Comprehensive Guide to Indoor Air Quality Parameters

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Maintaining acceptable indoor air quality requires understanding the parameters for key pollutants that are set by organizations like WHO and the EPA. Knowing these metrics allows building owners to create safe environments for occupants and lower the risk of adverse health effects and potential building damages. Hong-Kong,-China-dense-cityscape-of-office-buildings.-v2.0

Could you pass a quiz about indoor air quality parameters? Should VOCs be kept above or below 0.5 mg/m3? Most couldn't answer correctly, even though it could cost you your health. 

Sadly, many don't realize testing indoor air quality requires an understanding of the parameters around acceptable air. Certain pollutants, like CO2, for example, must fall within an ideal level or they can cause long-term health effects. 

Whether it's an indoor office environment or a residential building, proper indoor air quality conditions remain vital to long-term human health. To ensure your building's air quality is optimal, pay attention to the critical parameters discussed below. 

The Importance of Maintaining Optimal IAQ

Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors and about 0% of their time pondering indoor air quality (IAQ) testing. The reality is that a vast proportion of buildings have dangerous indoor air pollution levels, contributing to about 2.3 million deaths every year. If inhaled long-term, this harmful indoor particulate matter can cause severe health conditions, including:

  • Chronic allergies
  • Lung diseases
  • Heart Disease
  • Exacerbated mental health illnesses

Indoor air pollutants are so pervasive because they originate from many sources. Some of the most common air pollutants include:

  • Organic matter (VOCs)
  • Construction dust 
  • Carbon monoxide and Carbon dioxide 
  • Ozone

The type of pollutants you need to be concerned about is tied to your geography. For example, someone who lives in an area that experiences frequent wildfires will have different contaminants of concern than someone in an ultra-humid climate.

The difficulty of maintaining healthy IAQ will also vary based on location. However, no matter where you are, it's important to monitor the IAQ of your building to avoid long-term health effects. 

Key IAQ Parameters

In order to improve your IAQ, you must first understand your current IAQ conditions. Thankfully, the EPA outlines many critical indoor air quality parameters and provides the target value ranges necessary for a healthy IAQ. 

Building owners and managers must track these metrics with a sharp eye using up-to-date and accurate monitoring equipment, and then respond promptly to the data they receive. 

Temperature and Humidity Levels

Unchecked temperature and humidity can damage both human and building health:


If too high, humidity causes the spread of mold and bacteria, which can destroy building assets and cause long-term lung damage. Ideal indoor humidity is between 30%-50%. Achieving these levels usually requires plenty of natural ventilation and an effective HVAC system. 

Once humidity rises above 70%, it creates prime mold and mildew growth conditions. This excess moisture can also cause discomfort, profuse sweating, headaches, and heat exhaustion.


Indoor air temperature should stay between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, if there are children in the building, temperatures should stay above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The ideal indoor air temperature is also dependent on occupant activities. For example, indoor temperatures should be set on the lower end of the parameter for environments with intense physical activity.

Concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are chemical compounds that evaporate and become airborne, presenting serious health risks. These compounds originate from many household and office products, including: 

  • Air fresheners
  • Paints
  • New furniture
  • Flooring and Carpeting
  • Cleaning detergents

Healthcare providers and scientists advocate for keeping indoor VOC levels between 0.3 and 0.5 mg/m3. Dangerous VOC levels can cause discomfort, irritation, and even long-term kidney and liver damage if left unresolved for too long. 

Particulate Matter (PM) Levels and Ventilation Rates

Particulate matter is defined as tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in air. There are different PM classifications based on the size of the PM. 

PM 2.5, the smallest of the particles, poses the greatest danger to indoor occupants because the particles are so small that they can penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, ultimately contributing to serious illnesses like cancer or chronic heart disorders. 

When keeping track of an indoor environment, ensure your PM 10 and PM 2.5 are within acceptable levels:

  • PM 2.5: 0 – 12 ug/m3
  • PM 10: 0 – 54 ug/ m3

An accurate sensor system is critical for detecting varying sizes of indoor particulate matter. Upon identifying potentially dangerous PM levels, building operators must install air filters with proper Merv ratings to bring air quality back to safe levels. Typically, buildings should have at least a Merv-13 filter to reduce concentrations of finer particles. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is hazardous because it's a colorless and odorless gas originating from combustion and organic matter decomposition. Hazardous concentrations of CO2, typically created by poor ventilation, can cause dizziness, headaches, and exhaustion. 

The concentration of C02 is considered non-hazardous if it's below 1,000 ppm. To maintain this number, an indoor space needs plenty of natural ventilation.

Measurement Techniques and Standards

Building owners need to be judicious concerning indoor air quality monitoring. For example, there are kits to test pollutants like mold, radon, and PM levels, but they only measure for one point in time. 

Ideally, indoor pollution monitoring demands constant testing. It's the only way to ensure air quality consistently stays within healthy parameters to avoid adverse effects.

Simplify Air Quality Monitoring With an IAQ Solution

Tracking the slough of indoor air parameters is no small feat. Even a simple sensor system usually isn't enough to stay on top of tracking key metrics, especially for larger office buildings. 

Ultimately, establishing a healthy environmental quality requires a robust system of sensors that tracks all common indoor pollutants.

Attune's indoor air quality platform gives you total control over your indoor air visibility, allowing you to see what your eyes can't. Through real-time data, you receive insight into any indoor air quality threats. Measure mold, PM, VOCs, humidity, CO2, and more right from your phone or laptop through a fully customizable platform that scales to meet any size operation. 

If you want to learn more about how our product works or see it in action, schedule a demo today. 


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