Sensitivity to indoor allergens poses a worldwide health problem to large segments of the population and is relevant from early childhood to adulthood. Biological contaminants include bacteria, viruses, animal dander, and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation.
Lead paint was banned from residential use in 1978. Effective 10/1/10, the EPA requires special lead dust protection procedures by contractors while renovating homes built before 1978.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) are classified as a possible carcinogen. Studies have concluded an association with childhood leukemia, adult cancers and miscarriages and low EMF levels in residential homes (above 4 milliGauss).
Specific types of coliform bacteria may be tested after a total coliform bacteria test is positive. These subgroups of coliform bacteria include fecal coliform and Escherichia coli or E. coli. Confirmation of fecal coliform bacteria or E. coli in a water system indicates recent fecal contamination, which may pose an immediate health risk.
Coliform bacteria are often referred to as "indicator organisms" because they indicate the potential presence of disease-causing bacteria in water. Their presence indicates that a contamination pathway exists between a source of bacteria (surface water, septic system, animal waste, etc.) and the water supply. Disease-causing bacteria may use this pathway to enter the water supply.
Legionnaires' disease doesn't spread from person to person. Instead, the bacteria spreads through the mist, such as from air-conditioning units for large buildings. Symptoms may be cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and diarrhea.
Water quality is a term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose, such as drinking or bathing.
A water quality screen test can be conducted for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, hardness and pH.
Individual-pathogen monitoring in water is technically achievable but currently unfeasible due to the costs involved and the number of possible pathogens. Since numerous pathogens occur in feces, water is monitored for microbial contamination using indicator organisms such as total coliforms and Escherichia coli.