indoor air quality
SuperTech Team
Mar 24 2020

How to Measure Indoor Air Pollution

Many people are concerned with saving energy in their homes. But today, there is a growing community that is also interested in indoor air quality.  How to mreasure Indoor Air Pollution? You can use monitors to check on the quality of your building’s air to provide a safer and healthier environment. By monitoring air quality, you can stop the negative consequences of indoor air pollutants as well.

The Importance of Air Quality

You might be overlooking the significance of indoor air quality. Some people believe that since they cannot see air, then it should just be dismissed. However, poor indoor air quality can have severe impacts on humans, including:

  • Increasing respiratory ailments
  • Reduced productivity
  • Risk of premature death

Due to those reasons, indoor air pollutants are often ranked as one of the top environmental risks to public health. The EPA estimates that 33% to 50% of commercial buildings have poor indoor air quality. These buildings are responsible for 10 million lost workdays per year. With these results, you might want to know about testing indoor air.

What Is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality is also known by its abbreviation, IAQ, and it can be affected by several elements. One of the biggest offenders is mold. Allergens and bacteria can also cause significant potential health hazards. Carbon monoxide is another deadly hazard, and it usually occurs indoors. Radon is a type of gas that can be emitted by some chemicals in a building or house. Asbestos can also affect your indoor air quality.

IAQ indoor air quality indexOver the last 30 years, IAQ levels have become worse due to pollutants. Many homes have sealed in the air to save energy and to reduce leaks. However, that means less ventilation throughout the house, and it reduces the opportunities for pollutants to escape.

Common Pollutants to Measure

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the main contributors to poor indoor air quality, and they can occur in indoor and outdoor environments. In most cases, you can smell their presence. Some of these sources include items like air fresheners, dehumidifiers, disinfectants, and cleaning agents.

In contrast to VOCs, you cannot smell carbon monoxide (CO). In small amounts, CO can cause chest pain, fatigue, and impaired vision. With large concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal. High amounts of CO can be found near boilers, generators, and furnaces.

Particulate matter (PM) is a mix of liquid droplets and solid particles that are suspended in the air. These contaminants include smoke, dust, pollen, and soot. The particles come in different sizes. You should be concerned with the smallest ones since they can be inhaled. These tiny particles can affect the lungs and heart. In some buildings, particulate matter is created by cigarette smoking and fireplaces.

Humidity and temperatures should also be monitored. They are essential elements for healthy air quality. High temperatures and moisture can create mold. In some cases, certain chemicals can be released at high building temperatures. As you can tell, it is vital to monitor these levels if you want to keep a healthy indoor environment.

Measuring Your Indoor Air Quality

If you want to measure the indoor air quality of your home or business, then you will need a special tool called a VOC sensor. This tool will measure the concentration of VOCs in the air. It can pick up everything from ketones to formaldehyde throughout your home. You can find the sources of the pollutants and reduce their harmful effects on your environment.

You might also want to use a carbon dioxide meter. These tools were created for greenhouses, but they are becoming common in many homes. Carbon dioxide can cause health problems when there are large amounts in your home. If you have a commercial building, carbon dioxide can become stagnant in large meeting spaces. The one drawback with these sensors is that they can only track the carbon dioxide expelled by humans, but they fail to detect dangerous compounds. You should always have a carbon monoxide and radon detector in your home, too.

indoor air quality test reportAll these sensors detect types of input in the physical environment, including temperature, motion, and light. They will transmit signals that will be measured, and you can see if these signs have reached hazardous levels.

The Best Places for Sensors

You should place the sensors throughout the common areas, but they should not be above floor fans or personal heaters. The sensors need to be out of direct sunlight and away from induction units. You should always choose a wall mount. Ceiling and floor monitors do not give an accurate measurement of the environment.

If you do use a wall monitor, you need to consider the height of its placement. The molecular weight of these substances will make the pollutants move toward the ceiling or the floor.

Depending on the pollutant, you need to place the sensor in the right spot. Before you add any sensors, you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular pollutant that you want to monitor. For example, methane is lighter than air, and it is usually found near the ceiling. On the other hand, ozone is heavier than air, and you can find it near the floor.

Interpreting the Results

Once you have the results, you need to know if your air levels are safe. In most cases, it is not always easy to interpret the results. If your family has been sick, that illness can create one or two more pollutants. Unfortunately, there are no set levels for IAQ. Many of the results will have to be sent to a local health agency to discover the cause of your unhealthy air levels.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

When you have all the results, it is easy to improve your indoor air quality. One simple way is by improving the ventilation in your building. You can accomplish this by using fans or opening windows. A cross breeze is a great way to ventilate your home. With good ventilation, you can also cut down on mold.

media air cleaner merv 16Some air cleaners can remove these harmful particles from indoor air. You can find a variety of models from tabletop options to bigger units. However, some of these systems may not be able to remove all components.

Along with all these suggestions, you also need to remove the source of the pollutants. You should safely remove asbestos, reduce gas emission, and keep chemicals separate in your home or business. By taking these few steps, you can help to improve your indoor air quality.

If you think that monitoring indoor air quality is complicated, you might be right. It can be challenging to understand for an untrained person. You will want to hire a professional company to help monitor and interrupt your indoor air quality. SuperTech Heating & AC in Lutherville-Timonium, MD, is here to help. We can assess your indoor air and help you find solutions for a healthier environment. In addition to that, we can also help with other home needs, including heating, cooling, and water heating systems.

For those wanting to schedule a consultation, make sure to contact SuperTech Heating & AC today!