How to Measure Indoor Air Quality

How to Measure Indoor Air Quality: Q&A

Even though we diligently maintain our spaces via vacuuming and disinfection, these efforts often are not enough. Improving indoor air quality may be more significant for your well-being than you realize.

The most effective solution or preventive action for polluted air is engaging in indoor air quality testing. Explore methods on how to measure indoor air quality to cultivate a healthier environment indoors.

Frequent Indoor Air Pollutants

Under the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, managing indoor air quality (IAQ) is crucial for maintaining a healthier environment.

You have all heard of the Air Quality Index. Bear in mind, that indoor air is also often laden with assorted pollutants, such as carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from cleaning agents and building materials, particulate matter (PM) from dust and combustion, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from gas stoves.

Carbon monoxide poses a severe threat when present in home air due to its highly toxic nature. This gas, devoid of scent and color, hinders the blood’s ability to transport oxygen, leading to oxygen deprivation in vital organs.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can result in symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in severe cases, unconsciousness or death. It binds to hemoglobin more readily than oxygen, creating a dangerous situation where carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the bloodstream, causing tissue damage and potentially fatal consequences.

Additionally, formaldehyde, found in some furniture and household products, contributes to indoor air pollution.

Origins of Indoor Air Contamination

The causes of indoor air contamination encompass emissions from fuel combustion in gas appliances, smoke from tobacco, inadequate ventilation, moisture leading to mold growth, as well as chemical pollutants released by cleaning agents used in households, paints, and furnishings.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is primarily a part of outdoor air pollution originating from industrial processes, but it can enter indoor environments through sources like gas stoves, heating systems, or indoor combustion activities.

Construction materials and activities, coupled with routine engagements like culinary preparations and candle burning, also contribute to a great extent to indoor air quality issues. Comprehending these sources is pivotal for indoor air quality testing and sustaining fresh air.

Negative Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution

  • Breathing Problems. Poor indoor air quality can exacerbate conditions like asthma and bronchitis due to pollutants like PM, VOCs, and mold growth.
  • Overall Well-Being Decline. Prolonged presence in poor indoor air quality may cause health problems such as lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other respiratory illnesses.
  • CO2 Buildup. High carbon dioxide indoors can result in feelings of lightheadedness, headache, and fatigue, impacting cognitive function and productivity.
  • VOCs. VOC exposure from indoor sources like household cleaners and construction components can result in eye irritation, headaches, and long-term health issues.
  • Reduced Immune Response. Continuous exposure to indoor pollutants can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

How to Measure Indoor Air Quality Easily?

The easiest way to measure air quality indoors is by using portable IAQ monitors. These devices are user-friendly, typically providing real-time data on various pollutants like VOCs, CO2, and PM using air quality sensors.

Just place the monitor in the desired area and check the readings on its display or accompanying app for instant insights into your indoor air quality testing.

How to Measure Indoor Air Quality
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Choosing an Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Selecting the right indoor air quality (IAQ) monitor involves considering essential factors to ensure comprehensive and accurate measurement of pollutants. Assessing sensor coverage, real-time data display and additional features helps to get your indoor air quality measured accurately.

Sensor Coverage. Prioritize monitors with sensors capable of detecting a wide range of indoor pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide (CO2), PM, and various gases prevalent indoors.

Real-Time Data Display. Look for monitors offering real-time data displays or accessible apps for convenient and immediate access to indoor air quality readings.

Accuracy and Calibration. Ensure the monitor provides accurate readings and has a reliable calibration process. This is crucial for dependable and precise measurements of indoor pollutants.

Continuous Monitoring. Select monitors that offer continuous monitoring capabilities over extended periods to provide comprehensive insights into indoor air quality trends.

User-Friendly Interface. Opt for monitors with intuitive interfaces for easy operation and interpretation of data, facilitating hassle-free monitoring of indoor air quality.

Additional Features. Consider monitors that offer additional features like automated alerts or compatibility with smart home systems for enhanced functionality and seamless integration into daily routines.

How to Measure Indoor Air Quality with a Monitor

Step 1: Strategic Placement

Position your specialized indoor air quality (IAQ) monitor in a central location within your home or office. Choose an area away from direct airflow or potential obstructions to ensure an accurate representation of indoor environmental conditions. This strategic placement ensures the monitor captures a comprehensive sample of the indoor air.

Step 2: Understanding Sensor Capabilities

Familiarize yourself with the monitor’s sensor capabilities, designed to detect various indoor pollutants. These sensors are adept at identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide (CO2), PM, and a spectrum of gases prevalent in indoor spaces.

Step 3: Installation and Monitoring

Install the IAQ monitor as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the device to run for an adequate duration, typically ranging from several hours to a few days, to collect comprehensive data. Regularly check the monitor’s display or associated app for real-time updates on pollutant levels.

Step 4: Analyzing Data

Review the accumulated data over time to identify patterns, peak pollution periods, or specific indoor areas with elevated pollutant concentrations. This analysis empowers you to make informed decisions regarding targeted interventions to improve indoor air quality.


Can I do an air quality test myself?

DIY air quality tests are available, aiding in detecting common contaminants like VOCs and formaldehyde in your indoor spaces.

How do I know if my indoor air quality is good?

Assess indoor air quality using monitors for pollutants like CO2 and PM2.5; levels within recommended thresholds signify good air quality.

What is a safe indoor air quality level?

A safe indoor air quality level typically falls within the “Good” AQI range, where pollutants like PM2.5 and CO2 are low.

Where is the best place to put an air quality monitor?

For optimal readings, place IAQ monitors in central areas away from obstructions or vents, ensuring an accurate representation of indoor air.

Do cheap air quality monitors work?

While budget IAQ monitors exist, their accuracy might vary; research and reviews help find reliable yet affordable options.

What can you do indoors if air quality is bad?

Improve indoor air by reducing pollutant sources, using air purifiers, and enhancing ventilation when air quality is poor.

Should you close windows when air quality is bad?

Outdoor air quality does affect indoor air quality. Closing windows during poor air quality helps prevent outside air and outdoor pollutants from entering indoor spaces, maintaining clean air indoors.

What time of day is air quality the best?

Generally, air quality tends to be better in the morning due to reduced traffic emissions and cooler temperatures, often resulting in cleaner air during these hours.


To measure indoor air quality use a specialized device like AQM or carbon monoxide detector, strategically placing them in central areas, and regularly checking the real-time data they provide on pollutants such as VOCs, CO2, and particulate matter for insights into indoor air quality levels.

These monitors offer immediate feedback, enabling proactive adjustments to improve air quality and create healthier indoor environments.

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