How To Test Indoor Air Quality At Home
The importance of indoor air quality should never be overlooked
Indoor air quality (IAQ)
We spend as much as nine-tenths of our lives inside, breathing in air every day that could be harming our bodies without us realising it. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is fundamental to our health and wellbeing. Long-term exposure to damaging pollutants either inside or outside the home can lead to a whole host of respiratory infections and other life-shortening conditions. That’s why air pollution is now recognised as the greatest environmental threat to human health in the UK and we recommend that indoor air quality is monitored at home. So, for this week’s guide, we want to explain how you can test indoor air quality in your home.
Why test indoor air quality in your home?
We’re all aware of how polluted outdoor air can be, especially when coming into close contact with bustling roads and heavy traffic. Yet, it’s indoor environments that we should be most concerned about. An alarming array of pollutants can be found in our homes daily, often without us being aware of their presence.
Many simple everyday activities that we take for granted as part of normal life - from cooking with gas to using air fresheners or spraying cleaning products - can adversely affect indoor air quality. If these are left unaddressed, they may contribute to a range of harmful health conditions. Gases and particles such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and non-methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs) can be invisible yet incredibly dangerous - so it’s little surprise that the World Health Organisation has now put indoor air quality standards and guidelines in place to help mitigate this largely-unseen risk area.
As a homeowner, it’s really important to think carefully about IAQ and take preventative steps to look after your own health and the wellbeing of those that you live with. Being exposed to poor indoor air quality has the potential to damage our bodies and some people are especially vulnerable. This includes children (whose lungs are still developing), the elderly and those with existing health and respiratory conditions such as asthma and heart disease, who are likely to see these conditions worsen if there are pollutants in the air. It's also important that landlords install suitable ventilation solutions, for example, a flat ventilation system in a multi-occupancy building, to prevent any issues.
How to test your indoor air quality
There are several ways to simply, and practically, be reassured about the indoor air quality within your home. While the prospect of unseen pollutants may sound alarming at first, solutions are readily and easily accessible to make sure that you and your loved ones are breathing air that is safe.
These electronic devices, widely available, are switched on 24/7 and test and report on pollution levels in indoor environments. There are many IAQ monitors available in the marketplace, all offering different features, so it pays to do your research and find the one that’s the best fit for you, your home and your budget. These monitors are capable of testing for a range of pollutants and factors that impact indoor air quality, including particulate matter, chemicals (VOCs) and humidity.
Carbon Monoxide alarms
Carbon Monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas that can be extremely harmful if not detected within our homes - molecules can displace the oxygen in our bodies and lead to CO poisoning. This hazardous gas is produced by a range of common fuel-burning appliances and devices found throughout our homes, including fireplaces, gas stoves, boilers and clothes dryers; severe CO poisoning can result in coronary heart disease, vision loss and hearing loss, Parkinsonism and other health complications. Yet it’s also a serious problem with a very simple solution: Carbon Monoxide alarms. Easy and cheap to find online and install around the home, it’s recommended that a few alarms are put in place throughout the average-sized house, ideally within 10-15 feet of sleeping areas.
Airborne mould spores are not easy to spot and are pervasive throughout our homes. Mould test kits, which can be used to assess the presence of mould in multiple rooms in your home, are cheaply and widely available. Yet these tests will not necessarily reveal any useful findings. We all know that mould exists inside our homes. Mould tests, however, can be a useful first step to find out where excess moisture is coming from in your home - paving the way to eliminating the problem for good.
Radon Gas can also be incredibly dangerous. Prolonged exposure to medium and high levels of Radon Gas is proven to cause lung cancer. The gas can seep into our homes through cracks, windows, drains, groundwater, and the soil: it usually enters from the bottom-up. Some parts of the UK are currently at risk of being exposed to high levels of radon, specifically Wales and the South West of England, while Public Health England has published a comprehensive mapping of Radon levels across the country. A range of Radon Gas testing solutions can be found online, from short-term tests that will typically sit in a home environment for around a week to longer-term tests which can be in place for up to a year. It is recommended that you do your research and purchase the solution that best supports your home environment and property type. At Nuaire we’re always innovating and our Dri-365 has been developed with managing Radon in mind.
Improving your indoor air quality
Over 45 years ago, Nuaire invented a ventilation strategy that has since become an industry staple, trusted by new-build developers, social housing providers, landlords and homeowners alike. Nuaire’s Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) Units provide a cure for condensation dampness and its associated problems in residential properties. Over a million homes in the UK have now benefitted from having PIV Units installed, improving ventilation, and lowering humidity, supported by extractor fans which remain a popular and well-tested method for removing moisture from the air.
Homes without lofts can also be equally protected with the Flatmaster range, designed to force out in-door pollutants such as Radon Gas and carbon monoxide by introducing air into the home at a continuously low rate while effectively addressing condensation. Much like Nuaire’s other PIV Units, the Flatmaster delivers a fresh and healthy indoor environment by keeping outdoor pollutants, such as traffic fumes and pollen, to a minimum.
Almost half a century on from leading a ventilation movement, Nuaire remains at the forefront of pioneering ventilation solutions with the MVHR and Q-AIRE range, designed to complement ventilation systems to seamlessly support modern lifestyles.
For more information about ventilation solutions for commercial properties, visit our commercial heat recovery systems page.