We see wildfires burning in southern California and gasp at the thick smoke that hovers over Los Angeles. The truth is, most people think of car exhaust and billowing black smoke from factories and wildfires when they think of air pollution. But did you know the air inside your home may pose a larger threat to your health?
You can think of the air inside your home as concentrated air. Everything inside your home – for good or bad – adds to its air quality. From the paint on your wall to the foods, you cook to your pets and everything in between; the air Americans breathe inside the home is often more dangerous.
Since 1989, Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing has been taking care of the heating and cooling needs for the greater Atlanta area, and today, our experts are going to break down the science behind air quality in your home.
What is Particulate Matter?
Have you ever had the curtains open when the sun is shining and notice how much stuff is floating in the air around you? This is usually around the time you close your curtains, so you don’t see what’s floating in the air you breathe. Unfortunately, while that may give you peace of mind, it’s not doing anything to improve your indoor air quality. Besides, for every particle you see in that beam of light, there are over a million particles you can’t see because they’re too small.
In Science, this is referred to as particulate matter. You may be asking, what exactly is particulate matter? Particulate matter is the particles floating in the air. It is made up of sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, carbon, mineral dust, and water vapor.
How is Particulate Matter Measured?
There are two ways that particulate matter can be measured. The first is a multi-angle light scattering device (MALS). This method of measuring particulate matter determines the absolute molar mass and the average size of the particulate matter in the air. It does this with calibration of how many micrograms are in a cubic meter of air.
The other method of measuring the particulate matter in your home’s air is with an optical particle counter. This method counts the individual particles in the air. It separates the particles using different sized channels in the hopes of being able to narrow down the worst offender in your air quality. Neither of these methods actually tells you the composition of the particulate matter. It’s simply a way to understand the scope of the contaminants in indoor air.
At-home tests are designed to capture the air inside the home and report instantly on anything found. While generally inexpensive, the tests are not sensitive enough to detect most compounds unless they’re in great quantity. Some tests must be sent off to a laboratory for analysis. These tests – while much more accurate than an at-home test – can take up to 30 to 60 days for the results. The fact is, most tests made available to the consumer are either ineffective or very expensive. Some high-quality at-home tests can cost as much as $800 and still not perform as accurately as having a professional come to your home and test your air quality.
While these tips will help you better understand the science of indoor air quality tests, they are by no means a substitute for an air quality professional. If you want to improve your indoor air quality this winter, then call the professionals at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, email us, or chat with a representative in the chatbox to schedule service today!