While we like to think of air pollution as a strictly outdoor health threat, the air inside your home and office can be even worse. Contaminated air creeps indoors from outside, but is also emitted from a variety of sources such as consumer products, construction materials, pets, insects and mold. If your home has poor ventilation, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can accumulate to dangerous levels, an issue which often is exacerbated during the fall and winter when we close our homes up to conserve heat.
If you're worried about how healthy the air is inside your home or office, you might want to consider conducting indoor air-quality testing. To help you determine if your air is healthy, here are some of the most popular test kits for indoor air polluting substances.
Carbon Monoxide is a lethal gas produced whenever an appliance is used that burns a combustible fuel, such as gas, kerosene, oil, wood and charcoal. If the appliance ventilation is blocked, deadly carbon monoxide can build up inside your home. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless and tasteless, so it’s hard to know if there is a problem until too late. Victims can suffer from a variety of symptoms leading to unconsciousness, brain damage, seizures and death.
You can test for dangerous carbon monoxide with a kit called a carbon monoxide detector badge. This easy test only takes about a half hour to complete and is available at many home improvement stores. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and place the test badge in any area you are concerned has elevated carbon monoxide levels, such as near a gas fireplace, furnace or garage. Check the badge in about 15 minutes. If carbon monoxide is detected the badge will darken. Take the appropriate steps to fix the issue and install a carbon monoxide alarm.
While lead paint is generally not dangerous when dry and intact, it is a health hazard when it chips, peels, is ingested or the dust is inhaled. Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause a range of neurological and health issues. Children under six are most at risk, as lead absorption can interfere with brain and organ development. Pregnant women are also susceptible, as lead can pass through the placenta, poisoning the unborn fetus.
Lead paint testing kits can be found online and in some home improvement centers. They are inexpensive and easy to use, and take only a few minutes to complete, employing color change technology. There are two EPA-approved kits: the 3M Lead Check Swabs and the Klean-Strip D-Lead Paint testing kit. The 3M kit shows either positive or negative for lead while the Klean-Strip kit shows lead levels in increments. Testing is simple. Just cut a paint chip into pieces, drop into the first solution and shake. Add drops from the second solution and compare the resulting color against the viewer on the bottle. A darker color indicates the possibility of lead.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be harmful for those with chemical sensitivities, people with asthma and children. Most VOCs can't be detected by smell, but are emitted from a variety of sources, including home cleaning products, candles, air fresheners, carpeting and other furnishings, wood, particleboard and mold. VOCs can cause a variety of health issues from moderate respiratory problems to long-term debilitating illnesses and even death. For example, mold can cause respiratory problems, and formaldehyde is a toxic chemical that causes multiple health issues and is a known carcinogen.
To find out if your indoor air is putting your health at risk with VOCs, there are several tests available online that will identify contaminants. Most will test for multiple VOCs, gasses emitted by mold, and formaldehyde, with some testing hundreds of VOCs. The tests include a sample collector which is mailed to the testing company. Results are returned via email within about a week. You can also purchase units that monitor VOC levels in your home on an ongoing basis.
For more information about improving your indoor air quality, contact us at Kimbro Air today!