"Is there some way to test air quality in an environment? Some kind of DIY test or tool that can be used? Or, do you have to call in some kind of professional?"
Add your two cents here.
Get a canary, if you wake up one morning and he's laying on the bottom of the cage get the hell out of the house.
To assess general air quality in a home, you could try a photoionization detector (PID, which is used to screen ambient air for volatile or semivolatile organics. Again, this is not a method to identify specific air constituents, but can help the user to identify specific areas, items, etc. in a home that may be contributing to air quality issues in the home. You can rent a PID for $40 to $0 a day.
Install a carbon monoxide detector. If they detect a change in the levels of carbon monoxide in your home, an alarm will sound. Use a radon detection kit.These kits must be left open and undisturbed for three days. Use a test for dust mites, molds, and mildew test kit. After then, ship it to a lab to get your results.
Sometimes you might just want to test for a certain allergen or chemical, like Radon. If you're doing a more specified test, then the cost to test indoor air quality might be cheaper since it will be more focused. Pros who specialize in this kind of testing will take a sample and will be able to diagnose the problem pretty quickly if there's only one result.
If you've decided to check for anything and everything, then the cost to test indoor air quality will increase. This requires taking more samples and running more tests. This will also increase the consultation time when the results come back to decide how to fix whatever issues may have come up. However, this is a good way to check a lot of potential problems off the list or to take care of anything that might be in your air.
Common Air Pollutants.
Air pollutants can range from contaminants brought in from the outdoors by your pets to dangerous gas leaks. Carbon monoxide is a common air pollutant resulting from natural gas that escapes into your home without being burned off. Older homes may contain asbestos and lead particles, which can be damaging to the lungs when released into the air. In bathrooms and kitchens, mold and mildew can become a nuisance where moisture levels are typically higher than in the rest of your house.
1. Change Your AC Filter
Air-conditioning systems are always working to give your home that perfect temperature all year round. But while they’re cycling through all that air, they’re filtering out some of those common air pollutants. Eventually, their air filters fill up and stop doing their job. Not only does that cause trouble for your indoor air quality, it also wears down your AC system, which can lead to costly repairs down the road. So, be sure to change your AC filters regularly, or get an air conditioning service plan which normally includes a filter change – especially if you are allergy-prone or live in a metropolitan area with high levels of pollution.
2. Don’t Forget About Other Air Filters
Your AC filter isn’t the only thing working to keep the air clean in your home environment. If you really want to improve the air quality in your home, be sure to check the filters in your other household appliances. Your vacuum cleaner, clothes dryer and kitchen vents should all be inspected and maintained periodically. It’s recommended to clean or replace these common household filters every few months.
3. Check Your Air Ducts
Air ducts are responsible for distributing hot and cold air throughout your home, providing a comfortable climate in every room. But ducts that are not installed properly or maintained can distribute contaminants from one room to another. Over time, dust, dander and even mold can accumulate in your ducts, reducing the overall air quality. Hire a professional to make sure your ducts are circulating fresh, clean air.
4. Use Cooking Vents
Many indoor air pollutants come from the kitchen. Gas stoves release harmful contaminants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Even electric burners produce those same pollutants in lower levels, as well as other particles that can be easily absorbed into your bloodstream. So, when you’re cooking, be sure to turn on your kitchen vents, or open a window to help filter out the air even more.