General Air Quality

Air Quality

Do you have concerns about the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your residence or workplace? Indoor Science is the leading company performing IAQ testing.

What does it mean to do IAQ testing?

Most people who search for a home air quality test or workplace exposure monitoring are experiencing symptoms when spending time in a building, and those symptoms abate when they leave the property. This is often referred to as “sick building syndrome”.

Identifying the causes of building-related symptoms is quite challenging. There are so many varying types of air quality issues that a comprehensive approach is required. Some people use the term “Indoor Air Quality Testing” to describe mold testing or VOC sampling. At Indoor Science we use the term to refer to a comprehensive approach to solving our indoor environmental problem.

Why should I be concerned about air quality?

Most people give at least passing thought to the nutritional value of the food they eat. They may check the calories, fat, or sugar on a nutritional label. But what about “nutrition” of the air we breathe? There is no label that tells us what we are breathing in. Imagine being forced to eat something of unknown nutritional value for every meal every day. To make matters worse, we breathe in about 30 pounds of air a day compared to only consuming 3 pounds of food on average!

We should be concerned about air quality not just because we put a lot of air into our bodies.  We should also be concerned because pollutants in the air can impact human health. Some contaminants are known carcinogens including formaldehyde, radon, and asbestos. Some air quality contaminants cause allergic reactions such as mold, dust mites, and pollen. Other air quality concerns can affect oxygen delivery (carbon monoxide), the endocrine system (flame retardants), the nervous system (VOCs, pesticides), or cause infections (Legionella). You can learn more about health concerns on the EPA’s page introducing IAQ.

If you take measures to eat right, you should take measures in your workplace or residence to breathe right too! It all starts with an air quality check.

What is Indoor Science’s approach?

We start our air quality assessments by asking a lot of questions. We want to study the building and the occupants so we fully understand what is happening. Depending on the complexity of the problem, we may look at building plans and blueprints that may provide key details.

After asking questions we perform a thorough visual inspection of the property both indoors and outdoors. We look for common visual cues to air quality problems that may go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Is there efflorescence on the outside of the building?  Are there water stains along the baseboards? Are combustion appliances vented correctly? Is there condensation on windows?

Next, we take indicator measurements to see how the building is operating. This may include measuring carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity, surface moisture and other parameters. Carbon dioxide, when measured in a fully occupied space, can be a good indicator of outdoor air ventilation. Relative humidity can help identify an improperly sized cooling system, a leaky building enclosure, and indoor sources of humidity. Surface moisture may identify a leaking roof, window, or pipe that could be leading to a mold problem. Based on all our findings, we formulate a tentative explanation for what we have observed.

Once we have established a tentative explanation, we may recommend diagnostic tests for the building, such as collecting air, surface, dust, or bulk samples in order to test our hypothesis. Many times diagnostic tests involve laboratory analysis, which adds expense for each sample collected. For that reason, it is best to perform our detailed inspection first, which can limit the scope of contaminants for which we need to sample. This helps us target the actual problem and limit the cost of analysis.

The goal of our assessment is to not only diagnose the air quality problem but to also provide recommendations on how to cost-effectively rectify any issues. You already suspected you had a problem so confirming the problem is of only minimal value.  Knowing what to do about it the important step that many neglect. Fortunately, our recommendations are unbiased– we sell no products or remediation services to avoid any conflicts of interest. Too often IAQ testing is just a means for some companies to get their foot in the door to sell you expensive air cleaning equipment that may be unnecessary.

If you can narrow your focus down to one or two specific air quality concerns, we may be able to reduce costs. Otherwise, we perform a more comprehensive assessment akin to a general check-up that evaluates a wide range of common indoor air quality problems.

What type of IAQ testing equipment do you use?

These days low-cost air quality sensors are available from overseas for around $10. These cheap sensors are put into what appears to be a fancy consumer-grade product that sells for $100 – $200.  Sure it produces beautiful graphs and has a great interface on your smartphone, but the underlying technology is rudimentary.

Indoor Science will come out to your property with high-end scientific instruments valued over $10,000.  Our instruments provide us with a level of accuracy that is unparalleled with consumer-level gadgets. We use technology such as high-sensitivity photoionization detectors, 6-channel optical particle counters, high-resolution infrared cameras, and calibrated IAQ monitors.


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