In a recent article published in Forbes, Rasha Hasaneen from Trane Technologies discusses the importance of considering and managing indoor air quality (IAQ). Although the impacts and dangers of indoor air pollution have been known for decades, only the recent focus on COVID-19 brought the topic to the forefront of discussions.
Even a report by the WHO nearly 40 years ago identified up to 30% of buildings had IAQ complaints - mostly related to coughing, dizziness, and other pains. Considering that indoor air pollution has been identified as one of the top five environmental risks to public health, it’s surprising and disappointing that more attention hasn’t been given to IAQ.
While the article addresses a range of indoor air pollution, the primary focus is on carbon dioxide, which acts as an indicator of IAQ. Carbon dioxide has only recently gained more attention as CO2 levels have been a proxy for the risk of COVID-19 and other airborne diseases being transmitted.
The author then discusses how monitoring CO2 alone is not ideal. While Carbon dioxide concentrations can be a good indication of indoor air quality (and especially the risk of COVID-19 transmission, when considered in context), we need to consider other pollutants that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Therefore, CO2 monitoring is only part of a larger monitoring scheme.
The discussion then moves to strategies to increase the quality of indoor air. While the widespread advice has been to increase ventilation, this isn’t always possible - especially in older buildings. In buildings with HVAC systems, constantly bringing in fresh air can result in a significantly higher electricity cost.
For this reason, the author argues that the future of IAQ monitoring and management is based around sensor technologies. With air quality monitors becoming more affordable than ever, this isn’t just something available commercially, but also on a consumer level.
By monitoring our indoor air quality (all factors, not solely CO2), we can aggregate data and approach the issue from a data-driven approach. This can allow us to act on the information and greatly increase the air quality of our homes, offices, and other locations; Locations where we spend 90% of our time.