According to the US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, the air that we breathe indoors can be 2 to 5 times or even 100 times worse than what we breathe outdoors. Knowing that we spend 90% of our time indoors makes our risk of experiencing asthma, bronchitis, allergies, and other air pollution-related ailments much higher.
Staying indoors won’t save you from air pollution. You can experience it when you are at a mall, at a restaurant or even while at work. And unlike outdoor air pollution where air pollutants are obvious, indoor air pollution is quite hard to detect. But, what if there’s a technology that allows us to see the air that we breathe?
Companies like uHoo have seen indoor air quality problems becoming more apparent, and to address this, investing in the best indoor air quality monitor that will show you the air you breathe, to take control of it, and improve your health and the wellbeing of the people you’re working with should be prioritized.
Learn the most common indoor air pollutants that uHoo Aura measures, its impacts on health and on your organization:
- Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide or known as CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas. It is a greenhouse gas that is natural and harmless in low concentrations, but as the levels intensify, it can put harm on the lungs, affect work performance, and disrupt sleep.
Sources of carbon dioxide include fuel combustion, industrial processes, decomposition, and our body as we breathe. CO2 concentrations get higher indoors when there is little to no ventilation.
ASHRAE has recommended CO2 levels in workplaces be maintained below 800ppm or below 1440 mg/m³
- Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide or CO is an odorless and colorless gas that is formed whenever an object burns. Common sources of CO include clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, generators, tobacco smoke, and boilers.
Since CO has no color and odor, it cannot be easily detected by our senses. Harmful levels of this gas can build up indoors and occupants have no way to quickly detect its presence until they fall ill.
Exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to confusion, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches due to inadequate delivery of oxygen to the human brain.
Carbon monoxide levels shall be kept below 17.5ppm or 20.1 mg/m³ before it can be considered safe.
- Chemicals (VOCs)
The American Lung Association defines Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs as gasses that are emitted into the air from products and/or processes. Some are already harmful when released, some react with other gasses and form another toxic pollutant that can spread in the air.
Indoors, sources of VOCs include paints, varnishes, adhesives, flooring, carpets, disinfectants, cleaning chemicals, office printers, and copiers.
Inhaling VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. It can also cause nausea, and breathing problems. It can damage the central nervous system and other organs. Some types of VOCs can even cause cancer.
To keep occupants safe from the negative effects of VOCs, its levels must be maintained below 300 ppb or below 1372 μg/m³
- Particles – PM10
Particulate matter or PM is a complex mixture of solids, aerosols composed of small droplets of liquid, dry solid fragments, and solid cores with liquid coatings. PM may vary in size, shape, and chemical composition. While there are various types of particulate matter, each of them are defined by their diameter, and those with a diameter of 10 microns or less is called PM10.
PM10 are particles that are so small that they can easily penetrate the lungs. When inhaled, PM10 can lead to a number of health impacts ranging from coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, and bronchitis. This can also lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and even premature death.
There is no healthy level for PM10, but levels at 54 µg/m³ is still considered harmless.
- Particles – PM4
PM4 is another type of particulate matter that is 4µm in diameter or smaller. Exposure to this type of particle can have negative effects on health including cardiac arrhythmias, asthma attacks and bronchitis.
Like PM10, there is no healthy level for PM4, but it is recommended to keep it at 15 μg/m³ or below.
- Particles – PM2.5
PM2.5 refers to a type of particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or smaller. These particles are so small that they can pass through the filtration of nose hair and reach the end of the respiratory tract, which can result in lung and heart problems.
Some sources of PM2.5 indoors include mold, cleaning products, candles, fuel burning equipment, and copy machines.
PM2.5 level that is below 15μg/m³ is still considered harmless.
- Particles – PM1
Fine particle with a diameter that is 1 micrometer or less is called PM1. This is considered as the most damaging of all the particulate matter variants because these particles can spread directly through the lungs, get into the bloodstream, and spread to the organs.
PM1 shall be maintained at 12 μg/m³ or below.
The American Cancer Society defines formaldehyde as a strong-smelling and colorless gas that is commonly used in making building materials and household products. It is typically used in making particleboard, plywood, glues, adhesives, and paper product coatings.
Exposure to low levels of formaldehyde can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. While higher concentrations can lead to skin rashes, breathing problems, and disrupted lung function.
Optimum levels of formaldehyde must be below 40 ppb or below 50 μg/m³
- Air Pressure
Air pressure is the force of air exerted against something or a surface when it is in contact with it. There are two major types of air pressure – the positive air pressure that indicates a higher pressure inside than outside, and the negative air pressure wherein the pressure inside the house is lower than the outside pressure.
uHoo Aura, one of the best indoor air quality monitors in the market tracks air pressure for it is known as one of the factors that affect a building’s sustainability, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality, which eventually impacts human health. Managing reduces an occupant’s risk of having respiratory illnesses and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Light (Lux)
Many perceive lighting as a main driver for energy efficiency. While this holds true, we must not forget that proper lighting also has an impact on indoor environmental quality. Exposure to inadequate lighting can affect one’s health and wellbeing. This can increase irritability, can lead to discomforts, and reduce productivity. Lighting also has an impact on the Circadian Rhythm or the human body’s biological clock, and can result in disrupted sleep.
Recommended light level indoors should be 100 lux.
Acoustic condition is also a factor that affects IEQ. When noise is not controlled, this can lead to occupants being frequently stressed, irritated, and less productive. Unregulated noise levels can also increase blood pressure.
Recommended sound levels in buildings are between 40 dBA to 45 dBA.
- Temperature and Humidity
While temperature and humidity are not considered air pollutants, these air quality factors influence the growth, levels, and production of the air contaminants discussed above. Also, unregulated temperature and humidity can lead to health issues like heat stroke and lethargy. Therefore, these factors should also be kept monitored.
- Virus Index
Aside from monitoring the above air quality factors, uHoo Aura also has a Virus Index feature that measures the probability of viruses surviving and spreading through the air within built environments. The Virus Index uses a 10-point scoring system that is divided into four categories: Good (1 to 3), Mild (4 to 6), Bad (7 to 8), and Severe (9 to 10).
With the uHoo Virus Index, occupants and building managers will have the right data on the risks of viruses and adjust their built environments based on their unique needs.
Looking for the best indoor air quality monitor that will allow you to see the invisible and will help prevent indoor air pollution from damaging your organization?
Explore uHoo Aura today!