NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program is a Game Changer
When a doctor reads the MRI and tells you that surgery is needed, it can change the trajectory of your life in an instant. Finally, you have a potential answer to the question that’s been bugging you for a long time: “What’s wrong with me, and why do I feel this way?” This is the same feeling that the new NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program hopes to be able to provide for residential and commercial clients concerned about their air quality and subsequent indoor health.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) has taken a position front and center in most people’s minds because of the effects of COVID-19 over the last few years. Seemingly all of a sudden, the 3,000+ gallons of air that we breathe every day—enough by volume to fill an average swimming pool—have become the focus of across-the-table discussions privately and publicly. Perhaps, it’s knowing that we can only survive a few minutes without air that has put this concern on the front burner. Whatever is driving these discussions, the time is here to ask the second question that’s been begging to be answered for a long time: “What can I do about it?”
Developing solutions that redefine IAQ forever
NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Microbial Inspectors, has been training IAQ professionals since its beginning in 2004. This solution-based training has helped facilitate the improvement of indoor environments, helping them to become safer, cleaner, and healthier for those who occupy them. However, the missing piece of the puzzle has always been the ability to leave trained eyes and ears in the environment to monitor any changes and identify potential problems in real-time. That capability is now here.
On August 15, 2022, the NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program was launched to connect residential and commercial clients with IAQ professionals who can interpret the information gained from iQi monitors and respond immediately to correct whatever anomalies are identified. The iQi monitor is the ‘stethoscope’ and the IAQ professional is the ‘doctor’ trained to design a protocol to improve the indoor environment. Bridging the gap between the problem and the solution in this way has never been done before. However, the technology has now caught up to the training, and the industry’s goal of providing safer, cleaner, and healthier environments throughout the world may now be a reality.
Understanding the process
The iQi monitor—the equipment that supports the NORMI IAQ Assurance Program—is a WIFI or Zigbee-enabled, high-tech piece of equipment that records the IAQ parameters needed to evaluate the quality of air indoors. Typically, a monitor is placed in each HVAC coverage area to measure a variety of IAQ components. The information can be displayed on a monitor in the lobby for employees or the public to view and, at the same time, display data on an app for the property owner or facilities manager. These readings help the IAQ professional develop an IAQ profile for that environment based on its size, use, furnishings, air movement, and other factors which might contribute to abnormalities.
Particle counts are taken, in real-time, to measure airborne ‘dust’ at PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 (submicron) particles. Though not specifically identified as dead skin, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, dust mite feces, or something else, these particulates may indicate unhealthy levels of airborne contaminants as a result of moisture intrusion or air infiltration issues. It is one thing to recognize when the dust has increased but quite another to know how to resolve the issue and, unfortunately, HEPA filtration is not always the answer. Knowing how to deal with the solution instead of the symptoms requires IAQ training and building science expertise.
Relative humidity and temperature work together and can when out of sync exacerbate indoor air quality issues and contribute to an increased presence of microbes like viruses, bacteria, or mold. Often, because of improperly sized HVAC systems, poor air movement, or moisture intrusion, addressing these anomalies requires a clear understanding of building sciences and how structures work. NORMI trains IAQ professionals in methods that can help the client keep relative humidity readings between 40%-60% to reduce the probability that microbes, including mold, will proliferate in that space. Being able to measure this parameter in real-time helps to identify potential issues before they quickly get out of hand.
Measuring VOCs effectively
In most indoor environments, we live in a toxic soup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Personal care products, furnishings, cleaning solvents, potpourri, and other chemicals constantly off-gas in our environment, and we’re finding an increasing number of people having allergic-type reactions to those VOCs. Sometimes it is difficult to identify an odor, but measuring total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) can send up a red flag helping to pre-empt any potential issues.
Having iQi monitors that are able to see elevated VOCs, even before we can smell them, could create a more comfortable environment for the increasing number of people who are negatively affected by them.
Headaches, lethargy, irritability, and general malaise have been associated with elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). Though not necessarily requiring a 911 response, being able to see a CO2 spike and address it expeditiously with increased ventilation and air movement could significantly improve the safety and comfort level of the office or home.
What’s ahead for the NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program
The next phase of the NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program will be to connect the sensors to controls that can automatically activate a responding piece of equipment when triggered by elevated VOCs or CO2. The monitoring technology is taking the concept of a ‘smart home’ to an entirely new level, far beyond simply turning a light on or off.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) became concerned about elevated levels of formaldehyde in the trailers they provided. NORMI was commissioned to conduct a study for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and found that the levels of formaldehyde in trailers were six to eight times higher than allowed by the World Health Organization (WHO). That set NORMI on a track to create a class entitled ‘NORMI Certified Formaldehyde Screener (CFS)’ for the expressed purpose of training IAQ professionals on how to evaluate and resolve formaldehyde issues in indoor environments. An effective protocol for mitigation was created and it has been successfully used since then in environments where it has been applied.
The benefits of IAQ assurance
More recently, there was a concern about elevated levels of formaldehyde in luxury laminate flooring. The health effects of higher levels of formaldehyde present themselves with different symptoms. They are a concern, especially for the very young, immune-compromised, and very old. The NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program monitors the levels of formaldehyde and connects any anomalies to a trained IAQ professional who can address the problem. The formaldehyde might come from new flooring, new furniture, a fancy piece of art you purchased in India, or a special gift you received from China. Knowing what you are bringing into your home is the beginning of fixing potential IAQ problems, and the monitoring program is the place to start.
As a part of the service, the subscriber is provided with information comparing the IAQ parameters in their home or office to established guidelines by the EPA, ASHRAE, Fitwel, and NORMI. A report is produced on a scheduled basis confirming the tracking of the readings and results. Providing information in real-time is the best way to catch a problem before it becomes a problem. That is the goal of the NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program.
But you might ask, “Why is having IAQ monitors in my environment such an important step toward resolving potential issues?” Many homeowners have been caught up with the ‘do-it-yourself revolution’ and believe they are capable of resolving issues on their own. This has given clients a false sense of security only to find out—often when it’s too late—that they cannot self-diagnose a potential IAQ issue. The average client needs someone who is a trained professional to interpret the information, identify a problem, and offer a resolution. The NORMIPro IAQ Assurance Program is designed to do that. Being the eyes and ears in any environment (residential, commercial, industrial, or institutional), NORMIPro Monitoring is the place to begin to improve indoor air quality in virtually any environment.
Now is the time to begin to get a handle on the air that you, your family, or your employees are breathing indoors. Each day, more information is being compiled about the detrimental effects of breathing unhealthy air and NORMI is on the leading edge, educating IAQ professionals on how to create cleaner indoor environments. This all starts with the NORMIPro™ IAQ Assurance Program. Take advantage of this opportunity today.
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February 21, 2023