The air quality in your home is vital to your health. Poor air quality laced with air pollutants can cause headaches, eye irritation, nose irritation, throat irritation, heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. There are a variety of indoor air pollutants, and testing your home’s air quality can help you minimize their role in your health.
Pros & Cons of Using Home Air Quality Test Kits
Home air quality test kits are easy to use and allow you to test your air quality by yourself. If you find abnormal readings, you can bring in a professional to offer treatment solutions or solve the problem on your own (an air purifier with specific air filters may be all you need).
The “pros” of using home air quality test kits is that you can quickly, easily, and cheaply test for pollutants. The “cons” of using home air quality test kits is that you cannot measure as precisely as an environmental health professional could with expensive equipment.
Quick Guide – Our Top Picks
Types of Indoor Air Quality Testing Kits
- Allergen Testing Kits — Allergen testing kits test the most common indoor allergens such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold. These test kits may offer at-home results or require samples to be sent to a laboratory.
- Mold Test Kits — Mold test kits look for all kinds of mold, including black mold. These test kits typically must be sent to a laboratory for results.
- Formaldehyde Test Kits — A formaldehyde test kit will take a physical sample or air sample to determine whether or not unhealthy formaldehyde levels exist in your home.
- Organic Vapor Test Kits — An organic vapor test kit will look at more than 50 VOC compounds by measuring the concentration levels for VOCs. This data can help you determine if chemical air pollutants are at dangerous levels in your home.
- Lead Test Kits — A lead test kit will use physical samples to determine whether or not lead is present in your home. Most people who purchase lead test kits want to test paint or furniture.
- Radon Test Kits — A radon test kit looks for radon in air samples. Radon is a type of gas that typically shows up in crawl spaces and basements.
Tools for Air Quality Testing
- Direct Reading Colorimetric Tubes — These tubes share immediate results with homeowners. If a direct reading colorimetric tube is available in your home air quality test kit, then you can test your sample at home.
- Air Sampler — An air sampler is a sampling device that allows homeowners to take air samples with potential pathogens and safely store the sample in a test tube.
- Microbial Sampling — Microbial sampling is a method that allows the homeowner to choose multiple testing locations and provide several samples. It reviews micro-organisms and lets the researcher know if bacteria, mold, and other pathogens are present.
Using Air Quality Test Kits
Each indoor air quality testing kit is different, but most follow a similar set of guidelines. First, you must gather a sample. This sample may be a fingernail scratch of paint or a physical surface. It will most likely be a direct air sample. Once you have collected the sample, you will need to place the sample in a test tube. From here, you will either be given a reading at-home or will need to send the test tube into a laboratory for analysis.
Air Quality Test Kits Compared
What To Look For When Buying an Air Quality Test Kit
Type of Pollutants to Test
When testing for air pollutants, we recommend checking for carbon monoxide, biological pollutants (mold, pollen, dust mites, dander), chemical pollutants (VOCs such as formaldehyde and radon) and humidity levels (not a pollutant but important to air quality and overall health).
When purchasing an air quality test kit, choose a device that has a clear and clean display. You want to be able to easily read the screen to review the data of your test. You also want to purchase a kit that includes a scorecard or analysis sheet so that you know what your test data means.
Ease of Use
Purchase an air quality test kit that is easy to use. Choose a kit that will provide in-house results and can give you specific data for each pollutant. Air quality test kits that provide specific data by pollutant can help you determine what specialist to call or what air purifier machine to buy if you see that you have poor air quality.
These test kits and devices cost between $35 and $150 depending on several factors. More expensive kits and devices measure more pollutants and often give more specific decimal pollutant values. Choose according to your budget and with consideration for the pollutants that you want to test.
The accuracy of home air quality tests varies widely. Each kit will state the accuracy of the kit and how specific the reading will be for each pollutant. We recommend choosing kits that offer strong accuracy readings for the pollutants that affect you most.
