What Is Environmental Air Monitoring and Testing?
To improve and maintain the health of a building and its occupants, it is essential to address concerns regarding air quality before they become problematic. The best way to determine a building’s air quality is by carrying out a workplace air quality validation a regular intervals. Depending on the material of concern, test methods for indoor air quality may differ. These test methods can ensure that as an organisation you are meeting the regulatory and environmental requirements and quality standards.
There are a wide range of indoor air pollutants, these include air pollutants such as sulfuric acid, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mould, and radon. If the air you breathe is contaminated with pollutants, such as radon or mould spores, your health and safety is at risk. Therefore, you must always make sure the indoor air quality is safe and healthy for you and your employees. Total Clean Air can provide environmental air monitoring and testing for commercial and residential properties in the country.
Our guaranteed process and qualified technicians mean that your premises can be certified after testing your indoor air quality or we can provide a wide range of recommendations to improve your indoor air quality. Why not get in touch today to discuss your indoor air quality needs?
Total Clean Benefits
- All Work Is Guaranteed
- Full Manufacturer Warranty
- ISO Accredited Validation
- Operational Qualification
- Performance Qualification
- References Available
Environmental Indoor Air Monitoring and Testing for Offices and Work spaces
Many office supervisors or maintenance managers demand workplace testing and including indoor air quality validation because if an employee files a formal grievance with a regulatory agency or makes a complaint then the organisation becomes liable and this may become a Health and Safety investigation with the Health and Safety Executive.
Routine monitoring and testing of your indoor air quality can not only help identify issues before they get out of hand, but also help document your organisation’s commitment to Health and Safety.
What Do We Test For?
Total Clean Air can test for a wide variety of allergens, pollutants, irritants, and toxins, very few of these are likely to be found in an office environment. However, we can also measure VOCs, general toxic gases, overall environmental conditions and mould spores to create a comprehensive and cost-effective test plan for commercial spaces. Details of what is included in our Indoor Air Quality Testing service are explained below:
Each air sample per test location is analysed using a scientific method of spore trap analysis to determine the quantity and type of mould spores observed in the ambient air compared with the outside environment.
Each sample will be collected over a 5-minute period with an overall sample volume of seventy-five litres and compared with the baseline sample for the outside environment collected during inspection.
Overall Environmental Conditions
Measurements of the conditions listed below at each test location:
- Carbon dioxide (ppm)
- Relative humidity (%)
- Temperature (°F)
- Total VOC’s ppm
- Oxygen (% by vol.)
- LEL – lower explosive limit of natural gas (% LEL) Carbon monoxide (ppm)
- Hydrogen sulfide (ppm)
Monitoring Air Quality
Air pollutants are atmospheric substances, both anthropogenic and natural, that can potentially have a negative impact on the health of the environment and people.
The introduction of pollutants into the atmosphere, as well as environmental legislation and research, has come with the evolution of new industrial processes and chemicals, increasing demand for the workplace air quality monitoring and validation.
Air quality monitoring is difficult to implement as it necessitates the appropriate integration of various environmental sources of data, which often come from different environmental bodies and networks.
These barriers require professional observation tools and equipment to determine concentrations of air pollutants, including a web service to query real-time sensor data, Sensor Observation Service (SOS), model geographic information system (GIS), and sensor networks.
Models of air dispersion which combine topographical, emission and meteorological data to predict concentrations of air pollutants are often useful in interpreting air monitoring data. In addition, anemometer data considerations in the area between the monitor and sources often provide insights into the source of air contaminants recorded by an air pollution survey.
Indoor air quality monitoring is often conducted to investigate the air quality and the consequences of air pollution. Interpretation of data on ambient air monitoring also includes considering the spatial and temporal representativeness of the data collected, and the health consequences associated with exposure to the amounts monitored.
Where the interpretation uncovers multiple chemical compound concentration, data analysis may result in a unique chemical fingerprint of a specific source of air pollution.
That said, Total Clean Air can provide active monitoring of indoor air quality and make recommendations where needed to ensure that the quality of air in your location is ideal for the occupants and activities done in that location.
Types of Air Quality Monitoring
Emissions monitoring ensures that facilities that release pollutants into the air are within the limits set by national guidelines and standards. There are various quality standards that must be adhered to.
Air emission sources that match or exceed some conditions established by regulatory bodies must receive an Air Quality Permit that shows that the facility can function beyond the imposed emission limits.
Emission monitoring may include opacity monitors that measure analysis of fuel quality, noise control, and smoke density, noise control, and analysis of fuel quality as well as Continuous Pollution Monitors (CEMs).
Ambient air quality tends to reflect pollutant releases from natural sources and human activity, and the effects of factors such as landscape, rain, wind, humidity, air pressure, sunlight, and temperature.
Ambient monitors are sometimes positioned adjacent to an emissions source to measure the source’s impact on the surrounding air.
Many sampling units for air-quality both indoor air quality and out door air quality are designed to measure a substance. For example, a monitor with sulfur dioxide cannot detect nitrogen oxide. Highly specialised sensors are needed to test each individual substance in the air.
The substance’s nature determines the reading which can be achieved and how long it takes for the testing to be done. For example, gasses such as carbon monoxide and ground-level ozone can be monitored using real-time monitoring devices, which can produce original information at the location.
However, checking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is performed by injecting an air sample into a cylinder made of stainless steel at the monitoring site and then physically moving it for detailed analysis at a laboratory.
