Review – Indoor Air Quality Screen Check Kits

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I’ve held off on this air quality review until today, in honor of Earth Day.

While I beat the U.S. air policy drum frequently since high pollution levels will affect kids like mine (and yours) first, the state of the air inside the house can pose an even bigger lung challenge for asthmatics. The air in most homes is dirtier than anything we’re breathing outside. Everything from dust to pollen to airborne irritants from synthetic household cleaners can stick around for awhile inside.

These Indoor Air Quality Screen Check kits come from Building Health Check/EdLab, a “professional interdisciplinary indoor air quality environmental firm with over 500 million square feet of indoor air quality experience.” IAQ offers 11 separate screening kits, so you can buy one that tests for a full range of allergens or for separate triggers like mold.

In January, I tested a more comprehensive kit than these, and that kit serves as an excellent tool for pinning down problem triggers in the house before investing in pricey abatement procedures. These IAQ kits will appeal to a different set of asthma parents, though – those who know their children’s triggers but have questions about the indoor levels of a specific one in a specific location.

For example, since I moved to a different house and climate in February, I’ve been wondering about the effect of the carpet in AG’s new bedroom.

I tested the full allergen kit, and it’s a simple procedure. I simply stuck a wide adhesive test strip to the wall by AG’s bed, labeled the sample with the room and surface I tested, and sent it in a postage-paid envelope to the Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory, an American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) accredited facility. EDL emailed the lab report back to me.

As you’ve probably realized, using an adhesive strip is going to limit the area you test, but the prices of the IAQ kits are limited, too. They’re a good value if you have a very specific concern in a very specific area.

My results:

Opaque Particles (probably dust) – 81.06%
Skin Cell Fragments – 15.91%
Manmade Fibers – 1.52%
Black Fibers (probably ash) – 1.52%
(Out of 100% of the sample)

The sample tested negative for molds, pollen, and insect debris, none of which surprised me here in semi-arid, high-altitude Denver.

As for my sample’s positive results, now I know two things:

1. Despite our aversion to it, we really should be dusting more often. Especially with the carpet.

2. We probably shouldn’t use the woodburning fireplace here.

I can see the IAQ kits coming in handy for other situations, too – if your basement flooded recently and you want to test for mold, for example.

Although a cure for asthma doesn’t loom anytime soon, good weapons like knowledge of my home’s air quality and airborne irritants are powerful against this bronchial battle.

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