Mold is Everywhere
Studies have shown that at least 34 percent of buildings experiencing poor indoor air quality (IAQ) have issues with mold. However, mold is a fungus that can grow pretty much anywhere, and we are exposed to it in small amounts just about everyday. But while it is true that exposure to low amounts of mold isn’t particularly dangerous for the majority of people, mold found in the right indoor environment can grow to become a larger issue.
Causes of Mold
Mold’s formation can be attributed to pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are a byproduct of various aerosols, industrial products, paint thinners, etc. These concentrated chemicals are classified as toxic by federal law, and certain VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene are considered to be carcinogens by the EPA. Short-term inhalation of these VOCs can be associated with respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and visual impairment. However, the NIH states that long-term exposure to these toxicants can cause kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage…yikes!
The EPA has several actionable tips to reduce the levels of VOCs in our buildings, and suggests that ventilation is increased whenever there is a threat of high concentration of these chemicals.
Is Mold Detectable?
So how do you know if or when your building contains mold or high levels of formaldehyde? In short, it is suggested that you can check for mold with indoor air quality monitoring. Mold often grows in areas you normally can’t see – like outside walls, unused corners, and HVAC ducts, so detection usually comes once the damage has already been done. When mold and VOC concentration has grown to an unsafe level, the costs associated with the treatment of the building can be immense. Most often, large sections of buildings must be closed off to find and terminate the mold, and those with asthma and allergies could experience significant health issues. This can lead to valuable time off from production, as well as significant expenses for the extraction and possible medical needs.
At qlair, our data science team has created an early mold detection model that can monitor levels of VOCs in conjunction with metrics such as temperature and humidity. When this data is sent to our system, we are able to differentiate between mold and other VOC sources that could have come from an unusual event, such as the fresh painting of a wall. In addition, our sensors can pinpoint the specific room or area that is being afflicted, allowing the facility manager to investigate for potential mold.
Through our monitoring and detection, qlair is also able to identify the preconditions of mold, alerting the facility manager that there is a potential for mold growth in the area. We do this by looking at a variety of metrics including humidity, to discover characteristic associated with mold growth.
qlair is not stopping here, however. Our aim is to create a working connection between our mold detection data and HVAC systems in order for complete automation of air quality optimization. We are striving to make the monitoring and treatment of indoor air quality completely hands-off.
Find out more about qlair by contacting us and scheduling a building assessment with our team.