The Unseen IAQ Mennace

We’ve talked about all manner of Air Quality issues: pollen, viruses, volatile organic compounds, and more. There is however, one less frequently talked about devil in the air: radon, methane, and other ground seepage. These are harmful, either explosive, cancer-causing, or otherwise dangerous materials that can seep from the soil below. You’ll never know they’re there until it’s too late. How Does It Happen? Time for some science. The ground beneath you is not pure, solid dirt and rock straight to the Earth’s core. It’s not all one particular elemental composition either. There’s pockets of different materials, gasses, radioactive elements, and so on. These materials either work their way to the surface or they emit something that does. Consider for example, a gas like methane. This exists underground, in porous areas of rock or in large, hollow caves. It’s under extreme pressure from the rest of the Earth pressing down on it. All it takes is a path to the surface for it to flow out. When we do mining for it, we drill down and use a pipe to provide that path to the surface. The Methane is a low-density gas, it wants to move higher up, in the same way helium can make balloons float. There is some amount of natural seepage. The gas makes it way up through the ground and rock, tiny pores and cracks that let it slowly escape. The ground beneath you is not […]

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Improve Your Air

You’ve done your testing and your facility has an air quality problem. Stepping through your doors feel like getting a tour of an 1890s steam powered factory. It’s just gross and you’re going to turn your air into something people actually want to breathe. Physical Defenses Your first line of defense is to attack everything getting inside with some physical mitigations. Every person entering the building is going to carry allergens, pathogens, and other problems with them. Imagine someone who just walked through a grassy field, tracking pollen with every step they take. Imagine the gentle breeze blowing through the door as your guests enter, and carrying with it the latest plague to sweep the nation. There are two defenses you can use here. First, you need a nice, big, hefty door mat of some kind, that everyone ends up walking across. They’re tracking pollen on their shoes, make sure it gets stuck where it won’t cause a problem: in a fibrous tangle where it’ll never bother you again. Second, you need to regularly clean the floors of your facility. All the nasty stuff in the air is hovering around, suspended like tea leaves in water. If the air is still long enough, it’ll all settle on your shelves, floors, and equipment until someone kicks it up into the air again. Use microfiber mops to capture and remove the problem while you can. Don’t use a typical broom though, that’s […]

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How To Measure Air Quality

Like all things, we can measure air quality scientifically. We can get a number that says just how gross the air in your facility is. Not only that, but we can figure out what particular type of problem your air has. There’s more to air quality than just saying it’s good or bad. The Troublemakers There are three commonly examined areas for air quality. We have different ways to detect and measure each of them, but these are typically available all in one tool or device. Particulate Matter There are tiny particles in the air, often harmful chemicals we don’t notice individually. Think of things like the exhaust from a car. That exhaust is made of billions of tiny particles of burned fuel and even metal shavings from the engine. These can have negative health effects. Particulates from cars could play a role in Alzheimers Disease. These can detect bacteria, viruses, and mold as well. Sensors for these are rated in their measuring sizes, 2.5 microns and below, 10 microns and below, etc. Your hair is about 40-70 microns thick, for comparison. Volatile Organic Compounds The rule of thumb is that a VOC is something you smell and notice. That’s not always the case, but it’s a good guiding post. These chemicals are highly reactive, dangerously so. Examples of these are things like cleaning chemicals, gasoline, and paint. They’re things you should try not to breathe in. Carbon Dioxide This […]

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