Indoor air quality is often a concern of residential owners and tenants. There are a multitude of factors which dictate the quality of air in a property; this could include the inefficiency of the HVAC system in the property (not ventilating it properly); overcrowding; newly painted properties; faulty cookers and stove-tops; newly remodeled properties etc. The following is a very brief and concise introduction to air quality in residential properties.
When there is any moisture incident, such as heavy rainfall intruding into the property, it is the proclivity of homeowners and inspectors to be suspicious of mold/fungal growth. Air quality tests, using what is termed as ‘non-viable’ sampling (using a sampling cassette on a bio-pump machine) can deduce if the mold spores in a suspicious area are abnormally elevated relative to an area which isn’t contaminated. Mold can be a concern since they can produce mycotoxins when they metabolize. Many may not be aware, but mold does produce VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can be responsible for headaches.
VOCs, in respect to air quality issues, are very common. There is a plethora of building materials which contain VOCs. More than 900 different VOCs have been assessed and discovered in indoor environments.
VOCs can be found in building materials, furnishings, fuels and most commonly, in household solvents. Some examples of household solvents are:
It is advised to limit the amount of household solvents in the property and use them conservatively.
Other areas of concern with air quality, if one is experiencing health symptoms are the following: Radon, which is generally derived from the soils underneath the property (which is why vapor barriers are advised); Carbon Monoxide (CO), especially for those who burn tobacco products in the house since cigarettes produce nearly 4,000 compounds, including CO; Asbestos, but this is generally only of concern when it is disturbed (Asbestos is a fibrous materials contained in building materials, generally found in buildings built or renovated prior to 1980); Formaldehyde, which manufactured properties are more susceptible to.
All of these potential aggravators, when it comes to air quality, are compounds to be mindful of when concerned with air quality in a property. There are a multitude of factors, contributors and determining variables when it comes to air quality in a property.
If the issue at hand appears to be too ambiguous and baffling, it may be worth reaching out to an air quality specialist to further assist you with your air quality issue.
The author of our microbial blog is Fareed Nazaryfar. He holds a Master's degree in Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry from Newcastle University (United Kingdom). He is also a Certified Mold Inspector, as well as an Environmental Manager-holding an ISO 14001 certification in Environmental Management.
MOLD HEALTH EFFECTS BLOG AND RESEARCH