While the air we breathe is all around us, we can’t see it with the naked eye. As a result, we don’t often think about the quality of the air inside our homes or workplaces. Just because we can’t get a visual on indoor air, however, doesn’t mean that it can't affect our health or well-being. Indeed, indoor air may be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, especially if your property lacks proper ventilation -- these invisible pollutants can lead to respiratory issues and other serious health problems. Fortunately, personal air quality meters can detect the level of pollution present in the air inside your facility. Here’s why investing in these air quality meters is more important now than ever before.
What to Know About Personal Air Quality Meters
What Are Personal Air Quality Meters?
As mentioned, personal air quality meters are electronic devices with sensors that monitor indoor air quality (IAQ). These meters vary in size, cost, efficacy, and special features, but virtually all of them measure particulates (i.e. pollen, dust), chemical pollutants, and humidity in the air (certain meters also track carbon monoxide/dioxide, formaldehyde, and temperature). While every device is different, most feature a display that delivers real-time readings of IAQ, broken down by category so you can gain a clear picture of where your facility needs improvement. Some personal air quality meters can also hook up to a facility’s thermostat/climate control system for optimal control and energy efficiency.
The Importance of Air Quality Meters During COVID-19
Maintaining solid IAQ is always important, but it’s never more important than during a pandemic like the current one in which we’re living. Since the beginning of this pandemic one year ago, scientists have found that the virus responsible for COVID-19 primarily spreads through the air via respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles. The push by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulatory bodies for people to wear effective masks and businesses to improve their HVAC systems is due to this realization -- simply put, COVID-19 seems to spread more quickly and more easily in indoor spaces with stale, polluted air, especially when people are in close quarters for long periods of time.
Because the COVID-19 virus can cling to particles in the air, the worse your IAQ is, the more at-risk your facility is for COVID-19 transmission. While personal air quality meters cannot specifically track or identify COVID-19, they can reveal the overall level of pollution present in your air, a key indicator for the spread of this virus. For instance, carbon dioxide levels (which many of these meters can track) indicate the level of exhalation (i.e. people breathing) within a given space -- if CO2 levels are high, this suggests an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. Similarly, COVID-19 seems to survive longer and more easily cling to lung tissue when indoor relative humidity levels are higher or lower than the ideal range of 40%-60%, another measurement that air quality meters can keep tabs on.
Ultimately, personal air quality meters should be considered essential COVID-19 supplies during the course of this pandemic. Installing these meters cannot guarantee that the virus won’t spread in your facility, but doing so can point you in the right direction for improving your IAQ and incorporating better disinfection practices.
Ways to Improve and Maintain High Air Quality in Your Facility
Whether you’re preparing for an office reopening or just looking for ways to continue making your workplace safer, there are multiple ways to improve your IAQ. First and foremost, regularly inspect your HVAC system and components to make sure they’re functional and efficient. You should also change out your air filters on a routine basis as directed by the manufacturer. If possible, consider installing MERV13 (or higher-rated) air filters in your facility, as these can greatly reduce the number of particles that linger in your air. Increasing your facility’s natural ventilation by opening doors and windows is also helpful, though not always possible depending on outdoor weather conditions and operational guidelines for a given facility. Last but not least, if there are any specific sources of pollution in your facility, such as gas stoves or surfaces containing asbestos, it’s crucial to eliminate and/or mitigate these sources to improve IAQ. The readings from your personal air quality meter(s) can help you make the right choices for your facility.
Click here for more detailed information on improving indoor air quality from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Airing on the Side of Caution
As humans, we can only sense so much. It takes purpose-built technology to cue us into important invisible matters like indoor air quality. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, implementing personal air quality meters in your facility has never been so important. At The Budd Group, we can help you select and install the best air quality meter for your needs, as well as provide resources regarding air disinfection for coronavirus and more. To learn more about our disinfection services and everything else that we do for our clients, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!
For more information regarding ventilation and air quality control for COVID-19 from the CDC, click here.