Since the EPA’s last review of the critical national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution (PM2.5) in 2012, thousands of new scientific studies have demonstrated the dangers of fine particle exposure. Fine particles in the air can penetrate the lungs, resulting in serious health effects such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths. The numerous sources of fine particle pollution in the air include construction sites, unpaved roads, smokestacks, and fires; other particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industrial facilities, and vehicles. In light of these recent studies, the EPA proposes to strengthen the primary (health-based) annual PM2.5 standard from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a level between 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter [January 6, 2023].
NOTE: This is an EPA proposal. After reviewing comments, the EPA plans to issue final standards later this year.
Below is a Q&A with Serene Al-Momen, Ph.D., the CEO of Attune, regarding the EPA air quality standard and how Clark Construction has been benefitting from using Attune.
MCS: Explain how construction adds to particulate matter and emissions.
Al-Momen: Construction sites produce very high air pollutants, with workers and surrounding communities exposed daily. The mixture of particles and gases includes fine PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), Total Volatile Organic Compound (TVOC), and carbon monoxide (CO) enter the atmosphere from construction activities like the transfer of materials, land clearing, and wind erosion of exposed soil. These activities generate high dust levels (typically from concrete, cement, wood, stone, and silica) that can be dangerous, even lethal if inhaled.
MCS: How does monitoring indoor air quality lessen the pollution factor?
Al-Momen: Most of us spend most of our time indoors, and a building’s ability to mitigate the effects of outdoor air pollution is critical. Construction sites are known contributors to PM pollution in the outside air quality, but other PM sources contribute to air pollution in non-localized manners. To mitigate the outdoor pollutant that comes indoors, visibility is necessary. Unfortunately, the digitization of buildings is in its infancy, with building inspections being functionally obsolete or nonexistent monitoring systems in place. Class A office buildings have little to no real-time Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring as part of the Building Management System (BMS). Adopting a digitized and real-time monitoring apparatus is the first step businesses should take to promote a universally healthy work environment in buildings.
Real-time indoor air quality monitoring can enable assessment of the efficacy of advanced air filtration systems designed to address PM pollution. Through the advancement of the internet of things (IoT) with real-time monitoring, however, we no longer have to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to mitigating pollution indoors.
MCS: What is Attune? How can real-time monitoring improve construction sites (commercial)?
Al-Momen: Attune provides IAQ and outdoor air quality (OAQ) monitoring systems that provide real-time data designed to assess the safety of air quality levels based on the presence of CO2, Particulate Matter (PM), and other TVOCs in the air. Attune’s air quality product line uses IoT innovations with 50 patents that enable the next-generation air quality sensors into our products faster than the rest of the industry. Our IoT solutions go far beyond air quality and include real-time solutions in energy metering/submetering, HVAC asset condition monitoring (ACM), and remote facility management. This data is crucial for construction companies to manage their on-site emissions and ensure the safety of their on-site personnel. Attune’s wireless real-time monitoring units can be installed throughout a construction site to gather indoor or outdoor air quality data. Attune is an expert in bringing needed data about the physical environment to the cloud in real time.
MCS: How is Clark Construction utilizing Attune? What benefits does Clark Construction attribute to Attune?
Al-Momen: Clark Construction deploys Attune’s IAQ monitoring units, including PM sensors and volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors, to assist in the flush-out process of the air in a building. This assures that the building meets the requirements for occupancy and helps accelerate the process of handing over a building to the building owner.
Clark also deploys Attune’s Temperature and Humidity sensors to monitor the building envelope where HVAC systems have yet to be installed. The real-time monitoring of environmental conditions enables Clark to protect materials such as woodwork under warranty from getting damaged during that phase.
Attune pioneered a new product kit for Clark to facilitate real-time water management at a construction site. The kit features a variety of sensors and analytics to monitor and control water usage and help prevent significant water incidents (and attendant damage). The kit comes on a cart with all necessary piping and sensors installed for easy integration into a building’s main water supply.
Additionally, Clark has incorporated Attune’s integrated air and environmental quality monitoring units at a construction site. The air quality sensors enable Clark to monitor the level of particle emissions. In contrast, the environmental quality sensors enable Clark to monitor the noise and vibration levels generated by the construction work. This real-time monitoring helps Clark meet construction guidelines and keep the conditions safe for the construction workers.
MCS: How can other commercial construction companies learn more about Attune?
Al-Momen: The easiest way to learn more about our cutting-edge technology is to schedule a demonstration and get our hardware in your hands. Our advanced IoT hardware is designed from the ground up for ease of use. Installation takes just a few minutes, and you’ll have immediate access to real-time data in our cloud dashboards. You don’t need to be an expert to install and configure our hardware and cloud software.
Through ventilation and filtration, residential and commercial buildings can function knowing they have real-time information on the unseen pollutants responsible for poor air quality. Air quality is just one of many use cases where real-time data can critically impact the efficiency and safety of on-site operations. Like most other industries, the construction industry is increasingly seeing the value in leveraging real-time data. After establishing the industry’s most comprehensive and flexible IoT sensor platform, Attune is dedicated to delivering needed real-time data for digital transformation.
For More Information:
Serene Al-Momen, Ph.D., is CEO of Attune, which is the only customizable indoor air quality monitoring solution. Attune, formerly known as Senseware, has rebranded to reflect our transition in the marketplace. For more, visit www.attuneiot.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2023
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