How to Test Indoor Air Quality

Updated April 17, 2017

Headaches, coughing and sneezing are all common symptoms of having poor air quality in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be as polluted as the air outside and can be potentially harmful. Old and new homes alike can have poor indoor air quality, so learning to identify potential symptoms is important for any household. Keep your family healthy -- learn how to test your home´s indoor air quality.

Check if you or your family members appear to be suffering from common symptoms of poor indoor air quality. Headache, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, nausea and shortness of breath are all symptoms to watch out for. These symptoms are especially obvious when first moving into a new home, after remodelling or after refinishing.

Install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm when high amounts of carbon monoxide are present in the air. Gas stoves, gas space heaters and unvented kerosene heaters can sometimes release high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headaches and impaired vision.

Look for mould. Mold produces allergens that can cause sneezing, red eyes and skin rashes. Excess moisture and humidity -- especially in the shower -- can lead to mould and affect indoor air quality.

Hire a professional to test for asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be extremely harmful to humans. It may be in floor tiles, toasters, artificial fireplaces and textured paints. Only a trained inspector can determine if asbestos is a concern for your home.

Use an at-home testing kit. Do-it-yourself air testing kits are widely available on the Internet and are useful for more extensive testing such as looking for the presence of formaldehyde and hidden mould. Air testing kits come with detailed instructions on how to gather a sample of air from your home. You can then send the sample to the specified testing centre that will provide you with an analysis of your indoor air quality.


Have your central air handling systems inspected every year to ensure good air quality in your home. Keep your home well ventilated. Sometimes simply opening windows can clear out potentially harmful toxins and keep your indoor air clean and safe.


Seek medical attention for any symptoms potentially caused by poor indoor air quality. Only a trained inspector can properly diagnose the quality of air in your home. Hire a professional if you feel that your home may contain high levels of pollutants.

Things You'll Need

  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Home testing kit
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About the Author

Based in Colorado, Gisela Chavez has been writing and editing since 2004. Her editorial experience ranges from editing technical documents to editing for “The Bloomsbury Review.” She earned a professional writing certificate from the University of Colorado, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish.