Air quality testing for homes

Building Block Home Inspections is providing this information on Air Quality Testing as a courtesy.

During the home inspection we look at possible causes for poor air quality and recommend things you can do to improve the air quality in the home.  Heating equipment and home air conditioning circulate the toxins within the home and the best way to improve the air quality is to keep your air ducts clean, replace the furnace filter often, and have regular air exchanges through ventilation like heat recovery units or home ventilators.

Hundreds of different toxic gases have been detected in the air of homes. These include pollutants such as combustion gases (e.g., carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide) and gaseous organic compounds (e.g., benzene, formaldehyde, dichloromethane). Because today’s homes are constructed to be air-tight for energy efficiency, small amounts of toxic gases can build up over time to dangerous concentration levels, causing adverse effects on our health.

air quality improved by chimney sweeping

 

Common indoor sources of harmful gaseous pollutants include:

  • Central heating and air conditioning systems;
  • Humidifiers (both those built into forced-air central heating systems and separate console units);
  • Fuel burning appliances (e.g., furnaces, gas stoves and water heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, space heaters);
  • Chimneys that are blocked or dirty;
  • Building materials;
  • Pressed-wood furniture, cabinets and panelling;
  • Carpets, flooring, upholstery and drapes;
  • Paints, varnishes, adhesives, dyes, solvents and caulking;
  • Household products (e.g., carpet cleaners, oven cleaners, detergents, bleach, air fresheners);
  • Personal care products (e.g., deodorants, hair-sprays);
  • Dry-cleaned clothing;
  • Arts, crafts and hobby supplies;
  • Indoor pesticides (e.g., insecticides, disinfectants);
  • Tobacco smoke;
  • Refrigerant leakage;
  • Exhaust fumes entering the house from outside.

 

Health issues arising from indoor gaseous pollutants may include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, breathing difficulties, allergic reactions, liver and kidney damage, effects on the immune system, cardiovascular, reproductive and nervous systems, cancer or even death.

Who should be concerned about air quality in the home?

  • People who have been diagnosed with respiratory or environmentally-related diseases and are trying to identify and eliminate potential triggers;
  • Homeowners who suspect they have issues with mould, radon, formaldehyde or other indoor air pollutants, as a first response before bringing in costly air quality testing and remediation professionals;
  • People who suffer from warning signs such as shortness of breath, dry cough, eye/nose/throat irritation, headaches, fatigue or dizziness to determine if these symptoms are related to breathing poor indoor air;
  • Expectant parents who wish to determine whether there are any air quality issues in the baby’s room that might affect their delicate lungs;
  • Potential home buyers who want to check if the house they are interested in has air-related issues that might affect their well-being;
  • Apartment and condo dwellers who want to determine if their indoor air is contaminated as a result of poorly maintained HVAC systems in the building or pollutants filtering in from neighbouring units;
  • People who are simply looking for peace of mind.

If you are concerned about air quality in your home, you can seek out qualified air quality testers.