How to monitor the air quality inside the premises?

An unhealthy microclimate is not immediately obvious the same as, for instance, soot on the walls or sparkles that crackle out from the fireplace. But it is no less harmful because it is invisible. Inhaling dust and various air pollutants provoke allergies and respiratory diseases. And, you know, the consequences of polluted air are responsible for the deaths of 3.8 million people every year. To preserve health and ability to work for working people, complex measures should be undertaken: the indoor air quality service Denver – learn more, can sample and analyze the air to elaborate an effective microclimate sanitation program for you.

Why air quality control is so important?

According to EPA data, from 30% to 50% of all commercial objects in the US alone do not correspond to sanitary-hygienic norms by the content of pollutants in the air. Because of the health issues connected to polluted air, office employees miss up to 10 million working days every year. It happens that employees sue their employer for damaging health and oftentimes, they win.

In addition to the said, insufficient ventilation lowers the productivity of mental labor: stagnant air coupled with the excessive content of carbon dioxide prevents the brain from receiving the required level of oxygen. Oxygen starvation leads to headaches, causes irritability and a constant feeling of tiredness, deteriorates memory and interferes with concentration. So you do have to deal with microclimate sanitation and control the air quality in the office — if not for some abstract humanism then for the sake of your business!

Why air quality might deteriorate

Offices that are located in the old buildings raised in the 1970s suffer the most from bad ventilation and insufficient air exchange — in those times, they had to put more buildings per square mile in order to lower the heating expenditures. Along with that, the inflow of fresh air decreased and, as a consequence, the concentration of contaminants rose in the air. In addition to ever-present dust, the main air contaminants were toxic evaporations of plastic, construction materials, and cleaning remedies.

A combination of many factors, which deteriorated the air quality, had led to the mass distribution of the so-called “Sick buildings syndrome”, which manifested itself in an increase of various sicknesses and lowered work capacity. The people having that syndrome were complaining of cough, being frequently sick, headaches, eye irritation, and the feeling of chest tightness. After air ventilation improved, the undesirable symptoms would weaken and go away completely after a while.

Program for office air quality control

The microclimate sanitation program is a complex work, which is designed, considering the main reasons for the deterioration of air quality, which are considered above. Standard monitoring programs for public and commercial buildings have three obligatory points, which we cover below.

Planning the air exchange and air ventilation system optimization

The speed of air exchange is calculated as the volume of the fresh incoming air, which must go into the premises of the given volume per minute. If the calculated volume is lower than necessary, then additional air pumping-in is required, by using mechanical means.

Controlling the contamination level with sensors

For every potentially dangerous substance, there is the maximally allowed concentration (MAC). One can tell about the contamination level by comparing the average monthly level of contaminants with the daily average MAC. The concentration of mechanical and chemical compounds is defined by sensors. The list of monitored compounds contains:

  • fine particles (2.5-10 µm): dust, soot, pollen, dead skin cells, etc. The MAC level is 15 mcg/1 square meter
  • volatile organic compounds: toxic ingredients of detergents, disinfectants, air fresheners, polishes, evaporations of plastic, resins, and varnishes; MAC is 500 mcg/1 square meter
  • carbon monoxide (a product of not full oxidation of an organic substance, a gas without odor and color, which deprives hemoglobin of its ability to transfer oxygen); MAC is 9 particles per 1 million.

The monitoring of the level of carbon dioxide, radon, ozone, methane, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and other secondary air contaminants is at the discretion of the office owner. Nevertheless, we recommend monitoring the level of carbon dioxide inside the premises as an indicator of workload on the ventilation equipment, based on which automated fan turning on and off are programmed. MAC for carbon dioxide is within the range of 1,000-1,200 particles per 1 million. Usually, 700 more particles per million are added to the level of the street for the sake of calculations.

To receive as exact data about the air content as possible, sensors are positioned evenly across the office space, 1 for every 10,000 sq. f., in places unreachable by direct sunlight. Do not place the sensors on the ceiling and floor, close to heat sources, ejectors, and floor fans. Sensors are to be placed on walls; the height of their installation depends on the molecular mass of the target compound:

  • for substances, which mass is close to air’s, sensors are installed on the walls at human height or a bit lower
  • for the compounds heavier than air — closer to the floor
  • for the compounds lighter than air — closer to the ceiling.

The quality of equipment also affects the correctness of the data: sensors with maximum sensitivity take air probes every 15 minutes. For the convenience of monitoring and processing data, they are sent to cloud storage and are available online upon the first request.

Parameters of humidity and temperature

The optimal temperature range for the offices is between 68.5…75 ˚F in the warm season and 70…80.5 ˚F in the cold season. The recommended level of relative humidity is between 30% and 60%. Significant deviations from the norms are able to deteriorate the finishing materials, prevent normal work of office equipment, and are dangerous for personnel’s health:

  • increased humidity and temperature would overload the respiratory and cardiovascular systems
  • too dry air weakens the barrier functions of the skin and mucous membranes, deteriorates the infection resistance
  • dampness contributes to the growth of mold and insemination of air and surfaces with the spores of molds and fungi, which cause allergies, suppress immunity, and contribute to cancer development. The cause of dampness and stuffiness is usually the stagnation of air masses.

How to improve the air quality

All problematic buildings are different. A microclimate sanitation program is designed individually for every object based on sampling and analyzing the air inside and outside the premises. Also, architectural and planning solutions are taken into consideration, along with the number of people in the building, specificity of the work of a company, surrounding area of the building, etc. But maintaining healthy microclimate parameters in commercial premises is usually possible through elementary precautions:

  1. Limit the inflow of contaminants. Prefer inert materials, use eco-friendly detergents, don’t forget to timely replace air filters in the air conditioning systems, do not keep plastic items close to heating devices, and don’t allow a significant increase in normal temperature within the premises.
  2. Avoid stagnant air masses. Take care of ventilation, provide normal air exchange, and regularly clean the exhaust air ducts and ventilation grills from dust. In some cases, one might need to install extra ventilators in places with a high concentration of contaminants, as well as in the restrooms and other premises with high humidity.
  3. Install professional equipment for air purification. Certified profile organizations select and install air purification equipment. So make sure to have contacts of a reliable contactor if your standard air filters aren’t enough.

The Best Heating Cooling & Air Company has been working for long years in Denver, standing for the purity of air. If you can’t or won’t have time to control all the air indicators, we can help you! Experienced specialists are ready to promptly eliminate microclimate problems and work out a complex of actions to keep indoor air clean so your employees feel free and easy, work at their best, and give you great work results!