How air quality sensors are changing the corporate workplace


It’s estimated that the U.S. economy loses $220 billion in productivity each year from workers taking sick days. Organizations also lose an unimaginable amount of day-to-day productivity in office environments that have poor indoor air quality.

Workers in areas with poor air quality might experience fatigue, nausea, dizziness or throat and eye irritation, all of which make it difficult to stay alert and focused throughout the day. That’s why companies such as Aclima, AirBeam and others have designed handheld air quality sensors that are often easily attached to smartphones or clothing, making it possible to know exactly how much pollution is in the air you’re breathing in real time.

Since many corporations are headquartered in large cities, office indoor air quality is put at risk by smog and other air quality factors that affect urban areas. Soon, indoor air quality sensors could be used to create healthier and more efficient work environments.

An emerging market

Outdoor and indoor air quality sensors are not necessarily new technology, but in the past have been too large and expensive to be practical for most workplaces. What’s more, connectivity via smartphones and other mobile devices now allows these sensors to work together and create a map of air quality in a specific city or region. This technology can easily be leveraged to diagnose sick building syndrome and other indoor air quality issues.

The market for these devices is growing, with some companies producing sensors that are stylish and user-friendly. Aclima, in particular, has been working with Google under the radar for years to gather an understanding indoor air quality in the workplace setting. The company recently also announced it’s collaborating with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In a corporate setting, Aclima uses a network of nodes that measure levels of harmful contaminants in the air, as well as temperature, humidity and even atmospheric pressure. These readings create an indoor air quality map, so that facility managers can address problem areas and identify building-wide issues.

Another recent advancement, developed by researchers at the Finnish company VTT, is a sensor that connects to a smartphone that can monitor how much carbon dioxide is in the air. This app can be used both for workplace purposes and to monitor sleep quality.

Improving poor indoor air quality

In the near future, indoor air quality sensors could become commonplace in offices. These devices allow organizations to monitor and address problems efficiently, creating healthier environments for workers that also yields maximum comfort and productivity.

Corporate facility managers can take a proactive approach to improving indoor air quality by installing commercial grade air purifiers and limiting sources of air pollution. These simple measures protect workers in areas where they spend significant amounts of time and save employers money on the costs of absenteeism and lost productivity.