Indoor Air Quality 101

When undergoing basement waterproofing or foundation repair due to moisture infiltration, one aspect of the maintenance and repair that is often overlooked proves your indoor air quality (IAQ). Your indoor air quality refers to the condition and constitution of the air in and around your home that you, your loved ones, and those in your home are regularly inhaling. This air can be unknowingly permeated with mold, mildew, spores, radon, and more, which left unnoticed or untreated, can cause health risks to those mentioned. At EcoSpect, when waterproofing your basement and providing our services, we also offer indoor air quality testing which includes testing your basement and crawl spaces for all of the above contaminants. We will also help you to remedy anything that we do find to be of concern and help you with maintaining healthy air quality levels in the future. 

In this blog post, we’ll be going over all things encompassing indoor air quality. This includes detailing what exactly is entailed when referencing “indoor air quality” and when to know when you may be at risk, common concerns, health risks that are caused by poor air quality, and how we at EcoSpect can help. Check it out below! 

What is Indoor Air Quality? 

Your indoor air quality is defined as “air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants” by

the United States Environmental Protection Agency. When testing the IAQ of your home, we are testing to make sure certain contaminants are not present or not present to a concerning level. These contaminants include some of the following: 

- Smoke: Oftentimes, if you have experienced a fire in your home or basement that had to be extinguished with water, when testing for mold from this water or preparing to waterproof, we will also test for the presence of residual smoke. This residual smoke is not only to be of concern on its own, but can contain other harmful and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and lead. 

- Mold: It is no secret that standing or stagnant water and moisture causes mold. Mold in your basement presents a variety of health risks including respiratory issues. In conducting our testing, we ensure to test for a variety of different molds. 

- Carbon Monoxide: You’ve probably heard of carbon monoxide. It is an odorless, and tasteless gas that is found when proper ventilation is not present around cars, small engines, stoves, grills, fireplaces, or furnaces which are often found in basements and crawl spaces. 

- Pesticides: When trying to maintain your basement and crawl spaces in other ways, such as warding off animals or bugs, you may be using certain chemicals or cleaners. These, while serving their purpose, can also negatively affect your air quality and need to be mediated and ventilated. 

- Radon: Another colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, radon is naturally occurring and comes from the decay of radioactive elements in soil. Your basement can be permeated with this through cracks or gaps in your foundation. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, mentioned above, estimates that about 21,000 US deaths from lung cancer are related or attributed to radon inhalation. 

Factors That Affect Your Indoor Air Quality 

Indoor air quality can be affected by a multitude of factors. These include: 

- the efficiency of your ventilation systems 

- the presence of indoor pollutants (such as dust, pet dander, and chemicals from cleaning products) 

- humidity levels

- the materials used in building construction 

- the presence of radon gas 

Understanding these factors is crucial to effectively managing and monitoring indoor air quality. At EcoSpect, we can accurately and efficiently test for all of the above and ensure that your space is safe, as well as ensure that going forward you can maintain a safe level of air quality in your home and for your family. Typical Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality 

Sometimes poor indoor air quality can be hard to notice as we become used to the environment we inhabit, a lot of the causes that we have mentioned can go easily unnoticed, and more. While this is true, below you will find some of the signs to look out for if you are worried about your indoor air quality. 

- Allergies and Respiratory Issues: One of the first signs that indoor air quality may be somewhat compromised is an increase in allergies and respiratory problems among you or your family members. If you find those in your home to be sneezing or wheezing more indoors than outdoors, it might be due to poor air quality. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe health issues, particularly for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. 

- Unpleasant Odors: Unpleasant and persistent odors can be another indication of poor indoor air quality. These may come from mold, mildew, cooking odors, or even release from furniture in your home or building materials that may have been recently used. Regardless of the source, persistent odors can affect your comfort and overall satisfaction with your indoor environment. 

- Mold and Mildew Growth: Visible mold and mildew growth are clear indicators of poor indoor air quality. Mold spores can be harmful when inhaled and can cause a wide range of health issues, particularly to individuals with mold allergies or sensitivities. Addressing the source of moisture and the mold itself is crucial for maintaining good air quality. 

- Excessive Dust and Particles: Excessive dust and airborne particles can lead to respiratory discomfort and allergies. Dust mites, pollen, and other particles can accumulate in indoor spaces, especially in areas with poor ventilation or inadequate air filtration. Regularly changing air filters and implementing effective cleaning routines can help mitigate this issue.

