“Roses are red, violets are blue, bad hair days are okay, but bad air days will screw you.”
― Abhijit Naskar. Air quality monitoring system, therefore, seeks to gauge the speed of the wind, its direction, and the particulate matter contained in the air so as to mitigate bad air.
Quality air is very essential for not only human beings but animals also. Poor quality air poses a risk to the lives of these living things as it may lead to serious health problems that could be fatal. It is, therefore, very important that the quality air in the environment is maintained at the recommended index. In this case, air quality monitoring systems must be deployed to aid in keeping the quality of air in the environment in check.
Poor quality air is most evident in cities due to the large number of industries set up in the cities as well as the fumes released by the vehicles. However, these are not the only causes though they are the major causes in almost all polluted areas. Most villages with very few or no industries and vehicles mostly experience good air quality. It is a global affair to make sure the air in the environment is of good quality despite the increase in industrialization worldwide.
Air quality is a measure of the purity or the impurity of the air. Poor quality air is polluted air. The quality of air can be gauged with respect to the air quality index which is the standard measurement used by agencies of the government to inform the public about air quality. The quality can be described as good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous according to the world air quality index.
The air quality index reading ranges from 0 to 500 degrees, somehow working similar to a thermometer. The readings are taken at hourly intervals. The readings can be interpreted as follows according to the world air quality index:
- 0-50 : Good- any pollutants present here if any, have no effect to the environment
- 51-100: Moderate – the quality of air is good except that the pollutants may affect a few people especially those with allergies.
- 101-150: Unhealthy (for the sensitive) – those with allergies may have health issues while the rest may not feel the effect.
- 151-200: Unhealthy – anyone can experience the effects of the pollutants while those with allergies may experience it severely.
- 201-300: Very unhealthy- everyone can equally experience the effects of the pollutants. This calls for health warnings.
- 300+: Hazardous- severe effects may be experienced.
The pollutants constitute of particulate matter that is emitted to the environment mostly by industries. The level of the matter is what is measured in order to determine the quality of the air. The matter composes of; ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
It is important to monitor the areas that affected by pollution so that appropriate measures can be taken. Tracking the regions that are deeply affected may help in the identification of the pollutants, for example, a very busy road may indicate very poor quality air. Such could be caused by the fuels used to run the vehicles.
Some of the monitoring systems are expensive and deploying them everywhere may be impossible for some countries. Noting the possible causes of pollution that lead to poor quality air is important since it helps in identifying the critical areas to place the monitoring systems.
Causes of Air Pollution
Any activity that results in release of particles that can be carried into the atmosphere is a cause of air pollution including the air itself. There are several causes of air pollution both large scale and some on a smaller scale. These include; combustion happening in industries, fume emissions due to transportation activities, side effects of the agricultural sector such as fumes released by machinery used in the fields or some livestock’s wastes, fuels used in heating and cooking in the homes, volcano eruptions, smoke from forest fires, smoke from smoking, metal smelting, aerosols and CFCs though their production has been reduced.
Types of Monitoring Systems
Not all Air Quality monitoring systems may be useful to your preferred use. Knowledge of the types may help one purchase a useful monitoring system for their need. There are majorly three types of monitoring systems.
- Indoor air quality monitors- these monitoring systems are mostly cheap and movable. They are meant for small scale monitoring and therefore do not comprise of complex features. Some of these monitors are able to detect the quality of air outside the house and compare with the indoor quality. The readings can be read from the display of the monitors. For risky levels, the monitor notifies the user either by lighting alert or a message on one’s mobile phone.
Once the user has been notified, one can take action such as turning on the fan or opening windows to create proper ventilation. However, there are some intelligent monitors that once the reading has exceeded the required level, the systems turns on some intelligent devices such as dehumidifiers and fans.
Examples of indoor monitors include; Awair Glow C and Airthings Wave Plus.
- Lab Grade Monitors- Unlike the indoor air quality monitors, these ones have very high precision and are used on large scale purposes. They are the ones used by government agencies and scientists. They are very expensive hence purchasing them for indoor use is very uneconomical.
- Commercial –grade monitors- These ones possess the advantages of both the indoor and the lab-grade monitors. They are relatively cheap and very precise on large scale. These kinds are used in certifying projects involving constructions. They are further subdivided into three categories in accordance to their functionality:
- Outdoor Air Quality Monitors- They are used to monitor the quality of air in the outside of buildings. They are subjected to some environmental test to ascertain their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions so that they can be used on some buildings. By testing the quality of the outside air, the residents of the building can freely open their windows for the purpose of ventilation instead of resorting to expensive means of ventilation. The children can as well be free to play outside once it is confirmed that the outside air is quality.
- In-duct Air Quality Monitors– placed in the Heating ventilation and air conditioning system to monitor the quality of air in the air ducts of the project under construction.
- Interior Air Quality Monitors- is located inside the building. However, it measures both the inside and the outside air quality. Apart from measuring the particulate matter in the air, these monitors also measure humidity and temperature.
Air quality is compromised almost everywhere as a result of our daily activities. Very essential activities such as cooking could lead to pollution of the air and hence tampering with someone’s health. The air quality monitoring system has been of great help as identifying the levels of pollution has led to adopting helpful measures. There are several alternative fuels that can be used for cooking instead of the environment unfriendly means. Industries are now spaced in most countries rather than being congested in a single city.