Indoor Air Quality: Tips for Testing and How To Improve It

Indoor Air Quality: Tips for Testing and How To Improve It

Posted by William Kimmell on 12th Nov 2021

The air you breathe must be free of dangerous contaminants to remain safe and healthy. You must protect yourself from potentially toxic gases in your home or workplace, and you should regularly evaluate the air quality around you if there is a risk of harm. Continue reading our guide to find tips for testing indoor air quality and how to improve it.

What Is Great Air Quality?

Before you can try improving indoor air, you need to understand what constitutes good air quality. Several factors go into producing a healthy environment where people can safely breathe in the air.

You Need Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is the delivery and extraction of air from within a building. This can involve drawing in outside air, cooling it and mixing it with inside air, spreading that air throughout the structure, and transferring part of the indoor air outdoors. When one or more of these operations are underperforming, it can lead to severe reductions in air quality.

Commercial buildings and industrial workplaces use mechanical ventilation, such as fans and ductwork, as part of their heating and HVAC systems. You can also achieve natural ventilation in many spaces by opening doors and windows. You can measure the “ventilation rate” by calculating the amount of outside air delivered into a room per unit of time, typically represented in cubic feet per minute (cfm).

You Need To Avoid Contamination in the Air

Many contaminants that negatively influence indoor air quality originate within a building; however, you can also pick them up from the outside. These contaminants can be biological, chemical, or explosive in nature. When you allow these pollutants to release into the air, you and those around you risk health consequences.

The Temperature and Humidity Levels Need To Be Under Control

Temperature and humidity are essential aspects of air quality because they affect people’s comfort. Temperature and humidity levels that are excessively high, however, present additional risks. Mold can grow in high-humidity environments, and the speed at which chemicals get released from building materials is faster the warmer it is.

It can be challenging to manage indoor temperatures due to a variety of factors. These can include heat from the sun, the pace of outdoor ventilation, and other external circumstances. Indoor temperatures should be between 68.5 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 75 to 80.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. You should try and keep humidity levels below 60 percent for maximum comfort and mold growth prevention.

What Airborne Contaminants Are You Searching For?

Different workplaces and homes deal with different potential airborne contaminants. You need to understand what type of hazards you should expect to give yourself the best protection. Below are just some examples of potential threats.

Carbon Monoxide Leaking Into the Air

When you inhale carbon monoxide (CO), it displaces the oxygen in your bloodstream, depriving your heart, brain, and other essential organs of oxygen in the process. Large concentrations of CO can overwhelm you in mere minutes, causing you to lose consciousness and asphyxiate. CO is a typical industrial danger that results from the inadequate burning of carbon-containing materials, such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood.

Watch for Formaldehyde

When formaldehyde is present in the air, you may suffer watery eyes, burning sensations in the nose and throat, coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation. Automobile exhaust is a significant generator of formaldehyde. You can frequently find the chemical in houses with pressed wood products containing formaldehyde resins.

Radiation Can Be Extremely Dangerous to Your Body

There are typically extremely small doses of radiation in the air around you, especially when you take a flight or get an X-ray. However, radiation can build in your body in much larger quantities, causing tissue damage and cancer over time. Extremely low frequency (ELF) induction furnaces and high-voltage power lines are two familiar sources of significant exposure.

How To Test the Air Quality

Indoor air pollution is one of the greatest threats to public safety. You need to test and monitor these dangerous substances to ensure the air is safe to breathe.

It All Starts With the Right Detection Equipment

Gas detection equipment senses different environmental inputs—for example, light, motion, temperature, and so on—and converts that information into an electrical signal that you can measure. These detectors sound an alarm to people nearby when they identify a specific concentration of a particular contaminant.

Different detectors look for various different pollutants. Some of the contaminants they can measure include the following:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carbon dioxide
  • VOCs
  • Oxygen
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Combustibles
  • Radon
  • Particulate matter
  • Formaldehyde
  • Humidity

Monitoring Carbon Dioxide Can Save Your Business Money

CO2 goes into the air in proportion to the number of people in a room or building. You need to actively bring in outside air through a ventilation system to prevent CO2 levels from becoming too high, but this can overwork systems. You can maintain healthy air quality while lowering your energy use by monitoring CO2 levels and delivering ventilation as needed (called demand control ventilation).

Carefully Place Fixed Detectors

You should place sensors in communal areas away from HVAC units and sunlight to ensure accurate monitoring. Your best bet is to mount them on a wall, as floors and ceilings may not represent the actual breathable environment.

The exact positioning of detection equipment also depends on the precise gas hazard you're looking for. For example, methane is lighter than air, so you'll frequently find the most significant concentrations toward the ceiling. Ozone, on the other hand, is heavier than air and tends to settle toward the ground.

How To Improve Air Quality

There's no one way to improve air quality, as sometimes it can be the result of a one-off incident, and you can solve it by doing something as simple as opening a window or setting up a fan. Other times, the issue may be more complex and depend on your air monitoring system analysis. Here are some helpful tips for general improvement.

Keep Workplace Clean

You can minimize mold, dust, allergies, and toxins that can spread in the air by keeping a clean workplace. Consider implementing environmentally friendly cleaning products that don't emit harmful chemicals.

Use Contamination Safety Measures

You need to safely store materials and equipment that can release harmful gases away from the general population. You should only operate around these materials with the proper safety equipment.

Schedule Regular HVAC Cleaning

You should clean out your HVAC systems regularly. Change out the filters frequently to stop dust, allergens, and other airborne pollutants from circulating into your indoor air.

We hope this guide featuring tips for testing indoor air quality and how to improve it will help you keep your air safe. TG Technical Services provides a comprehensive range of gas detection equipment for your home or business. Check out our formaldehyde detectors that provide reliable monitoring. Feel free to contact us with any questions about our products.