Indoor Air Quality Concerns?
Home Scan Inspections, LLC is now offering indoor air quality survey’s. The system we use (Pocket Particle AQI 2.0 Sensor) was developed to provide a less expensive alternative to full lab testing with immediate results. The Pocket Particle AQI 2.0 Sensor looks for high levels of particulate matter (PM), carbon dioxide (CO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). What it does not do is to specify which PM’s or VOC’s are found. With today’s housing market, time is of the essence and we can provide an air quality survey in approximately 30 minutes with a full report onsite on the day of inspection!
What are PM2.5 and PM10 Pollutants?
Particulate matter (PM) are made up of various components, such as acids, toxic exhaust, organic chemicals, metal,
dust, soot, soil, or a mixture of these components. There are many classes of particulates but PM10 and PM2.5 are the most regulated ones.
· PM2.5 refers to fine particles that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller.
· PM10 refers to inhalable coarse particles that are within a diameter of about 10 micrometers.
Sources of Particulate Matter
There are both natural and manmade sources of particulate matter (PM). The most evident source of PM is organic material created in high traffic areas. Burning fuels such as oil, gasoline, or wood can directly contribute to the rising of PM levels. Other sources of PM can include windblown dust and chemical reactions between different gases (e.g., nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus etc.). (Reference: https://www.medical-reference.net/2014/01/what-are-particulate-matter-25.html)
Health Effects of PM2.5 and PM10
Exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) has harmful consequences on human health, as well as the environment. Many researchers have provided significant information concerning the negative effects of PM exposure.
As PM2.5 are finer particles, they can penetrate deeply and travel through the respiratory system to reach the lung. Long-term PM exposure is associated with chronic respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases, including lung cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, poor cognitive function, diabetes, and heart attack. Short-term PM exposure during pollution episodes can produce less severe effects, including temporary breathing difficulty, worsening of asthma symptoms, feeling of unwell, decreased activity level, etc. The EPA has more information on the effects of particulate pollution. (Reference: https://www.epa.gov/pmcourse/particle-pollution-exposure)
In addition to adverse health effects, PM2.5 also has other widespread effects on the environment and climate change. Damage to plants can reduce biodiversity and lead to the breakdown of the ecosystem.
eTVOC - Equivalent Total Volatile Organic Compounds
What Does eTVOC Mean?
eTVOC stands for equivalent total volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is a measurement of the total amount of any emitted gases coming from toxins and chemicals. In an enclosed space like a home or office, these emitted gases can accumulate and pollute the air. Concentrations of most volatile organic compounds are higher for indoor air than outdoor air. The air quality survey does NOT specify which VOCs are in the air, it simply gives the total amount of all VOCs.
Sources of VOCs
Primary sources of VOCs include the burning of fuels such as gas, wood, and kerosene. Personal care products such as perfume and hair spray are another source of VOCs. Printers and copy machines are sources of VOCs as well but are less significant in the home. Additional sources include tobacco products, cleaning supplies, paint, paint thinner, lacquers, varnishes, hobby supplies, alcohols and vinegars.
Elevated VOC levels could be caused by a Mold infestation, gas leak, or off gassing of building materials and is a concern for overall indoor air quality. These compounds include a number of toxic compounds, including benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde. Mold can produce a number of VOCs. These compounds are what produce the “musty” smell associated with Mold infested dwellings. While most of the compounds are harmless, there is experimental evidence that some of these compounds could be toxic. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591661/) Detection of VOC is yet another tool that can be used to detect and locate an active mold infestation, as they are only produced by actively growing mold colonies.
VOCs can be released from products during use and even in storage. However, the number of VOCs emitted from products tends to decrease as the product ages.
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a sharp, bitter smell and is one of the most common VOCs found. It is used in many building materials such as plywood, particleboard, foam insulation, and glue. Even finish products such as drapes, upholstery and carpeting can contain formaldehyde.
*Formaldehyde compounds are not specifically identified with the Pocket Particle AQI 2.0 Sensor.*
Health Effects of VOCs
VOCs include a variety of chemicals that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause irritation of the lungs, as well as damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system. Long-term exposure may also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system and some VOCs have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
Most people are not affected by short-term exposure to the low levels of VOCs found in homes. Some people may be more sensitive, such as people with asthma. For long-term exposure to low levels of VOCs, research is ongoing to better understand any health effects from these exposures. (Reference: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/air-quality-VOCs)
eCO2 - Equivalent Carbon Dioxide
What Does eCO2 Mean?
This term eCO2 is used for describing different greenhouse gases in a common unit. eCO2 bottom-line starts at 400 ppm (parts per million), the current environmental background level of CO2. (Reference: https://ecometrica.com/assets/GHGs-CO2-CO2e-and-Carbon-What-Do-These-Mean-v2.1.pdf)
Sources of CO2
Caron dioxide (CO2) is the fourth most abundant gas in the earth's atmosphere. At room temperature, CO2 is a colorless, odorless, non-flammable gas. At other temperatures and pressures, carbon dioxide can be a liquid or a solid.
Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of normal cell function and is breathed out of the body. CO2 is also produced by burning fossil fuels or by decaying vegetation. Surface soils can sometimes contain high concentrations of CO2 due to decaying vegetation, as well as chemical changes in the bedrock below. (Reference: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carbondioxide.htm)
Where CO2 levels in the soil are high, the gas can seep into basements through cracks in the foundation. CO2 can also build up in the home simply from a high number of people or pets occupying the property. In either case, excessive CO2 levels are an indication that the home has poor fresh air circulation and needs to be evaluated by a qualified HVAC technician.
Health Effects of CO2
Exposure to CO2 can produce a variety of health effects. These may include headaches, dizziness,
restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased
heart rate, raised blood pressure, coma, asphyxia, and convulsions. (Reference: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carbondioxide.htm)
If you have a concern about the air quality of your current or future home, give Home Scan Inspections a call. We can provide a quick, accurate and low-cost survey of the air in your home to determine if an issue exists.