Keeping the air in your home clean and free from pollutants is the job of an air purifier. Although combative, these devices are designed only to break down and destroy pollutants, not to analyze them. This is where an air quality monitor comes into the equation. Today’s leading air quality monitors are designed to detect pollutants circulating in the air in your home. Here’s why it’s important.
Pollutants in our homes
Two of the most common air pollutants are fine particles and volatile organic compounds. Fine particles (PM 2.5) are microcosmic air particles with indoor and outdoor sources. They are created by everything from cooking and tobacco smoke to vehicle exhausts and forest fires. Capable of being transported miles from their origin by the wind, fine particles can wreak havoc on people with respiratory and heart problems, children and the elderly.
Then there is volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Emitted as a gas from common solids and liquids found in our homes (cleaning products, pesticides and even printers), long term exposure to VOCs can cause breathing problems, nausea and memory loss.
Another pollutant is radon. Created when chemical radium (found in rocks, soils and natural waters of the earth) begins to break down. Houses with basements and garages are particularly sensitive to high levels of radon. Although low levels are present in most homes, long-term exposure to high levels of radon can cause everything from respiratory complications to increased risk of lung cancer.
Fortunately, there are many ways to mitigate air pollutants of all types. Fine particles can be handled by air purifiers, fans and often just by breaking a window every now and then; the same goes for VOCs. While most homes experience some sort of radon intrusion, homes with high radon levels may require the purchase of sophisticated radon removal equipment.
When it comes to any type of airborne pollutant, the key is to get ahead. This is what an air quality monitor is for.
Air quality monitors: the more you know
Available from many reputable brands, air quality monitors are designed to track and monitor air pollutants in your home. Basic monitors require nothing more than a powered connection to be operational. Once activated, the monitors use a number of intuitive sensors to analyze your air for fine particles, VOCs, radon, carbon monoxide, and more. Advanced monitors even have the ability to pair with your phone (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) to provide up-to-date coverage of current, past and projected pollutant levels. High-end models can also measure additional air quality variables, such as humidity and temperature.
Although there is no real wrong Where to place your home air quality monitor, there are several key locations that should be considered when deciding which rooms need the most air quality attention. Based on our own experience with air quality monitors, here are a number of places where an air quality monitor might be most effective.
It’s a fact: most homes have basements. The problem is, basements tend to be radon hot spots. This is due to the radium naturally present in the rocks, soil and water around the foundations of our homes. When radium decays, radon levels begin to rise, in part due to porous foundation materials like poured concrete and limestone (more common in older homes). Additionally, basements (especially unfinished ones) tend to serve as storage for many homeowners. Paint, paint thinner, glue, pesticides and other chemicals are often left in the basement, which can lead to build-ups of harmful pollutants.
If your basement is your home’s primary storage space, especially for building materials, we recommend that you install an air quality monitor in the basement at all times. Have a partition? Pick a sunny day and open it for a few hours. While one or two stray insects can get in, you are helping to leave behind huge amounts of pollutants outside.
Whether it’s detached, attached, or shared with neighbors in the building, your home’s garage is a close behind the basement for things like high radon, carbon monoxide, and VOCs. Everything from paint cans to pesticides is in the garage, as well as much-needed outdoor gear like lawn mowers, snowblowers and, of course, our cars. As mentioned above, vehicle and equipment exhaust fumes are one of the main causes of VOC pollutants. When it comes to radon, many garages are built on simple concrete slabs that may be no more than a foot or two off the ground, close to the sources of radium decay in the surrounding land.
If your garage is home to building materials, exhaust equipment, or if you are concerned about excessive radon exposure, consider installing an air quality monitor somewhere in the garage that you can easily see and interact with. with him. Good weather in the forecast? Plan a home day and leave the garage door ajar for several hours to ventilate the square footage.
Regarding our kitchens, one of the the biggest culprits of the pollutants emitted is the myriad of devices we use to cook our food, boil water, clean our dishes, and more. When it comes to cooking a meal, fuel-burning appliances like ovens and stoves can release harmful chemicals like nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the air. For those of us who tend to cook on the stovetop, heating fatty foods, butter, and olive oil can release VOCs. Dishwashers are also likely to release VOCs from evaporative steam that occurs during a normal wash cycle.
While running the range hood or fan in your over-the-range microwave is always a good idea, these vents can’t do much, especially if you don’t ventilate to the outside. Run an air quality monitor in your kitchen to keep an eye out for the types of pollutants your appliances and cooking practices evoke. Mitigating can mean nothing more than cracking a window or running your home’s HVAC system, but getting pollutants under control before a serious build-up is essential.
Although you won’t find stoves and dishwashers in your room, there are many other sources of indoor air pollutants to worry about. Excited by this new carpet for which you have just spent an arm and a leg? We recommend that you sleep with the windows open for a while. Carpets (especially newer rugs) are made from a number of man-made chemicals and can release a heavy load of VOCs into your home during the first few weeks of installation. Candles, vacuums, cleaning products, and houseplants are all essential to maintaining a clean and bright home, but they are also common sources of pollutants.
In addition to an air quality monitor, consider installing an air purifier in rooms with high pollutant levels. After all, these are the rooms we sleep in every night, so keeping the air easy to breathe can help with everything. from snoring to proper circadian sleep cycles.
Bathrooms tend to be part of the the most polluting rooms in our homes. Mold thrives in humid environments, various candidates often contain preservatives that can break down into formaldehyde, and bath rugs and other plush accessories can cling to everything from dander to toxic chemicals. Simply put: any bathroom could be equipped with an air quality monitor.
Does the monitor detect high pollutants? Staying aware of the bathroom (s) in your home is your best defense. Create a cleaning program that you and your family can join. Be sure to wash, vacuum, and air out the walls and floors. When you’re done showering, dry everything in the tub and run your bathroom’s exhaust fan to remove excess moisture from the air.
Nurseries / changing rooms
The room where we change, breastfeed and sleep our little ones for a nap, the nursery / changing room is a room in which we always recommends keeping an air quality monitor. While it’s no surprise that the coat time can be a bit messy, some of the long term effects of ruptured disposable diapers can be devastating to the environment. Infants are also exposed to a number of scent-emitting products which can break down into VOCs. It can be anything from baby shampoo oils and creams.
Our advice: break a window, run your HVAC, disinfect and vacuum regularly. And pay attention to the air quality readings from your trusty monitor.
Last but not least, we have arrived at the sacred utility locker. At first glance, these small, hidden rooms may house nothing more than an oven, water heater, shelves of cleaning supplies, and other junk. While the quintessential home hardware like our HVAC systems and hot water tanks are manufactured for years of long term operation, any minor defect in these components can result in high levels of pollutants in the house, in particular VOCs.
If your air quality monitor is giving high readings for your cargo area, it might be time to call in the pros. Scheduling annual maintenance calls with HVAC professionals is essential to ensuring a long, healthy life for any basic equipment that heats, cools, and provides much-needed hot water to our homes.