Understanding Home Air Quality Sensors & Monitors for Indoor Pollutants


Air pollution surrounds us, in both our indoor and outdoor environments, and the unfortunate reality is that this pollution can have significant adverse effects on both the environment and the health of those in this space. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has recently shed extensive light on the issues surrounding air pollution, particularly in indoor air that has far more pollutants and pollution than outdoor air. From building materials, cleaning supplies, dust, mold, and even cooking emissions in the environment can release potentially toxic chemicals and pollutants into the air that can contaminate the indoor air that is breathed everyday – sometimes resulting in certain health effects and symptoms in those who are exposed to this tainted air.

More and more people are reaching for and purchasing low-cost air quality meters or sensors to measure the level of pollutants in the indoor environment. These meters are used in lieu of laboratory testing, in an effort to minimize costs of pollutant detection and yet still allowing you to be aware of the potentially toxic levels of pollutants in your personal indoor space. But do these lower-cost air quality meters really work to indicate pollutants in the air?

We are going to discuss what a home air quality meter does, what it measures, and how effective these devices really are for pollution detection.

What is a Home Air Quality Sensor?

An air quality monitor for your home is a relatively inexpensive method for detecting air pollutants trapped within your home’s air. There are many different air quality sensors available to consumers, and all of the sensors differ either in size, pollutant detection, and overall quality. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are very inexpensive air monitoring devices that people have in their home to alert them in the case that either of these gases enter into the environment.

When you compare at home air quality sensors to laboratory testing that is conducted to test the air for pollutant levels, there is a benefit to getting immediate results from at home air quality tests as it is much easier to access, and it can be used in many areas due to its mobile capabilities.

Indoor Air Pollutants Measured by Air Monitoring Devices

Pollutants will be found in both indoor and outdoor environments, depending on the surroundings and the potential culprits of these pollutants. Air pollutants can come from a variety of different things including mold, bacteria, cleaning products, and even materials used within the home. When it comes to air pollutants there are two major categories that sensors will monitor: gases and particulate matter.


The amount of gases that can be found in an indoor environment can vary but you may be surprised to find a significant level of gases in the air. The burning of fuel in an environment, whether from a gas stove or furnace, gases will be released into the air such as carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) will form and develop in the air. As these gases enter into the air space of the environment, it will be detected and monitored from many air quality sensors and devices to show the level of these gases.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are another form of gases that could be found within the air of an indoor space. These airborne chemicals are usually produced from items inside the home that are going through a process called off gassing, where the chemicals are released into the air. VOCs are among the detectable pollutants that are found in the air from air quality monitors and devices.

Particulate Matter

A potentially hazardous pollutant, particulate matter is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets that are fine particles that are not detectable to the human eye, while some you may require a microscope to see the fine particulate matter. These fine particulate matters, that are as small as 2.5 microns in size, are the most dangerous pollutants found in the air.

The hazards from these particulate matters will include the potential for these tiny microscopic particles to become inhaled or ingested into the body. The particles can reach deep into the lungs and will eventually be able to enter into the bloodstream, which is dangerous to human health.

How Do Indoor Air Quality Meters Work?

Some people may wonder exactly how these indoor air quality meters work in the environment, and this is a good question. The home air quality monitors are often an estimation of the level of pollutants found in the air of the environment and this type of testing is different than the laboratory air testing that use to be conducted to identify pollutants in the home’s air. Home air quality meters focus on certain pollutant identification such as gases (chemicals, VOCs, etc.), particulate matter (allergens and other particulate matter PM2.5), carbon dioxide, and temperature/humidity. Whereas laboratory testing provides you with a direct measurement of pollutants in the air, such as how much dust is in 1 cubic meter of the air – to a precise science.

Although there are many benefits to indoor air quality meters, in comparison to laboratory air quality testing, there are also some downfalls from these cheaper air quality meters. The meters work by LED or light that show the amount of PM in the air based on whether the light is blocked or scattered when the light is sent through the air. The flaw to this method is that some particulate matter can be missed such as dust particles that can build on the meter and potentially block the sensors, some PM might not make it into the sensor chamber, and others may be so small that they are missed by the light passing through the air.

Benefits of Monitoring Indoor Air Quality

So why should you turn to an indoor air quality monitor to detect pollutants in your home’s air? These monitors do have their limitations, but they also have many benefits that can be provided to both the environment and the health of those exposed to this indoor area. An indoor air quality monitor gives you a quick glimpse and insight into the different pollutants that are within your air space and this is done with a close estimation to the actual level in the air. These devices also provide you with portability, giving you the ability to move it from room to room in a home or even in other environments.

Air Quality Monitor Prices

There are a variety of different air quality monitors that are available to consumers, and they all range in uses and functionality. The different types of air quality monitors will range in pricing from anywhere to $99 to upwards of $500, depending on the functions that are provided in the monitor device. Be sure to look closely at the varying features of each air quality monitoring device to select the ideal one for pollutants you want to identify in your air.

Best Air Quality Monitor for Indoor Environments

Foobot is a top-rated indoor air quality monitor that is able to effectively detect pollutants trapped within your personal indoor air. The Foobot air quality monitor is among the first connected indoor air quality monitor for keeping track of the air around you, measuring the temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, toxic chemicals (VOCs), and harmful particulates (PM2.5). This monitor works by offering a quick snapshot of your air quality using LED’s, and the results of this detection is through the use of an App which presents the Foobot’s findings of your air quality.

The Foobot tracks harmful pollutants in real time and over time to allow you an insight into the air quality within your personal indoor environment, as it tracks VOCs, PM2.5, CO2, and Temperature/Humidity. The monitor keeps a log of your air quality overtime starting from day 1, so you can observe the data over a long duration of time.

To learn more about the Foobot Air Quality Monitor, check out the Foobot on our shop page and start tracking and monitoring the quality of your indoor air.

Foobot, Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor

✓ Classy LED lights on the device give you instant air quality readings

✓ Tracks outdoor pollution too

✓ Tracks harmful pollutants in real-time AND over time: VOCs, PM2.5, CO2 (derived from VOC), Temperature & Humidity

✓ Multi-room monitoring

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