Enhancing indoor air quality is a top priority for many communities. A community with a safe indoor environment provides overall health and peace of mind for residents and families, eliminates fears of communal living, and increases resident occupancy levels by differentiating the safety within the community.
As a result of COVID-19, indoor air quality equipment manufacturers offer both proven and new solutions. There are several methods to improve indoor air quality and each has its own merits. These strategies can be used independently or added to existing HVAC systems. A combined approach utilizing best practices with special attention to equipment function and design is recommended for the most effective results. Air cleaning technologies to consider include filtration, dilution, ionization, and ultraviolet light.
Filtration is the premise of enhancing the air filters on HVAC systems to filter out airborne contaminants and clean the air. The MERV rating system measures a filter’s ability to capture particles of a specific size. The higher the MERV rating, the finer the particles captured. High-efficiency particulate air filters can remove air particles as small as 0.3 microns, removing some viruses from the air. When considering different filters, only install the highest MERV rated filters the HVAC system can support without affecting the system’s airflow or the equipment can be damaged.
HVAC systems can also dilute indoor air by increasing the air changes per hour or expanding the hours of operation. However, many existing systems may not adequately manage the increased amount of incoming unconditioned outdoor air and may require a larger capacity unit or significantly increase energy costs. Adjusting dilution is not a do-it-yourself solution as it may cause balancing and capacity issues, seek the advice from an HVAC service technician.
Needlepoint bipolar ionization, or NPBI, replicates nature’s process of cleaning the air. NPBI produces negative and positive charged oxygen ions that attach to harmful pathogens, thus neutralizing them or enlarging their size to be captured by the HVAC system. Adding a standalone NPBI unit to each air handling unit and HVAC zone is preferred. If this is not possible due to cost, it is recommended to prioritize the high occupancy areas.
To determine which NPBI product will deliver the best results, the type of HVAC unit, duct design, air velocity, humidity, and room size must all be considered. Utilize only UL certified NPBI products that have been confirmed not to create harmful levels of ozone. Ozone, a lung irritant, was a byproduct of some older bipolar ionizing technologies, but newer NPBI technologies has overcome this issue.
UVC lighting is an intense form of ultraviolet light, similar to sunlight’s effects, that inactivates harmful pathogens, like viruses, that pass within the effective radius of the bulb. Inactivation is a result of the time of exposure and distance to the light source. Therefore, it is essential to consult the vendor for UVC light placement within an HVAC unit to ensure maximum efficiency, optimized operations, and protection to the equipment from UV damage.
Given existing HVAC systems are not designed to accommodate an increase in filtration or dilution, and there is no single air cleaning technology that improves indoor air quality and solves all concerns with infectious disease transmission, the recommendation is to consider a multi-faceted approach. A multi-faceted approach may utilize NPBI and UVC technologies, as well as enhanced filtration and increased dilution.
To learn the multi-faceted approach that will deliver improved indoor air quality, creating a safer and healthier indoor environment within the community, contact Dianne Piet, your dedicated CPS Client Account Manager, at 603-935-7923, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.