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Indoor Air Quality Monitoring: How To Test, Measure & Improve

Having a healthy home starts with a healthy kitchen. That's it's important to measure the air quality in your kitchen. But how can we test air quality?

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If you care about your family’s health, you should be concerned about the air quality in your home. It all starts with having a clean kitchen. Besides, we spend so much time inside, and poor indoor air quality has been related to asthma, allergies, cancer, and several other disorders. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the air quality in your house periodically. So how do we even test the air quality in our home?

This post will cover air pollution in the home, how to measure it, and how to fix it so that you can breathe clean air in your home.

Image of a kitchen with white cabinets, a gray countertop, a stove, and a range hood. Source: clayton, unsplash
Image of a kitchen with white cabinets, a gray countertop, a stove, and a range hood. Source: Clayton, Unsplash

Using an air quality monitor is the easiest way to test and improve your home’s air quality.

Most common causes of indoor air pollution

You probably choose to spend a lot more time inside than outside. As a result, the amount of pollutants inside a typical house or business is generally larger than the number of outdoor pollutants. The following are examples of more prevalent yet potentially harmful contaminants found in the average household.

  • Heating equipment.
  • Fumes from cooking.
  • Cigarettes and related items.
  • Insulation containing asbestos that has deteriorated.
  • Flooring, furniture, or old carpeting.
  • Furniture and cabinets are constructed from pressed wood.
  • Too much humidity.

What are the symptoms of poor air quality?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies have not established limitations for indoor air quality or the majority of indoor pollutants; consequently, there are no federal criteria against which to compare the sampling findings. Therefore, the following are typical symptoms of people with poor indoor air quality.

  • Weakness, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
  • Symptoms of allergies and asthma are becoming worse.
  • Symptoms include a stuffy nose, cough, and runny nose.
  • Causing discomfort to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.
  • Weakness and queasiness.

How do you test indoor air quality?

An indoor air quality monitor keeps tabs on the state of the air within your home. They’re the most convenient way to regularly monitor your home’s air quality. Since indoor air quality (IAQ) isn’t a top priority for most people, you’re probably unaware of consumer options available to improve it.

Below are some of the best indoor air quality testers on the market.

How is air quality measures?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to quantify air quality. The AQI operates somewhat of like a thermometer that runs from 0 to 500 degrees. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a similar indicator, except it measures the degree to which air pollution has increased or decreased.

How to use an air monitor

All available readings from your air quality sensor should be shown in the default view. However, to properly use your air quality monitor, you should read the handbook carefully.

Most air quality monitors need calibration before they can be used to track environmental conditions within a building. To do this, you must first turn it on for a certain amount of time before using it. Since the air quality improves later in the day, this is best done at night.

By calibrating the device, an air quality monitor can get an accurate reading of ambient air. This allows it to determine with precision if your energy levels are yellow, orange, red, or purple.

  • Yellow warning for a moderate level of activity
  • The color orange is harmful to those with sensitive skin.
  • A red warning means it’s not a good time to go for a run or walk outdoors.
  • A purple warning means stay inside; it’s dangerous outside.

What should you look for when testing your air quality

Several of the following are among the things that the most accurate air quality sensors mesure:

Total volatile organic compounds

TVOCs are gases that may be found in your house and can be harmful. Glues, paints, solvents, smoking, and odors from the kitchen are all sources of or precursors to volatile organic compounds (TVOCs). The precise reading you’re looking for will vary from one air quality monitor to the next, but you should aim to keep this figure in the green, indicating satisfactory conditions.

If it’s a bright color like yellow, orange, or red, it’s time to find what causes the buildup of those chemicals. Popular activities linked to TVOCs include intensive cleaning, cooking, and painting.

Humidity

The optimum relative humidity range is between 35% and 50%. When relative humidity stays over 50%, it may be a fertile environment for mold and mildew spores to grow. More dryness is preferable. However, low humidity might cause symptoms in certain people. Eye, nose, and throat discomfort, painful throat, and cracked skin are all examples. You might consider purchasing a dehumidifier if you reside in a humid climate.

Here is a popular and effective humidifier you might consider if you suffer from cracked skin or a dry throat.

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Last update on December 1, 2022 / Affiliate links / All Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde may be found in various places, including fuel-burning equipment, furniture, certain paints, and cigarette smoke. It usually appears in very low concentrations. However, it might become dangerous to your health if you smoke a lot or if you use your gas stove without proper ventilation.

Amounts of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide, represented by the chemical symbol CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. These are the byproducts of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. This substance has no aroma or flavor. The high toxicity level of this substance means that it might trigger a life-threatening response. In addition, intoxication with carbon monoxide will hamper your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Mold

One of the structures that some fungi are capable of creating is a mold or mold. The spores of molds, which contain the fungal secondary metabolites that give them their dusty, multicolored look, are what give molds their name. The spores are the reproductive structures of the fungus.

