Indoor air quality

The air we breathe is the basis of a healthy life.

Why indoor air quality is important

More and more people value clean air. The focus lies often on the outdoor air, although people spend 90% of their time indoors. Many factors such as solvents and fine dust have an effect on the air quality.

Being at home or in the office does not protect us from polluted air. The pandemic reminded us to take proper care of air quality in schools, in offices, and at home. And with good reason: the air we breathe impacts how we learn, work, and relax. Given that we spend around 80 or 90 percent of our time in enclosed spaces, measuring and controlling indoor air quality (IAQ) should not be considered a side issue.

According to calculations by the "Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA)" and Greenpeace, air pollution is causing 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide each year. Various sources affect indoor air quality, including construction materials, stored chemicals, condensation, dust and paints. This cocktail of polluted air affects our well-being, our daily activities, and our physical and mental health, resulting in less personal freedom.

Breathing clean air is essential; in fact, it should be a fundamental human right. Innovators like Sensirion have developed intelligent technological solutions that can be used in air purifying or air ventilation systems. Let’s unleash the full potential of clean air – for a happy and healthy life!

White House Initiative: "Let's clear the air on COVID"

The Biden-Harris Administration identified improved indoor air quality as an important tool to fight the spread of airborne diseases in the American Pandemic Preparedness Plan last September – and the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan prioritized it again earlier this month. A number of Federal departments and agencies – including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) – have worked together to launch the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, a call to action for anyone who manages or maintains a building. As part of the launch, the Environmental Protection Agency released a practical guide for building managers, contractors, homeowners, and business owners to create an action plan for cleaner indoor air. Learn more here.

Dangers in indoor air

Even at home or in the office, you are not protected from health risks caused by poor air quality. Air pollutants such as dust, mold, germs and chemicals accumulate in enclosed spaces. Everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, the use of scented candles or smoking also have a negative impact on air quality.

Indoor air can contain a cocktail of toxins floating around. There are increasing reports of health problems associated with being indoors – known as "Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)". After leaving the affected building, the symptoms such as eye irritations, headache or fatigue subside.

Given that people spend around 80 to 90 percent of their time in enclosed spaces, measuring and controlling indoor air quality is the key to improving well-being and health.

Not only at home: Where clean air is essential

Important air quality indicators

Carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a trace gas. We breathe in oxygen and exhale CO₂. Thus, in closed spaces, it correlates with human activity and occupancy. High concentrations may cause headaches, drowsiness, lethargy and poor performance.

Nitrogen oxides

Nitrogen oxides are produced by the combustion of fossil fuels and create particle pollution. Especially nitrogen dioxide damages the respiratory system. Elevated concentrations in the air we breathe can have negative effects on lung function.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a gas with a strong odor, typically found in new or renovated living spaces. It can occur as an adhesive component or solvent in wood-based materials, floorings or paints. Higher concentrations can cause eye irritation or even cancer.

VOCs (Volatile organic compounds)

VOCs are carbon-containing substances that evaporate at room temperature or higher. Short-term exposure can lead to irritation, dizziness or worsening of asthma. Long-term exposure may cause lung cancer or damage of the liver, kidneys or nervous system.

Particulate matter

Particulate matter of different kinds like dust, dust mites, molds or pollen can lead to allergic reactions and respiratory diseases. Particulate matter from insufficiently detoxified car engines is suspected of damaging the lungs, heart and blood vessels.

Temperature and humidity

Humans are most comfortable in the humidity range 40-60% RH. While dry air irritates the respiratory tract, humid air leads to condensation, which in turn can be a trigger for mold infestation. Other effects can include headaches or even migraines.

Measuring air quality: Our sensor solutions

Each one specializes in something different and is ingenious in its own way: Our environmental sensors detect all kinds of pollution indicators to provide a complete picture of the indoor air quality situation.

References

References

"We are using Sensirion sensors in multiple products due to their accuracy, overtime stability and small footprint. Having integrated the newest sensors from Sensirion, we’ve created an great performing all-in-one monitoring device."

Alex Pyshkin, R&D Director at ATMO
References

"Sensirion is clearly an industry leader when it comes to digital sensors and their VOC sensors are perfect for our devices owing to their small size, stability, and accuracy."

Kevin Cho, CTO & Co-Founder at Awair
References

"Thanks to Sensirion’s high-quality and extremely accurate environmental sensors, the LAIR ONE provides reliable air quality measurements combined with a refined user experience."

Hamedo Ayadi, CEO at LAIR GmbH’s software provider Intelligent Data Analytics GmbH & Co. KG.
References

"Thanks to the sensor from Sensirion, we can ensure that CARU air determines CO₂ concentrations accurately and reliably. We are glad to have found in Sensirion a Swiss supplier that guarantees our high standards of quality and reliability."

Susanne Dröscher, Co-CEO of CARU AG
References

„Sensirion’s ability to cost effectively, package high precision sensing technology in a tiny footprint has allowed us to design sensor rich devices capable of providing more accurate, faster and smarter feedback of the conditions of a monitored space."

Delta Control’s Product Manager, Gamal Mustapha

How to improve indoor air quality?

Put simply, there are two ways: ventilation and purification. Ventilation by opening windows or relying on smart ventilation systems is the best option for homes or small closed spaces if the surrounding outdoor air is clean. If the location shows polluted outdoor air, it is recommended to purify indoor air. Measuring indoor air quality provides data that is used to configure the air purifying system or smartly manage ventilation systems.

Basic measures

  • Ventilate regularly or use smart ventilation systems
  • Use an air purifier or air conditioner to filter pollutants (and change the filter regularly)
  • Install smart home devices to monitor indoor air quality

Additional measures

  • Dust and vacuum regularly
  • Buy green products that do not emit VOCs
  • Use the fume hood in the kitchen and make sure that it is working appropriately
  • Use bathroom exhaust fan
  • Do not smoke indoors

Want to learn more?

Download our indoor air quality brochure as a PDF. Learn which environmental parameters are important and what you can do to improve your health and well-being. Happy reading!

Sensirion Indoor Air Quality Brochure
11/2021
PDF
6.7 MB
Appliances

Smart air purifiers thanks to environmental sensors

Consumer

Smart control and improved energy efficiency

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