What is air quality?
Air of good quality is air in which there are no known contaminants at harmful concentrations. Air pollution can have a negative impact on our health; from short term effects such as eye irritation and coughs to long term effects such as respiratory infections and cancer. The effect on health depends on the contaminant concentration and exposure time.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
In the UK, people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. The quality of indoor air is affected not only by outdoor pollution, but also by indoor sources and inadequate ventilation. Tobacco smoke, mould, and chemicals released from synthetic fabrics, paints, furnishings and household products are some of the sources of contaminants that make indoor air worse than outdoor air at times. Indoor air pollutants may be biological, such as dust mite faeces, mould spores, viruses and pollen, or chemical, such as carbon monoxide, ozone and volatile organic compounds.
Download the free BSRIA Indoor Air Quality Topic Guide.
How to assess indoor air quality
Given the impact of air quality on the health and wellbeing of building occupants, measuring IAQ is a vital step in managing the indoor environment to ensure that exposure to harmful contaminants is kept to a safe level.
Find out more about harmful contaminants at the BSRIA Blog.
To demonstrate how air quality can be monitored, BSRIA has installed air monitors throughout its UK premises and has made the live data publicly visible.
View the live data from BSRIA’s air monitoring initiative.
Indoor air quality sensors were installed throughout BSRIA’s offices and meeting rooms as part of the effort to support the wellbeing of staff, delegates to BSRIA training courses, and other visitors.
View BSRIA Instrument Solutions range of air quality instrumentation.
BSRIA Microclimate Team Leader, Calum Maclean, describes the process of monitoring air quality at BSRIA's premises in this video.
How to improve indoor air quality
Monitoring IAQ is just one of the steps required to effect a positive change in the indoor environment. Prior to installing the sensors, BSRIA indoor air quality specialists carried out an extensive investigation of its premises. This included measuring ventilation system volume airflow rates, verifying the air distribution within the building, and quantifying air changes per hour using carbon dioxide tracer gas tests.
This exercise provided an actual baseline dataset to establish if CO₂ concentrations below 800ppm in line with the REHVA guidance on reliable indoor air quality could be maintained across the premises and in meeting rooms. The outcome of the measurements prompted the installation of additional local extraction fans to ensure safe and comfortable occupancy.