How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

You may be thinking that while Indoor Air Quality may be a topic of concern in some households, there is no way that there would ever be an issue with your own home. Even if you have read that poor indoor air quality may lead to negative personal health effects, it always feels more comforting to not worry about it. However, the quality of air that you breathe may be more important than you realize.

For example, an EPA case study has shown that the accumulation of CO2 can lead to negative health effects for students pertaining to classroom applications. The study states, “Recent research suggests that a school’s physical environment can also play a major role in occupant and student academic performance. Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can increase absence due to respiratory infection, allergic diseases, biological contaminants, or adverse reactions to chemicals used in schools.” By monitoring overall indoor air quality factors like carbon dioxide levels, in a home, office, or classroom setting, you can actually increase your occupant comfort, focus, cognitive learning, and productivity through proper monitoring and effective mitigation.

When we look at the effects of monitoring air quality at home, not only are there positive effects on personal health with proper monitoring, there are also clear benefits in energy savings too.

A key study from the Ashrae Journal says “Buildings that have properly installed carbon dioxide-based demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) systems, can reduce over-ventilation, saving money on energy costs.” The demand for environmentally friendly and HVAC ventilated CO2 monitors is increasing more than ever before. Customers now are taking a stand to reduce unnecessary over-ventilation and also looking at more cost-effective solutions, making Carbon Dioxide monitoring a vital component.

How to monitor air quality?

An average CO2 monitor typically includes the ability to measure only carbon dioxide concentrations. Additional advanced models also include measurements for temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, or particulate matter. One should understand that when using an air quality device whether it is a desktop, wall-mount, or handheld unit, you should never place the instrument near an air conditioner vent, open window, or anywhere that ventilation can directly interfere.

Once you have placed your device on a firm surface or mounted it to the wall, ensure that there is power supplied to the device either through a wall plug or the devices built-in batteries. The devices need the proper power supply to ensure accurate readings. Once the device is powered on, the user may notice a standard 30-second countdown or warm-up period, dependent upon the device. This 30-second countdown will confirm that the sensor is stabilized and ready to take accurate readings.

You will now be ready to measure and view the concentrations of carbon dioxide gas, which will be displayed in the “ppm” value.

In order to monitor air quality properly, it is important to ensure you are familiar with what would define “poor indoor air quality levels”.

For reference, we have included the CO2 classification guide below:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Classification Guide

400ppm – Normal outdoor air level.

400 ~ 1000ppm – Typical value level indoors with good ventilation.

*Note: if CO2 levels are low when the building is sealed and occupied, check for over-ventilation (too much fresh air = energy wasted).

1,000ppm – the OSHA/ASHRAE recommended maximum level in a closed room. Considered maximum comfort level in many countries.

> 1,200ppm – Poor air quality – requires ventilation to the room.

2,000ppm – According to many studies this level of CO2 produces a significant increase in drowsiness, tiredness, headaches, lower levels of concentration, and an increased likelihood of spreading respiratory viruses like colds, etc. Proper ventilation at this level is needed –  immediately.


How to Monitor Air Quality at Home

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