When we think of air pollution, we imagine hazards such as a coal-burning factory emitting thick, black smoke, an old jalopy with too much engine exhaust, or a layer of cough-inducing smog hanging over a city skyline. We don’t think about the air quality in our homes and offices. Nevertheless, the condition of the air inside the buildings where we work and live should be a serious cause for concern.
Did you know that approximately 30% of new or remodeled commercial buildings may cause their occupants to suffer health problems from air quality? Considering this—and the fact we spend 90% of our time inside buildings—shouldn’t we worry about the quality of the air inside? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to prevent the health complications of sick building syndrome?
Many building owners and property managers are beginning to use IoT (Internet of Things) technology to prevent, detect and resolve instances of sick building syndrome before they cause their occupants to suffer health complications.
What Is Sick Building Syndrome?
Sick building syndrome isn’t always easy to diagnose, but we have a clear definition of its symptoms. According to WebMD, people who spend time in a sick building may suffer from symptoms like itchy skin, watery eyes, heart palpitations, dizzy spells, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, skin conditions and a great deal more.
The way experts diagnose a building as “sick” is by the fact that at least 20% of building occupants manifest symptoms like these when they’re in the building. When victims of sick building syndrome leave the toxic property, their symptoms usually get better.
How IoT Technology Helps Combat Sick Building Syndrome
IoT has become an important tool for preventing, diagnosing and resolving sick building syndrome. By strategically placing small, internet-connected, IoT sensors throughout a building, property managers can detect air quality issues that contribute to sick building syndrome. These include:
- Humidity: When humidity levels are higher than 60% in a building, the space becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew. High mold levels can be dangerous for human health. Mold spores in the air can cause allergic reactions, breathing problems and respiratory ailments. The EPA recommends keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50% to prevent health problems related to mold and mildew.
- Volatile Organic Compounds: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are often detectable by smell, and when they are present in large quantities, VOCs can be dangerous for human health. When found in a sick building, VOCs may come from any number of sources such as gases released by construction materials, air freshening chemicals, cleaning chemicals, dehumidifiers and more.
- Carbon Dioxide: Heavy carbon dioxide levels can come from a lack of adequate air ventilation in a building. When levels are high, people in a building can suffer from a host of different sicknesses, including nausea and dizzy spells.
- Particulate Matter: Particulate matter (PM) refers to dust and liquid particles in the air such as pollen, ashes, dust and smoke. Particulate matter can be damaging for the lungs and heart, and can trigger dangerous allergic reactions in building occupants. PM can come from outside or inside sources. Inadequate air filtration and ventilation is a common cause of particulate matter inside buildings.
- Radon: Poisonous radon gas is another danger that certain types of IoT sensors can detect.
A network of IoT sensors provides continual, real-time data to building owners so they know immediately if air pollutants are present. If a building is inundated with VOCs or high carbon dioxide levels, for example, property managers can start to investigate the cause and take immediate action to resolve the problem. Whether the solution involves improving the ventilation and air filtration systems, repairing the HVAC system, or resolving high humidity issues, swift action based on IoT sensor information will safeguard the health of building inhabitants.
Create a Smart IoT Air Quality Sensing Network with PointCentral
If you’re managing a network of properties, there’s no way to know for sure if one is suffering from sick building syndrome unless you perform continual monitoring. At PointCentral, we can help you create a network of IoT air quality sensors that provide you with real-time air quality data, so you can protect your tenants’ health.
Contact the PointCentral team to learn how smart technology can help your property management business.