IAQ Testing Topics
How to Test: Indoor Air Quality Test Kits
Indoor Air Quality Test Kits can be used to test for a variety of common threats to indoor air quality. It is important that the test kit purchased is capable of testing for all possible contaminants or the contaminant with which you are remediating.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Mold, Yeast, Bacteria
- Allergen: Dust mites, pet dander, cockroach.
- Hydrothermal: Humidity, temperature
- Aerobiology: fungus, fiberglass, insect, dead skin cells.
- Precipitated Particulate: pollen, dust,
- Formaldehyde, Aldehydes: and all aldehydes; carpet, wood paneling.
- View Full List of Indoor Air Quality Contaminants
Purchasing an Indoor Air Quality Test Kit
When purchasing an Indoor Air Quality Test Kit, be sure that the test kit will detect the allergen, or contaminant that you are testing for (All test kits are not created equal!). Also, make certain that the test kit purchased will test the home in it’s entirety (usually based on square footage). It is important to know that indoor air quality test kits are not recommended for all purposes, and that adverse health, and environmental conditions can demand a professional consultation.
Variations Between Test Kits
Indoor Air Quality Test Kits can range in price from $50 – $1,600 depending on the number of contaminants, tested for, and the breadth of testing that is performed. Some test kits can be performed at home, and some require the results be mailed to an test lab for further analysis. Turnaround time for the test kits will be dependent on the type of testing, the test kit, and the test lab; some tests may yield results within hours, while some may take weeks for a complete assessment report.
Professional Indoor Air Quality Testing
Selecting an Indoor Air Quality Consultant
Selecting a professional indoor air quality testing firm can be a daunting task, but hopefully we can make this process easier for you. For more information on this topic, see the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s “Improving Indoor Air Where You Work” AIHA
- Investigate the problem in-house
- Recognize when you need outside help
- Decide what expertise is required to resolve your indoor air problem
- Select a consultant, if necessary
- Fit the scope and approach of indoor air services to your needs
- Solve the problem
Selecting the Best Indoor Air Quality Consultant for Your Needs
- Verify that the consultant has the appropriate training and credentials. Browse the AIHA website for a list of accredited environmental laboratories in your area: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (EMLAP) Laboratories.
- Determine the scope what exactly is needed. Define what services, testing, and turnaround time is needed for your project. Depending on the project, an initial walkthrough, visual inspection, and perhaps testing may be needed to determine this.
- Draw up a request for proposal. Include project scope, services needed, time schedule, required meetings, and/or communications, and a reasonable proposed estimate.
- For more information: Read the AIHA’s Guidelines for Selecting an Indoor Air Quality Consultant
EPA’s Methods for Testing
(Excerpt from “Indoor Air Quality Solutions and Strategies” by Steve M. Hays)2
EPA’s compendium of methods for indoor air. In response to the need for specific guidance on the determination of indoor air contaminants, EPA has developed testing methods for the determination of selected contaminants in indoor air. However, EPA cautions that these testing methods at this time are not certified and are not officially recommended or endorsed by the EPA. The following testing methods have been developed:
- Volatile organic compounds using SUMMA® stainless steel canister sampling or solid adsorbents.
- Nicotine using XAD-4 solid adsorbent, active filter cassettes, or passive filter cassettes.
- Carbon Monoxide and carbon dioxide using nondispersive infrared spectroscopy or gas filter correlation.
- Nitrogen dioxide using continuous luminox LMA-3, Palmes diffusion tube, passive sampler badge, or a transducer technology electrochemical technique.
- Formaldehyde using solid adsorbent Sep-Pak 2,4-DNPH cartridge, passive sampler badge or a continuous CEA monitor
- Benso(a)pyrene and other polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in air using a combination quartz filter/adsorbent cartridge with subsequent analysis by gas chromatography with flame ionization and mass spectrometry detection or high-performance liquid chromatography
- Selective pesticides using low-volume polyurethane foam sampling with gas chromatography/electron capture detector.
- Acid, bases, aerosols, and particulate matter using an annular denuder coupled with filter pack assembly or transition flow reactor
- Particulate matter using an impactor with filter pack assembly or a continuous particulate monitor
- Air exchange rate using a perfluorocarbon tracer or tracer gas.
For more information, or to request a professional indoor air quality consultation:
- Meckler, Milton (1996) Improving Indoor Air Quality Through Design, Operation, and Maintenance. The Fairmont Press 1, vii
- Hays, Steve M (1995) Indoor Air Quality Solutions and Strategies. McGraw-Hill Inc., 124