Although outdoor air quality gets all the attention, monitoring your air quality indoors is essential too. Indoor pollutants pose a health risk if not monitored properly. Thankfully, indoor air quality monitors provide all the information you need to detect poor air quality, and when running an air purifier might be a good choice, or it’s time to open the windows for some fresh air.
If you or someone you know suffers from cardiovascular or respiratory problems, indoor air quality monitors are essential for maintaining a healthy living space. Read on to learn more about who should buy an indoor air quality monitor and why you should test air quality in your home regularly.
What makes indoor air quality bad?
The accumulation of particulate matter in an indoor space is what makes your home’s air quality poor. The small liquid and solid particles in particulate matter are composed of acids, metals, organic chemicals, and dirt or dust. Common sources of indoor air pollution include:
- Combustion activities (cooking, fireplaces)
- Building materials and furnishings
- Household cleaners and other cleaning activities
- Mold and mildew outgrowths
- Central heating and cooling systems
These sources’ impact on your indoor air quality depends on the quantity of particulate matter emitted and whether these emissions are produced continuously or intermittently. For example, a significant mold outgrowth releases many spores and significantly impacts air quality. Conversely, a minor mold outgrowth removed quickly has little impact on air quality.
Who is Most At Risk from Bad Indoor Air Quality?
Bad indoor air quality puts specific groups of people at an increased risk for health complications. The people most at risk from bad indoor air quality include:
- Babies and children
- People with cardiovascular or respiratory problems
- Older adults
Respiratory conditions like asthma render people more vulnerable to indoor air pollution. Additionally, bad indoor air quality exacerbates symptoms like difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. In cases like these, buying an indoor air quality monitor is often a necessary health expense, especially if there are already recurring issues with indoor air pollution.
I’m Healthy. Can Bad Indoor Air Quality Make Me Sick?
Regardless of your health status, poor air quality can make you sick. Acute exposure to high particulate matter concentrations can cause difficulty breathing, throat and eye irritation, and chest pain.
- Lung damage, and potentially lung cancer
- Throat irritation
- Chronic bronchitis
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased fatigue
Knowing your home’s air quality is wise regardless of your health status. Even if you are healthy and at a lower risk for contracting a respiratory illness, bad air quality can make you sick after prolonged exposure. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) poses the greatest risk for potential health effects since these particles can enter the lungs and possibly the bloodstream.
What Does a Good Indoor Air Quality Monitor Measure?
Most air quality monitors measure PM2.5 and PM10, but good indoor air quality monitors measure less common air pollutants. Some even include a humidity and temperature sensor and measure air pressure. High indoor humidity can cause mold, and if your home’s temperature is warm enough, it makes the problem even worse. Most indoor air quality monitors measure a wide variety of different airborne pollutants, including:
- Ultrafine particles (PM1)
- Total volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- NO2 (nitrogen dioxide)
- CO2 (carbon dioxide)
- Carbon monoxide
- Radon levels
- Pollen and other allergens
Although most particulate matter is of the PM2.5 and PM10 variety, PM1 is more dangerous than PM2.5 since these particles are even smaller at less than one micrometer. These ultrafine particles can easily travel from the lungs to the bloodstream, eventually entering organs. Luckily, the best air quality monitors like the Davis Instruments Airlink can measure indoor pollutants as small as .3 micrometers.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another air pollutant good air quality monitors measure. Some of these gases are carcinogenic, while others can form into other air pollutants. The AirThings Wave Plus, our runner-up for best air quality monitors, can measure VOCs and much more. Unlike the Davis Instruments Airlink, this device is an award-wining monitor with radon detection, a radioactive gas sometimes found in homes. The AirThings Wave Plus also reports pollen levels directly to your phone through the AirThings app and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- One of the only smart air quality monitors to measure radon
- Also measures Carbon Dioxide (CO2), toxins and chemicals (Total VOCs), humidity, temperature, and air pressure
- Pollen information
- Wave in front of the device to get a color-coded representation of air quality
What is the Air Quality Index (AQI)?
The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is a scale developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure current air quality. It isn’t the only scale used, other countries have their own, and many air quality monitors allow you to select the scale used in your region.
Can you use air purifiers with air quality monitors?
Yes! We’d recommend purchasing an air quality monitor and air purifier that are “smart” and IFTTT compatible. This way, you can control your air purifier automatically based on the air quality readings inside your home and respond to air quality issues automatically.
The adverse health effects of bad indoor air quality might seem intimidating, but don’t worry. Indoor air quality monitors can keep you informed about your home’s indoor air quality and greatly benefit people suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular problems.
Whether you are healthy or have a health condition, an indoor air quality monitor is vital for maintaining a healthy indoor environment.
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