What Should I Expect from An RTK Indoor Air Quality Test?
Maybe you haven’t been feeling well and neither you nor your physician can figure out why. Or maybe you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and simply want to know if the level of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and mold in your home or workplace is acceptable. For many, the thought of having poor indoor air quality caused by VOCs or mold in your home or workplace is just scary.
But if you’re seeing the signs or have any doubts, it’s important to take the next—and safest—step: schedule an indoor air quality test and use a trained professional to do it. They’ll help you understand whether you have a problem with VOCs or mold and tell you what you can do about it.
You might be wondering, how much time will the test take, or what can they test for, or if you’ll get a definitive answer, or if the process is safe?
Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and Principal at RTK Environmental Group, says that knowledge is key. “A big part of our investigation is education. We help our clients understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” he explains. “Our inspectors, all well-educated and trained, understand how homes are built and how indoor air quality and mold can affect a home. And they are eager to share that information with you.”
Weitz, who notes that he and his team perform independent testing services and not remediation or repair, assures there’s never a conflict of interest.
“Unbiased information is really important,” Weitz says. “When there’s no conflict of interest, we’re potentially saving homeowners thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs.”
TIP: Watch out for companies that perform indoor air quality tests and then have a solution or air purification system to sell you at the ready – It’s a clear conflict of interest.
How long does an indoor air quality test take?
It will depend on how many areas you want to assess, but typically 1 – 2 hours.
What is involved in an indoor air quality test?
We do a visual assessment; take humidity readings, assess moisture levels and our expert inspector looks for anything that could be a red flag. We collect air samples for VOCs, and air and surface samples for mold in areas of concern, as well as from other areas to assess possible cross-contamination. Our tests are very case specific, and we tailor them to your specific scenario and symptoms.
What do you test for?
Most IAQ issues stem from mold or VOCs, but we can also test for radon and asbestos in the air. Our analysis covers almost 100 common VOCs and tens of thousands of types of mold.
Will I get a definitive answer?
You will receive a report with a summary of the inspection, lab results, and professional recommendations, if needed. We can either determine that you have elevated levels of these VOCs or molds or rule them out as a possible cause of your symptoms.
What kind of results should I expect from an indoor air quality test?
As long as it’s part of our analysis, you can expect to find out what compounds are there (or are not there) and the types of mold present. We can usually pinpoint the source or cause.
Before the Inspection
RTK will provide you with specific information on the test that you will be having. If it’s an Indoor Air Quality test to be done, you will need to close all outside doors and windows. Depending on the location and type of test, we will provide you with information about proper pre-test protocols to ensure you get the most accurate results. Don’t worry; it’s easy to do and you’ll be fully prepared.
During the Inspection
Your RTK professional will need to ask you questions to gather critical information, such as when you first noticed any problem or started feeling symptoms; if you have had recent water, moisture, or weather-related issues; whether you’ve undergone renovation work recently, or installed new furniture, carpeting or other new items in your home; if you’ve noticed roof or plumbing leaks, and if you’ve recently changed cleaning products, such as detergents or cleaners. Don’t worry—it’s a conversation, not an interrogation! Feel free to ask questions and tap into the expertise of your very knowledgeable and experienced inspector.
The home visit includes a visual assessment to check for mold. If the RTK professional suspects the indoor air quality issue may be caused by a mold contamination, your inspector won’t disturb walls, baseboards, or raised floors while they test, because to do so might spread mold spores into the air. Instead, RTK will look for standing water, and wet or damp areas. They’ll begin the investigation with the area you identified but will also look in other areas where moisture can enter the home. RTK will also use moisture meters and thermal image cameras to detect hidden moisture.
RTK takes air and surface samples during an investigation in order to determine the amount of VOCs or mold, the types of VOCs and mold, and the location of VOCs and mold. We don’t do surface testing for VOCs. Mold spores are microscopic, move easily on air currents and can get picked up by heating and air conditioning units and moved to other areas of the house. Air samples—taken not only in the area of concern, but in other areas of the house—identify any cross-contamination and determine the levels of mold and VOCs in the air.
The entire process typically takes 1-2 hours but can take longer depending on the size of the areas to be inspected, what information is discovered along the way, and what kinds of questions you may have.
After the Inspection
To ensure reliable results, RTK sends all samples to independent labs accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association. RTK takes those results and combines them with what they saw and learned during their investigation. This procedure contributes to a clear and complete report to you after the visit. Essentially, the report puts results in clear and easy to understand terms and based on findings, makes recommendations on what needs to be done. You’ll know whether the health of your family is at risk and if professional remediation is necessary. While other companies might take samples and send raw data results to client—leaving interpretation up to you—RTK fully explains their analysis and provides contact information for clients to reach them directly to answer any questions.
Should remediation be necessary, RTK professionals offer follow up testing to ensure that the work performed by the remediation contractor was done correctly and effectively.