Jun 10, 2021

Everything you need to know about air quality monitoring

Alexis Leibbrandt

It is not surprising that air conditions affect our well-being and productivity level. But how to know when the threshold is reached and ventilation is necessary? Read all about the tools necessary to obtain the healthiest environment.

It is not surprising that air conditions affect our well-being and productivity level. However, few people take action to protect themselves against the negative effects of poor air quality. The symptoms of acute pollution can be eye irritation, throat & nose irritation, headache, and general discomfort. With long-term exposure it can cause chronic lung disease.

What are safe CO2 levels?

Sensirion states that ‘7 million people die worldwide as a result of exposure to polluted air’. They additionally found that indoor air quality is currently one of the top 5 public health threats.

Interestingly, contrary to what most believe, the issue with unhealthy CO2 levels is not the lack of oxygen in the room necessary for our body but actually our body auto-regulating. If the concentration of CO2 increases, the inherent CO2 concentration gradient ‘between the lungs and inhaled air is reduced and the body is less able to expel this gas. This leads to higher levels of CO2 in the blood.’

*ppm: parts per million | Source: Kane International Limited

Why is air quality monitoring a good way to prevent COVID-19 contaminations?

When CO2 levels are high, small airborne microdroplets (≤5 µm) tend to be high too. These respiratory droplets work as carriers for the virus and can travel tens of meters, easily traveling across a room. These are emitted by infected people through breathing, coughing and sneezing.

The transmission of such airborne particles can be reduced by increasing ventilation, either through artificial (HVAC systems) or natural ventilation. Airflow is specifically important. But how to know when the threshold is reached and ventilation is necessary?

The tools for air quality monitoring

The Swiss COVID task force recommended using CO2 sensors in indoor closed areas. These measure the concentration of aerosol particles in the air and sound an alarm if the threshold is reached.

These simple and inexpensive tools can help fight COVID-19.

Examples of such sensors are the ELSYS ERS CO2 and the Decentlab GmbH Indoor Ambiance Monitor sensors. These devices measure the CO2 concentration levels as well as other ambient parameters such as temperature or humidity.

In the case of school for example, a didactic solution to raise awareness is proposed by Astra LED GmbH. Their smart lights give direct visual feedback by changing color when the Co2 concentration reaches a critical point.

All these sensors are present in the Device Type Library of the akenza platform. Thanks to the self-service capabilities of akenza, you can build your air quality monitoring project in minutes. Additionally, you'd be able to analyze current, as well as past data gaining important insights into the environment.

Moreover, akenza has added the Grafana connector to enhance data visualization possibilities. A tool that allows you to create custom dashboards and gain insights into your IoT sensor data in a fast and easy way.

The Decentlab Indoor Ambiance Monitor (left) and the ELSYS ERS CO2 (right)

A personal use case - Marco’s ideal sleep solution

Our Technical Solution Architect, Marco, used the Decentlab DL-IAM and a custom Grafana dashboard to make sure he has the perfect sleep conditions. Measuring the CO2, temperature, humidity, VOC, and light level gives him the ability to learn from the collected data and adjust his environment accordingly.

Marco’s Grafana dashboard

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