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It’s easy to simply forget about air quality. After all, the air we breathe is invisible and is often just accepted as part of our daily lives, but there are many factors which can have an effect upon the air quality of an environment, and these in turn may produce conditions that are uncomfortable for humans to comfortably reside/work in.
Air quality testers are designed to evaluate that the environment around the tester is well ventilated, that is at a comfortable temperature, that there aren’t any excess gasses in the air and that excessive moisture levels aren’t detected. Whenever any of these parameters are outside what is considered the norm this can ultimately result in decreased efficiency amongst people in that environment – if the area isn’t comfortable, for example too hot, it simply isn’t as good for productivity.
Indoor air quality is linked regularly together with sick building syndrome, or SBS. Poorly installed air conditioning, ventilation, heating or other HVAC installations contribute towards making an environment that is uncomfortable for people to work in, leading to the building being designated as ‘sick’ due to the effects it is having upon those within it. Effects of poorly installed system can vary greatly depending on what is actually causing the problem, but common complains of sick building syndrome include uncomfortable temperatures, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, general health problems, skin irritation and various other effects.
This is exactly why assessing indoor air quality (IAQ) is extremely important for building surveyors and absolutely anyone who wants to ensure that air quality is at the levels it needs to be to make the environment as comfortable as possible.
Air quality assessments are used to observe many different aspects of a building. One of the most commonly evaluated is ventilation – if this is incorrectly installed, the air circulating the building will be of poor quality, and those breathing it will be more prone to health conditions because of it. Ventilation also ties in with temperature – if hot air is allowed to constantly circulate around a building with no means of ventilating it away from the building it’ll create a very hot, very humid environment. Ventilation is also worth considering if you have designated smoking areas – there’s a chance that that smoke could get into the building, thus reducing the overall indoor air quality of that particular environment.
The overall air quality index of a building is also affected greatly by chemical contaminants from both indoor and outdoor materials. This doesn’t just refer to actual liquid based chemicals either – many different materials including adhesives, carpet, upholstery and even cleaning agents can release airborne particles that make the air take a dip in overall quality. There’s also contaminants that can potentially get into a building’s air from outside – these include fumes rising from exhaust and chimneys, and both indoor and outdoor chemical contaminants can cause build ups in dangerous gas levels, leading to an abundance of CO (carbon monoxide) or CO2 (carbon dioxide) if left unchecked.
Actual biological contaminants in an environment can cause problems within a building as well. Left unchecked these can cause any number of health problems and build-ups of biological contaminants can come from everything from humans themselves to build ups of bacteria forming inside poorly treated ventilation. Once it’s present a biological agent can easily circuit around the entire building through the ventilation, potentially infecting humans there to breathe it in.
Many of our indoor air quality meters are manufactured by Testo, a leading producer of many different types of test equipment. Devices such as the Testo 435 are designed purely with evaluating air quality in mind and can be used with multiple probe types to evaluate lighting conditions, air quality, temperature and a whole lot more.