Research indicates that 96 percent of homes have at least one type of air quality problems indoors. An indoor air quality monitor (IAQ) will report on the levels of regular pollutants and other air conditions in your home in real time.
The culprit can be anything from excessive dust to high humidity to emissions from household cleaners or building materials. The problem is that most people don't know it's a problem, and if they find out – usually the tip of allergy-like symptoms or more dramatic health effects – they don't know exactly what environmental pollutants are causing it.  Updated July 24, 2019 to add our review of the new generation of Awair Glow C air quality monitor, even though it is just a "screen" that sells the smart device briefly. Awair Glow C not only tracks home air quality, but it will also trigger any device connected to it when your air needs to be healthier. It is our new top pick in this category.
Some indoor air quality displays will also track outdoor air quality to provide context for your indoor readings. The measurements are then displayed on a screen on the device itself, as well as in a companion app on your mobile device. Most IAQ monitors will alert you to unsafe levels via a tell-tale and / or slider notifications to your smartphone or tablet.
When you realize that something has risen to a dangerous level, you can take action to reduce it ̵
Here are our current top choices for indoor air quality monitors. We have also included a guide to the environmental toxins that a good IAQ monitor should track. And if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find links to all the latest IAQ review reports.
Best indoor air quality monitor
This smart device connects directly to a power outlet and tracks temperature, humidity and VOC, and displays the measured levels in the easy-to-read dashboard of the provided mobile app, and aggregates these results to a total air quality score of good, fair or poor. But the feature that makes this device so effective is that you can connect a "stupid" device to it – such as a fan or a dehumidifier – and the Awair Glow will automatically enable the device to circulate your air based on a schedule when pollutant levels rise , or when someone enters the room.
Radon is one of the most common and deadly indoor pollutants, and it cannot be detected unless you actively look for it. Airthings Wave Plus is currently the only monitor to track Radon in real time. Although it alone makes it worth the investment, it also tracks levels of carbon dioxide and VOC (volatile organic compounds). You can get a fast air quality status by fan-by-hand in front of the unit – hence the name – or dig deeper into current and historical measurements in the easy-to-use mobile app. Airthings Wave can also be paired with IFTTT applets to alert you to high radon levels by text message or by changing the color of Philips Hue smart bulbs.
Top Indoor Pollution
If our top picks do not match your needs, this guide will help you understand the most common air pollutants so you can find one that does. Most available IAQ monitors cannot monitor for all of these, so choose the ones that matter most to you.
PM2.5: Particle size, or PM, is a mixture of particles and droplets in the air. PM varies in shape and size, but those of 10 microns in diameter or less can adversely affect your health because they can be inhaled. PM 2.5 refers to fine particulate matter – it with a diameter of two and a half microns or less.
Sufficient exposure to PM2.5 can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs and cause allergy-like symptoms and shortness of breath in otherwise healthy people. It can also exacerbate existing medical problems, such as asthma and heart disease. The World Health Organization is considering PM2.5 as the world's largest environmental health risk.
Indoor PM2.5 levels can be affected by outdoor sources such as vehicle exhaust, fires and power emissions. But many indoor activities also produce PM2.5: Cooking, firing fireplaces and smoking are just a few common sources.
VOC: The abbreviation stands for volatile organic compounds, gases emitted from a variety of materials that can have short-term and long-term health effects. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, concentrations of many VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors.
Sources of VOC include many common household products, including hair sprays, cosmetics, cleaning fluids, disinfectants, paints and varnishes. Combustion of fuels such as wood and natural gas also produces VOC. Formaldehyde is one of the most common VOCs found in many building materials, including plywood, glue and insulation. Formaldehyde is also used in some curtains and upholstery fabrics. You can read more about formaldehyde and its sources in this article from U.S. Pat. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Short-term exposure to the low levels of VOCs can cause irritation to the throat, nausea, fatigue and other minor ailments. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of VOC has been associated with more severe respiratory irritation as well as liver and kidney damage. Products can deliver VOCs even when they are in storage, but to a lesser extent than when they are actively used.
Carbon monoxide: Now, most are aware of the lethal effects of high concentrations of this odorless, colorless gas. However, exposure to lower levels sometimes given off by fuel combustors can also cause unwanted reactions, including confusion and memory loss.
A few air quality monitors claim they can detect these lower levels. However, the only reliable way to be warned about this notoriously difficult to identify the killer is with a standard carbon monoxide detector.
Radon: Radon is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking, according to the EPA. Since it is a by-product of the naturally occurring degradation of uranium in soil, rocks and water, it is ubiquitous both inside and out. In general, indoor radon levels must be controlled by coal-based kits and require you to test your levels for up to 90 days. You then have to send the kit to a laboratory for analysis and wait for the results.
An indoor air quality monitor with radon sensor can deliver faster results by monitoring real-time levels. Currently, Airthings Wave is the only monitor in our guide with this capability.
Carbon Dioxide: While the effect of high levels of CO2 has long been thought to be benign, research has found that concentrations as low as 1000 ppm can affect people's cognitive function and decision-making ability.
The largest source of indoor CO2 is humans themselves, as it is a by-product of the respiratory function. Along with poor ventilation, this often leads to high levels of CO2 in many homes. Fortunately, you can find CO2 sensors on most air quality monitors.
Temperature and humidity: These levels can affect more than your comfort. High temps and excessive humidity promote the growth of mold and mold. These can cause structural damage to your home and cause allergy-like symptoms to those with sensitivity. Monitoring these levels can help you prevent home and health problems and tip you to potential sources such as foundation fractures or leaks and poor insulation.
air quality monitor reviews