When and How to Test Your Indoor Air Quality – A Quick and Easy Guide


By Rachel McLaughlin

Testing air quality inside your home can prove to be extremely beneficial to your and your family’s health. Sometimes, air testing is just about peace of mind – assurance that you’re living in a healthy environment.

Other times, testing is the first step to solving an air quality issue, if one exists. Knowing what kind of pollutants are in your air will allow you to find a method to treat and eliminate the chemicals properly.

Testing becomes especially important if you or another member of your household has developed symptoms of illness and/or have been feeling under the weather periodically, especially when feeling worse when at home.

The type of test you conduct depends largely on the type of issue you’re facing. There are multiple air testing kits you can purchase and perform yourself – without need of a professional.

Types of Testing Kits

Allergen kits will identify pollutants that cause allergies such as pollen, mold, and skin cells. You can also purchase specific kits just to test for dust mites and/or fiberglass.

Formaldehyde testing kits detect airborne formaldehyde particles that can trigger asthma, eye/skin irritation, and has even been labeled as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Lead testing kits will recognize toxic lead on different surfaces in your home such as on furniture or in paint. Lead can cause seizures, damage to the kidneys and blood, and cause damage to the brain that can create learning disabilities and behavioral problems especially in young children.

Mold kits will inform you of airborne mold spores. These usually grow in bathrooms, attics, and basements; places that are usually cold and damp. Testing for mold is important as it can lead to many lung and breathing issues as well as skin, throat, and eye irritation.

Organic vapor test kits detect over 40 organic chemicals, 50 volatile organic compounds that can both lead to liver and kidney damage, headaches, etc., and can also increase risk of developing cancer.

How to Test

  1. Open the kit and read the instructions for collecting surface and/or airborne samples.
  2. After taking the sample(s) using the included materials, use the pre-addressed envelope to mail the sample(s) to a lab that will analyze the sample.
  3. An expert will analyze the sample(s) and will send you a report within 7-10 business days. The report will identify the pollutants in your sample(s).

After testing and receiving results, you can then purchase a filter, purifier, freshener, etc. that will clean your air and help eliminate the source of your pollutant(s). Once you remove the impurities, you’ll be able to live in a healthier environment and feel healthier yourself!


Photo by iris via Flickr CC License

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