Is there a way to test the air in my home?
My home was built in 2003. Always has seemed dustier than any other. Now it's even dustier and my family has been fighting headaches and respiratory issues for a good two months.
I am starting with a quote and some information written by Ray Woodcock (CIH) a professional in environmental health issues.
Are building issues the cause?
- One reason for noticeable dust in a new home is that debris may get into the ductwork during construction if the ducts are not properly sealed. This condition might get worse over time as the debris degrades and becomes more easily dispersed.
- Another thought is that if there is carpet in your home, we often recommend people with dust allergies (actually dust mite allergies) avoid carpet, as it is a collector of all sorts of dirt and dust.
Then I thought the dust might be laden with chemicals from the offgassing of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from a whole host of items such as the cabinetry, glues for the flooring, insulation, paints or sealers.
Beyond the home
- As you live in Nebraska I thought perhaps it might be something regional and related to agriculture.
- He then recommended doing an ambient air test, EPA TO-15, as a starting point, a method for testing VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
- Each of these tests focuses on a specific area, whether it is testing for a particular category of chemical, for particulates in the atmosphere, mold spores, dust mites, lead, and so on.
- Each test will cost you roughly $400, and so it would be better to start testing once you get an expert opinion.
Hire a CIH
The more sensible approach is to hire a Certified Industrial Hygienist, (CIH), a highly trained professional aware of many of the common problems.
- This person would have met the minimum requirements for education (a BS and an MS) along with practical field experience.
- They would have the required level of knowledge in all aspects of the field, from chemistry, to engineering controls and ventilation, to air sampling.
- I read on one site that in 2009 there were 22 specialists in Nebraska, with some associated with the University of Nebraska.
- The term Industrial Hygienist is not restricted by law, so please make sure that he/she is certified with the American Board of Industrial Hygienists.