How clean is the air we breathe at home? Foobot Air Quality Monitor Product Review

Family enjoying each other on the table
How clean is the air we breathe at home? Foobot Air Quality Monitor Product Review
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A while back I had a conversation with my then 6-year-old about how God was made. It went a little like this:

My 6-year-old – “How was God made?”

Me – “… Erm, no one really knows. Some people don’t believe in God, and some people do.”

6 – “Well, he was obviously made in some way.”

Me – “Why do you think that he was made?”

6 – “Everything in this world is made. Food is made, grass is made, flowers are made. So, God is made, right?”

Me – “Not necessarily… as I said, no one really knows because there’s no hard evidence of his existence, yet people believe that he’s everywhere.”

6 – “What, like air?”

Me – (Cue staring at my child in disbelief)

6 – “Well, you told me that we breathe air and it’s everywhere, but I can’t see it. So, why should I believe that it’s there?”

Me – “Just because you can’t see air, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.”

6 – “Exactly.”

Outsmarted by a 6-year-old child. But, for this article, the point about that conversation wasn’t about whether God was made or not, but about how we can’t see air, yet we know it exists because we breathe it in every day for our entire lives.

But, what makes up the air we breathe?

The majority of the air we breathe is made up of oxygen and nitrogen, but you’ll also find argon, carbon dioxide and other trace amounts of gases in the air. This combo doesn’t take into the fact that we also breathe in around 4,000 toxic chemicals every day too. The truth is, we can’t lead a chemical-free life, but what we can do, is start to actively figure out how we can control as much as possible the air we breathe in our own homes and around where we live.

What’s wrong with our air quality?

The major source of pollution in our air are tiny particulates (PM2.5), which is pollution generated from exhaust fumes, factories, and ash etc. Polluted air coming from outside can cause a home’s air quality to reduce, and if you are unaware or cannot measure this external pollution, then it would be very difficult to assess the quality of the air you breathe indoors.

So, a clever little device called Foobot was created to monitor and measure the invisible, odourless pollutants that make up our environment. In this article, I will be reviewing the Foobot and finding out exactly whether the air we breathe at home is clean.

“Before you fight pollution, you have to measure it”


Foobot review

Foobot device
Foobot device

What is a Foobot?

Jacques Touillon (CEO of Luxembourg based company, Airboxlab) was determined to improve his son’s asthma and develop a solution himself. He created The Foobot, which is now available in the UK and is the most advanced data processing smart monitor in the market. Jacques aimed to improve his family’s long-term health by boosting their air quality. So the Foobot air quality monitor provides users with a clear and visual understanding of how good the air quality is in their home and offers advice on the small steps to improve it.

The Foobot device plugs into a socket at home and records the pollutants while offering visible records via its LED display. The colour and breadth of its glow will let you know whether you are breathing clean or polluted air. When you download the app, you can see the everyday causes and consequences of your activities and how they affect the air quality at home. The data from day one is stored in a cloud application, so users can learn from the historical data to see what causes the spikes in air quality, so they can take steps to change these behaviours.

How do you set the Foobot up at home?

  1. When your Foobot arrives, you plug it into a socket, preferably in the busiest room of the house and you leave it on for six days so that the sensors can warm up sufficiently before the data can become functional.
  2. Once the Foobot is set up, you find the app on your phone, by searching for “Foobot” and install it. Connect your smartphone/tablet to the WiFi you want your Foobot to be linked to.
  3. Open the app and select “I’ve got a Foobot” and then “Setup your Foobot.”
  4. Place and plug your Foobot no more than 5 feet (2m) away from your WiFi router, just for the setup process. After that, you can place the Foobot anywhere you like to measure the air quality
  5. Follow the rest of the setup steps

Click here for a video explaining how the Foobot works.

What to look out for when Foobot is tracking your air

When the family wakes up

When everyone is sleeping, no one is moving, which means slower breathing and perspiration. But, when everyone wakes up, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from our bodies is boosted, and the dust in the carpets is propelled into the air. Electronic devices, like coffee machines also expels humidity, which the Foobot can sense and record.

Cleaning the House

When you use detergent or bleach to clean the floors, this releases a lot of VOCs when the floor dries. A spike in PM2.5 is quite common during cleaning sessions, especially when vacuuming and or moving objects around.

When the kids come home from school

Small spikes occur when the kids rush home from school due to increased human activity. These spikes aren’t serious, as they are temporary, but if the duration of exposure is longer, then this can lead to decreased air quality.

Putting the fire on during winter

Fine particle (PM) spikes during winter are more commonly due to the result of combustion, for example, when cooking or lighting chimney fires (especially if you have an open fireplace or the chimney draws poorly). PM spikes can also come from outside, which can be further polluted by traffic or some plants inside the home.

