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How’s your indoor air quality?


Ever had that feeling while sitting at your desk that a bit of 'shut-eye' would be welcomed if only possible and you find yourself asking … 'Why do I feel this way?' 

The answer could be attributed partly to the air you are breathing.
HVAC systems are not only important in commercial and industrial premises for our thermal comfort, but also for indoor air quality (IAQ).

Air that is too warm, or is stale and stuffy can cause people to feel lethargic, especially in the afternoons, resulting in poor productivity and possible absenteeism. Your staff's health will benefit from good indoor air quality and so will your business.

Signs of poor indoor air could be:

  • stale or unpleasant odours
  • temperature is too warm
  • dampness and mould
  • airborne contaminants, including bacteria.

Mould spores are everywhere. The microscopic organisms are spread through the air, but mould itself requires special conditions to grow: moisture and darkness.
Moisture and dampness can exist inside buildings when humidity, lack of ventilation, or condensation are present. Lack of light can result from rooms with curtains or blinds drawn and little outside light entering the room.

Mould growing in indoor spaces has been found to affect people's health by:

  • irritating skin, eyes, throat
  • congesting the nose and sinuses
  • coughing and breathing difficulties
  • increasing the risk of lower respiratory illness.

The US Environmental Energy Technologies Division cites studies concluding that mould in a building is associated with increases of 30–50% in a variety of respiratory and asthma-related conditions.1

Eliminating mould
If mould exists in a building the ventilation systems should be decommissioned so that mould spores are not spread to other indoor spaces while decontamination takes place. The HVAC system should be thoroughly cleaned, including air inlets and outlets and filters replaced.
The solution to mould in a building is ventilation and light. A properly maintained HVAC system will take into account the design of the building so that all indoor spaces are adequately ventilated. If lack of light is a problem due to inadequate windows, Ultra Violet disinfection may be used to clean coils and dripping pans.

Maintaining and monitoring the HVAC system
An air conditioning system that has been correctly designed and is properly maintained will meet with legislative and design requirements. Some of these requirements for good IAQ are:

  • correct air volume for the room size and heat load in the room
  • correct outside air ratio
  • correct filter selection and maintenance for the system
  • ensuring your maintenance program meets not only your financial needs but also the legal requirements.

It is important to note that changes to the original area design of indoor premises can affect the air conditioning of a building. Have your HVAC maintenance provider involved in the proposed changes prior to implementation.

Keeping your indoor air clean and healthy
The hallmarks of good IAQ are that the air:

  • flows to all areas of the building
  • is mixed with fresh/outside air
  • has O2 levels that maintain alertness in your workforce
  • is maintained at a comfortable temperature
  • is free of bacteria and airborne particulates.

A well-maintained HVAC system is the primary way to keep the IAQ in your workplace healthy.
Critical Air will:

  • conduct IAQ checks
  • check for moisture, mould and dirt in ventilation systems and clean the entire system
  • replace filters in the system and
  • provide comprehensive reports on the findings.

Good design and construction is the foundation for a healthy building and the HVAC system is all-important for indoor air quality.
The best HVAC systems are those that improve air quality and reduce the amount of energy used for ventilation.
Call Critical Air today for an assessment of the indoor air quality at your workplace.

1. Fisk WJ, Lei-Gomez Q, Mendell MJ. Meta-analyses of the associations of respiratory health effects with dampness and mold in homes. Indoor Air. 2007;17:284–296.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

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