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5 Questions to Ask About Your Ozone Monitoring Project

Ozone monitoring is key to maintaining indoor air quality and ensuring your workforce stays healthy and productive. In our previous guide to ozone sensors we’ve covered some of the technical details; in this article, we’ll review the key questions you need to ask before embarking on an ozone monitoring project.

1. Why Monitor Indoor Ozone?

Unlike stratospheric ozone, which is essential for life on Earth, ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant. It can cause a range of adverse respiratory effects, including shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, and aggravate existing lung conditions. Long-term exposure to ozone has also been linked to serious conditions, including the development of asthma and increased mortality.

Ground-level ozone is most prevalent outdoors, where it is created due to chemical reactions between VOCs and direct sunlight. Emissions from motor vehicles, industrial facilities, gasoline, and chemical solvents all contribute to ozone formation. However, these problems do not stop at your building’s doorstep: a 2018 review of scientific literature found that recommended ozone levels are often exceeded at schools and offices. The main causes are ambient ozone seeping into buildings from the outdoors, as well as ozone being generated indoors by devices such as printers, photocopiers, and air purifiers.

Peter Drucker once said that ”‘what gets measured gets managed”, and ozone is no different. Monitoring indoor ozone levels gives you the ability to manage and reduce ozone levels - either through simple measures such as keeping doors and operable windows closed on polluted days, through more involved steps to remove ozone generating appliances or isolate them from employees, and up to longer terms solutions such as improving building insulation.

2. What Are Your Goals?

While indoor ozone monitoring is a recognized health hazard, there is still some disagreement on how to measure it. As we’ve covered previously in What Levels of Indoor Ozone Are Safe?, different agencies have set different standards for acceptable levels of indoor ozone, and there is no definitive benchmark in this regard.

In a review published in Frontiers in Immunology, researchers have also noted that ozone is “chemically reactive and can be more effectively scavneged by building surfaces”, which makes reliance on outdoor ozone levels problematic. They also note that:

“Recent advancement in small and low-cost ozone sensors makes personal monitoring or indoor monitoring more affordable and feasible. More accurate ozone monitoring can be used in future studies… and can also aid data-based personal prevention actions.”

Measuring and collecting data over time will allow you to compare ozone levels in your workplace with the standards set out by the WHO, EPA, and other agencies. You will also be able to understand whether the situation is improving or deteriorating over time.

3. What is Your Measurement Strategy?

You might be inclined to go for a quick fix - hiring experts to measure ozone levels in your offices on a few occasions and produce a report. We’ve covered the drawbacks of this strategy for air quality monitoring in our previous comparison between continuous monitoring and spot testing

In a nutshell, while spot testing might slightly reduce your upfront costs, the data will not be reliable and actionable and you will not see the same overall benefits as you would from implementing a real time, continuous monitoring strategy - driving overall costs upwards and limiting the usefulness of any data you collect.

While the above is true for any kind of indoor air quality monitoring, it’s especially true when it comes to ozone levels - which can vary significantly between seasons, hours of the day, and areas in a building (as Weschler explains in Ozone in Indoor Environments: Concentration and Chemistry). A single test, or even a series of tests, is thus especially likely to be prone to error. 

Misleading data can be worse than no data at all, as it might drive you to unnecessary action when none is needed, or risky inaction due to lack of problem awareness. For these reasons, ozone monitoring is typically seen as a continuous project rather than a one-off measurement event.

4. Which Technology Do You Need?

There are multiple ways to measure ozone. As we’ve covered previously, the two most common sensor types are metal-oxide semi-conductor sensors and electrochemical ones. For measuring ozone indoors, the latter are preferable as they are less cross-sensitive to other VOCs and can provide reliable and consistent results over time.

Of course, hardware is just part of the picture, and you’ll also need software to quickly access and understand the data you collect. For that, you should select an ozone monitoring solution that offers an integrated dashboard that allows you to see ozone alongside other key air quality metrics, in real time.

5. Are You Looking to Gain Certification?

Ozone levels are now a feature of some healthy building certification plans. If you’re aiming to achieve a certificate, you should make sure that your monitoring tools are capable of measuring ozone according to these specifications.

For example, the Fitwel Viral Response Module (VRM) includes the Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Testing and Monitoring Protocol, which requires projects to monitor PM2.5 and CO2, and at least three out of the following parameters: TVOC, relative humidity, ozone, CO, and formaldehyde. In order to help organizations produce this data, the Kaiterra Sensedge Mini now supports ozone monitoring.

Ready to Get Started With Ozone Monitoring?

Kaiterra’s air quality monitoring solutions are already used by Fortune 500 companies that want to get better and more actionable air quality data. Schedule a FREE consultation with one of our air quality experts today to discuss how to fit ozone monitoring into your next project.

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Kaiterra is a global company on a mission to end air pollution. We make air monitors that empower people to make small changes in their everyday lives and help with researchers, NGOs, and governments around the world to end air pollution at the source.