Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in Homes

The EPA has declared that indoor air quality is a greater health hazard than outdoor air pollution.

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 The average American spends approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. And while most people are aware that outdoor air pollution can damage their health, many do not know that indoor air quality pollutants can also do the same. Studies of human exposure to air pollutants by EPA indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times – and sometimes more than 100 times – higher than outdoor pollutant levels. Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health.

Children are more susceptible to air pollution because they breathe a greater volume of air relative to their body weight.

Sick building syndrome occurs when people are affected, but no specific source of the illness is found. Indoor air quality problems usually only cause discomfort, and most people feel better as soon as they eliminate the source of the pollution. However, some pollutants can cause diseases that show up much later, such as respiratory diseases or cancer. Making sure that your building is well-ventilated and eliminating pollutants can improve the quality of your indoor air. (EPA)

How can I know if my home indoor air quality is safe?

Important facts to know:

  • 1. The EPA has reported that home air can have 100 times more chemicals inside than outside.
  • 2. The EPA has also reported that adults and kids now spend most of their time indoors (90%).
  • 3. The CDC has reported that < strong>20+ million adults have asthma, and the National Asthma Survey has reported that asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease among children. These numbers continue to increase annually, suggesting that the indoor environment plays a contributing role in this trend.
  • 4. Mold growth can be present within the home and be hidden behind walls or underneath carpeting or flooring.
  • 5. Hurricane Katrina trailers showed the EPA the prevalence of Formaldehyde in certain building materials and how the concentration of this known cancer-causing agent can be many times the safe level.

Home Air Check™ Professional is a low-cost state-of-the-art indoor air quality assessment that can identify numerous chemical sources, whether they are from known sources (e.g., new paint, potpourri, or carpeting) or from mold that might be hidden from view but potentially found during a full home inspection. The Home Air Check Professional reports provided can be utilized to create an action plan to remove or remediate any issues found.

  • 1. Home Air Check Professional is a low-cost test designed to measure the chemicals in the air and find hidden mold.
  • 2. Home Air Check Professional can be easily performed at your convenience on an area of up to 2,000 sq. ft.
  • 3. Home Air Check Professional reports the total amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in the home and whether they are within a safe range.
  • 4. Home Air Check Professional predicts the source of the VOCs through an industry-leading Contamination Index™ and determines if they are from safe sources (e.g., gasoline, potpourri, dead animals, contaminated drywall, or other sources).
  • 5. Home Air Check Professional is so sensitive it monitors for the chemicals released by actively growing mold, whether they are behind walls or underneath the carpeting or flooring.
  • 6. Formaldehyde can be measured and reported individually for an additional charge, if there is a concern that building materials in the home might contain and release this known carcinogen.

Download Home Air Check brochure PDF
Download a Sample Home Air Check Report PDF
Download a Sample Formaldehyde Report PDF

Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

Signs of Possible Home Indoor Air Quality Problem:

  • health reaction when inside the home, especially after remodeling, weatherizing, installing new furniture, using household or hobby products or moving into a new home.
  • feeling noticeably healthier outside the home
  • excessive humidity or condensation

Pollutant Sources

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

Immediate effects

Effects after single or repeated exposures include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever (PDF), may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.

Long-term effects

Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air are responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants.

Whether you are looking to buy a home, sell one, or are just interested in good home maintenance, you want to make sure the indoor air quality in the home is safe to breathe.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD HOME INSPECTOR?

Choosing a good Home Inspector is key. There are many out there so be sure to do your research first. Look for an inspector with extensive experience, certifications, credentials and insurance.

WHAT CERTIFICATIONS AND/OR CREDENTIALS SHOULD A GOOD HOME INSPECTOR OFFER?

Look for an Inspector that is affiliated with ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors.) An Inspector with certifications in areas of importance such as Radon Testing, Mold Testing and Remediation, is also key to providing you a thorough inspection.

WHY CAN’T I HAVE SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY WHO IS VERY HANDY OR A CONTRACTOR, INSPECT MY NEW HOME?

This is the biggest mistake many potential new homeowners make when purchasing a home. Although the person you are considering may be very skilled, most likely, they are not trained or experienced at professional Home Inspections. Professional Home Inspection is a unique skill like no other. Professional Inspectors have a keen instinct for problems. This instinct takes extensive training and years of experience to develop.

HOW LONG WILL THE INSPECTION TAKE?

Most Inspections take about two to three hours. These times may vary depending on the size, age & condition of the home.

SHOULD I BE PRESENT DURING AN INSPECTION?

Yes; we recommend that clients not only be present during the inspection, but also involved. Home Inspection Professionals strive to be the best and a big part of how we do that is by educating our clients about the property they are looking to purchase. By being a part of the process, clients not only become familiar with the subject property but also become informed about the investment opportunity they are faced with.

CAN A HOUSE FAIL AN INSPECTION?

There is no pass or fail. While it is true that a thorough home inspection may uncover areas of concern, some which may present costly repairs, a need for updates and improvements or future maintenance and upkeep challenges, the evaluation may also bring to light attractive and valuable assets which sometimes lie hidden under the surface. HIA’s 1600 point home inspection gives clients a piece of mind, allowing them to be confidence in their buying decision.

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All of our uniformed home inspection professionals are Licensed, Insured and members of ASHI, which has the highest standards of practice and code of ethics. We’ve performed thousands of home inspections and work with some of the top real estate professionals in Washington DC area.