Are you interested in improving your building’s indoor environment? Or maybe you’ve already heard complaints about poor indoor air quality (IAQ) at your building and are searching for ways to remedy it. In any case, it’s wise to be proactive in this area. A healthy environment has a direct impact on building performance and tenant retention; being continuously aware of your facility’s indoor air quality minimizes the probability that an IAQ problem will develop.
Improving indoor air quality isn’t as complicated as it seems. To help you get started, we’ve answered four common questions about this issue—including information about indoor air quality parameters. If you have more questions after reading, you can ask us anytime.
1. What are the major indoor air pollutants?
Some of the major contributors to poor indoor air quality are:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Dust particles
2. What are the factors affecting indoor air quality?
There are numerous factors that could contribute to poor indoor air quality. With regard to the major pollutants listed above:
- Radon forms as the result of uranium in soil or rock breaking down; it can also be released from building materials, such as granite.
- Mold grows as a result of high indoor humidity, and is known to be common in schools and office buildings.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or organic chemicals emitted as gases from products or processes, can come from things like cleaning agents, disinfectants, air fresheners, dehumidifiers, carpet, flooring material, and even furnishings.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) arises from generators, poorly maintained boilers or furnaces, automobile exhaust from nearby idling vehicles, and more.
- Dust particles can be produced by lead-based paint, vacuuming, fireplaces, cigarette smoking, or other activities.
If your building’s occupants are complaining of poor air quality at work, consider how your building is used. Indoor air quality standards for office buildings, for example, might focus more on dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which commonly arise from carpets, furniture, and cleaning products. A manufacturing facility, on the other hand, might need to be more concerned with carbon monoxide, or VOCs arising from paints and solvents. In addition, some of these pollutants are brought in from the outside, and when combined with inside factors, they lead to high levels that eventually become an indoor air quality issue.
3. What are the key indoor air quality parameters?
The EPA, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers), and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) are all in relative agreement on indoor air quality parameters. Some of the key parameters are listed below. Note that VOCs, like several of the other indoor air quality characteristics, are generally measured with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in the context of “TVOCs” or “total VOCs,” because it is nearly impossible to classify the exact makeup of VOCs.
|Characteristic||Conditions To Be Met|
|Particulate Matter||10 micrometers or less in diameter: 50 ug/m3; 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter: 15 ug/m3|
|Carbon Monoxide||Less than 9 ppm|
|VOCs||Less than 500 ug/m3|
|Formaldehyde||Less than 27 ppb|
|Carbon Dioxide||About 700 ppm above outdoor air levels (usually about 1,000 to 1200 ppm) (ASHRAE)|
|Humidity||Below 60%, ideally between 30% and 50% (EPA)|
|Temperature||68.5°F to 74°F (winter); 75°F to 80.5°F (summer) (ASHRAE)|
4. How is indoor air quality measured?
The presence of particular pollutants—including carbon monoxide, particulate matter (dust), VOCs, humidity, radon, and more—can be detected using IoT sensors. Placed strategically throughout your building, sensors take frequent, real-time samples of the air in every area where they are located.The presence of particular pollutants—including carbon monoxide, particulate matter (dust), VOCs, humidity, radon, and more—can be detected using IoT sensors. Click To Tweet
The foundation of sensor technology, MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), is what makes this kind of measurement possible. They translate the concentration of molecules of various substances in the air along a gradient; IoT devices typically use 0–5 volt or 4–20 milliamp (mA) signal. In the case of 0–5 volt, “0” represents the lowest possible measurement, while “5” represents the highest; the sensor is calibrated to the finest increments of that output, so it can relay actual conditions in a way that can be interpreted by the user. Real-time indoor air quality conditions can be viewed on a dashboard, and threshold alerts can be set at certain measurements to alert you when conditions are outside the acceptable range. You can also look back at your readings over time to see patterns and determine potential causes.
An IoT platform can measure indoor air quality so it’s easy to “read” visually—green means good, amber means caution, and red means harmful.
Wondering how to improve your facility’s indoor air quality?
If you’re looking for ways to create a healthier, more comfortable, and more productive building environment—and minimize the probability an IAQ issue will develop—Iota can help. Our IoT sensors can give you get real-time views of your facility’s indoor air quality at all times, making it easier for you to be proactive about indoor air quality issues and hazards. Talk to us about your facility’s challenges, and we’ll help you design a solution that minimizes pollutants and improves your building’s overall air quality.