How To Measure Indoor Air Pollution
While many people worry about conserving energy, there’s a growing concern about the quality of the air we breathe- especially inside our homes. You can measure indoor air quality using special testing tools and monitors. This method will help you determine what changes need to be made to improve the air you and your family breathe every day.If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, contact the experts at Robert B. Payne. We can help you select the right monitor for your needs and ensure that your home is as safe and healthy as possible.
The Importance of Air Quality
Because you don’t see air, you may not think about the quality of the air you and your family are breathing. However, the air inside your home can be more polluted than outside. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks. Poor indoor air quality can have adverse effects on your health, causing:
- Headaches, nausea, and even more serious health problems like asthma or respiratory infections.
- Lower productivity.
- Sometimes even premature death.
That’s why it’s crucial to monitor the air quality in your home and take steps to improve it if necessary.
What Are The Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Common symptoms of poor indoor air quality include:
- Dryness and irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat
- Shortness of breath
Because of these symptoms, indoor air pollutants are regularly ranked by experts among the top environmental health risks to public health. According to the EPA, 33% to 50% of commercial buildings have indoor air quality problems. This results in about 10 lost work days every year. Do you still need the motivation to take action?
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality, or IAQ, can be negatively affected by many elements, but some of the most common include:
- Radon gas
- Carbon monoxide
- Allergens and bacteria
These days, many homeowners seal in the air in their homes to save energy. Unfortunately, this means that pollutants can get trapped inside and quickly build up to unhealthy levels. The last 30 years have witnessed a decrease in IAQ levels as a result of pollutants.
What Are The Common Pollutants to Measure?
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the primary group of indoor pollutants. They are found both indoors and outdoors, and you can often smell them. They come from many sources, including air fresheners, cleaning agents, dehumidifiers, and disinfectants.
Unlike VOCs, you cannot smell carbon monoxide (CO). When it’s present in small amounts, it can result in poor vision, fatigue, and chest pain. However, at high levels, it can be lethal. That’s why it’s important to install a CO detector in your home and check it regularly. Furnaces, boilers, generators, and gas stoves are common sources of CO.
Particulate matter (PM) is made up of solid particles and liquid droplets floating in the air. They include dust, pollen, soot, and smoke. They are present in different sizes, and the tiniest ones can enter your lungs and cause serious health problems. These are the ones you should worry about. They can be harmful to your heart and lungs. Fireplaces and cigarette smoking are common sources of particulate matter.
You should also monitor humidity and temperatures since they affect IAQ. When you have high temperatures along with moisture, mold and mildew can grow, and dust mites thrive. High temperatures in buildings can also lead to the release of some chemicals. You need to monitor these levels and take action, if necessary, to improve IAQ.
Measuring Indoor Air Quality
So, now you know what affects indoor air quality and some of the most common pollutants. But how do you measure it? You need to use a VOC sensor to measure the indoor air quality of your home or business. This tool measures the concentration of VOCs in the air. It picks up everything in your home, including formaldehyde and ketones. You can locate the sources of the pollutants and minimize their effects.
You may also use a carbon dioxide meter. Although they were made for use in greenhouses, they are now commonly used to measure indoor air quality in homes. They measure the levels of carbon dioxide in the air and can help you determine if your home is properly ventilated. When present in large amounts, carbon dioxide can result in health problems. In commercial buildings, it can lead to productivity issues due to its presence in large meeting places. Unfortunately, these sensors can only monitor the carbon dioxide from humans and not other harmful compounds. That is why you should also have a carbon monoxide and radon detector in your home.
All these types of sensors detect light, temperature, motion, and other types of input in the environment. They then transmit measurable signals which you can keep an eye on and can tell when they reach dangerous levels.
What Are The Best Places For Sensors?
Place the sensors in the rooms where people spend most of their time. For example, if you work from home, put it in your office or workspace. If your kids spend a lot of time in the playroom, put it there. Wall mount sensors tend to be more accurate than ceiling and floor monitors.
If you’re using a wall monitor, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the right height for installation. Different pollutants have different densities, so the height of the sensor will affect the accuracy of the readings. For instance, ozone is heavier than air, so the sensor should be close to the floor. On the other hand, methane is lighter than air, so the sensor should be placed high on the wall.
Interpreting The Results
The results of the readings are not so easy to interpret. Different buildings have different baseline readings. The levels of pollutants also depend on whether there’s a sick person in your home. There are also no standard levels for IAQ. You should always send the results to a local health agency so that they can determine the likely cause of your poor air quality and what you should do about it.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
With the results of your IAQ test, you can now take steps to improve the quality of air in your home. You can begin by increasing the ventilation in your home. An easy way to do this is to open the windows and doors when the weather permits. You should also keep them closed when the air outside is polluted. You can also use fans to circulate the air in your home.
Investing in some air cleaners can also help to eliminate these particles from the air. There are many types of air cleaners available on the market. There are small tabletop units as well as bigger units. Choose the one that best suits your needs. You should never forget that not all systems can eliminate all components.
You can go a step further by removing the sources of the pollutants. For example, you should avoid using harsh chemicals and opt for natural cleaning solutions instead. You can also get rid of asbestos, reduce gas emissions, and have chemicals in separate locations in your home or business. These steps will require some time and effort, but they are worth it if you want to improve the quality of air in your home. Installing a dehumidifier in your home can also help to improve the air quality.
By following these tips, you can improve the air quality in your home and protect your family from harmful pollutants.
Do You Need Help With Your Indoor Air Quality?
If you’re concerned about the quality of air in your home, there are many things you can do to improve it. However, if you’re not sure where to start, or if you want professional help, you can always contact the indoor air quality experts at Robert B. Payne. We will be able to test your IAQ and give you advice on what you can do to improve the quality of air in your home. Contact us today at 540-373-5876 to learn more.