How To Test For Toxic Chemicals At Home

Monica Gray - September 14, 2023

Testing for toxic chemicals at home is just as important as keeping your home clean and free from clutter. Toxic chemicals are harmful to you and your family’s health, and if you have a chemical leaking into your home without your knowledge, the results may be detrimental. To live a long and healthy life, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, which is why testing is so important. Luckily, it’s easy and affordable to do home tests for chemicals.

The Guardian

One homeowner decided to test her and her cat’s blood for chemicals called PFA’s, which you might find in your phone, boots, umbrellas, camping gear, and more. During an interview with The Guardian, she said, “Blood tests revealed four types of PFAS compounds in my and Ling Ling’s blood. They’re among the most commonly used by industry, and three exceeded the median US blood levels for adult humans. That included PFHxS, which was measured in my blood at 2.7 nanograms per liter, and in Ling Ling’s blood at about 13 nanograms per liter. The US median for humans is about one nanogram per liter.” And while she may not see problems now, you never know what could happen down the line. That’s why it’s so important to test for toxic chemicals in your own home.


Testing For Radon

This naturally occurring radioactive gas comes from the ground. Unfortunately, it’s the second largest cause of lung cancer in the USA, right after smoking. It’s responsible for 21,000 deaths per year, which is why testing your home for radon is so important. There’s no way of knowing if it’s in your home since it’s colorless and odorless, and it takes time to develop symptoms from exposure. You have plenty of options when it comes to testing, including short-term, two to seven-day tests, or long-term, 90-day tests. Long-term tests are always more accurate. Place a radon tester, about the size of a biscuit, in your living room and bedroom. Leave it for three months, and then send them to a nearby lab to have them tested. If there are high levels in your home, simple building work can reduce the levels (UKHSA).


Testing For Asbestos

You can’t account for everything when buying a home. Even though asbestos contamination shouldn’t be something to take into consideration when buying a home, it’s always a good idea to test for it. Asbestos can lurk in your insulation, floor, and wall tiles, and other building materials. This is especially true if you have damaged pipes or tiles. Common places where asbestos can lurk is roof coatings, drywall, pipeline wraps, cement flat sheet, and siding. Get in touch with your local asbestos testers by searching your county’s public health website. It’s safer to have a team test your home than attempting to do so yourself (Mesotheliomahub).

Clean Future

Test For Phthalate

These chemicals are commonly used in plasticizers, which is an additive that makes plastic flexible. It’s important to test for phthalates that may have leaked in food and OTC medicine, too. You can commonly find it in wires, personal care products, children’s toys, and window frames. They’re absorbed by the skin and through inhalation. They’re dangerous because they disrupt the endocrine system, which is there to regulate your hormones. It’s also known to cause cancer. You can easily contact your local testing company to see if there are phthalates in your home (Eurofins).

Green Orchard Group

Testing For Lead

Lead is a pervasive and highly toxic neurotoxin found in various sources like water, paint, and soil, posing significant health risks with no safe exposure level. Its detrimental effects include decreased IQ, nervous system damage, and behavioral changes, making it irreparable once the harm is done. Children under six years old are especially vulnerable and can be exposed to lead both at home and school, mainly through inhalation or contact, not just by accidentally ingesting lead paint chips. To safeguard against lead exposure, especially in homes built before 1978, it is crucial to conduct home lead testing using readily available in-home testing swabs like Lead Check and D Lead, following package instructions meticulously. For soil and water testing, sending samples to a nearby lab is the preferred method. (Life Hacker).

Family Handy Man

Testing For Mold

You might think having a mold problem in your home is obvious, but that’s not always the case. Mold can creep up slowly, and it can disguise itself as dirt. If you’ve tried cleaning a spot on your wall in your home, but find it keeps getting dirty, you can assume it’s mold. Check for plumbing leaks, wood that crumbles, and badly insulated ductwork. Even though you can do an at-home test for mold, this one’s better done by an expert. They’re better able to collect dust samples from around your house and use a more accurate test to discover mold. It’s not always necessary to identify the mold, either, since all of it must be removed (Family Handyman).


Testing Your Water For Toxic Chemicals

The harsh truth is that not all water is made equal. The water we drink from our home tap supply might not be as safe as you think it is. Nearly 20% of our lead exposure comes from contaminated water. And there’s more than lead lurking in our drinking water, there may also be chemicals like arsenic, pesticides, and pharmaceutical drugs. While you can do an at-home water test, tests conducted by certified labs are always more accurate. If you want to run your water through an at-home test first, then buy a reliable one. You’ll want a kit that tests for bacteria, lead, chlorine, nitrates, and nitrites (Safewise).

Home Health Chemistry

Test For Cadmium

You can find this toxic chemical in paint, food, plastic, tobacco smoke, potatoes, and fixtures around your home, which is why it’s so important to test for it. Breathing high amounts of cadmium is damaging to the human body and may even cause death. It may also cause cancer. With at-home supplies, including a cadmium indicator, you can easily test for cadmium at home. Use a cotton swab, plastic plate, plastic cup, rubbing alcohol, and cadmium indicator to complete the test (Home Health Chemistry).

Consumer Lab

Test For Mercury

Many people know how detrimental and toxic mercury is to human health. If you’re someone who loves consuming fish, it’s important to test for mercury. At-home strip tests for mercury involve testing your urine or saliva, as opposed to the fish itself. To be on the safer side, never consume fish more than twice a week to keep any accidental mercury levels to a minimum (Consumer Lab).


Testing For VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs occur in newly constructed homes with brand-new construction material. The same goes for formaldehyde, a type of toxic VOC chemical found in the air. Both can cause cancer. You can find VOCs in tobacco smoke, furniture, pesticides, adhesives, gasoline, and furniture. It’s best to collect samples with a professional pump in your home and send them to a lab for testing. These tests monitor over 170 harmful VOCs found in the air of your home (Sysco Env).

BLC Chemical Test

DIY Jewelry Test Kit

If you love wearing jewelry, then it’s important to test for harmful materials in your jewelry like nickel and lead that can cause a skin reaction. It’s even more common to have harmful materials in your jewelry if they’re vintage pieces. You can test for these harmful materials at home, or by taking them to a lab. Taking them to a lab will give you a much more accurate result than doing a DIY test kit (WikiHow).


UV Light For Pet Stains

Accidents happen. If your dog or cat makes a mistake, it might end up on your carpet or furniture. It’s not always easy to tell where urine lurks in your home, but it’s important to find out. You can reveal hidden pet stains that contain ammonia using a UV light. Exposure to ammonia causes burning of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Instead of putting your nose on the ground and searching for the scent of ammonia, you can purchase a UV light that’ll do the job for you. Wavelengths in the UV light will cause proteins and phosphorus in the urine to glow (Preventative Vet).


Carbon Monoxide Testers

Make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are always on and working. This is essential for the safety of you and your family. The alarm will sound if it notices increased levels of carbon monoxide in your home when one of your appliances isn’t working properly. It’s recommended to test your carbon monoxide alarm once per month and replace it when it’s old (Amptec).