Measurements of pollutants are often done at extremely low concentrations, in ppm (parts per million) or even ppb (parts per billion). Therefore, every monitoring unit needs to be regularly maintained and adjusted or calibrated to produce the exact results that are needed.
Measuring Air Pollutants
Monitoring systems for air pollution often provide information about air pollutant concentration in the air and its effects on health. Air pollutants are both anthropogenic and naturally occurring substances that could potentially have harmful effects on health and organisms.
High concentrations of other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide may also be present in buildings. Models of air dispersion which combine meteorological data with topographic emissions to predict concentrations of air pollutants are often useful in interpreting air monitoring data.
Important techniques used to determine potential sources of VOCs include the identification of underground vapour input, underground vapour samples from floor plates, soil gas samples from outside the building, and the collection of vapour samples from floor plates.
Measuring and Testing VOC
Volatile Organic compounds (VOC) are gases that escape from numerous building materials and products through a system called off-gassing.
Volatile Organic Compounds are a frequently overlooked component of indoor environmental quality and may be the culprit for a wide range of adverse effects on health.
A list of some of the chemical pollutants detected in buildings includes:
- Methylene chloride
The VOC testing can be carried out in two ways
- Use of air capture tools or sorbent tubes for summa regulators and canisters or laboratory analysis (often GCMS) to target various compounds by EPA method TO-15.
- Using a photo-ionizing detector (an on-site PID meter) for total real-time VOC rates (tVOCs)
Using an Onsite PID (Photo-Ionizing Detector)
Using special sensors and powerful UV lamps, photo-ionizing detectors report total volatile organic compound levels as tVOCs and ionize the airborne gas. These sensors can be incredibly effective in developing a baseline value for indoor air chemicals and are often the tool of choice in indoor air quality inspections and indoor air quality validations.
It is important to ensure that the correct piece of equipment for the task is used.
Using a meter which reads only in ppm for most general indoor air quality surveys is not likely to provide valuable data since the tVOC levels in most occupied buildings are in the parts per billion range.
At Clean Air, we use a highest quality meter that can measure tVOC levels down to one ppb. Since we own this piece of equipment, we can carry out these types of inspections at competitive costs.
Using Summa Canisters, Tedlar Bags or Sorbent Tubes
If you need to measure a particular chemical, the proper way to produce consistent and accurate measurements is to simply catch the air using a summa cannister, tedlar bag or sorbent tube, and submit it for proper analysis in the laboratory.
The methods used to test specific chemicals in the atmosphere vary, and a competent inspector can help you identify the most accurate and cost-effective sampling procedure for your project.
Total Clean Air can offer such testing in a customised and highly focused manner to residential industrial, and commercial, industrial clients.
Measuring and CO2 Testing
CO2 is a gas molecule composed of 2 oxygen atoms entwined to form a single atom of carbon. It is commonly measured in ppm (parts per million) and is present around five hundred parts per million in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is a common contaminant generated by most processes of organic nature. It is generated when animals breathe and when burning fuels such as coal, wood, natural gas, petroleum, etc. CO2 is also used in certain manufacturing industries.
Approved occupational health standard for CO2 exposure is 5,000 ppm over an eight – hour workday.
It is very unlikely that this level will ever occur outside a specialist manufacturing facility or confined entrance area, but low concentrations could also trigger some minor concerns and irritation.
Carbon dioxide is not a specific health risk at levels typical of occupied environments, but levels above 1000 ppm have been associated with symptoms such as a decrease in worker productivity and lethargy.
At Total Clean Air, we frequently use levels of carbon dioxide as a benchmark for ventilation in occupied spaces. Since humans generally exhale between 35,000 and 50,000 ppm of CO2 in each breath, measuring and calculating a percentage of outside air is not a problem for us.
We can also measure levels of carbon dioxide in production plants, greenhouses and indoor gardening operations.
To measure carbon dioxide, we use a variety of highly sensitive instruments and sensors.
Book a CO2 testing today.
Formaldehyde Measurement and Testing
Formaldehyde has lately been portrayed as the main cause of worry for a wide range of occupants in buildings. This gas can be responsible for various health issues, including certain types of cancer, headaches, irritation of the skin, nose throat burning, and watery eyes.
Many suppliers have become aware of these problems and are now producing products that are formaldehyde-free, but formaldehyde is still commonly used in imported wood products, laminate flooring, furniture, adhesives and construction materials.
As this is now more evident to safety personnel and customers, many businesses and laboratories have tried to capitalise on this concern and sell meters. However, many of these meters are entirely incapable of providing detailed results of the concentrations of formaldehyde in the air.
The nature of formaldehyde is one of the reasons for this lack of precision as it’s quite reactive and quickly breaks down. The only way to obtain precise formaldehyde measurements is to use special media and calibrated air pumps designed to stabilize the sample so that it can be tested accurately once it enters the laboratory.
This method is referred to as the TO-11A EPA method and uses frozen tubes containing DNPH-coated silica gel that preserve the formaldehyde so that it does not break down until analyzing it.
That is why we employ this form of formaldehyde air testing only at Total Clean Air, as it’s accurate.
Health and Environmental Safety Compliance
Total Clean Air carries out tests and assessments of indoor air quality at public, commercial and industrial premises.
Using our UKAS approved laboratories and sampling equipment, we typically monitor concentrations of airborne pollutants such as gases, volatile organic compounds, and dust.
Indoor air quality surveys are conducted with reference to COSHH, HSE, RESET Air Standards, WELL Building Standards, BREEAM Hea 02 workplace exposure limits, and other guidance/standards where appropriate.