April 16, 2020
TFW you see an acronym you don't understand. We’ve all been there. For those new to indoor air quality monitoring, we’ve compiled a list of frequently used terms to help keep you in the know.
The Air Quality Index monitors outdoor air quality. When the air in your city is unhealthy, you may receive alerts, such as warnings for young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions to stay indoors, or requests to cut down on commuting during California's 'Spare the Air' days. Conversely, while we shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may hear about better AQI than usual.
Of course, you’ve heard of Carbon Dioxide and already know that we contribute to CO2 every time we exhale. But why should you care about CO2, and when does it affect you personally versus the planet? Crowded classrooms, meetings in closed door conference rooms, working from your makeshift WFH office with poor ventilation - all of these scenarios can cause high CO2 and significant decreases in cognition and productivity.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems can be found in nearly any form factor of buildings, including individual homes, schools, and hotels to commercial spaces and skyscrapers. Even cars have HVAC systems. The purpose of HVAC is to provide comfort (think temperature, air circulation, etc) for occupants. However, these systems can also help with energy efficiency and contribute to better indoor air quality when properly cared for.
Indoor Air Quality appears in the media far less frequently than AQI. However, IAQ is arguably the more important term between the two. On average, people spend 90% of their time indoors, and that figure is from before we started to work from home. Given the negative effects poor air quality has on human health, monitoring and managing IAQ will become increasingly important over time.
Indoor Environmental Quality includes IAQ but may also encompass broader factors that contribute to building occupants' well-being and health, such as water potability, lighting, sound, ergonomics, aesthetics, and more. IEQ has been proven to affect building occupants in positive ways and has seen increased interest in both residential and commercial design, as well as in achieving green building certifications.
Particulate Matter refers to a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air, and 2.5 is the diameter in micrometers. As a reference point, the diameter of the average human hair is 30 times larger. PM2.5 is so small it can permeate membranous tissue and travel into the bloodstream and lungs, causing short-term irritation and potential long-term health effects, including respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a diverse group of chemicals that are commonly found in household products and building materials. They can cause dizziness, headaches, and more serious symptoms. The best way to mitigate VOCs is to understand how certain products and activities, such as cleaning or cooking, can increase the chemicals in your air. Then take action to reduce them.
When it comes to air quality, knowledge is empowering. Awair Element tracks temperature, humidity, PM2.5, CO2, and VOCs. Gain insights about your indoor air quality as well as tips on how to improve it so you can take control of your air and breathe easy.
To learn more about Awair Element, please click the link below.
We’re proud to announce a partnership with Brown University’s Baby Imaging Lab to collaborate on “Resonance,” a project that is part of the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program.
While it can be easy to view extreme weather events as only impacting the outdoor space, this is far from the truth. When natural disasters hit, they affect our indoor air quality (IAQ) and can increase the risk of health conditions. In fact, in 2020, “36 counties in Washington, Oregon, and California experienced very unhealthy air quality ratings due to particulate matter from wildfire season,” according to NPR’s analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.
It’s easy to assume the air in your home is safe and comfortable if your fire alarm and carbon monoxide monitor aren’t ringing. Unfortunately, if you want your home to be healthy for you and your family, you should start paying attention to other factors that could be affecting your air quality. Don’t worry--we’ve rounded up the five most important factors that contribute to the air in your home, and how they could be affecting you: