Why must HVAC systems be Pandemic Ready?
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The new coronavirus has brought the indoor world to the forefront of public consciousness. Even before the pandemic, most people spent the majority of their time indoors. But COVID-19 has raised awareness of the connection between indoor air quality and health safety. As more people stay indoors, we must also be assured that the quality of the air we breathe is safe, clean, and virus-free. Keeping close monitoring of HVAC systems during these times might help ensure the safety of indoor air quality.

Air pollution is also a widely regarded environmental cause of a multitude of infections around the world. According to research, both short- and long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to various negative health effects, including growing mortality rates and hospitalizations. Indoors is not as safe from air pollution as people might think.

Common Causes of Indoor Pollution

Not all causes of indoor air pollution emit or are present at the same levels or the same frequency. Some sources, for example, furnishings and construction materials produce contaminants in a reasonably consistent manner, while other compounds are only introduced by active inputs such as smoking, washing, or heavy traffic on nearby roads. To count:

Outdoor Air Pollution.

Air pollution from outside sources migrates indoors due to the natural exchanges of indoor and outdoor air. This is particularly important in buildings near highways where traffic-derived air contamination (e.g. particulate matter, benzene, NO2) is likely to increase and transmitted indoors through active or passive ventilation.

Tobacco Smokes

Tobacco smokes
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Tobacco smoke has a well-documented negative effect on one’s health. Many public health measures have been implemented around the world to limit exposure to “second-hand” tobacco smoke in public places and businesses. But, no such protections typically exist for private residences meaning that residential tobacco usage represents a notable source of indoor air pollution in households with one or more smokers.

Residential tobacco use usually lacks such safeguards. Making it a significant source of indoor air pollution in households with one or more smokers.

Building Material and Furnishings

Building materials and furnishings are a significant cause of indoor air contaminants. Varnishes, glues, upholstery, and paints all produce toxins. Such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that will slowly leak into the interior air over time. Furthermore, the degradation of formaldehyde building materials in older buildings, whether as a result of routine maintenance or as a result of an acute occurrence. For example, a major renovation will trigger the release of this well-known carcinogen into the home or building.

Moisture

Mold, mildew, and dust mites thrive in damp environments, which may lead to poor indoor air quality. Furthermore, moisture intrusion into home appliances (e.g., wood, metal) may hasten the deterioration of those products. And increase the production of many other contaminants.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Taking out and replacing individual pollution sources is the most efficient way to improve indoor air quality. As a result of the reduction in outdoor air emissions, there will be less indoor pollution. Reduced indoor ventilation can also help to reduce indoor pollution levels.

The importance of proper indoor ventilation in reducing SARS-CoV-2 exposure has gotten a lot of attention recently. Existing ventilation regulations are primarily intended to avoid high Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in enclosed spaces. Natural breathing produces CO2, which has long been used as a marker for stale air caused by human body odors, personal care items, and other factors. That’s why it is important to use the use of air cleaners such as HEPA filters. They are commonly used in conjunction with air purifiers. HEPA filters have enabled carbon filters to capture odors, gases, and even the most complex organic compounds. When other air filters fail to remove odors, an activated carbon filter is the next best thing.

It’s unclear if current ventilation requirements are adequate to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection transmission. This depends on the number of infected people present and the amount of virus they’re shedding.

So, the following are some suggested efficient ways to improve indoor air quality.

First, Use High-Efficiency Filtration

Scientists, including the CDC, have determined that the route of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 is pulmonary droplets and infectious viral particles. Rather than fomites, as before believed. The Epidemic Task Force (ETF) of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has been at the core of making actionable guidelines for reducing COVID-19 airborne transmission in buildings. It urged people to open windows and use fans to improve airflow. But, such sensors can be used as differential air pressure sensors and air velocity sensors can check airflow through ductwork and pressure drops across filters to alert when they must cleaning. Air Pressure Differential Sensors are useful in hospitals and clean rooms. Where positive pressures are maintained to keep rooms clean and negative pressures are used to keep pollutants out.

HVAC Systems using filters
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High-efficiency filtration was another important factor to consider. It suggests that central HVAC systems must have at least MERV 13 filters. These filters are the most recent advancements in HVAC technology which ASHRAE strongly recommends. To lessen the risk of infection from the Coronavirus and other airborne diseases air filters and cleaners had to be strictly implemented.

