An Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) test in your home will give you a total assessment of the air you breathe every day. It is the only professional test available that gives you a cost-effective, comprehensive air quality audit of the chemicals in the home air — Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Mold VOCs (the chemicals emitted from actively growing mold), plus a prediction of the sources of those chemicals.
Elevated VOC levels in the home can cause both short-term and long-term health issues. Products that we use or are surrounded by every day are the sources of indoor air pollution. Breathing in vapors, or off-gassed chemicals from these products can cause many health effects such as frequent headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, confusion, coughing, wheezing, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. These symptoms can be indicators that the quality of air in the home is poor – especially if they subside once you leave the house. Other more serious health problems that can arise with poor indoor air quality are asthma exacerbation, digestive problems, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some air contaminants are so harmful that they can even cause cancer. The U.S. Green Building Council’s recommended healthy building level of VOCs is 500 ng/L. However, data from hundreds of homes tested show most homes have VOCs at more than twice this recommended level.
Are You at Risk?
20+ million US adults have been diagnosed with asthma, and it is also the most prevalent chronic illness among children. High VOC levels can worsen asthma and trigger attacks, so finding high VOC levels and their sources can help ease asthma symptoms and reduce attacks. Asthma prevalence and severity continue to rise and are at all-time high levels. At the same time, outdoor air pollution is declining. On average, most people spend about 90% of their time indoors; therefore, our exposure to air pollutants is significant. Many experts suggest there is a strong association with the increase in asthma illnesses and indoor air quality.
Babies, young children, pregnant women, older persons, and people with respiratory or cardiovascular disease can be more vulnerable to indoor air pollution. If your family is made up of any of these groups of people, then an indoor air quality assessment would be a wise choice.
Possible Sources of Poor Air Quality
Many newer, more energy-efficient homes do not “breathe” correctly. Indoor Air Quality testing could potentially discover HVAC issues so they can be corrected.
Carpeting, vinyl and laminate flooring, cabinets, counter-tops, and other similar building materials use adhesives that off-gas continuously over time, even for years. Many of these materials are manufactured using hazardous chemicals – some that can even cause cancer. Testing for harmful toxins that could be lurking within the house would be prudent.
Soil gas from environmental contamination can seep into the basement. An IAQ Home Survey can observe this contamination.
Undetected growing mold can cause both health and structural problems. In addition to the presence of health problems from inhalation of mold, serious structural damage can occur if mold is present. Leaky pipes, poorly working or dirty air conditioning and heating systems, and groundwater penetration in basements and other damp areas are all potential sources of actively growing mold. Often this mold goes undetected because it’s growing behind drywall or underneath flooring.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing health issues that you feel may be related to mold, we can add mVOC testing to a mold inspection.
It will require more diligence on your part when you are buying an existing home and want to ensure you and your family will be breathing clean, healthy air. A home inspection by a highly trained professional should alert you to the presence of organic threats such as mold but I go the extra mile in making sure the home does not contain dangerously high amounts of other chemical toxins.
The recent media coverage concerning high formaldehyde levels found in laminate flooring purchased through Lumber Liquidators has increased consumer awareness in regards to the number of household items and building materials that contain toxic levels of chemicals. As more consumers become aware of the chemical hazards found in flooring, common furniture and cabinet adhesives, particleboard furniture, and dozens of other building materials, consumer demand for safer building materials is on the increase.
The only way you can be certain the air you and your family are breathing is healthy is by performing an IAQ Inspection test to alert you to the presence of indoor air pollutants. This test will provide you with an extensive and accurate assessment of a home’s air before you move in.