Monitoring indoor air quality (IAQ) has finally gone mainstream. While we have long had the ability to reliably and affordably measure humidity and temperature, the places that we work, homes that we live in and restaurants that we frequent have not been able to provide basic information about levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) around us. There are hundreds of different VOC gases that originate from a variety of sources, including chemicals used in cleaners, preservatives in furniture, cooking, and odors from personal care products and the human body.
*Based on study by German Environment Agency (UBA)
Many governmental and non-governmental entities, including The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), German Environment Agency (UBA) and the Chinese Transport Policy (NAAQS) have provided guidance on health effects of VOCs. Concentration levels are measured in parts per million (ppm) or mg/m3 and provide guidance on exposure levels and related actions to take. Health impacts such as eye nose and throat irritation, headaches or damage to the body are published by respective governmental bodies. The most infamous gas within the VOC family is formaldehyde, which has been in the news over the past years as it has been found in many consumer home furnishings.
A reliable technique to detect VOC are gas sensors based on the chemiresistive principle of metal oxides (MOx).
The rapid adoption of new integrated MOx gas sensors have provided a cost effective solution to smart homes and smart buildings. These low cost sensors are being integrated into commercial buildings and every room in the home, while providing IAQ information or managing ventilation fans on our behalf. Sources and types of VOCs will vary from room to room. New platforms of sensors are now available that utilize the same hardware but different methods of operation and analysis for sensitivity to different indoor air contaminants. This means that new product configurations that target room specific applications can be implemented with firmware changes to a standard gas sensor. Smart homes and buildings now have the ability to recognize overall air quality or good and bad smells in specific rooms.
By leveraging a mature MOx technology with flexible and accurate ASICs, combined with state of the art packaging and chemical calibration, we all benefit from systems that provide clean air and information that helps us make better decisions. Our overall health and environmental air quality has taken a significant leap forward with monitoring systems woven into the fabric of buildings that we inhabit each day.
Visit idt.com/gas to learn more about IDT’s indoor air quality solutions.