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Monitoring Human-Based Indoor Air Pollution

Posted on March 6, 2020
Crowd of people walking down the stairs

A team of engineers at Purdue University, Indiana, USA, recently undertook one of the largest studies of indoor air pollution to date. Using an array of sensors to precisely monitor four open-plan office spaces and track the flow of air within the ventilation system, the team utilised a highly sensitive ‘nose’ to measure levels of indoor pollution caused by humans.

This ‘nose’, usually used for the measurement of outdoor air quality, allowed the engineers to ‘sniff’ out compounds contained in human breath in real-time.

Using their equipment, the team noted that isoprene and other volatile compounds linger in the office even once people are no longer in the room. It was also found that the concentrations of these compounds were increased based on the number of occupants within a given room.

Assistant professor of civil engineering, Brandon Boor said: “If we want to provide better air quality for office workers to improve their productivity, it is important first to understand what’s in the air and what factors influence the emissions and removal of pollutants.”

Additionally, the team discovered the creation of new, more toxic compounds, unique to the indoor human environment. They noted that ozone, the particulate pollutant produced by internal combustion engines and power plants, could mix with compounds released from peeling an orange to produce new, tiny particles.

These new particles are so small that they are able to reach the deepest parts of a person’s lungs, posing a new, toxic risk to building occupants.

Chemicals emitted from self-care products such as deodorant, makeup and hairspray are also suspected of having an adverse effect on outdoor pollution levels as the ventilation system carries them outdoors.

These findings, combined with employee exposure to pollutants during their commute, are leading to increased pressure on employers to allow home working, in order to limit harmful exposure and protect health.

Part of protecting employees from health risks caused by indoor air pollution is effective ventilation controlled by an array of industry-leading sensors and transmitters.

At Omni Sensors and Transmitters, we specialise in the supply of a range of leading sensors and transmitters, including those tailored to the measurement of indoor air pollution.

To browse our range of sensors and transmitters, click here, or contact us to learn more.

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