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Persistent musty odors, frequent headaches or respiratory issues, or hot and stuffy conditions may indicate that a building or home has indoor air quality issues. According to the US CPSC, "A growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities." The government body also states that it’s common for people to spend 90 percent of their time indoors, a statistic that can dramatically impact health if indoor air quality is poor.

Indoor air quality—often referred to as IAQ—can be measured, but there is no one test that captures it all, explains OSHA. Common testing requests include mold and radon testing. Professionals use different mechanisms to capture samples on-site then send them away to a lab for results. If homeowners are concerned about their IAQ, OSHA urges them to watch for symptoms that happen while in the building and go away when they leave. OSHA says to look for symptoms such as headaches or feeling tired. Fever, cough and shortness of breath can be symptoms of a more serious problem. Asthma and some types of pneumonia (for example, Legionnaires’ Disease and Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis) have been linked to IAQ problems. If a testing company also offers remediation or cleaning solutions, it’s a good idea to confirm that they have the samples analyzed by an independent agency to prevent any conflict-of-interest concerns. Several factors affect the cost of common indoor air quality testing.

Mold testing

Mold detection specialists can determine the presence and type of mold in a building’s structure or air. All homes and buildings tend to have some mold. The key is to take a wide sample from throughout the home to determine if the mold is extensive enough to negatively affect human or animal health. Air sampling for mold spores is the most common type of air quality inspection performed by Justin MacNaughton of Green Home Solutions of Northern California in Redwood City, California. Here is an example of the cost of air quality testing for mold from MacNaughton:

  • Mold and moisture assessment and testing: $295

    • Includes a total of four samples (air or surface)

    • Additional samples: $75 each

    • The base price includes an independent analysis and report of sample results, along with a certified Assessment Conditions Report of any issues discovered as well as generally recommended treatment.

    • Testing is done using the cassette method.

Radon testing

Radon is a radioactive gas known to cause lung cancer. It is naturally occurring and present in many homes, causing health issues. Certain parts of the country have higher levels of radon than others, but radon can be found in almost every state. Air testing is the key to knowing if this odorless, colorless gas is present in a home or building. Here are some examples of radon testing costs:

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it is crucial to take preventative steps to protect people safe from this odorless, colorless gas. Professional testing is typically not necessary because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning present quickly. To stay safe, keep homes well ventilated, keep furnaces tuned up, turn gas appliances off when not in use, keep chimneys cleaned, and avoid idling cars inside garages. Home monitors are available to detect carbon monoxide in the air, although they are pricier than other monitoring items such as smoke alarms.

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Millions of people ask Thumbtack for help with their projects every year. We track the estimates they get from local professionals, then we share those prices with you.