Because Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, indoor air pollution is a significant health issue. This is particularly true for small children, senior citizens, and individuals with heart or lung conditions, all of whom, incidentally, tend to spend even more time indoors.
Which factors contribute to indoor air pollution?
Through windows, doors, and other openings, dust and other fine particles from boilers, construction, outside activities, and car exhaust can enter a building. Through the HVAC system of a building, this so-called fine particulate pollution can also be pulled indoors.
Mold, pet dander, hair, and dust mites can also accumulate over time and contribute to indoor air pollution, making it difficult for those who suffer from allergies or other chronic conditions to breathe.
IAQ problems might also be attributed to inadequate ventilation. It permits the accumulation of dangerous pollutants including cigarette smoke and volatile organic compounds that are released from sources like paint, synthetic building materials, carpeting, furniture, personal care products, pesticides, cleaning solvents, air fresheners, and dry-cleaned clothing.
Then there are pathogens, which include germs and viruses that can stay on objects and in the air and spread dangerous diseases, such as the coronavirus that causes COVID. The HVAC system may disperse these viruses across a facility or recirculate them through ducting.
Additionally, some of the more recent energy-saving architectural measures, such airtight construction and enhanced insulation, can actually worsen all of this indoor air pollution by restricting the entry of fresh air.
It is obvious that using all available methods to improve IAQ makes sense given the numerous risks associated with it. Here are 3 ways HVAC technology can be useful.
1. Utilize air filtration technologies to reduce indoor air pollution.
You’ve probably heard of UVA and UVB, two categories of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation from which people use sunscreen and other techniques to protect themselves.
The most harmful form of solar radiation, UVC, cannot reach the earth’s surface since the atmosphere entirely filters it off.
Lights that emit UVC are effective at removing pollutants from surfaces. Many germs can be killed by this method. You can put UVC lamps within your HVAC system to keep the machinery clean and lower the chance of spreading infections throughout a facility.
Many healthcare facilities now use UVC as part of their air disinfection systems. Its use is also expanding in other busy buildings where maintaining good air quality and limiting the transmission of disease are priorities, such as:
- Campuses of schools and colleges
- Office buildings
- Facilities for the elderly
- Daycare facilities
- Large-scale residences
- Cleaning up public transportation systems
UVC is typically employed in a variety of applications, frequently in conjunction with other ventilation, particulate filtration, and air quality control techniques.
- To maintain the evaporator coil, drain pan, and surfaces clean, UVC coil-irradiation and airstream disinfection systems are installed in HVAC equipment. This technique aids in preventing the HVAC system from spreading mold and other contaminants.
- To maintain clean air once it has started to circulate, duct and upper-air systems can be installed in the upper portion of spaces including waiting areas, classrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, and emergency rooms. These systems focus UVC energy upward and outward, generating a pathogen-killing zone at ceiling height while shielding the bottom part of the room from exposure.
- Portable UVC equipment are used for surface disinfection in places like hospitals. To lessen the incidence of staph and other hospital-acquired infections, this technique is frequently utilized.
- Systems that use UV light to purify the air also use a conventional filtration element to remove airborne particles and eliminate bacteria. Viral and bacterial particles, which traditional filtering cannot remove, are destroyed by the UV component.
Technology Using Oxidation and Ionization
On surfaces, UVC lamps eliminate impurities. In addition to cleansing the air in your entire space, oxidation and ionization air purifiers can accomplish more by destroying airborne particles.
Utilizing oxidation and ionization technologies, air purifiers can considerably improve indoor air quality in different business, residential, and public places. These devices are frequently employed in healthcare institutions and food processing factories.
Bipolar or plasma ionization and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), two different types of technology, each target and eliminate airborne particles in different ways. They swiftly and efficiently eliminate odors, VOCs, mold spores, viruses, germs, and other airborne contaminants. In fact, the technology can eliminate 99 percent of sneeze germs before they can travel three feet.
These tools are being installed by numerous firms to stop the spread of COVID.
To put it simply, this is how they operate. These appliances provide safe, natural oxidizers that are dispersed not just inside your HVAC system but also all throughout your room. With the aid of this technology, airborne contaminants including mold, germs, allergies, and viruses can be surrounded and rendered inactive. This is done by converting oxygen molecules from the air into charged atoms that subsequently cluster around minute particles.
2. By using excellent ventilation design, you can prevent indoor air pollution.
By supplying fresh air, regulating odors, and removing impurities that might lead to physical complaints and sickness, a ventilation system that is properly built can lower the amount of indoor air pollution. Exhaust fans, for instance, can assist in removing fumes from manufacturing processes, the usage of chemicals, and other materials. Additionally, they can lessen the quantity of virus particles that may be in the air.
Sometimes replacing ducting, moving intakes, or introducing more HVAC equipment might increase ventilation. Makeup air units for restaurant kitchens are an excellent illustration.
In order to maintain the area tidy and prevent the buildup of undesirable scents that could ruin business, proper kitchen ventilation is crucial. Many restaurants believe that simply installing a commercial exhaust hood will solve the issue.
The inclusion of a make up air unit, nevertheless, creates the proper equilibrium between the air being evacuated through the vent hood and the replacement (make up) air that is required to:
- Avoid backdrafting.
- Keep temperature changes in restaurants to a minimum
- Get rid of the negative pressure
- better the air quality
3. Control humidity (and temperature) using VRF.
Some indoor air contaminants may be more concentrated at high relative humidity levels. For instance, a high humidity level makes the air and surfaces moist, which increases the potential for the growth of molvd. Because viruses, including the one that causes COVID, flourish in low humidity environments, low humidity is also an issue. Indoor humidity levels frequently drop in the fall and winter when the heat is on.
You can check the humidity in your building with a humidity gauge as part of your indoor air quality assessment to see if it is between the recommended range of 30 and 50 percent. Consider a zonal HVAC technology called a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system to maintain a good, constant level of humidity and temperature.
The specific amount of heating and cooling needed is sent by a VRF HVAC system after it determines the precise needs of each zone in a building. As a result, there are no hot or cold zones across the entire space, and the humidity is kept under control.
Regular HVAC maintenance, together with sporadic duct inspections and cleanings, not only enables you to identify, stop, and get rid of indoor air pollution sources, but it also helps to make sure that your HVAC system is running efficiently for dependable comfort and cost-effectiveness.