The Basics of Indoor Air Quality
Most indoor air quality (IAQ) problems can be traced back to a single source: moisture. Although problems such as radon and asbestos can certainly cause trouble, moisture in the home is responsible for the growth of mold and therefore the vast majority of health problems related to indoor air.
In addition to testing for mold and other indoor air contaminants, Eagle Indoor Air identifies any sources of unwanted moisture so that the problem can be corrected.
If you get rid of the moisture, you’ll get rid of the mold. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t get rid of the moisture, you can assault mold with all the weapons in your arsenal and it won’t do any good. You may win the battle temporarily, but it won’t change the outcome of the war.
Mold in the home or workplace can cause a number of problems. Aesthetically, it can be unsightly, smelly, and damaging to surfaces. More importantly, it can affect the health of everyone in the building, particularly those with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory sensitivities.
That said, mold is not a reason to panic. Beware of contractors who hype “toxic mold” as a scare tactic, especially if they can profit by making extensive repairs to your home or business. Stachybotrys is the genus of mold sometimes referred to as toxic black mold—while not rare, it’s not often found indoors unless there is serious water damage. Many different types of mold can be black in color, and the presence of mold (even Stachybotrys) does not necessarily mean you’re going to get sick.
If you have mold growth, the most important thing is to get a professional opinion as soon as possible. Click here to download a PDF with descriptions of Stachybotrys and other mold types, or visit our FAQ for answers to common questions about mold.
Indoor air Contaminants
Common indoor air and surface contaminants besides mold include radon, asbestos, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), Legionella, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. These contaminants can cause illness, sometimes serious, especially in individuals with respiratory conditions.
Eagle Indoor Air can test for the presence of these contaminants, advise you if levels are abnormally high, and recommend methods of remediation if necessary, but it can’t prove a link between your health symptoms and mold or any other contaminant. You should speak to your doctor if you have symptoms that you believe are related to indoor air quality.
For more detailed information about indoor air contaminants, visit our FAQ.
Proper operation of your HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) is the backbone of any smart indoor air quality plan. Have a qualified professional inspect your HVAC system and ductwork regularly.
Your HVAC system doesn’t just make the temperature more comfortable—it dehumidifies outside air coming into the house. To prevent mold and moisture problems, the relative humidity indoors should be between 35 percent and 55 percent. (You can keep an eye on this with an inexpensive humidity monitor purchased from a hardware store.) Your thermostat should be set to a temperature that ensures the system cycles on and off regularly for proper ventilation and dehumidification.
Be sure to set the fan to the “AUTO” position instead of “ON” so that the fan doesn’t run constantly. If the fan continues to run when the compressor shuts off, it will pull in outside air without dehumidifying it. Over time, the indoor relative humidity will likely increase and mold growth may begin.
Visit our FAQ for an in-depth look at HVAC topics.