Air renewal in offices is essential to ensure good indoor air quality (IAQ) in a work environment. That’s why knowing how to test the air quality in your office is so important.
Headaches, loss of concentration, stuffiness, reduced productivity… wouldn’t it be interesting to know when and how much to ventilate in order to improve the quality of the air we breathe?
What does ventilation mean?
One of the main purposes of ventilation is the renewal of indoor air. This means removing stale or poor quality indoor air and replacing it with new air from outside.
This is done to eliminate pollutants that may have accumulated in the air as we explained in this article and, speaking specifically of air quality in offices, we must bear in mind that due to their casuistry, a greater volume of CO2 and humidity is generated when a large number of people coexist in the same space.
In addition, building construction materials, furniture, cleaning products or printing machines, photocopying, some types of plastic are major sources of pollutants.
Even the environment in which the office is located can lead to high concentrations of volatile organic compounds (paint, varnish, wood, steel, cosmetics, pharmaceutical industries, etc.) and particulate matter (loading and unloading of goods, vehicle traffic, etc.).
Methods of air renewal
Broadly speaking, we can classify the types of ventilation as follows (extended information here):
- Natural ventilation: a type of ventilation where no mechanical elements are used and air circulation and renewal takes place naturally (e.g. windows).
- Mechanical ventilation: air extraction is carried out by means of machinenery.
- Hybrid or mixed-mode ventilation: relies on natural driving forces to provide the desired flow rate and uses mechanical ventilation when the natural ventilation flow rate is too low.
We also know that the quality of indoor air depends directly on the quality of outdoor air, since the renewal will be done by bringing in air from outside.
It is important to mention that the optimum level of indoor air quality in offices in Spain is regulated by regulations such as the Technical Building Code (CTE) with its Basic Document CTE DB HS3 – Habitability and Health – Indoor Air Quality and the Regulation of Thermal Installations in Buildings (RITE).
When and how to improve indoor air quality in your office?
Knowing the negative effects that breathing poor quality air has on people, it is very interesting to know in advance when it is necessary to ventilate in order to do so preventively.
Therefore, the most important thing when assessing whether it is time to renew the air in the office is knowing its quality.
So, how to test the air quality in your office?
To do this, it is essential to be able to measure the quality of the indoor air, controlling and monitoring the parameters that directly influence its quality: CO, CO2, Particulate Matter, VOCs, Temperature, Relative Humidity and Atmospheric Pressure.
Using an indoor air quality monitoring device helps us to know the precise moment to renew the indoor air and for how long, this means, until the measured values return to the appropriate range.
An IAQ monitor is an easy, quick and effective system: a simple warning that one of the measured parameters has deviated from the optimal values is enough to know that it is time to ventilate.
What if the outside air is polluted?
It may happen that, at a certain moment, the outdoor air presents high levels of pollutants such as dust, allergens such as pollen and other PM10 and PM 2.5 particles and, therefore, it is time to close the window or to use mechanical ventilation with filtration.
Knowing for sure without an air quality monitoring device is very difficult, so it is preferable to have a tool that allows us to identify the situation effectively and alert us if necessary.
Conclusion: Indoor air quality monitoring as a preventive tool in office air renewal
Both to check that air renewal in offices is being carried out correctly and to know when it is necessary to ventilate and for how long, indoor air quality measuring devices are an essential tool.
Monitoring the parameters that influence indoor air quality (IAQ) is the empirical way to check that the people inside an office are breathing clean air and if not, to take the necessary corrective preventive measures.