Air pollutants should be measured where people spend time
Indoor air pollutants and odors have been increasingly featured in the media, research and coffee table discussions in recent years. To support the discussions and construction plans, we gathered all the reliable information on indoor air chemical pollutants we could find and assembled them here for you.
Indoor air problems and symptoms can be caused by a variety of particulate and gaseous pollutants[i]. Chemical contaminants can be divided into organic and inorganic compounds and can come from building or interior materials, moisture-damaged structures, human activities, or from outside homes or other living spaces.
Inorganic gaseous compounds
Inorganic gaseous compounds relevant to indoor air include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and other sulfur compounds, as well as nitrogen oxides and ammonia. Check out Fidelix’s sensors for a way to measure inorganic compounds at home or at work.
There are also hundreds of organic gaseous compounds in indoor air, usually in very low concentrations. The total number of chemical substances present in indoor air is often described by the number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)[ii]. Examples of volatile compounds are aliphatic, aromatic and halogenated hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters and ethers.
These compounds evaporate off of almost all materials, consumer products and interior decoration materials, at least to some degree[iii]. They evaporate into indoor air, in particular from building materials and their surfaces, and their emissions may increase due to such factors as moisture in the materials[iv]. There are a lot of material emissions, especially in newly completed houses. Emissions usually fall to normal levels after about six months after completion.
Ventilation and improved ventilation can reduce VOC concentrations in indoor air and reduce emissions from new materials[v].
Good or bad VOCs?
Because the health effects of indoor VOCs are poorly understood, the data cannot give an unambiguous black-and-white answer.
There are data on the effects of individual substances in high concentrations, including occupational health studies and occupational medical experience, but concentrations are generally very low in indoor non-chemical workplaces. Limit values exist for only a few VOCs in indoor air[vi]. In homes and offices, VOC levels are generally low and often below the irritation threshold. At low concentrations, VOCs are mainly associated with odor nuisance. But at high concentrations, irritation and respiratory symptoms are also possible[vii].
Put VOC meters where people are
Fidelix VOC meters are best suited for residential, office and laboratory use. “It is essential that surveying is carried out in places where people spend most of their time, and not in places like warehouses,” says Juha Rajanen, Fidelix’s Product Group Manager. He recommends simultaneous VOC and CO2 metering to better assess the overall picture of air quality. Based on the results, ventilation can be adjusted and thus the indoor air can be improved.
You can take a look the features of our VOC meter here.
Contact us – we’re always happy to chat!
Juha Rajanen, Product Manager
[i] Hengitysliitto 2021. URL: https://www.hengitysliitto.fi/kodin-sisailma-ja-kunnossapito/sisailman-laatu/sisailman-epapuhtaudet-ja-hajut/ (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[ii] Sisäilmayhdistys. URL: https://www.sisailmayhdistys.fi/Terveelliset-tilat/Ongelmien-tutkiminen/Muut-sisailmatutkimukset/Kemialliset-tutkimukset (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[iii] Terveyskirjasto. URL: https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/asy00411 (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[iv] THL. URL: https://thl.fi/fi/web/ymparistoterveys/sisailma/usein-kysyttya-sisailmasta (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[v] Hengitysliitto. https://www.hengitysliitto.fi/kodin-sisailma-ja-kunnossapito/sisailman-laatu/sisailman-epapuhtaudet-ja-hajut/ (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[vi] Terveyskirjasto. URL: https://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/asy00411 (Accessed 8.11.2021)
[vii] THL. URL: https://thl.fi/fi/web/ymparistoterveys/sisailma/usein-kysyttya-sisailmasta (Accessed 8.11.2021)