Along with social distancing and face coverings, ventilation and filtration are now commonly accepted as crucial elements in combating airborne transmission. And lowering the impact of contamination indoors, bringing in more outdoor air, and using higher-efficiency filtration are common guidelines. But how these general practices are implemented in a specific building depends on many factors.

Second, Clean and Change Filters

Filters must be changed or cleaned regularly if the facilities have forced HVAC systems. Electrostatic filters, which attract and keep dust and airborne particles, may also aid. This prevents them from being blown around your building. If you have a centralized system of ductwork, cleaning the ducts is also beneficial.

Third, Use Air Purifiers for Safety Indoor Air

Allowing fresh air is one of the most effective ways to increase indoor air quality. Foam, fiberglass, cotton, or other particle-trapping fabrics are the most popular types of air cleaners. They work by allowing air to move through the filter through HVAC systems or a free-standing model. The particles in the air are captured by the filter, which must be changed once a month or the particles will build up inside. The MERV rating of your air filter determines its efficiency and power. The better the filter, the higher the MERV ranking.

Real-Time HVAC Monitoring System

Wireless Differential Air Pressure

AKCP HVAC Monitoring System allows the management of a commercial building to completely monitor the air quality of the facility 24/7. This system delivers data that are significant in determining exactly which parts are faulty, and when to schedule repairs to ensure continuity in system operations. When the AKCP HVAC Monitoring System detects the quality reach below its standards, it will send alerts or alarms to the management to encourage preventive or corrective actions. The advantages of having a real-time air quality monitoring system are undeniably helpful in hazard prevention, real-time information, data collection, timely corrective actions, etc.

The system runs with various type of sensors and user interface to allow remote and real-time monitoring.

Using AKCP Wireless Air Quality Sensor you can now determine various toxic gases and measure the amount present in a facility. The sensor also detects different sizes of airborne particles, from PM0.5, PM1.0, PM2.5, PM4, and PM10. Through this sensor building, administrators can measure the mass concentration of particles in the PM1.0 to PM10 range and particle number concentration in the PM0.5 to PM10 range. Airborne particles of this size are typically hazardous such as:

  • – Exhaust smoke
  • – Airborne dust particles
  • – Pollen

With AKCP Wireless Differential Air Pressure is usually installed on the Air Handling Unit Filter. Monitors the pressure on each side of the AHU. When a sudden pressure drop is detected across the filter, it will send an alert to the system and will indicate maintenance need or filter change. The good thing about this sensor it is Wireless with 10-year battery life.

AKCPro Server

Monitor all deployed AKCP base units and attached sensors from AKCPro Server (APS). Base units communicate with the server through your wired local network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). Remote wireless sensors send data to the server through the cellular data network* via a VPN connection. * Requires base unit with cellular data 3G/4

AKCPro Server can also be accessed on your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Access is operating system independent, viewable through the HTML5 user interface on any web browser**. ** Chrome and Firefox recommended.

Why Establish Efficient Indoor Air Quality?

Establishing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) policies, asset-specific plans, and feedback channels to determine the effect of operational improvements. Such as the implementation of IAQ sensors or improved testing protocols is becoming increasingly relevant.

Finally, building managers and employees would need to use a variety of resources and techniques to ensure that their occupants can return to work safely. But, it is clear that an effective approach should be asset-specific and include a greater emphasis on air quality monitoring and control. Especially in light of wider environmental factors that may have influenced the outcome.

Conclusion

Air quality control indoors is unquestionably one of the most important steps that can be taken to ensure the best working conditions. Keeping track of the levels of various air contaminants in your buildings will assist you in taking appropriate preventative measures.

Ultimately, this does not only allow you and your business to increase work efficiency. But, it is also for the sake of your integrity and the confidence of your clients. Don’t waste a single chance; leave it all to the professionals!

For Air Quality Monitoring inquiries, you may contact us with the following links below:
www.akcp.com

hvactechblog.com

sales@akcp.com

Reference Links:

https://www.eli.org/vibrant-environment-blog/improving-indoor-air-quality-schools-during-pandemic-and-beyond

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2020.580057/full

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/658216/IPOL_STU(2021)658216_EN.pdf

https://facilityexecutive.com/2020/12/indoor-air-quality-and-the-pandemic/

https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/covid-19-brings-indoor-air-quality-monitoring-upfront

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