Test Your Indoor Air

February 25, 2013

Did you know you can buy indoor air quality tests for do-it-yourself testing?  Since indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, it’s something everyone should be concerned about.

Although home tests are not as precise as a professional test, it’s a good idea to perform some tests of your home’s air to be sure you don’t have any potentially harmful particles floating around.  Then, if you find anything to be concerned about, you can call in the professionals to confirm the pollutants and help you eliminate them.

Do-it-yourself tests are mainly for those who don’t have any breathing difficulties, such as asthma and allergies, and don’t have any reason to believe that their indoor air is harmful.  If anyone in your home has allergies or asthma, or if you think your air may be contaminated for any reason, skip the time and expense of home tests and call a professional to test your air.

The tests can identify several contaminants:

  • Mold/fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Pollen
  • Dust and dander
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Chemicals
  • Allergens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Asbestos

Individual tests can be purchased in the range of $50-60 each, but at this price range they only test for one contaminant, usually a particulate matter.  If you’d like to test for gaseous contaminants as well as particulate matter the tests can be more than $400, at which point the cost is close to what a professional charges so it’s better just to skip to calling a pro.

The tests generally ask you to take a sample of dust or air via a sampling device and send it to a lab for analysis. After a few days, the lab will send you a report of what it has found. The report will include a comparison of what the normal or acceptable level of contaminants are so that you know if you need to take steps to improve your air.

These tests are about 70% as effective as a professional test, so should only be used as a first step in improving your home’s air. 

Once you know where improvements can be made, work with your air quality professional to set a course of action.  That may include installing a whole-home air sterilizer or purifier, a humidifier/dehumidifier, an air cleaner, or simply opening your windows more often and vacuuming with a HEPA-type filter. 

Do-it-yourself air quality tests are a great first step for anyone who has concerns about their indoor air.  Once you have an idea of what contaminants are present, you can work with a professional to make improvements. 

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq

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Last Updated: June 09, 2023