You’re probably well-aware of the health problems caused by air pollution in our cities. However, the air pollution inside your own home can be a much bigger threat to your health. Scientific studies have found that indoor air pollution can be 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution.

Let’s explain what causes indoor air pollution and how to do an air quality test in your home.

Key Takeaways

How is Air Quality Measured?

Air quality is measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI). AQI measures common pollutants like airborne particles, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. AQI uses a scale that ranges from

AQI is most often used to measure outdoor air quality, using a combination of ground assessments and satellite technology. However, it can also be used to test the air quality inside your home.

What is Poor Indoor Air Quality?

The Air Quality Index measures how much pollutants are in the air, a measurement called particulate count. The more particles are in the air, the unhealthier it is for you to breathe. Remember that many unhealthy particles are tiny and practically invisible to the naked eye.

Your indoor air quality is unhealthy if the AQI is over 100. However, your air quality can fluctuate throughout the day or week. For instance, indoor air tends to be worse right after you’ve cooked a meal in your kitchen.

What is the Long-Term Impact of Poor Home Air Quality?

Scientists know more about outdoor air quality than indoor air quality, and there’s still plenty of research being done to evaluate the health effects of indoor air pollution.

It’s unlikely that poor air quality will cause significant health effects in the short-term. Most likely, you could suffer from allergies and other respiratory symptoms, like asthma and sinus infections.

Long-term exposure to unhealthy indoor air may cause severe health problems such as heart disease, respiratory diseases, and even cancer, depending on what the pollutants are. Children may suffer the worst health complications; for children the risk of developing pneumonia is nearly double when exposed to indoor air pollution.

The World Health Organization estimates that indoor air pollution causes about 3.2 million deaths per year. That’s why air pollution is known as the “invisible killer.”

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?

Poor indoor air quality is mostly caused by:

Types of Indoor Air Contaminants

There are too many types of air contaminants to list, but most of them can be sorted into three categories. Most of these pollutants can be detected by air quality test kits and by professional testing.

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants include:Mold sporesBacteriaDust mitesPollenThese continents can cause respiratory problems and asthma attacks, while mold can present more severe health complications if left untreated. Thankfully, most of these contaminants can be filtered out by whole house purifiers.

Combustion Pollutants

Combustion pollutants can pose the most severe health risks. The most common ones are:

Chemical Pollutants

Chemical pollutants consist of:

Common Examples of Indoor Air Pollution

The list of things that can contribute to indoor air pollution is long with some of the most common culprits behind indoor airborne particulates listed below:

How to Test Air Quality in Your Home

You can do an air quality test in your home to figure out whether or not you have poor air quality.

Here’s how to test your indoor air quality:

Test Air Quality Using Air Quality Monitors

You can test your indoor air quality by using air quality monitors. Air quality monitors have electrochemical sensors that estimate particulate matter and detect toxins. They come in a wide range of styles and prices. Some monitors are handheld while others can be mounted on a wall in your home.

Air quality tests cannot detect every single type of pollutant, but the ideal model should be able to measure:

If there’s one pollutant you’re particularly concerned about, you should get an air quality monitor that can detect that specific pollutant.

Monitor for Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous gasses that can pollute your air. It’s known as the “silent killer” because it’s colorless, odorless, and builds up to dangerous levels in areas where there’s poor ventilation or when there’s a gas leak.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in every home. They’re similar to smoke detectors, and are placed in the same areas (i.e. outside of bedrooms). The alarm will sound when there’s dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home. These alarms only cost between $10-$15 at your local home goods store. Some are battery-powered, while others simply need to be plugged in.

You can reduce smaller emissions of carbon monoxide by replacing gas-burning stoves, fireplaces, and heaters with electric ones.

Monitor for Radon

As we mentioned earlier, radon gas is released when uranium in the soil breaks down. The gas can seep upward through the soil and enter your home through openings in the foundation. To figure out whether radon is polluting your home, you have to use an air quality test kit that is specifically designed for detecting radon. You’ll place the radon monitor in the highest-risk areas of your home, which are usually the rooms closest to the ground or below the ground.

There are short-term tests and long-term tests available. During a short-term test, you’ll let the monitor sit for 2 to 7 days, depending on the model. For a long-term test, you’ll let the monitor sit for as long as 90 days or even a full year. No matter which option you choose, you’ll have to mail the monitor to a lab to have the results analyzed.

Remember: air purifiers are not effective at reducing radon levels in your home. If your home is suffering from radon contamination, you’ll have to seal gaps in the foundation to effectively keep the radon out.

Indoor Air Quality Testing for Mold

It’s obvious when mold is growing on your bread, in unwashed coffee mugs, or on surfaces in your attic or basement. However, your indoor air could be polluted by tiny mold spores that are drifting through your home. You can do a mold test to detect mold spores in your air, which can alert you to a mold infestation you might have overlooked. Mold tests are fairly cheap and can be found at your local home goods store.

Here are a few different types of mold tests:

Removing a mold infestation can be hazardous without the right protective gear, so it’s best to have a professional handle it.

Get a Professional to Monitor Air Quality

If you’re serious about improving the air quality in your home, you should hire professionals to test your indoor air quality. Professionals will be able to detect all different types of air pollutants and can deliver faster turnaround times for test results.

Professionals can also make recommendations on how to remove the pollutants and prevent them from contaminating your air in the future.

Educate Yourself About Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality

You might not need a monitor to realize you have poor indoor air quality. Polluted air can be easily recognized by the following signs.

Signs of Poor Air Quality Inside a Home

Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Here are a few simple ways you can improve your indoor air quality:

Contact Hurricane AC if You Are Dealing with Poor Indoor Air Quality

Get in touch with us if you think you’re suffering from poor indoor air quality in your home. We provide a range of air quality services for residential and commercial properties in Southwest Florida, where the heat and humidity puts you more at risk of polluted indoor air.

Our licensed professionals can do air quality testing to determine:

We can also install a whole house air purifier, if you want to effectively remove particles from your air and make your air quality as healthy as possible.

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