Air quality, both indoor and outdoor, is a topic that is becoming more prominent. Experts are discussing how to combat wildfires and smog, and what steps to take to make sure that our air quality is healthy and sustainable. Indoor air quality is something that many people have neglected in the past.
Indoor air quality is still an important part of a healthy home. This is why you should be concerned about it for your clients as well. We don’t have weather apps or meteorologists monitoring indoor air quality to tell us when it’s safe for us to go outside. It’s crucial to be familiar with indoor air quality so that you can educate your clients and yourself.
The air quality index measures the overall quality of air in a particular area or place. The air quality index ranges between 0 and 500. Higher numbers indicate poorer air quality. Each company’s device registered our home as having a good overall air quality index. However, there were external factors such as construction and seasonal allergens that warranted more detailed measurements.
During winter testing these sensors, one of the first things we noticed was that the house’s air was dry at 20% humidity. According to the Mayo Clinic, indoor humidity should be between 30%- 50%. Low levels can lead to dry skin and irritation of the nose. People can feel congested if they have high levels. High levels of humidity can lead to serious health issues like mold.
Our home now has a constant humidity of 45% throughout the year since we installed a humidifier. All three sensors were able to track and update humidity changes, and they were all on the same page.
A large number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can volatilize in the air at room temperatures. VOCs can be harmful to the air quality in homes. They are found in household staples like air fresheners and cleaners as well as new furniture and carpeting.
PM2.5 refers to fine particles that have a diameter less than 2.5. This includes bacteria, fungi, and emissions from oil, gas, and coal combustion. PM 10, which is the largest particle typically monitored by air quality monitor systems, has a diameter of 10 to 20 microns. It also includes pollutants such as pollen and pet hair.
Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer. Many states now require passive radon mitigation systems to be installed during new home construction. When buying a home, buyers are advised to run a radon test.
The EPA (link is external). considers a level above 4 pCi/L (picocuries/liter) to be high and requires mitigation. However, the agency also stated that radon exposure levels are not safe at this time. Therefore, any home with levels above 4 pCi/L must be addressed.
Airthings, the only consumer-grade air quality monitoring system, detects radon over time and graphs it. Airthings recommends that you wait 30 days before you take any action based upon the results. Our home was built 3.5 years ago. It has a passive mitigation system so our radon levels have been reduced. However, many clients have found elevated levels that have been corrected with mitigation systems. Mitigation costs approximately $1,200 in Minnesota.
Carbon dioxide doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s actually a necessary component of the air we inhale. When CO2 levels exceed the oxygen level in a given space, it can become a problem. Too much CO2 can make you feel tired, sleepy, or less focused. It can cause serious health problems if it is too high. We tested three systems and found that Airthings’ View Plus (link is external) model shows CO2 levels in parts-per-million. It will alert the user if they are too high.
There are many invisible factors that can impact the quality of your air, including allergens and pollutants. A monitor is a worthwhile investment.
An air quality monitor can give you the information you need in order to correct any air quality problems that may exist in your home. Your home will be more comfortable and safer if you can address any air quality problems. You can determine the best solution based on data from your monitor.