When you call EcoSpect to discuss your indoor air quality, we will discuss these factors in your own particular situation with you and help you to understand what may be causing any of the above. We will also help you to mediate your circumstance and set up a time that we can come meet with you and make a plan to improve your indoor air quality! 

Health Risks Associated with Poor Indoor Air Quality 

Indoor Air Quality testing is vital in that many times, levels of unwanted chemicals, gas, molds, and more can be present in our homes without us having any idea. Because of this, and its build up, we can be in their presence and put our health at risk unknowingly. Some health risks that are associated with poor indoor air quality include: 

- Asthma and respiratory problems: As indoor air quality experts, we've witnessed how long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality can lead to chronic respiratory problems. Conditions like asthma and bronchitis can be exacerbated or triggered by pollutants and allergens present in the air. For individuals with these conditions, ensuring good indoor air quality is crucial as it can make their lives significantly more difficult. 

- Skin Irritation: Skin irritation, such as dryness and itching, can result from exposure to air with low humidity levels. Dry indoor air can leach moisture from your skin, leaving it feeling uncomfortable and prone to irritation. Maintaining optimal humidity levels can alleviate this issue and help to keep you and your family more comfortable. 

- Headaches and fatigue: Headaches and fatigue are common symptoms that can arise from breathing in air contaminated with pollutants. When you are inhaling these continuously, your body is working on overdrive to expel them from your body which leaves you feeling tired without your conscious exertion. These symptoms can affect your productivity, mood, and overall well-being. 

- Long-term Health Effects: Long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality has been linked to more severe health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. While immediate symptoms can be bothersome, it's the potential long-term consequences that make managing indoor air quality a top priority for any health-conscious individual.

Not to worry, though! If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, your indoor air quality is something that we can help with to alleviate some of these ailments and stress. 

Radon and Indoor Air Quality 

At EcoSpect, one of our areas of expertise proves our radon testing and mitigation services. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can seep into homes from the ground. It is naturally occurring, produced by uranium, and if confined by areas, such as crawl spaces, can start to pose a threat when inhaled over time. It is the leading cause of lung cancer, especially in the cases of nonsmokers, and understanding and monitoring its presence in your home is critical to ensure that you remain safe. 

We offer our professional radon testing and mitigation services to ensure that your indoor air is free from this dangerous gas. Our testing involves the use of specialized equipment to measure radon levels in your home accurately. If elevated levels are detected, we can let you know, and then work with you on what mitigation options are best for you and can be implemented to reduce radon concentrations to safe levels. 

Next Steps: Managing and Improving Your Indoor Air Quality 

In working with EcoSpect, we want to not only test your indoor air quality, but make sure that you are ready to keep this air quality good, healthy, and safe going forward in your home. To help with this, we have outlined a few of our recommendations to keep your indoor air quality to a high standard. 

1. Proper Ventilation: Regular ventilation is key to maintaining good indoor air quality. Ensuring that you are opening windows and using exhaust fans can help remove indoor pollutants and bring in fresh outdoor air. Effective ventilation is especially important in spaces with limited airflow, such as basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms. 

2. Humidity and Moisture Control: Maintaining the right humidity levels can prevent mold growth and promote comfort. Too much humidity can lead to mold and mildew issues especially in the presence of excess moisture, while excessively dry air can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems. EcoSpect can provide guidance on achieving optimal humidity levels in your indoor spaces. 

3. Professional Air Quality Testing: At EcoSpect, we offer comprehensive air quality testing services to identify specific pollutants and develop effective

solutions tailored to you and your home. Our experienced professionals use state-of-the-art equipment to analyze the air in your environment thoroughly. This data allows us to pinpoint issues and recommend precise actions to improve your indoor air quality. 

We specialize in basement waterproofing, and all that it encompasses. This includes preventing moisture issues that can affect indoor air quality. A dry basement is a key component of maintaining clean and healthy indoor air. By keeping moisture out, we help protect your home from mold, mildew, spores, radon and other indoor air quality issues. 

We are able to conduct thorough air quality tests to identify and address indoor air quality concerns. With state-of-the-art equipment and expertise, we pinpoint specific pollutants and develop tailored solutions for your situation to ensure that your indoor air is safe and healthy. 

Most importantly, we are dedicated to your health and well-being. The quality of the air you breathe indoors should never be compromised. With our expertise in basement waterproofing, air quality testing, and radon mitigation, you can trust that your indoor environment is safe and healthy. Don't settle for anything less - choose EcoSpect for all your indoor air quality needs.