Making Sense of Indoor Air Quality
People spend a considerable amount of time indoors – at home, at work and at school, as well as in airports, hotels and hospitals. It is becoming increasingly apparent that air quality has a significant effect on people’s general state of health. This is particularly true for children, elderly people and other vulnerable groups.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) means the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of the occupants. The main groups of indoor pollutants that affect IAQ and are most relevant for public health include:
- Biological pollutants (e.g. dampness and mold)
- Chemical pollutants (e.g. cleaning products, solvents, new flooring and furniture)
- Physical pollutants (e.g. central heating and ventilation systems)
Sources of pollutants can release particulates on a continuous or intermittent basis; the effects on human health can be acute as well as chronic. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not allowing sufficient outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the area.
SGS provides a range of indoor air quality inspection, testing and certification services, enabling our clients to meet regulatory requirements. However, we recognize that traditional methods for testing air quality, which typically use one off measurements taken at a single point in time, have become dated. Today, our clients are looking for smart technological solutions that enable them to continuously monitor and analyze the “health” of indoor environments, so they can create environments that are conducive to positive health and wellbeing and promote high morale and productivity.
Working with technology developers in Silicon Valley, France and the UK, SGS has created two innovative indoor sensor-based air quality services: SGS Airsense and SGS Smartsense. Combining the latest technological sensors, data analytics and air quality expertise, these new services offer clients reliable, continuous and cost effective solutions for optimizing indoor air quality.
SGS Airsense is designed for use in business and retail environments, such as offices, hotels, restaurants and retail stores, while SGS Smartsense is intended for use in larger indoor spaces, such as industrial plants or warehouses, as well as outdoors, for smart city applications. Both services use sensors that can be connected via Wi-Fi or mobile.
Every 30 seconds sensors on SGS Airsense measure up to 7 air quality parameters: temperature, light, sound, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, particulates (PM2.5) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sensors on SGS Smartsense are completely interchangeable and can measure up to 30 different parameters.
Already, a broad range of clients across different sectors is using SGS Airsense and SGS Smartsense. For example, a food chain has installed the sensors in several of its facilities in one city to evaluate their relative air quality. With a smart dashboard presenting real-time data on specific air quality parameters, facility managers can remotely track performance across multiple sites.
Clients can also benefit from our specialist engineers who can advise on appropriate interventions, such as improving heating or ventilation, installing soundproofing or adjusting lighting. Additionally, our team of air quality experts can analyze big data to gain a better understanding of air quality patterns and diagnose the causes of peak and repetitive peak levels of pollutants.
There is some way to go before regulators recognize that continuous data monitoring provides a reliable measurement of indoor air quality. Nevertheless, as more private and public sector organizations opt for enhanced diagnostics, a greater number of occupants can look forward to enjoying safer and healthier indoor environments.