What First Response Looks For During An Air Quality Test

With many potentially hazardous pollutants found indoors, it’s important to know what we look for so you know when to call in a professional.

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Thorough Indoor
Air Quality Testing

When we are hired to conduct an indoor air quality test, we aim to be as thorough as possible to ensure that we get a full understanding of all of the contaminants in the air, and formulate a plan of action to remove them. It’s always best to act upon a suspicion that there are contaminants in the air so we can start with specific tests. We can look for a wide range of indoor pollutants including biological pollutants, chemical pollutants and combustion pollutants. Each of these types of pollutants presents a risk for adverse health effects and need to be remedied as soon as possible.

man testing indoor air quality
mould in house in kingston ontario

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants consist of living organisms such as mold, dust mites, viruses and bacteria, as well as byproducts that shed from living organisms such as pet dander and pollen. Airborne bacteria and viruses can cause disease when inhaled. Other biological pollutants tend to cause allergic reactions with symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath and dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms in your home or workplace, then it’s best to have the air quality tested for biological pollutants.


How We Deal With
Biological Pollutants

If we detect the presence of biological pollutants, our next step is to find the source of the problem. We investigate potential sources of these contaminants which may include:

  • Carpets, mattresses, curtains, upholstered furniture and bedding for dust mites.
  • Dark areas with moisture for mold.
  • Pets for animal dander.
  • Indoor plants, especially flowers.

Once we find the source of the biological pollutants, we can get to work on removing those sources from the area, and then cycle the air in the space through a powerful filter to clean the air.


A First Response Cleaning mold removal specialist cleans and removes mold from the walls of an Ottawa home

Chemical Pollutants

Chemical Pollutant is another name for a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound). VOCs are organic in that they contain the element carbon, even if the product is made synthetically. These compounds can easily become a vapour or gas when exposed to air. Usual sources for VOCs are paints, cleaners, disinfectants, stored fuels like butane and gasoline, wood preservatives like varnish and lacquer, and dry-cleaned clothing. More serious VOCs that are commonly found are formeldahyde, lead, radon and asbestos. The potential for a VOC to cause adverse health effects depends on how toxic it is. There are some that are very toxic, while create no known health effects. The NIH does warn against the effects that long-term exposure to VOCs can have. These effects include kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage. Short term exposure can lead to irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, loss of coordination, skin reactions, memory impairment and nausea.




How We Deal With
Chemical Pollutants

The first thing we look for is which sources of VOCs are present in the home. We look at where and how they are stored. If the source is from chemicals that are old and are used minimally, we’ll suggest safely disposing of them. If VOCs are from more frequently used chemicals, we will suggest better solutions for storing these chemicals that will limit exposure. We will also look at the ventilation system to ensure that it can properly filter out VOCs that are released when chemicals are used. For VOCs like lead, radon and asbestos, we will work to completely remove these materials from the space. Once we’ve appropriately dealt with the source, we will clean the air with a filtration system to remove any VOCs that are present in the air.

A man smokes a cigarette indoors, leading to extreme and difficult to remove odors in the home.

Combustion Pollutants

Asbestos is incredibly difficult to identify just by looking at it. Samples need to be tested in a lab to be confirmed as asbestos. Homeowners should not take these samples themselves, since touching materials that have asbestos in it will kick up toxic dust, even if the material is in good condition. Instead, they should contact a licensed and certified expert in asbestos testing and removal, like First Response, to come and take a sample to test. If the sample is confirmed to be asbestos, then we can get to work right away on removing any trace of it in the home.

How We Deal With Combustion Pollutants

As is the case with any type of pollutant we find, we first determine the source. If the source of combustion pollutants is from smoking indoors, we will recommend that activity to be stopped immediately. We will then clean all fabrics in the home, as well as any staining on the walls or ceilings that the smoke has caused. If there is a carbon monoxide issue, then we will determine whether the source is from a wood-based source or a gas-based source. For gas appliances, we will bring in a certified gas plumbing professional to fix the issue and stop the carbon monoxide leak. For wood-based sources, we will look to see if there is proper ventilation, and if not, then we will recommend not using the wood stove or fireplace until proper ventilation can be installed. Once we’ve dealt with the issue, we will cycle the air through our filtration system to clear any presence of these combustion pollutants.

cleaning crew in hazmat suits decontaminating for COVID-19

First Response Can Test For All Air Quality Problems

With a wide variety of pollutants that can affect your health, it’s important to trust a company that can test for, and deal with any and all of them. Improving indoor air quality is not a DIY job.

First Response Cleaning is Eastern Ontario’s leader in air quality testing and remediation. If you are experiencing any symptoms like the ones described here, then don’t wait. Contact us today to have your air quality tested and cleaned!


Client Testimonials

AMDECON Certified Biohazard Specialist Certification

“AMDECON Certification”

First Response has proudly achieved the American Decontamination Association’s (AMDECON)…

AMDECON Certification

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“HWIN Licensed”

First Response is licensed by the Hazardous Waste Information Network (HWIN)…

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ABRA Certified Bio-Recovery Technician Seal

“ABRA Certified”

First Response is proudly certified by the American Bio Recovery Association for receiving the…

ABRA Certified

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Our Ontario Indoor Air Quality Testing Service Areas

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First Response is Ottawa & Eastern Ontario’s extreme deep cleaning service. We are IICRC and ABRA certified crime scene cleaning specialists and have the experience, expertise and equipment you need.

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