Home Air Quality Testing

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Importance of Air Quality Testing in Homes

We spend the vast majority of our time inside and take thousands of breaths each day in our own homes. There are all sorts of pollutants in the air. Don’t you want to know what you’re breathing?

In many cases, it may be a good idea to measure the air pollution in our homes, especially if we suspect there is a problem. Indoor air quality is important but we need a strategy for testing.
There are different types of home air-quality tests depending on your situation. For example, if you have a small child with asthma, it may be best to test with a more accurate instrument. However, air quality is typically measured by the number of pollutants in the air. There are many different types of pollutants that can be measured, including carbon monoxide, pesticides, and ozone. Pollution levels are measured using the Air Quality Index (AQI), which ranges from 0 to 500.

Testing for Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful gaseous chemicals emitted by various products and materials we have in our homes. Concentrations of these chemicals can be 10 to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. Many VOCs cannot be detected by smell, though can still trigger or exacerbate asthma attacks. The VOC air quality test can detect concentrations of emissions from these common building products and conditions:
  • Paints & varnishes
  • Moth balls
  • Solvents
  • Building materials
  • Pesticides
  • Gasoline
  • Fuel oil
  • Cooking oils, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Carpeting
  • Wallpaper
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Dry-cleaning
  • Growing mold
  • Copiers & printers
  • Upholstery & fabrics
  • Glues & adhesives
  • Permanent markers
  • Craft materials
  • Cosmetics
  • Haircare products
  • Air fresheners
  • Disinfectants
  • Furniture (pressed wood)
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Tobacco smoke

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the European Union (EU) suggest that levels greater than 500 ng/L (Nano grams per liter) of VOCs could pose a health hazard in homes. However, data from thousands of homes tested show the median value is 1,200 ng/L – more than twice the recommended level!

Potential Harm a VOCs Test can Prevent

Even slightly elevated levels of these airborne chemicals could produce health concerns for people – particularly young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those who suffer from allergies and asthma.

While all VOCs have the potential to be harmful, there are a few common VOCs that can be particularly dangerous, and are emitted from a number of products in our homes. These common VOCs are Formaldehyde, benzene, and phenol. They are classified as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For a complete list of all 188 HAPs, click here to visit the EPA website.

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Formaldehyde Testing Importance

Formaldehyde is a chemical commonly used in the manufacture of building materials and numerous household products. Testing the presence and amount of formaldehyde in your home is important for the health and safety of your family. At room temperature, formaldehyde vaporizes into the air, potentially causing serious health problems. It is also a by-product of combustion. When you burn things like natural gas, wood, gasoline, or tobacco, formaldehyde gas is released into the air.

Some of the most significant sources of formaldehyde in today’s homes are:

  • Rugs and Carpets
  • Foam Insulation
  • Draperies and Fabrics
  • Resins and Glues
  • Building Materials
  • Flooring & Footware
  • Photographic Film and Ink
  • Unvented Appliances
  • Gas Stoves
  • Kerosene Heaters
  • Cleaning Products
  • Permanent Press Clothing
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Skincare & Cosmetics

CO & Gas Leak Testing

Carbon Monoxide & Gas leaks can often mimic symptoms of allergies, the common cold, and other respiratory reactions, including asthma. We test all gas appliances (stove, furnace, water heater, fireplace, etc) for carbon monoxide and their supply pipes for gas leaks – from the meter to the appliances, where ever accessible.

Any home with gas appliances should be tested for CO and gas leaks. Even “small” gas leaks can contribute to chronic health issues. If you have sensitivities, allergies, asthma, small children, the elderly, or anyone who has a chronic illness, or if you have unresolved symptoms that improve when you LEAVE your home, you should have a test done.

Air quality testing on window
Air quality testing in attic
Air quality testing inside vents

Air Quality Critical Facts to Know

VOC air quality test results are received between 5-7 business days – though expedited results are possible for pre-purchase inspections.

One $250 sample covers up to 2,000 sqft of a typical home. Additional samples are $150 each and necessary for larger homes or for multiple floors or locations.

Yes! There is a $50 discount per multiple Air Quality Tests being performed during at the same properties.

Formaldehyde is a common VOC and respiratory irritant emitted from new wood and building products and can be sampled in 20-30 minutes

No, a standard Home Inspection will cover a combustion safety test. A VOC test comes with a Gold or Platinum Home inspection or can be a stand-alone test.