Toxic Inhahler
February 18, 2008 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Where can I learn more about professional (or semi-professional) equipment for testing the levels of indoor air toxins like carbon monoxide, radon, mold, VOCs, etc.? Here's a Talk of the Nation show that addresses the need, if it helps.
posted by glibhamdreck to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All of these things are best identified with lab analysis, most field test equipment is just a probable guess.

Radon - there are alot of products to test for radon and carbon monoxide - just google.
For VOC's - the most portable system is a gas chronometer / mass spectrometer combo (I don't recall the brand that I used), and even with this test equipment - it's not completely accurate - VOC's are very complicated and to verify you should ship samples to a lab for verification.

So to learn more about this kind of testing, you want to google HAZMAT and remediation.
posted by bigmusic at 11:40 AM on February 18, 2008

Response by poster: As a follow up, do you have any advice on finding an afordable lab that will do this type of very small-scale testing? (I'm planning to use this data as part of some green building curriculum).
posted by glibhamdreck at 11:55 AM on February 18, 2008

Some information sources that are helpful in this are the ACGIH TLV and BEI's and MSDS's. Most of these types of publications are of the assumption that the "the dose is the poison" and I believe the author in that segment is of the opinion that all toxic substances are harmful even in extremely low doses.
posted by bigmusic at 11:56 AM on February 18, 2008

Lab's aren't affordable. There are plenty of regional labs. I would recommend calling your local fire department and ask to speak to someone on their HAZMAT team and find out what lab they use.
posted by bigmusic at 11:59 AM on February 18, 2008

Wait, why is this necessary? There are toxins in some homes, but the vast majority of people don't test their homes for much beyond CO2, and aren't sick all the time.
posted by ellF at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2008

I don't think it's really neccesary. Anything beyond a periodic carbon monoxide and radon test / regular airing out of the house and a HEPA air filter are all I think I is needed in an average persons home to keep air quality at an acceptable level.
posted by bigmusic at 1:01 PM on February 18, 2008

We use Drager tubes at work for portable sampling of everything except oxygen and explosive gases. Google search "drager tube" - the Drager site uses an interface that prevent me direct linking it.
posted by ctmf at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2008

Drager tubes are wonderful if you know exactly what you are testing. They will give false positives as well.
posted by bigmusic at 2:51 PM on February 18, 2008

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