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NIST launches tool to help assess ventilation and indoor air quality

Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Gaithersburg, MD — “In many buildings, ventilation is often misunderstood or infrequently assessed,” says the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has created an online tool designed to help determine indoor air quality.

The free Quick Indoor CO2 tool, or QICO2, calculates carbon dioxide levels based on the user’s desired ventilation rate and information about a building and its occupants.

With the new tool, “building professionals can use CO2 readings to routinely check ventilation, detecting potentially unfavorable conditions that could lead to the buildup of harmful contaminants,” NIST says in a press release.

A carbon dioxide level below 1,000 parts per million is a common threshold for adequate indoor air quality. However, other factors could make that threshold misleading. Those factors include the number of occupants in the building along with their ages, weights and levels of physical activity.


“The user can manually enter the pertinent information or choose from a list of predefined scenarios that describe schools, residences and commercial buildings, many of which are covered by a ventilation standard issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers,” NIST says. “Then QICO2 does the math to come up with CO2 levels users can compare their real-world readings against and take actions to correct their ventilation system if needed.”

The approach of using carbon dioxide to properly gauge ventilation and the tool are described in a paper recently published online in the journal Indoor Air.

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