Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Types of Testing if you Suspect Formaldehyde or Other Indoor Air Contaminant

Air testing is conducted by drawing approximately 15 liters of air through a  glass tube filled with a sorbent material using a specialized low volume air pump. This is an accurate method to determine exposure. The limits of this test is that exposure increases with higher temperature and humidity. The test results need interpreted with consideration of those factors.  Cost of this type of testing is usually about $300.00 to $400.00 per test.

Bulk testing consists of submitting a piece of the material to a certified lab. One limitation  of this method is that the tested piece of material can vary from other pieces of the same material in the home and not give a good overall picture of the contamination. The other limit is that we are affected by the sum of all exposures, and sampling a single piece of one material does not tell us if there are other materials or furnishings in the home adding to the total exposure. The advantage of bulk testing is if we are trying to determine if an individual product such as flooring needs to be removed from the home, we get that answer. This type of test may also be needed to enter a class action suit or other legal action. Cost of this type of testing is usually about $500.00 to $600.00 per test.


Badges These are typically used in industrial settings to monitor workplace exposure for OSHA compliance. These are simple to use and do not require any specialized equipment. These would be a low cost screening method. The badges absorb formaldehyde as easily in the home as in the workplace. The badges are then sent to a lab for interpetation. These tests are usually done in pairs and cost for this type of testing is usually between  $100.00 to $175.00 for each test.


The Heath Impact  of Formaldehyde can Vary from Person to Person

            According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)  The impact on individuals varies based on both the time and duration of exposure. A small but constant exposure over an extended time or a large exposure in a short time can have equal effects.


            They also suggest that exposure to multiple chemicals can intensify reactions. An individual's general health, age, sex, genetics, lifestyle, and diet are also factors that can affect the level that is toxic to an individual.  An example of the wide variation in reactions that people can have to any environmental factor is that some children can have life threatening reactions to peanuts, but most children could live on peanut butter.  


Posted by Dan Howard on April 13th, 2015 10:36 PM



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