How’s Your Indoor Air Quality? What to Know Before You Buy a Monitor

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Home air-quality monitors can detect particulate matter-a common type of indoor air pollution-so that you can take steps to reduce it. If you or a family member has asthma, you may be thinking of purchasing a monitor to detect air pollutants in your home that can exacerbate the condition. But before you do, you should know that not all devices are accurate, according to a 2018 report in the journal Indoor Air.

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley tested seven consumer-grade models, all costing less than $300. The researchers assessed the devices’ ability to detect fine particulate matter, which comes from indoor sources (such as smoking, cooking, unfiltered humidifiers, and dust) as well as outdoor sources (such as motor vehicle exhaust and wildfires).

Four models were sufficiently accurate in detecting high levels of fine particles:

  • AirBeam
  • AirVisual Node
  • Foobot
  • Purple Air PA-II

Three were not sufficiently accurate:

  • Air Quality Egg
  • Awair
  • Speck

None of the devices did a good job at detecting the smallest (ultrafine) particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs. But many sources of ultrafine particles also emit fine particles, so the monitors could still help in this regard.

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