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What I learned after tracking my home’s air quality for a week

I set up the AirThings View Plus in my office more than a week ago to measure the indoor air quality and to test whether differing conditions impacted my workflow. I learned several things — some surprising, some not so much — about air quality in the home and how it can be improved.

Does everyone need an air quality sensor? Probably not, but if you just don’t feel right or you’re afraid your air quality is affecting your work performance, a sensor like the View Plus can help.

The AirThings View Plus is an indoor air quality monitor.

What does the AirThings View Plus measure?

The AirThings View Plus tracks seven different air quality metrics:

  • Radon
  • PM2.5
  • CO2
  • Humidity
  • Temperature
  • VOC
  • Pressure

Radon is an invisible gas that most people don’t think of outside of chemistry class. Remember the noble gasses? Radon isn’t quite so noble; in fact, it’s the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

PM2.5 is a measure of the particulate matter in the air smaller than 2.5 microns wide. This includes output from cooking like smoke, but may also be pet dander, small particles of dust, and more.

CO2 is simple: The measure of carbon dioxide in the air.

Humidity and temperature are also self-explanatory, but they’re important to know. Elevated temperatures can impact cognitive performance over longer periods of time.

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are castoffs from cleaning supplies, paints, and other materials in the home. These can affect your health in major ways. Short-term, you’ll experience headaches, sore throat, coughing, and more. Over the long term, exposure to VOCs can lead to cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Pressure is just a measurement of the barometric pressure in your home.

The AirThings View Plus tracks seven different air quality metrics.

It takes a week calibrate, so don’t expect immediate results

While you will get readings right away, the AirThings View Plus took about a week to calibrate completely. Once it does this, it begins to provide much more accurate readings.

The View Plus has built-in safety thresholds for different measurements. If any of these go too high, you’ll receive a push notification, along with a suggestion on how to bring the numbers down.

First things first: Don’t put your air quality monitor in front of a window. Not even a closed window. It skews the measurements in a lot of ways, but most notably temperature. Sunlight hitting the monitor will skew the temperature warmer; in fact, I had several days where it warned me the temperature was 76 degrees, when the high outside was in the mid-60s. My indoor air remains at 73 degrees.

Another reason is due to outdoor activity. Since I live in an apartment, there is often maintenance work taking place outside, usually with power tools. Weed eaters and lawn mowers exhaust CO2 during operation, which —  you guessed it — my monitor picked up on. There’s also an air conditioning unit below my window, which further distorted the readings.

For the most accurate readings, place your air quality monitor near the center of your home, away from any windows. This is the area of the home where air quality is at its lowest.

So what did I learn?

I have air purifiers in multiple rooms, but they seem to only really affect that particular room. Only after I turned on an air purifier in my office did some of the numbers — especially those relating to particulates — start to drop. Vacuuming also reduces the amount of particulates in the air.

Sometimes, all it took to improve the air quality was to open a window and let some fresh air into the room. Some factors, like the humidity and barometric pressure, can’t really be changed too much. Humidifiers in a room will drive up the humidity rating, but barometric pressure is more of an external factor. It’s been a particularly rainy week here with several waves of storms, so the pressure score has been higher than on clear, sunny days.

If you suffer from health conditions like asthma, then an air quality monitor can be a solid investment. Indoor air quality can often be five times worse than outdoor air quality, especially if you don’t have sufficient airflow through your home.

With so many individuals still working from home and spending the majority of their time indoors, it’s more important than ever for us to focus on the air we breathe.

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