of it as we go about our day – especially in our own homes – but several factors in your home can likely contribute to poor indoor air quality. Some of the common culprits are:
- Chemicals from cleaning products (yes, even the ones that claim they are natural, so be sure to look at the labels)
- Chemicals from everyday household items
- Lack of ventilation
- Mildew and mold
- Gas stoves
- Heating unit
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Outdoor pollution entering your home
- And more
Evaluating Your Home’s Air Quality
Air quality is the overall condition of a specific area, including pollutants and other harmful substances. The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures and reports daily air quality levels. It shows you how clean or polluted the air is. You can also be aware of what health risks may be associated with different levels.
The AQI scale ranges from 0-500. The lower the numbers, the better the air quality. Anything with a level 0-50 is considered good air quality. Your air quality is moderate when you see a level of 51-100. If you notice the AQI reaching 101-500, this level can be unhealthy, especially for those who are sensitive. People who are sensitive usually have allergies or respiratory or heart conditions. It’s essential to keep in mind that any level above 150 is considered unhealthy for everyone, whether you’re sensitive or not.
How Can You Determine the Air Quality in Your Home?
You can purchase an indoor air quality monitor and test the levels. It’s important to test at different times. For example, if you have a gas stove and you are in the middle of cooking a meal, you may notice the air quality is off. Or if you’re burning a candle, have a lot of dust or dander around.
Signs your air quality may be off:
Odors – If you notice any strange or unpleasant smells in your home, this could indicate poor air quality. If you can’t find the source of the smell, it could be lingering from mold, mildew, or another pollutant.
Dust or debris – If you notice dust accumulation on shelves, stands, etc, your indoor air quality is likely poorer than it could be.
High humidity – Increased humidity allows for rampant mold growth if the conditions are favorable. Your humidity levels should stay between 30-50%. Investing in a hygrometer is highly recommended to keep mold at bay as much as possible.
What Are The Dangers of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Exposure to poor indoor air quality can lead to health risks, including:
Allergies – Indoor allergens like mold spores, mildew, dust mites, and pet dander are common culprits that trigger allergic reactions in some people. Symptoms often include itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, itchy skin or rashes, and sneezing.
Respiratory problems – A more severe reaction can lead to bronchitis, asthma, and other lung diseases. This is more common in children, people who have pre-existing respiratory issues, and the elderly.
Eye irritation – It’s important to keep in mind that you can have eye irritation by itself as a symptom, and not full blown allergies. Common irritants that lead to eye irritation are smoke and chemicals from certain cleaning products.
Fatigue and headaches – It’s not uncommon to experience fatigue and headaches when you have pollutants in your home. The reason is that pollutants reduce oxygen levels in your body, causing you to feel more tired than normal.
What Rooms Should Be Tested For Air Quality?
While your entire home should have good air quality, here are the top rooms you should consider testing as soon as you can:
Bedrooms – You spend a significant amount of time in your bedroom sleeping so it’s vital to make sure the air is clean and healthy.
Kitchen – Cooking can release harmful pollutants into the air. Make sure to test the air quality in your kitchen regularly.
Living room – Most families spend most of their time -aside from their bedrooms- in the living room. Be sure to test this space to keep the air quality as healthy as possible.
Home office – It’s common for people to work from home now. Make sure the air you’re breathing in all day in your office is clean.
Bathroom – The majority of bathrooms are humid and damp. This leads to mold growth and other air quality issues. Your bathroom should be at the top of your list to test regularly.
How Can You Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality?
If your home’s air quality is off or if you’re looking for ways to make sure your family is consistently breathing in healthy air, here are some tips:
Keep your home clean – Regularly cleaning can help reduce the amount of pet dander, dust, and other allergens.
Increase ventilation – Open windows and doors whenever you can. Make sure you have an exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathroom that is working. Look into installing a whole-house ventilation system.
Control humidity levels – Invest in a hygrometer to maintain humidity levels so they stay a consistent 30-50%.
Test for radon – According to the EPA, radon is found in one out of every 15 homes in the US. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. The tests are fairly cheap and highly worth it as it’s one of the causes of lung cancer. Make sure to test your home.
Invest in an air purifier – An air purification system is highly beneficial to clean the air in your home. Following the tips above and adding an air purifier is one of the best ways to ensure your family is consistently breathing in clean and healthy air.
Choose low-emission products – It’s more common than you may think for household products to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This can lead to poor air quality quickly. Always check for labels to ensure your products are low-VOC, or even better, zero VOC.
Testing your home’s air quality is crucial for clean air and peace of mind. With inexpensive tests and an air quality tester combined with an air purifier, you can make a significant impact and protect the environment and health of your home and family.