Customer Story: Better IAQ Plus Insights in Teaching Labs

Aircuity’s channel partner, Newmatic Engineering, recently shared a customer story with us on how airflow optimization helped a college improve their IAQ through continuous monitoring and actionable insight!

A large fast growing community college had an “event” in their chemistry building where a student was overcome by chemical fumes and were searching for a way to prevent this kind of occurrence in the future. Newmatic suggested Aircuity as a way the college could measure air quality and receive an alert if IAQ thresholds were exceeded. They loved the prospect of continuous monitoring and the ability to alert users if air quality becomes unhealthy.

Aircuity was installed to monitor fifty (50) zones. For each zone, an alarm station with color-coded lights and a mute button were also installed along with a new building automation system to receive the Aircuity signals. Every zone was set to alarm when they exceeded any of the following thresholds:
-If the TVOC PID detector > 1 ppm
-If the TVOC MOS sensor is > 3 ppm
-If the Optical Particle Counter is > 5,000,000 pcf

Newmatic Engineering went one step further for the customer after installation by proving the functionality of each room with an acetone-soaked rag in a small container held up to the general exhaust grille (for duct-mounted sensors) or the wall sensor. During the test, most rooms lit up from the PID sensor but some lit up from the MOS. The system has been in operation for several weeks and is already making an impact. Here are two examples that we learned about:

  1. A teaching lab alarmed on a Friday afternoon with a particle count approaching 15,000,000 pcf. The professor’s original thought was that our system was too sensitive. Upon further investigation, we found that he had a different work practice than the other professors. For one experiment, students need to use an eye dropper to remove three or four drops of HCI from a bottle (with a 1” opening) and drop them into a test tube. Every other professor performed the operation in a chemical fume hood, and none of those rooms had any increase in VOCs or particulate. The average particle count hovered around 250,000 pcf. But this professor’s lab had a particle count of 15,000,000 pcf. When he saw the data, he decided that he would relocate that procedure into a chemical fume hood like his fellow professors.
  2. Several professors complained of headaches. After reviewing the graphs, it was found that during the time they had the headaches, CO2 levels were unusually high (up to 900 ppm). CO2 sensing was set with a lower threshold value in one of the labs to see it prevents the CO2 from going up so high. The faculty stated that they would like to install Aircuity in the classroom wing of the building and eventually use Aircuity for CO2 monitoring (and DCV control) campus wide.