Did the Foobot help clean our air?

The Foobot is an intelligent device, which is very easy to set up. We kept our Foobot in the lounge as it was right next to our big garden and in between the boy’s room and the kitchen, so we spend a lot of time passing through the room. Downloading the app was super simple too. We did have some teething problems with connecting to the internet, but it finally got sorted after a few tries.

The Foobot did disconnect itself sporadically through loss of internet connection, which we didn’t notice most of the time. However, what we did realise what that when it was disconnected, it lost the air quality data that day, which meant we were not able to track the fluctuations and compare it to the previous day’s data.

The Foobot doesn’t have a CO2 sensor, so it calculates the CO2 levels according to the VOCs levels.

Foobot volatile compounds
It was interesting to find that there was an increase in VOCs when we were sleeping.

We noticed that the Foobot glowed blue a lot which meant that we have good air quality. It is probably down to the fact that we are in a quiet part of town, in a residential area, and we have a big garden. We regularly air our home out and ensure there is air passing through in each of the rooms. We also try to declutter the house as much as possible. We noticed the times when the Foobot glowed orange, was when I was cooking and someties burnt food, or when I was hoovering the large rug in our lounge. I also noticed that when my husband mowed the lawn, it would glow orange too.

The Global Index is the Central number and is a weighted average, calculated from VOC, CO2 and PM values
The slight increase in particulate matter was recorded after some light mid-morning cleaning in the kitchen
More activity was recorded during the night when we were sleeping, and the spike was probably down to poor ventilation, and so we should have opened a window before going to sleep
Our humidity and temperature levels were pretty constant throughout, and we were very happy about this. We live in a cool house, which is great during the summer, but not so great in the winter, which means we use the central heating more and this can cause spikes in air quality

Factors about where you live that can affect your air quality and steps you can take to improve it.

Where you live can play a huge factor in the type of air quality you breathe at home. For example, people living in cities are prone to be surrounded by more PM2.5s, whereas those who live in rural areas have the benefit of more greenery and naturalised air.

You’d be surprised to know which items in your house can cause a spike in air quality

Wood products contain formaldehyde, a VOC that can irritate the eyes and respiratory system. It is also a known carcinogen.

Electronic devices contain components which release VOCs, which can be affected by the room temperature and humidity.

New mattresses, carpets and couches are very porous and carry large amounts of VOCs left over from manufacturing. New paint on the walls also releases VOCs quickly. This is why it is not advisable to sleep in a room which has just been painted.

Poor air quality can lead to health problems, like fatigue, headache, eye, nose and throat infections, as well as aggravated asthma and allergies. We need to protect our health and preserve our quality of life, by taking steps to improve the air we breathe. Use the Foobot to help make better choices and decisions, take care of existing problems or prevent the creation of new ones. Here are some ways to improve your air quality now:

Open a window

Use Foobot to know when it is required to let external air come in and for how long. It’s very useful for when it’s cold or when you live on the main road.

Adjust the thermostat

Rooms with high humidity can be breeding grounds for mould and bacteria. Dry air, however, can cause dry skin and itchy eyes. Use the Foobot to create the right temperature and humidity. You can partner Foobot with Google Nest which controls your home’s temperature. Or it can communicate directly with Amazon Echo. When any pollutants exceed healthy levels, Foobot will connect with Alexa, who will talk to you about the problem and suggest possible solutions. You can also buy an air purifier, which helps to improve the air quality at home.

Use the right household products

Foobot can tell you over time which household products, carpets or furniture are releasing a frequent dose of pollutant.

Remove or minimise the known source

Think about using furniture made from hardwood instead of particle board and use low-VOC paint for renovations.

Filter VOCs out of the air

Purifiers can filter the air artificially, but some plants are great at absorbing VOCs. You can find NASA’s list of the best plants to control air pollution on Foobot’s website.

Should I buy a Foobot?

I think a Foobot would be a great device to use if members of your family are suffering from allergies, headaches and poor sleep etc. and you want to investigate the source. However, if you don’t suffer from many ailments and you live in an area where air quality is generally good, then perhaps buying an air purifier or dehumidifier is cheaper. But it’s a great device to use to become more aware of what you’re breathing in and how you can take steps to improve your air quality.

Is the Foobot worth around £250? That’s up for you to decide. We enjoy having it around the house because our Alexa Show notifies us when I should open a window due to a spike in air quality. Over time you will start to notice a pattern in the actions you make that causes the spikes. And, to me, with two growing boys, this is invaluable advice.

*Motherhood Diaries was gifted the Foobot for a review, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own*

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Leyla Preston (595 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked!You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/