We detect pollutants in indoor air in a few ways. It depends on the type of pollutants and the resources available for testing. Some common methods used to detect indoor air pollutants are:
- Observation: Indoor air quality can be assessed through visual inspections of pollutant sources such as heating and cooling systems or cleaning products.
- Air Quality Monitors: Air quality monitors are devices that measure how much pollution is in the air. They can detect a range of pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
- Passive Samplers: Passive samplers are devices that are left in place for some time to collect air samples. They are often used to detect certain pollutants, such as radon or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Passive samplers can cost less than active air monitors, but they need more time to collect data.
- Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Analysis: Real-time PCR analyzes genes to detect the presence of biological pollutants like mold or bacteria. This method can provide quick results, but it often costs more than other ways of testing.
- Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry: Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is a laboratory method that can detect and identify a wide range of pollutants. This method is very precise. It can detect even trace amounts of pollutants, but it requires special equipment and expertise to perform.
By combining multiple testing methods, it is possible to identify many sources of pollution and take steps to improve indoor air quality.