7 Home Air Quality Test Kits Reviewed
1. CO2Meter AZ-0004
Best Air Quality Test Kit for CO2 Detection
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Carbon Dioxide, Humidity Level|
|Accuracy||0-10,000ppm CO2 and 20-99.9% RH (relative humidity)|
|What’s Included||Device and multiple plugs for different wall sockets.|
The CO2Meter AZ-0004 is the best air quality test kit for CO2 detection. It has a high accuracy reading of CO2 in the air with a reading from 0-10,000ppm. Relative humidity is measured from 20-99.9%. The devices come with multiple plugs that can be used with a variety of sockets around the world. This device continuously measures CO2 and will alert you when the reading is too high. A high CO2 level often means that you have trouble with your return air ducts or that another device in the home (kerosene heater or gasoline engine appliances) is creating too much CO2. This device can also be used in greenhouses to help monitor and keep CO2 and humidity levels optimal for plants.
Steven wrote on CO2Meter, “If you want to monitor CO2 then look no further than this unit. Easy to use, great tolerance accuracy, highly recommended. If you are unsure if you need a CO2 meter, do not hesitate as you would not believe the levels that CO2 rise to without good ventilation. I plan on buying a second unit for upstairs and downstairs in my house. The only thing better than this unit is the Customer service.”
The downside to this particular device is that it only measures CO2, humidity, and standard temperature. You won’t find additional readings for biological and chemical pollutants. Some users have also noted that this air quality testing device needs frequent resets. This means that the unit works best and most accurately if the “reset button” is used every few months. If you want a great unit for testing CO2 and humidity levels, then we recommend this device.
- High accuracy reading of CO2
- Affordable CO2 testing device
- Great customer service support
- Only measures CO2, humidity, and standard temperature
- Needs frequent resets
2. Home Air Check Formaldehyde Test
Best Test Kit for Formaldehyde Detection
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Chemical formaldehyde|
|What’s Included||Instructions, a small air suction pump, test strip, and test tube|
The Home Air Check Formaldehyde Test kit is the best test kit for formaldehyde detection. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC), and the American Lung Association states that too much formaldehyde in the air can cause nose, throat, and eye irritation as well as a rare cancer.
This kit tests for formaldehyde and provides a highly accurate reading (+/- 20%). The kit comes with everything that you need to test for formaldehyde. The sampling pump allows you to collect an air sample, the sampling tube holds your air sample, and instructions tell you where to send off your sample for testing. This kit includes a lab analysis at an AIHA-accredited lab when you send in your sample for testing. A box and postage are also included.
The Home Air Check Formaldehyde Test kit, however, is a single-use test. This means that you can only collect one sample and get one reading. This test kit also only tests for formaldehyde and not other chemical pollutants. If you want a high-quality lab test for formaldehyde, we recommend this testing kit.
- Includes a lab analysis at an AIHA-accredited lab
- Highly accurate formaldehyde reading (+/— 20%)
- Comes with a small air suction pump, test strip, and test tube
- Single-use test
- Only tests for formaldehyde, not other VOCs (volatile organic compounds, chemical air pollutants)
3. Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Test
Best Mold Air Quality Test Kit
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Mold|
|What’s Included||Mold inspection booklet and 3 tape lift testers.|
The Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Test is the best mold air quality test kit on our list. This test kit comes with three mold tests in its package so that you can retest several times. This is helpful for homeowners because if you discover a mold problem, you can retest later after taking steps to fix your mold problem.
This test kit also includes lab analysis for each sample. Instructions tell homeowners how to gather samples and where to send the samples for the analysis. Mold can cause numerous health effects, including eye irritation, nose irritation, throat irritation, rashes, headaches, and chronic fatigue.
The Mold Inspection Network DIY Mold Kit includes a mold inspection booklet and 3 tape lift testers. Users report that this kit may not work for you if you believe that your home is infested with airborne mold. This kit only tests mold samples. You collect the samples by scraping off pieces of drywall, countertop, or a piece of the visible mold itself (if your suspected mold area is visible to the naked eye). If you want a mold test kit that includes laboratory analysis and three tests, then we recommend this mold test kit.
- Included lab analysis for samples
- Three mold tests in package
- Easy-to-Use process
- Lengthy turnaround times
- Does not test for airborne mold
4. EG Air
Best Handheld Air Monitor
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Formaldehyde, Total VOCs (natural and synthetic), Fine dust matter.|
|Accuracy||Formaldehyde Range: 0-1.999 mg/m3 |
Total VOCs Range: 0-9.999 mg/m3
PM (dust) 2.5 Range: 0-999 μg/m3
|What’s Included||Device and product booklet as well as access to a customer support service hotline|
The EG Air is the best indoor air quality monitor device. This device is highly portable and easy to carry around your home in your pocket. You can test each room individually as well as check the outdoor air quality in your neighborhood. This device is comprehensive and examines numerous air pollutants, including formaldehyde, natural VOCs, synthetic VOCs, and particulate dust.
