Because the cannabis industry is still so new, and because federal legalization has yet to happen, there isn’t much in the way of standards or regulations pertaining to indoor air quality monitoring. This puts many cultivation workers at risk — but it doesn’t have to.
Data-driven experts, like our friends at Byers Scientific, can guide us in identifying and implementing solutions for clean air to make cultivations safer for workers and improve quality standards across the board.
Read on to learn more about indoor air quality monitoring laws and issues for cannabis cultivations, and what individual businesses can do to help raise the standards for the whole industry.
Air Quality Laws & Regulations
While it’s not impossible that some kind of regulations for indoor air quality monitoring could be on the radar by now, it also appears unlikely for any judicial-level intervention to take place before cannabis is federally legalized.
“Typically, federal agencies such as OSHA and EPA would bring to bear a lot of the scientific expertise and knowledge that we need to understand and mitigate these types of problems,” Dr. William Vizuete, Chief Scientific Officer at Byers Scientific, explains. “Since it’s a federally illicit substance, organizations aren’t really doing that.”
Instead, changes for indoor air quality monitoring and regulation must be driven by businesses themselves, much like competitive wages are offered to attract and retain workers.
According to Josh Rembusch, Vice President of Byers Scientific, there have been conversations around better controls on things like air quality for employees. He says, “It fits hand-in-glove with the very strict sanitation SOPs that almost every one of these cultivators follows[… and] becomes a bit of a culture to look out for employees.”
The solution really comes down to addressing the root causes of indoor air quality issues and effecting top-down change through improvements to company culture.
Root Causes of Indoor Air Quality Issues
In terms of plant emissions that can be harmful to growers, Dr. Vizuete identifies two main types: primary emissions that come directly from the plant itself, and secondary pollutants that are formed as products when primary emissions react with each other and the environment.
While not all emissions are inherently harmful, as they mix with sunlight and other pollutants in the atmosphere, they can form harmful aerosols that may lead to health concerns for cultivation workers.
“One reactionary response we’ve seen is to give employees personal protective equipment (PPE),” Rembusch says. “But, as a former safety manager, PPE is not your first line of defense. Engineering controls are really the proper way to address these environments. And that’s where air purification really comes into play.”
In other words, cannabusinesses should take a proactive, not defensive, approach to indoor air quality monitoring to manage plant emissions and improve air quality for their workers.
Data Analysis & Air Quality Technology
The team at Byers Scientific is passionate about providing clean air to as many people and businesses as possible — in and beyond the cannabis industry. That’s why its approach to clean air backs up emerging technology with concrete data and analysis.
The company’s electrostatic precipitation and filtration technology, for example, is licensed out of Holland and combines the strengths of high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) with other types of technology for indoor air quality monitoring at a considerably lower energy demand.
“We are doing more than just providing equipment to try and improve indoor air quality or lower emissions,” says Marc Byers, Founder and President of Byers Scientific. “We’re also studying and bringing analytical tools to bear.”
As a result, the team has been able to use molecular fingerprinting to both identify and quantify plant emissions and then design and test mitigation equipment accordingly.
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Helps Everyone
In the grand scheme of things, the cannabis industry is still nascent. Prioritizing clean air helps make the industry better for everyone in terms of:
- Sustainability. The best solutions for indoor air quality monitoring and improvement are ones that also prioritize sustainability, both from an environmental standpoint and with regard to the business’s longevity.
- Compliance. Improving indoor air quality helps businesses not only stay compliant with any existing regulations but also avoid odor complaints from local communities, preventing issues with public perception.
- Cooperation. The more we as an industry come together to advocate for better business practices — including but not limited to air quality standards — the more we can continue to help each other learn and improve.
“Ultimately, what we would want to see is everyone […] trying to work toward better practices throughout their business,” Byers concludes. There are still a lot of pitfalls and complications to figure out when it comes to indoor air quality monitoring, but there’s also tremendous opportunity for growth.
Protecting the Right to Clean Air
As the team at Byers Scientific often says, “clean air is a basic human right.” But with the lack of legislation on indoor air quality monitoring for cannabis cultivations, it’s up to the growers to take action to ensure worker safety.
Be cautious of relying on individuals who don’t fully understand what’s causing air quality issues to provide a solution. Instead, let data and expert advice guide you in addressing problems at the source and implementing air quality standards that prioritize both the long-term health of your plants and the safety of your workers.
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