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Monitoring Air Quality Is Becoming Increasingly Important

November 07, 2016

But most people are unaware of air quality where they are

It’s time we began monitoring air quality. People are becoming increasingly focused on healthy lifestyles. Monitoring sleep, calorie intake, steps taken.  But many do not realize that our air quality inside the home as well as outside the home is very important to a healthy lifestyle.  But until recently it has been expensive to monitor.  Plus one air quality monitor can up to now only inform you about one room.  Not much use when you are not in that room.  Also smartphones do not offer this capability – up to now.  So understanding air quality has not been possible up to now.

Air quality can impact:

  • Health
  • Sleep
  • Children and academic performance
  • Economic outcomes

Surprisingly, even newly renovated homes can have air quality issues as the furnishings can have an impact on reducing air quality.  Studies show newly refurbished homes can have poorer air quality.

Air Quality: What you might not know.

The risks of a high air quality index are greater than many realize.  Did you know that:

  • A one-point increase in the air quality daily index is associated with a 1% increase in the number of deaths in a given city on any given day?
  • Air quality is the 4th leading cause of death?
  • Air pollution is the deadliest form of pollution?
  • In 2013 deaths caused by poor air quality caused more than six times the number of deaths caused by malaria? This is 1 in 10 deaths.
  • In 2013, the worldwide cost of premature deaths, caused by poor air quality, was more than $5 trillion?
  • The CDC reported, that in the US alone, there were 200,000 premature deaths linked to poor air quality in 2013?  In addition, 130,000 small particulate matter-related deaths?

It is time to take air quality seriously and it is possible with the portable and less expensive solutions that are available.  

How is air quality measured?

Air quality is measured by the air quality index. The higher the number, the more toxic the air. The air quality index changes day by day, hour by hour. So it’s important to monitor it. And monitor it often.

Little is known about exposure to multiple air toxins making the consistent monitoring of air quality is important to overall well-being. Not until now has air quality measurable 24/7.  

Key factors to measure for air quality are:

  • VOC’s
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Pressure

As we learn more about air quality, we can understand the full impact that monitoring air quality has.  Our health and overall well being benefit from being aware of the air quality index.  

Health Risks of a High Air Quality Index

The sad truth about poor air quality is that 1 in 8 deaths can be linked to the air quality index. In the 21 worst-affected countries, nearly 5% of death and disease is caused by indoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization.

The health impact of poor air quality is not obviously tied to poor air quality. Often times, symptoms look like the affects of allergies, smoking, or second hand smoke.  Some health risks are:

  • Asthma
  • Congested Sinuses
  • Respiratory illness including COPD.
  • Sore throats
  • Irritated eyes
  • Being out of breath
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Confusion and/or inability to concentrate
  • Scratchy throat
  • Scratchy and/or puffy eyes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Negatively impacts concentration
  • Feeling abnormally cool or warm in a room
  • Infertility
  • Long term exposure leads to early death

Monitoring the air quality around you helps to pinpoint the true cause of your symptoms.

Indoor Air Quality Impact on Sleep

Monitoring air quality, and improving it, can lead to better sleep and better days. A high air quality index leads to restless sleep. According to the Environmental Illness  Resource Board, beyond the listed  health risks of poor air quality, not getting a good night’s sleep leads to more health risks.

Sleeping in a room with a high air quality index, creates restless sleep. You wake feeling cranky and dull. When you test and monitor the air quality index in your home, sleep improves. With this comes improved clarity, brain function and reduces toxins in your body.

Indoor Air Quality Risks on Children and Academic Performance

It is our moral obligation to provide indoor clean air for kids. The CDC reported that pregnant mothers who were exposed to certain toxins had children with lower IQ’s. They go on to report that pregnant women who were exposed to some household cleaners had children with a higher risk of asthma. In addition, children had stunted lung growth.

Multiple studies have shown that schools with poor quality indoor air leads to sharp increases in absenteeism.  Better air quality can also help with creating a healthy work environment for teachers. Improved attendance for teachers and students, leads to improved student performance.  Student attendance is strongly linked to improved academic performance.

In short, if we create an environment with healthy air for our children, they will have academic success. This, in addition to, reduced instances of asthma and other respiratory infections. In Oakland, California, where industrial buildings shares space with commercial, the asthma rate is very high. Risks in high traffic areas are well known. But it is poor air quality that lingers within safe households that is the scariest of air quality risks.

Economic Risks of a High Air Quality Index

The impact of poor air quality extends far beyond health.  The Economist reports that when there is a high air quality index, employees are less productive. Employees make fewer calls and take longer breaks. A report in the The Economist estimates “On average, a 10% increase in the API (air pollution index) was associated with a 0.35% decrease in number of calls handled per day.”  Poor air quality reduces our most important asset, human capital by limiting productivity and creativity.

Furthermore, when working adults take time off to care for those who are ill because of health complications due to poor air quality, economic losses continue.  It is estimated that nearly 1% of the gross domestic product in labor losses occurred in Southeast Asia due to air pollution related health problems.

The economic impact of a high air pollution index is not limited to employees loss of time and wages.  In 2008, the CDC reports that $76.6 billion was spent on diseases brought on by environmental risk factors in children.  The expense of not testing air quality ripple beyond our imagination.

The air in office places also need to be monitored regularly. Many work places offices keep their copy machines in small areas, creating a pocket of poor indoor air quality. This further decreases productivity.  Testing air quality allows employees to know when would be a better time to make copies and maintain productivity.

Your Home as a Potential Health Risk

There are many sources of poor indoor air quality. For some, indoor spaces it is the proximity to busy roadways or industrial areas. For most, the source of poor indoor air quality can because of partial renovations. One source of poor air quality comes from paint fumes and those emitted from new flooring. When a homeowner replaces windows, small vents can create a space for mold to grow.  In addition, mold contributors to poor air quality.  

Risks for a high air quality index can be anything and everything from household cleaning products to cosmetics. Lesser known products that impact air quality are: dust, hair products, smoke, new furniture, and perfumes found in air fresheners and makeup.

A home cooked meal is far more nutritious than a meal picked up from any restaurant. However cooking at home increases your need to monitor air quality. Cooking with natural gas increases the air quality index. This is not an excuse to eat out more often, it is a call to be monitoring air quality index in your home.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

Knowing and testing air quality is the key to better health.  Having a portable air quality monitor is the best way to improve indoor air quality. The best way to lower air quality index is to test the air quality and know that the level compromises your health.  Having a portable air monitor attached to your smartphone can help improve your health and get better sleep. Monitoring your air quality can improve your overall quality of life. Like a FitBit reminds you to move when you have been inactive for too long, an air quality monitor on your phone can remind you when to improve your indoor air quality.

Having an air quality monitor with you at all times can also help you schedule a healthier life. The air quality during your commute might be better at 8:30AM than 8:45AM. With this knowledge, you changed the time of your commute, reducing your health risks associated with high air quality index. This is information you could only measure with a portable air monitor.  

Galaxy s6 case air quality monitor

Some make the poor choice of relying on air quality apps.  Air quality monitor apps are not accurate and will not give you live data on the air you are currently breathing.  They are a picture of what air quality was at one moment and not where you are.   What you need is to constantly monitor the air quality index of the air you breath. The air that changes quality every second.  The solution is to have an air quality monitor on your phone.

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