How to Test Indoor Air Quality
Testing your indoor air quality can help you identify any sources of pollution that may exist in your home, as well as determine what types of products and materials should be avoided.
If theres a particular area or situation in your house with potential for exposure to chemicals, mold, or bacteria, consider having it tested first. Your local environmental health agency (e.g., city hall) usually provides services for free or at a reduced rate. Its also a great idea to have your childs doctor run a basic screening test so they can look for allergies early on.
There are many ways to test your indoor air quality, including one of these tests or even simply testing yourself.
One way to assess your indoor environment is by touching down into the flooring in different areas of your home. If you notice an area doesnt feel right (for example, if your floors feel soft instead of hard), take some time to investigate further.
Consider having in-home tests done by a professional company that also offers outdoor testing.
Before you take any action regarding your air quality, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about what levels of pollutants are safe for your family. You may even want to have multiple people in your home be tested at once so no one gets too exposed to dangerous levels of pollution.
Have your children have their blood levels tested so you know what types of chemicals theyre being exposed to and what precautions to take.
The best way to determine what kinds of pollutants are in your home is by testing your air, even if you dont think your family has been having these problems. Chemicals that come from cleaners, cooking ingredients or furniture polish can be present in both high-and low-quality homes.
Pay attention to product labels.
If youre not sure if your indoor air quality products exist, check the packaging. Most brands will state whether their products are certified for indoors or outdoors, but also give a hint about what they promotefor example fine particle or PM2.5 indicates an outdoor certification. Both of these terms refer to different types of particles in the atmosphere (see sidebar).
Ask about vials to see if they contain phthalates, which are often found in perfumes and other cosmetics.
Phthalate exposure has been linked to health problems like cancer and decreased semen quality. So regardless of whether your home is pet-free or not, ask for testing kits that evaluate phthalate levels. Youll know what areas of your home have higher concentrations of these chemicals when you do the test.
Check food packaging.
If youre looking for particles in your air, consider what you eat. Many types of foods have natural oils that can go bad if exposed to excessive heat or sunlight, which can change from an appealing smell to something stinky.