EG Air also has a chemist on their customer support staff who can answer questions and help users review their testing results. This device also allows for an infinite number of retests. The device reviews samples in real-time, and users can test indefinitely. The device also has a clear LCD easy-to-read color screen that displays the overall air quality level as well as individual data points. An advanced fan and sensors easily and quickly pulls in air samples to review for simple testing.
Users report that this unit is difficult to calibrate. You may need to recalibrate monthly, and this requires a complex process that sometimes does not work. This unit is also made out of plastic parts rather than high-quality build parts. However, this unit does measure a variety of air pollutants at an affordable price. If you want an affordable measuring device for a variety of contaminants, then we recommend this home air quality testing device.
- Measures formaldehyde, total VOCs, and particulate dust
- Highly portable device
- Chemist on customer service support staff
- Plastic parts
- Difficult calibration
Best Multifunctional Air Tester Kit
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Formaldehyde, Total VOCs (natural and synthetic), Fine dust matter, Temperature, Humidity.|
|Accuracy||Fine dust matter accurate to the hundredth place, however Total VOCs and formaldehyde readings are relative.|
|What’s Included||Device and instruction manual.|
The Igeress is the best multifunctional air tester kit on our list. This multi-purpose air tester kit offers real-time readings, which means that as soon as you obtain the sample, you can review the results.
This unit measures formaldehyde, total VOCs (both natural and synthetic), and particulate dust. This unit also measures the temperature and humidity levels in your home. An alarm function allows you to set up alerts when you experience poor air quality. This device is also portable and can fit in your pocket. Professional sensors provide accurate readings to the hundredth place for the particulate matter readings. However, the total VOCs and formaldehyde readings are relative and based on air quality.
Some users have reported that the alarm function is too loud and goes off too often. A simple solution to this problem is to turn the alarm feature off. Other users have reported that the recalibration process is frustrating. Unfortunately, every time that you use this product, you must recalibrate the product. If you want an air tester device that can measure a variety of air pollutants as well as the temperature and humidity, then this is an excellent product for you.
- Measures formaldehyde, total VOCs, and particulate dust
- Real-time readings
- Measures temperature and humidity
- Recalibration required each use
- Alarm function is too often and too loud
6. General Tools MMD4E
Best Home Moisture Tester
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Mold and moisture content|
|Accuracy||Wood range: 5 to 50% |
Building materials range: 1.5 to 33%
|What’s Included||Testing device and instruction booklet|
The General Tools MMD4E is the best home moisture tester device on our list. This device can measure moisture readings in wood, drywall, and other furniture or home building materials. This is perfect for homeowners who have had water damage or water leaks in their homes as well as homeowners who suspect moisture problems.
This device is conveniently affordable and provides a clear display screen with accurate readings. Each reading takes place in real-time, so you won’t need to send moisture samples off to a lab. You can retest each area of your home as often as you like. The stainless steel testing pins are top-of-the-line, and high quality build parts that provide specific readings. We also like the protective cap that covers the stainless steel pins and works as a calibration checker. This device requires a 9V battery.
The downfall of this particular device is that the build materials used are cheap plastic parts that can easily fall apart. The device is not durable and will need to be replaced more often than a high-quality moisture tester. However, the testing pins are made from stainless steel and offer quality readings. If you want an inexpensive tester, then we recommend this product. The cost is significantly lower than testers with high-quality build parts.
- Stainless steel testing pins
- Real-time readings
- Not durable
- Cheap build materials
7. Awair 2nd Edition
Best Fixed Air Monitor
|Type of Pollutant it Detects||Formaldehyde, total VOCs, CO2, fine dust particles, humidity, and temperature.|
|Accuracy||Accurate to the hundredth place|
|What’s Included||Air quality monitor and instruction booklet.|
The Awair 2nd Edition home air quality testing device is the best indoor air quality monitor. It measures many different kinds of air pollutants, including formaldehyde, total VOCs (natural and synthetic), CO2, and fine dust particles. It also tracks humidity and temperature. This device can also sync to your smart house accessories, including Nest thermostat, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. Awair can also be set to provide specific alerts on the air pollutants that bother you the most.
