Categories Energy efficient, Heating, Profesionals, Tips

A guide to best practices regarding air filtration and ventilation in the current crisis

The current health crisis underscores the responsibilities of HVACR engineers, along with service and maintenance personnel, building owners and operators, to carefully assess building ventilation systems and conditions. Adequate ventilation, with a greater degree of fresh air supply, use of the correct types of air particulate filters, and careful maintenance can be important factors in the containment of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Breathing, as well as coughing and sneezing, releases tiny infectious droplets into the air that can contaminate the surrounding surfaces and, of course, the surrounding air. These droplets, called aerosols, can be of various sizes, from 1 to more than 10 µm (micron or micrometer, 1 micron equals 0.001 mm). Experts assume that viruses do not occasionally fly in the air, but are always trapped in droplets or attached to other particles.

This raises the question of how ventilation and air conditioning systems play a role in the transmission or containment of epidemic diseases such as COVID-19. Here are some basic recommendations that directly or indirectly influence the spread of viruses and the well-being of people in occupied spaces.

Indoor air quality has become a popular topic in recent years as more and more countries shift their focus to the health and well-being of building occupants in their everyday lives. Most people in the industrialized world spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Exposure to air pollutants, from dust to spores, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals, has a direct influence on people’s immune systems and can cause a variety of conditions, from allergies to cancer or – an epidemic disease like COVID-19.

Maintaining a healthy indoor air quality thus becomes a general and basic but extremely important necessity. While this is true at all times, it is imperative in times of a broader health crisis to prevent not only the direct spread of a virus but also to support people’s immune systems so that they can withstand more serious impacts of aggressive disease and thus reducing pressure on a health system that fights against overload.

While normal air filters are not designed to prevent the spread of viruses, they are essential to minimize the risk, as viruses tend to adhere to airborne particles and aerosols. Therefore, regular filters with high filtration efficiency (ePM1 filters) are crucial to reducing the risk of airborne diseases.

Order an inspection of the air filtration system in place and make sure that an ePM1 filter is installed. Call an expert to evaluate the filtration systems if you are not sure. Any air filter that removes particulates from the air has the potential to reduce exposure to Covid-19. As companies increase air rotation at their facilities, they must also filter air flows more aggressively.

The first step is to increase the filtration rate. The current industry standard for commercial HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems in stores and restaurants is to use filters with a MERV 8 rating. It is recommended to replace them with filters with a MERV 13 rating, which are designed to filter out viruses and bacteria in the air.

In addition to updating filters, companies should also increase the frequency with which they replace filters, and if they generally change filters on a quarterly basis, doing so every 30 days, for example.

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