You can’t see the miniscule particles of dust, pollen, soot, and smoke floating around you, or the nasty chemicals mixed in with the oxygen that you breathe in throughout the day.
However, over time you will begin to feel their effects.
Poor indoor air quality is believed to cause a range of ailments, from breathing problems to, in some cases, death. In fact, indoor pollution is thought to result in 1.6 million premature deaths annually.
Tracking the pollutants that are lurking in your environment is vital to avoiding the complications of long-term exposure to pollutants. So how can you begin monitoring and optimising your air quality today?
Taking an interest in the quality of air in your home or workplace doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, air quality indexes, such as the one provided by the European Environmental Agency, can provide plenty of useful insight that can help you to improve your indoor air quality.
The European Air Quality Index provides an hourly score ranging from good to extremely poor for thousands of locations across the continent. These scores are based on concentrations of particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide (SO2) present in the air.
While air quality indexes can’t provide an accurate reading of air quality in your exact location, they can help you to decide on appropriate actions to take.
If local sensors show PM2.5 is high, for example, you can close your windows until outdoor air quality improves.
The average person spends 80% of their time indoors, but determining exactly when, where, and why you’re being exposed to dangerous air can prove difficult.
With a portable air quality tracker, whether you’re typing away at your desk, in the kitchen making a meal, or shopping for the next one at the supermarket, you can get an idea of how much you’re being exposed to harmful pollutants at any given time.
Flow, a pocket-sized air quality monitor developed by Paris-based startup Plume Labs, can keep track of extremely fine particulate matter (PM1), PM2.5, PM10, NO2, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially harmful carbon-based chemicals that are released by various everyday objects.
With a device like Flow, you will soon learn the places that expose you most to avoid, as well as necessary changes you need to make to your environment, helping you to get into a healthy routine.
Under the World Health Organization’s right to healthy indoor air principles, those responsible for a building must ensure air quality is of an acceptable standard to keep occupants happy and healthy.
Air quality monitoring systems can help building operators to do this, providing round-the-clock monitoring that pinpoints exact issues and possible improvements.
Aeric’s monitoring system uses approximately 20 smart devices fitted around a workplace. These devices monitor temperature, humidity, CO2, VOCs, and particulate matter to calculate an air quality score. Each morning, employees are sent useful graphs presenting vital information from the previous day via workplace messaging platform Slack.
Not only does this encourage employees to take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to consider their air quality, but it also encourages employers to make the changes necessary to boost workplace health, wellness, and productivity.
Monitoring air quality is all well and good, but the information collected is useless if it isn’t acted on.
Actions to improve air quality can be as simple as opening a window. However, air quality optimisation systems can ensure that indoor air quality is at its best at all times.
The U-Earth system, for example, is made up of bioreactors that monitor the environment for PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur oxide (SOx), and hydrocarbons, as well as viruses and bacteria, moulds, mites, and spores.
AIRcel bioreactors placed around the office capture and digest these contaminants, removing the 98% of pollution that is often too small for standard ventilation to deal with.
These systems can be costly, but may be worthwhile for employers looking to maximise productivity. That extra work won’t come without a bonus for you though - you will benefit from improved cardiovascular fitness, less fatigue, and more time (and desire) to do the things that you love.