Using Light to Clean the Air
The process of using light to improve indoor air quality is actually fairly complicated, but new technology has made the benefits accessible for all types of buildings. Ultra-violet Photocatalysis (UV-PCO) is a process whereby light energy hits a mineral and triggers a chemical process that results in the breakdown of organic matter. The technology has been around for a while, but a new and improved version of it is available from PURETi. This product can be applied to manufactured building materials and fixtures inside the built environment, which cures to form an invisible film that bonds to the surface and triggers UV-PCO—invisibly cleaning the air. PURETi has the ability to break down VOCs and dust in a building’s air.
PURETi treated windows, window coverings, and light fixtures act as air scrubbers to substantially reduce VOCs and other airborne organic particulates in interior spaces. PURETi is so powerful at purifying the air that it has been incorporated into an FDA recognized protocol to help children with severe respiratory disease. Now, there is also a special kind of light, called ThinkLite, that, when used with PURETi, can actually improve indoor air quality. These LED lights emit the right type of wavelength that activates PURETi to break up VOCs in the air.
City Trees and Living Walls
Indoor Plants are often used as a natural purifier for indoor air. That’s because they clean the air of carbon dioxide, and have been known to remove other toxins, too. The removal of environmental airborne toxins with the aid of plants is called phytoremediation. NASA actually studied this process, concluding that plants are able to clear indoor air of many different types of VOCs, including formaldehyde and benzene.
City Trees and plant walls are one innovative new way that urban areas are using their limited space to increase the presence of vital air-purifying plants. In London, artificial City Tree walls, introduced by the German company, Green City Solutions, have been introduced. These are billboards filled with nitrogen-eating moss and lichen that include irrigation and energy systems and are even able to collect data about the air quality. These CityTrees are able to perform the same task as 275 trees in a fraction of the space. Indoor living walls are built on the same premise but include plants that thrive inside and are intended to introduce purifying plants while saving space. One study explores the positive effect living walls can have on critical thinking and student performance, beyond the obvious health benefits that come from purifying indoor air quality.
Monitoring of indoor air quality is absolutely essential in proactive management of the indoor environment. Unfortunately, for too long, it has been costly and cumbersome to invest in a monitor that can accurately measure a building’s indoor air quality. Many innovations have been introduced to the market that make it much easier to monitor indoor air quality. For example, the TZOA device is not only affordable for building and home owners, it is mobile and works through an app. The monitor itself can even be worn to track indoor air quality in multiple buildings by a single user, and to contribute to mapping data that shows air quality levels across communities. The system not only gives accurate readouts of indoor air quality, but it can also give building managers specific action steps they can use to improve indoor air quality.
With so many exciting innovations being introduced that help promote education about the importance of indoor air quality, and purifying our indoor air, we can tell that IAQ will continue to be a hot topic in building maintenance and design in 2020 and beyond. We look forward to seeing how these innovations and even more create healthier built environments.