Indoor Air Quality Products Take Center Stage

BY Brandin Bursa
4/2/2020 - HVAC Sales , HVAC Operations , COVID-19

As humans around the world grapple with the fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there is a renewed focus on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). With this comes an increase in customer interest in products related to the air in their homes or buildings. Take a minute to learn about some Indoor Air Quality products & tips:

Ultraviolet Light

  • Using short-wavelength ultraviolent light (UV-C) can destroy virus particles in HVAC filters and can be installed in the upper part of rooms for high-risk occupancies, like hospitals.
  • Drawbacks to installation of these systems include the initial expense, need for professional installation and ongoing maintenance.
  • A more cost-effective option is using high-efficiency (MERV 12+) filters to capture potentially virus-contaminated droplets, then shining UV-C light on the filter to inactivate viruses

Humidity

  • Scientific research has shown that viruses prefer low-humidity environments.
  • When humidity levels are higher, the droplets that viruses spread through by sneezing or coughing become heavier and fall to the surface, where they are easier to control than in the air.
  • Breathing dry air makes people more susceptible to virus infection. Dry air dries out the moist mucus membranes in our respiratory systems that trap harmful particles before they reach the lungs.
  • There is mixed sentiment on the optimal building humidity level, but a minimum of 30% is recommended.
  • Higher humidity ranges (50-60%) must be considered with caution as it can be beneficial in the short term but could cause HVAC system maintenance issues in the long run.
  • Humidity can be monitored by using the HVAC systems or by installing portable humidifiers to the system to handle times of concern.

Increase Outside Air Ventilation 

  • It may seem counter-intuitive during a lock-in, but outside air is crucial for diluting airborne contaminants.
  • Outside air can decrease disease transmission rates within buildings. 

Indoor Air Filters

  • Filtration technology has increased substantially and offers varying levels of protection.
  • Look for a high MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rated filter. The MERV rating is a scale of 1-16, with 16 being the highest rating and offering the most filtration protection.
  • Replacing filters with greater frequency can reduce future spread or exposure to contaminants.
  • It is important to know what type of filter your system can handle. Some higher MERV rated filters require special blowers to assure proper air circulation through the system.
  • For supplemental building protection, portable air purifiers could be a solution. Most quality portable air purifiers use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters which capture over 99% of particles.