PM2.5

The abbreviation “PM2.5” describes airborne particles that are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter. The discharge of these small particles into the air results from chemical reactions and human activities like manufacturing and driving. You can’t see them because they’re so small. However, haze may sometimes be seen as a mixture of PM 2.5 and PM 10 (particles 10 microns in size) and other pollutants.

Temperature

Your measuring tool should allow you to see how hot or cold the room is.

Are home air quality tests accurate?

Yes. However, each indoor environment is unique. Thus, no one test can evaluate all components of IAQ in your house.

What are sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide

The most important chemicals for checking the quality of the air inside are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Below are some of the most common chemicals you might have heard about.

Sulfur dioxide

Air pollution from sulfur dioxide, sometimes called sulfur dioxide, can be a problem in enclosed spaces since it is produced mostly by burning fossil fuels.

Nitrous oxides

Nitrous oxides are often created due to emissions from automobiles and power plants and don’t play a major role in interior air quality issues.

Carbon dioxide 

Indoor carbon dioxide is a byproduct of human metabolism and, while rare, may reach dangerous levels if compounded.

Carbon monoxide 

Cars, generators, fireplaces, and heating systems release carbon monoxide into the air. In confined areas, it may quickly accumulate to potentially lethal quantities.

Image of a kitchen with a wooden countertop, blue cabinets, a stove, and a range hood on top of it. Source: sidekix media, unsplash
Image of a kitchen with a wooden countertop, blue cabinets, a stove, and a range hood. Source: sidekix media, unsplash

How can you improve air quality in your kitchen or home

Here are some steps to take if you’re experiencing bad air quality.

1. Get a range hood to eliminate smoke kitchen.

Even the most dedicated home chefs have trouble controlling cooking odors. A professional range hood is the best way to eliminate smoke, exhaust, and aromas from cooking in your home’s kitchen.

2. Let some air in by throwing open the windows and doors.

This is the easiest way to improve home air quality because everyone already has doors and windows! Remember to switch off your air conditioner or heater, so you aren’t wasting energy by venting conditioned or heated air outdoors.

More open air is always preferable. Before throwing open all your windows, be sure the air outside is safe to breathe. Stay inside and out of the smoke if wildfires are raging near you.

3. Use an air purifier.

An air purifier is a fantastic investment if you reside in a location where the air quality is less than ideal. Air purifiers are devices designed to rid the air of contaminants, including dust, dirt, odors from cooking, and odors from pets. Larger particles, such as dust and grime, are easier to remove using an air purifier than gases like carbon monoxide or formaldehyde.

However, if you have an air purifier equipped with an activated carbon filter, those lingering smells of dinner may be gone in no time. In addition, mold may be prevented with the use of a dehumidifier and air purifier.

If you are looking for a top-rated air purifier, look no further. Here’s the one that I use every day.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “How to Understand Indoor Air Quality | Ask This Old Housefrom” the This Old House YouTube Channel.

This video called “How to Understand Indoor Air Quality | Ask This Old Housefrom” the This Old House YouTube Channel.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about kitchen air quality.

Can I trust a monitor to check the air quality?

If installed and utilized properly, air quality sensors may provide a decent baseline on pollutant or contaminant levels in your house.

What else can I do to provide better air quality for my family?

Protecting oneself from the health hazards associated with low air quality may be done, in part, by relocating to a location with better air quality.

Will an air quality monitor detect mold?

Thanks to technological advances, air quality monitors are now within reach of the average consumer. Many detectors can also measure mold pores.

Conclusion

Now that you know what the air quality in your home is really like, you can take some serious steps to address it. Ensure you have good ventilation systems installed and regularly keep them clean. If the air quality in your home continues to be poor despite taking these precautions, consider having an environmental health assessment done by a professional who knows how to assess household air quality.

This article covered the common causes of indoor air pollution, symptoms of poor air quality, and how to test indoor air quality. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Pollutants in the air within a building may lead to various acute and chronic issues.
  • The EPA has not issued any recommendations for acceptable mold levels.
  • Radon is a radioactive gas linked to increased levels in several U.S. regions.
  • According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon may cause lung cancer if it is inhaled in dangerously high amounts.
  • VOCs are organic chemicals that may readily break down into gaseous or vaporous forms.
  • Nitrogen dioxide, like carbon monoxide, is a typical combustion byproduct.
  • Allergies are a major health issue related to air pollution. All allergens are allergens: skin cells, rodent dander, pet dander, pollen, and dust mite dander.

So, how do you maintain the air quality in your kitchen? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks in your kitchen. Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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Author avatar - Roger Harris
Written By Roger Harris
Hey there! My name is Roger, and I've been selling range hoods for over six years. I now run this blog all about range hoods and kitchen ventilation! If you're looking for a new range hood for your kitchen, this is the place for you.

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