For the longest time, the debate on pollution has focused on outdoor air quality. However, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor levels of pollutants could be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. Indoor air pollution is now one of the top five environmental risks to public health.
Some of the most common indoor pollutants include carbon monoxide, asbestos, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, radon, and sulphur dioxide. Regardless of the type of materials used in construction, location, or date of completion, these pollutants can be found in our schools, office buildings, retail locations, restaurants, and homes across the country.
These pollutants pose multiple health risks at home, schools, workplace, and other commercial and retail properties.
To keep your property safe, it is necessary to constantly monitor and track indoor air quality (IAQ) metrics. You can only manage what you know and that is why you need accurate data to understand the state of air quality and overall health status in your building. This post explores the dangers of indoor air pollution and discusses effective methods of tracking IAQ and healthy building metrics.
Risks of Indoor Air Pollution
In every environment, indoor pollution has negative impacts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution can cause a wide range of adverse health complications ranging from acute lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, low birthweight, stillbirths, and poisoning.
Others medical concerns related to poor indoor air quality include nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, cervical cancer, asthma, ear and upper respiratory infections, tuberculosis, For instance, poor indoor quality in a school affects students’ attendance and impacts community trust, among other negative effects.
At home, you will face escalating medical bills when your family falls ill. At the workplace, indoor pollution results in missed workdays, low productivity, and all of these affect the bottom-line. If you are a school administrator, you will need to address increased cases of absenteeism, the community’s concern over their children’s safety, and regulatory health issues.
Leveraging Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Metrics
If you are a homeowner or a property manager, some of the indoor air quality metrics you should leverage include:
· Ventilation Standards
· Relative Humidity (RH)
· Perceived Air Quality: (PIAQ)
· Exposure limits
· Particle measurement (PM)
· VOC concentration
· Carbon dioxide concentration
· EPA action 3 levels for radon
· The total concentration of non-reactive volatile organic compounds (TVOC)
· Discomfort levels
The EPA developed some of these metrics while others have emerged from organizations and associations in the construction, home improvement, energy, and health sectors.
New Technology for Tracking Air Quality (IAQ) Metrics
With the evolving nature of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and healthy building metrics, monitoring and tracking these critical factors becomes more difficult for homeowners, office managers, retail operators, and school administrators. Traditional methods of tracking indoor air pollution have limitations to the types of pollution that can be measured and allowing secure public access has proven ineffective. There is a good reason to celebrate and harness the power of new technologies being developed to address these issues in a post Covid-19 environment.
IAQ monitoring devices and tools leverage new technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and state of the art micro sensors to track individual IAQ or a combination of healthy building factors and deliver real-time data. These devices are not only more accurate but also convenient, easy to use and relatively inexpensive (similar to the cost of a Ring Pro doorbell).
IAQ monitoring technology works in the background and as a property owner or business operator, you enjoy peace of mind knowing your indoor space is safe and healthy for the occupants. You also receive reports on crucial Health Performance Indicators (HPIs) for your property.
Through alerts and signals, tech based IAQ devices keep you informed with real-time access to levels of indoor pollution. If the levels rise above a certain set threshold, you will receive an alert for you to take the necessary remediation steps.
The best monitoring tools also feature mobile apps that add to the convenience of tracking and monitoring your property’s health. These monitoring tools measure comprehensive factors such as Chemicals (VOCs), temperature, Relative Humidity (RH), carbon dioxide. You receive analyzed findings based on the IAQ metrics you have pre-selected and you can share access to real-time IAQ metrics or archived healthy building data and trends with family, friends, co-workers, parents, students, or customers.
With most people spending 90% of their time indoors today, indoor air quality (IAQ) is a big concern in property maintenance. Owing to the risks posed by indoor pollutants, homeowners, school administrators, builders, energy auditors, and codes-and-standard bodies must rely on relevant data to ensure properties are safe and up to standard. This is what technology-influenced IAQ and healthy building metrics monitors deliver.