Air Aware! How to Guarantee Fresh Air at Home
Fresh air is a priority at Yew Chung International School of Beijing. We have an integrated fresh air system and monitor our AQI daily. In addition, we recently completed our programme of air quality tests in Building G following the Learning Community renovations. We are pleased to share that our air quality fell well within national standards on all counts. We ask the experts from Pure Living, who conducted the tests, to explain more – and what you can do at home.
Please provide a brief summary of the tests that you ran
Following the renovations in Building G last summer, we conducted a series of air quality tests to monitor the safety of the air for YCIS Beijing students. Before the students moved into the classroom, our tests showed that levels were within national safety guidelines. As a special measure, we repeated the tests this year to ensure that the air quality was still safe.
We focused our tests in particular on formaldehyde – a pollutant that is present after building works, renovations and new furniture is installed.
Please explain the key results of the test and what this means
We tested all classrooms and open areas on the 2nd floor of Building G. There were no points of failure for formaldehyde anywhere and the average indoor formaldehyde level was 0.03 mg/m3, which is 30% of national safety standard limit.
Why should we conduct tests for air quality?
Occupying spaces with high levels of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can have a negative impact on one’s health. Side effects include eye, nose and throat irritation and may also affect breathing and exacerbate allergies and asthma for hypersensitive individuals. Put simply: it is not safe to spend all day in an environment with poor air quality, but there is no way of knowing unless proper tests are conducted.
Why should we use a company such as Pure Living, and not conduct these tests ourselves?
Air monitoring equipment for personal use, such as common AQI readers, is not adequate for testing the presence of VOCs such as formaldehyde. The safety standard limit for formaldehyde is very low and monitoring equipment on the market does not have the ability to monitor those parameters. The only way to be sure of certain pollutant levels is by using certified laboratory analysis.
What can families do at home to improve their air quality?
There are different kinds of pollutants present in our homes. In Beijing, many people are concerned about the presence of particulate matter (PM2.5) which is caused by combustion. This can be monitored at home with AQI monitors which are widely available to buy. The best way to keep PM2.5 down at home is to purchase air filters and keep your windows closed when the pollution is high outside. Make sure your filter is effective by checking that the AQI reading goes down when it is switched on.
Formaldehyde is present in new furniture and wooden products containing formaldehyde-based resins (such as particleboard, plywood and fibreboard). It is also present in renovation materials (such as paints, wallpapers, glues and adhesives) and household cleaning products (such as detergents, disinfectants and carpet cleaners). The best way to reduce the presence of formaldehyde is to increase ventilation: open your windows (when the pollution is low!) or keep your installed fresh air system switched on.