Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic and the struggle to get tenants, employees and customers to return has building owners scrambling for solutions. Good indoor air quality has become an important guideline for reopening, prompting the demand for products that can provide confidence about the health and safety of building occupants. Among them, indoor air quality monitoring devices are increasingly getting attention with studies that show the relation of air quality and the transmission of the virus. Commercial property owners and facility managers are turning to indoor air quality sensors to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
To be clear, the virus cannot be detected directly in the air, and there is no sensor technology as of yet that can identify virus nuclei present in the air in real-time. What is possible is monitoring and measuring air quality factors that contribute to creating a favorable environment for the virus to survive and get transmitted. There are a number of different iterations of such devices that are available in the market, and finding one that fits your building requirements may be tricky.
The best and most helpful solutions are those that tell you exactly the issues that matter so you can immediately take action and fix what matters. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing an indoor air quality solution to create a building that’s healthy and safe from viruses:
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. To deal with the coronavirus and other harmful viruses, you need the right sensors to measure the relevant air quality factors that influence their survival and transmission. Measuring carbon dioxide levels can help you to ascertain if there are too many people in a given space or if there is insufficient ventilation. Temperature readings below or above optimum levels can increase the risk of virus survival and transmission indoors. Relative humidity below 40% can make people more susceptible to cold viruses whereas humidity above 70% can be harmful to people with weakened immune systems. Dust or particulate matter are known to carry microbiomes that can be reservoirs for harmful pathogens. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide levels above the ideal range of 53 ppb can lead to respiratory irritations that lower your immunity against viruses.
It goes without saying that the sensors should be fairly accurate and provide you a real-time assessment of all these indoor air quality factors.
Sensor readings don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to interpret them. The air quality data should be laid out in a simple and easy way for you to build informed insights about your specific situation. Various factors affect air quality, including habits, density, and spaces, and it’s important for you to take everything into consideration. You need to see clearly and make sense of trends and patterns. Visual cues, such as color-coded levels and risk scoring, help make users understand if indoor situations are likely safe or likely problematic. Being able to visualize the peaks and valleys when they happen can help to identify what causes them. You can also understand how to use your spaces in an optimal way when you can see and compare your air quality data in the different locations in one centralized dashboard or screen.
Information without understanding is pointless, and knowledge without action is useless. Your indoor air quality monitor should ultimately drive you to take action and control the factors that can minimize indoor air pollution and the risk of virus transmission. Alert notifications when any of the air quality parameters fall below or above thresholds can help you to promptly resolve the situation. It also helps to have handy suggestions on improving your air quality so you won’t need to spend unnecessary time and effort looking for solutions. Moreover it can simplify your processes when your indoor air quality monitor can manage and integrate with your heating, cooling, ventilation and air conditioning systems giving you better control of your indoor environment. And by sharing air quality data from your dashboards, you can provide the much-needed confidence to your tenants, employees and customers so they would be comfortable to return to your building.
Indoor air quality monitoring is a cost-effective way to assess your indoor environment and keep it as healthy and as safe as possible. The criteria above can help you critically evaluate and choose the right solution for your needs.