We love that the Awair 2nd Edition offers an easy color-coding system compatible with your smartphone device. This system set-up not only provides a colorful and easy-to-read overview of all data readings from the device but also provides actionable insights. These insights can help you make changes in your home environment to improve your air quality.
However, some users reported that the machine has poor WiFi stability and frequently loses signal. If this happens, data is still processed, but you won’t be able to review the data until you reconnect the unit to WiFi. The LED lights are also poor quality and may need to be replaced regularly. If you want a tech-ready device that continuously monitors your environment for harmful air pollutants and offers actionable advice, then we recommend this device.
- Smartphone compatible app
- Measures formaldehyde, total VOCs, CO2, fine dust particles, humidity, and temperature.
- Continuously monitors air quality
- Poor WiFi stability
- LED lights are poor quality
Air Quality Index
The Air Quality Index is provided by the National Weather Service and is a number that tells Americans what the air quality is on any given day.
The numbers range from “good” and “moderate” to “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy.”
The worst designation is “hazardous.” You can check the air quality level in your area daily.
Signs of Poor Air Quality
There are numerous signs of poor air quality, starting with an increase in allergy symptoms. If you find rashes and respiratory irritation, those can be signs of poor air quality. In addition, headaches, chronic fatigue, coughing, dizziness, frequent bouts of pneumonia, and nausea are all signs of poor air quality. If you notice that you feel better several hours after leaving your home and feel poorly several hours after you return, your home air quality may be to blame.
Common Household Air Pollutants
- Biological Pollutants — Biological pollutants are contaminants such as bacteria, animal dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites.
- Chemical Pollutants — Chemical pollutants are contaminants such as VOCs, lead, radon, lead, and other heavy metals.
- Combustion Pollutants — Combustion pollutants are pollutants that are created by a chemical reaction such as an open flame on a stove. Examples include carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, and formaldehyde.
Tips to Prevent & Remove Indoor Air Pollutants
Preventing and removing indoor air pollutants will improve your air quality and keep your home safe. Dust is a common air pollutant and can be removed by weekly cleaning.
Mold and fungus create air pollutants and are caused by moist environments.
If you live in a humid climate, invest in a dehumidifier. Make sure there are not any water leaks in your home, creating damp conditions.
Volatile organic chemicals are off-gases produced by carpets, paint, upholstered furniture, and chemical products.
Limit the number of carpet and rugs in your home. You can also purchase an air purifier to help filter air pollutants and improve the quality of your air.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I send those samples to be tested?
Each test kit has its own instructions when it comes to sampling submissions. Some air quality home test kits will provide a digital reading. Other kits will show a color indicator that you can match to an information card. Some kits will require that you send in your sample to a lab.
How much does it cost to have a professional test the air quality in our home?
It typically costs approximately $250 to $750 for a professional to test the air quality in your home. If you find abnormal or troubling test results from your home kit, we recommend hiring a professional to test your home. These professionals can also help you formulate a treatment plan for the pollutant(s) present.
Could low-quality air in my home cause my eyes to burn?
Yes. Unfortunately, low-quality air in your home could not only cause your eyes to burn but also cause pain in your nose and throat. Low-quality air can even give you headaches, heart disease, or cancer.
Can plants help in cleaning the air inside my home?
Plants can help clean the air inside your home, but you should not rely on plants exclusively. Certain indoor plants can absorb gases as well as VOCs, but you would need a significant number of plants to improve your air quality. An air purifier with an appropriate filter would do a better job of improving your air quality.
How do I test my home for asbestos?
To test your home for asbestos, you will need to take fingernail-sized samples and send them off to a lab for testing. You can purchase a home test kit for asbestos. You can also bring in an environmental building inspector for additional testing and to provide comprehensive solutions.
Do air purifiers remove asbestos?
Yes, air purifiers can remove asbestos, but it depends on the type of air purifier. An air purifier needs to have a HEPA filter that can capture particles at 0.3 microns. This can remove most of the asbestos particles because they are typically between 0.8 microns and 95 microns.
Choosing the best home air quality test kit for you depends on the type of air pollutant you want to measure. If you want an air quality monitor that provides accurate readings for numerous air pollutants, including formaldehyde, fine particulate dust, VOCs, and CO2, then we recommend the Awair 2nd edition. If you want higher-quality sensors and a chemist available for customer support, then we recommend the EG Air.
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