Home Air Quality Monitoring
What with the recent ‘lockdown’ measures and the rise of social and interactive technology, people are more than ever in their homes, not even having to go grocery stores anymore. It is therefore imperative that you know about the quality of the air inside your home, and that you have a working knowledge of such things as an air quality monitor, carbon monoxide detector, and dehumidifier, things which can have a dramatic impact on your respiratory and general health.
1. What Does An Air Quality Monitor Do?
An air quality monitor can come in either hand-held or plug-in form and can detect something known as Particulate Matter (PM), tiny particles that can get stuck in your lungs, as well as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and humidity/temperature levels. Some models even pick up volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and even levels of noise (dB)! Most units won’t be able to do all of these things, so you need to decide what your main priorities are. Air quality monitors measure PM by using light scattering, ie. a process in which light is fired from a laser which, passing through air particles, then measures them to give a PM reading. Some models claim to give instant readings, others measure every few seconds, while others every few minutes; best to scrutinize the small print to see what your one claims to be able to do
There are typically two forms of PM; PM 2.5 and PM 10. Both come from such things as traffic soot, mold spores, smoke and dust, airplanes, power plants, and even residential wood burning; however, only the PM 2.5 lodges itself in the lungs and cannot really be expelled. In certain areas of the world schools will shut down and citizens will be advised to limit exposure to the outside air due to excessive levels of PM 2.5. It is particularly important for asthmatics and elderly people to know exactly what is going on in the air around them.
2. What Are The Symptoms Of Poor Air Quality?
Poor air quality can have various symptoms that can take effect after just a few hours or days, depending on the severity of the levels. Some of the symptoms are:
- Irritated Respiratory System – When high levels of pollution are airborne, sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, even pain in the chest area, can occur. Counterintuitively, the best thing to do is to get out of the outdoor air and remain indoors. The outdoor air is not ‘fresh’ and your house, by virtue of its existence, functions almost as a kind of gigantic air filter. You can also purchase an air purifier so as to further cleanse the indoor air. Medical advice should be sought, too, in order to get some kind of inhaler if there are elements of asthma that can complicate such irritation.
- Reduced Lung Function – Your lung capacity can become damaged if you suffer consistent exposure to poor quality of air. Breathing can become quicker and shallower than usual; ironically, outdoor exercise can exacerbate this. You might even find it a real struggle to be able to take deep, satisfying breaths of air – period. Inflammation can occur within your lungs, and you may get scar tissue because of the body’s attempt to rid itself of the damaged cells. Respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, emphysema, or bronchitis are more likely at this time.
- Fatigue – Pollutants that are airborne may also make you feel more fatigued. You might have a feeling of sluggishness and inability to perform sporting or athletic feats which were once easy and straightforward for you. The best advice is to switch to indoor exercise and even reduce the amount of exercise you’re doing, until you can get consistently better air into your lungs via a change in the weather or an air purifier which can even be left on, near you, all night long.
- Headaches – Headaches are a very common symptom of less pure air quality; microscopic chemicals and particles can, if ingested for long enough, lead to physical disability in some. Your eyes can often smart, your respiratory system can start to labor, and you may have to take painkillers to get you through the day. Try to drink as much water as possible during these times, and stay indoors. Calmness and patience can help weather the storm if the pollution is seasonal or temporary. If it is not, then a change of location might be a better long-term solution.
- Cardiovascular Symptoms – If you’ve suffered from cardiovascular issues then a high level of air pollution could lead to death! This is mainly because of the under-oxygenation of blood which can mean that one’s heart can slip into rhythms which are less regular. This might result in chest pain, increased palpitations, tightness in the chest area among various other symptoms.
It is imperative that you seek expert medical advice immediately, doing everything you can to get away from the sub-standard air quality which is potentially jeopardizing your existence.